Faction Dictator 3.0 — What It Is and What It Isn’t
As we noted in our First Look, this is a stiff, directional ski. It’s also a pretty lightweight stiff, directional ski (2022 & 2047 grams per ski).
So what did all of this all amount to on snow? In short, a pretty “game-on” ski.
On snow, the tails of the Dictator 3.0 feel very stiff — and punishing — if you either (A) land too far back on them, or (B) fall into the backseat in the bumps. But that’s not really a criticism per se, since Faction is very, very clear in their description of the Dictator 3.0 that this is a ski for experts. So those who are primarily looking for a ski that will forgive a bunch of mistakes ought to look elsewhere.
Reviewer Sam Shaheen (who, as you shall see, has a flair for being quite quotable), called the Dictator 3.0 “One of the least forgiving skis I’ve ever skied. If you fall into the backseat, it will shred you to bits.” Well, then.
Keep in mind that I am 5’10”, ~175 lbs, and Sam is 5’10,” ~135 lbs. So heavier skis may find the Dictator 3.0 to be a bit less demanding than Sam and I did.
And please also keep in mind that “demanding” isn’t in and of itself a criticism in this sense, too: you don’t criticize a race car for lacking a luxurious interior or plush suspension. You criticize it if it isn’t fast and / or can’t be pushed hard.
More on the 3.0’s Tails
A good bit of our time on the Dictator 3.0 was spent at A-Basin sending cornices and skiing fast through the ensuing runouts.
And the clear takeaway from the Dictator 3.0 was that the ski wants you to land centered or forward. Land on the tails, and you’ll get taken for a ride. You can ski the 3.0 from a more upright / neutral position. But you cannot get backseat.
Soft, Smooth(ish) Groomers
As with most stiffer skis, on smooth groomers, I found that I needed to get going pretty fast before the Dictator 3.0 was willing to get up on edge. But once there, this is a strong ski that finishes turns well. (Skis like the Black Crows Atris and Nordica Enforcer 110 that are heavier and have softer shovels are easier to bend into a carve at slower speeds.)
As the groomers got more and more beat up throughout the day and there were more (and bigger) piles of pushed around slush, the Dictator 3.0 began to feel a bit jarring to carve at speed. I was going very fast, and I can’t exactly say that I was in control — I didn’t really feel like, if I needed to, I could easily shut this ski down.
On mellow mogul runs with nicely-spaced bumps (e.g., A-Basin’s Ram Rod), the Dictator 3.0 is a strong ski that will allow you to go as fast as you want / are able to turn.
But on weird, messed-up, double-fall line moguls (e.g., like those veering off diagonally from under the Pali lift) the Dictator 3.0 requires a lot of focus and precision — again, get back on those tails, and you’ll be in trouble. So in big, weird bumps at speed, Sam and I both had to really focus on staying on the tips of the skis. And all the smearing around I’d been doing this past spring on a number of easy, reverse-camber skis probably didn’t prepare me well for the Dictator 3.0.
Sam’s comment was, “This ski takes a huge amount of energy to ski. If I skied it every day I would get really strong, and it would make me a better skier.” Yep, true.
Especially in bumped-up terrain or the more variable the conditions, the Dictator 3.0 demands both power and precision. Some skis (like the much heavier HEAD Monster 108), are monster trucks that don’t require all that much precision, mostly just power. But again, the Dictator 3.0 isn’t a monster truck, it’s a race car.
So Where Does the Dictator 3.0 Shine?
So let’s get to where we think the 3.0 would be particularly amazing: attacking big-mountain lines in good snow. And given the low weight of the Dictator 3.0, we are inclined to add, “Especially if you are touring to get to those big-mountain lines.” Because in thinking of other skis that are just over 2000 g per ski, it’s hard to think of many other skis of this length and width that would have the top end of the Dictator 3.0 (again, particularly in smooth, good snow). Many of the other ~2000 g / 105mm-wide skis have more tip and tail rocker, and / or a tighter sidecut radius, and / or a softer flex than the Dictator 3.0.
So if you are a physically strong skier with advanced or expert technique and you are touring — or boot packing — for big faces or narrow straight lines, the Dictator 3.0 might be the perfect tool for going full maniac.
But What about the Dictator 3.0 as an Everyday Resort Ski?
Hmmm, that’s a tougher recommendation from us unless you are a strong, expert skier, or you are a strong advanced skier who weighs a good bit more than Sam and me. Keep in mind, Sam is a light guy but a strong skier, and here are a few more of his comments (that I largely agree with):
“Whoa, this ski is demanding. It loves to be driven hard. I found it to be pretty exhausting to ski because it requires so much input. And yet, it doesn’t feel great at high speeds in variable conditions because of its light weight.
If I wanted to ski all out — every single turn of every day — and I had perfect technique and legs the size of an elephant’s, I would love this ski. However, I lack all of those qualities, so I find this to be a very hard ski to go bang out lap after lap. I want to love this ski, and when I ski it really hard, I do love it. I just don’t think I could ever ski that hard all the time.”
So that’s Sam’s take, and I think he’s largely correct. But stronger and better skiers than us may have a different take.
Weight / Flex Pattern
As we’ve said, in smooth conditions, there is no question that this ski can rage. But when mobbing down under A-Basin’s Lewanee Chair, or on the runouts following airs off of King’s Cornice, I definitely found myself wishing that the ski was heavier — that I was working with more mass to help with the stiff flex of the ski. The Dictator 3.0 felt much stiffer and far less easy going than, say, the ON3P Wrenegade 108, and I don’t recall the Moment Belafonte ever feeling this hard to handle in similar conditions.
To be clear, I think this is a cool ski, but I would only recommend it to advanced / expert skiers who don’t need a forgiving ski, and who have gotten along with some lighter & stiffer skis in the past.
At 2020 & 2047 grams, the 185 cm Dictator 3.0 is roughly around the weight of the 188 cm Rossi Soul 7 and the 188 cm Salomon QST 106 — and neither of those skis are stiff chargers made for “lunatics / maniacs.” So we’ll be curious to hear what others think of the Dictator 3.0, but we might suggest that by softening up the flex of the ski a bit — or else using a heavier construction to match the stiff flex pattern — the 3.0 would become a more accessible ski, and a ski that we could easily envision as more of a daily driver. Then again, there are plenty of “accessible” skis on the market, and a lot fewer skis out there that offer the specific performance characteristics of the Dictator 3.0.
These days, lots of companies are making “chargers” that are so user-friendly and easy going that the “charger” label seems a bit misplaced. The Dictator 3.0 is not one of those skis. It is a “game-on” ski that calls for both power and precision, and it doesn’t come with training wheels.
So if you prefer game-on types of skis but have often found them to be too heavy, here you go.
But if you prefer your chargers to have more mass behind them (think Blizzard Cochise or the Head Monster 108), then the Dictator 3.0 might have you wishing for a heavier, more planted feel.
Deep Dive Comparisons: Faction Dictator 3.0
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Dictator 3.0 to see how it stacks up against the HEAD Kore 105, Line Sick Day 104, Faction Candide 3.0, Black Crows Corvus Freebird, Moment Belafonte, ON3P Wrenegade 108, and the Blizzard Cochise.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics