2017-2018 Folsom Skis Primary

In case you missed it, we published our 17/18 Winter Buyer’s Guide, where we wrote about 147 skis, plus a bunch of ski boots, outerwear, helmets, goggles, snowboard equipment, etc. One of the skis we wrote about was this ski, the Primary, and here is what we said:

“No ski in this guide could have potentially fit into as many sections as the Primary, thanks to Folsom’s ability to customize it and turn it into almost anything — a wider freestyle ski, a charger, a more forgiving or a more stable all-mountain ski. We’ll be saying more about the Primary soon on the site, but for now, know that the “SRC” Primary we’ve been reviewing (“Subtle Reverse Camber”), is, without question, the poppiest, most energetic reverse-camber ski we’ve ever been on. And if you took the same shape but chose a heavier core and a stiffer flex, you’d have a very stable all-mountain ski that would rage. For those who like the sound of the 4FRNT Devastator but feel caught between sizes, the Primary is the answer. Just pick how playful or stable you want it to be.”

So that’s the nutshell, and it’s true: I’ve never been on a reverse-camber ski that has this much pop. Of all the skis I’ve been on over the past 12-18 months, the SRC Primary and the 16/17 Black Crows Atris are the two skis that stood out in this regard. That was a fundamental design aspect that Mike wanted to show off — how much pop you could get out of his “SRC” design — and that mission was accomplished.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Folsom Primary for Blister ReviewJonathan Ellsworth reviews the Folsom Primary for Blister Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Folsom Primary, A-Basin, CO.

Primary SRC as a One-Ski Quiver

The other thing about the Primary is that it is truly supposed to be a one-ski quiver. But as we all know by now, every one-ski quiver is going to have its relative strengths and weaknesses.

So what sort of one-ski quiver is this version of the Primary that Folsom built for us?

A quick, light, lively & playful, soft-snow and deep-snow oriented ski. It is incredibly easy to ski, with enough pop out of the tail to make the ride far from boring. In conversations with Mike about this ski, he had used the expression, “user-friendly” quite a bit, and this is most definitely the case. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a 188cm-long, 108mm-wide ski that is this easy and quick in bumps. In fact, given the lack of tip and tail taper on this ski (this isn’t a Rossi Soul 7 or a DPS Wailer 112), I honestly couldn’t believe how quick and easy the Primary felt. Over the years, I’ve gotten to be pretty decent at estimating the weight of a ski from how it performs on snow, and I would say the Primary feels like it weighs about 2000 grams per ski (i.e., the weight of a 188 cm Soul 7) when the Primary actually weighs 2160+ g per ski.

Light, super easy to turn, and extremely poppy.


This Primary SRC is also super fun to carve. This is not a stiff ski at the tips and tails, so it is very easy to bend the shovels into clean arcs, and at least on soft groomers, the ski exhibits nice edge hold.


These are total pivot machines in moguls. They feel like cheating. Just pivot pivot pivot.

This photo gives you a pretty decent idea of what I’m talking about here — you can just slide and swing the tails of this ski around all day long:

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Folsom Primary for Blister Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Folsom Primary, Arapahoe Basin, CO.


The other big thing to say here — and I was not at all expecting this — is if you mounted this ski at -4 or so, you could turn it into an all-mountain ski that feels really good in the air. A versatile, trickable pow ski. Or keep it at -7 (where ours is mounted) and you’ve got an easy, intuitive, directional ski that can still be pushed relatively hard. But let’s talk a bit about that “relatively”.

Variable Conditions

Skiing fast down the wide open, bumped-up faces of A-Basin, the Primary showed less composure at speed than I was hoping for. I needed to maintain a very active, dynamic style to ski fast in variable conditions and bumped-up terrain — again, to be clear, I don’t mean straight-up mogul runs (where the ski shines), but skiing fast down bumped-up, open faces.

And really, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The flex pattern of our Primary is quite similar to that of the 186 cm J Skis The Metal and the 184 cm (16/17) Black Crow Atris (the shovels of The Metal are actually a touch stiffer than the Primary’s), and on snow, the Primary felt about as inherently stable as those “fun” skis.

But our story is far from over here, so let me go ahead and offer some comparisons between this iteration of the Primary we’ve been skiing and the five skis I mentioned previously in my First Look. Except for the Rossignol Sickle, I A/B-ed all of these skis against the Primary this past spring:

(1) 185 cm Blizzard Cochise

This really isn’t much of a comparison between the Cochise and our Primary SRC. The Cochise is much heavier, has a much higher speed limit, and is much more of a variable-conditions charger than the Primary. On the other hand, in deep snow, the Primary is going to blow the Cochise out of the water. So those who love everything about the current Cochise will definitely feel like this version of the Primary is “too little” ski. And those who feel like the Cochise is too dead, or too much work, or too boring / unplayful will undoubtedly prefer the Primary. By a lot.

(2) 186 cm Rossignol Sickle

It’s been a long time (and getting longer) since I skied the Sickle, but I can’t say that the Primary rekindled Sickle memories for me. I do, however, think that if you reduced the tip and tail splay of the Primary — which Folsom can easily do — you would create a more Sickle-like feel. The Sickle has very subtle tip and tail splay (it’s practically a flat ski), and I don’t recall the Sickle going as soft at the tips and tails as our Primary does.

But really, I’d need to get my hands on a 186 cm Sickle again to do some A/B-ing. Anyway, moving on…

(3) 186 cm Faction Candide 3.0

I had asked in my First Look whether the Primary could be a heavier Candide 3.0, and having A/B-ed them, I can now say that the Candide 3.0 is a relevant comparison. On snow, (probably because of its stiffer flex) it doesn’t feel significantly lighter than the Primary SRC, and aside from their weight and flex patterns, the rocker profiles & other specs look pretty similar. I’d also say that the Primary SRC is definitely more “user-friendly” than the Candide 3.0 — at least in the 186 cm length, the 3.0’s combination of low weight and a pretty solid flex pattern requires you to ski very dynamically in variable conditions or bumped-up terrain.

I’ve said that I think the 3.0 is best suited to advanced and expert skiers. Advanced and expert skiers could certainly have fun on the Primary SRC, too, but I think that intermediate and low-intermediate skiers could also (if anything, the tails of our skis might have more energy or pop — be more spring-loaded — than you’d ideally want to give to a brand new skier). But the Primary is more tolerant of mistakes than the 3.0, and it allows you to ski more laid back than the CT 3.0 does.

But anyone interested in a little-bit-easier-going, heavier (and therefore almost certainly more durable) Candide 3.0 to go beat up during everyday inbounds ski … consider this exact version of the Primary SRC.

(4) 187 cm Moment Meridian

The thing that stood out the most to me in terms of on-snow performance differences is just how much more stout the shovels of the Meridian felt. And that’s the thing I like most about the Meridian: for being a reverse-camber design (and quite splayed out), those shovels really hold up to very hard skiing in variable conditions and steep terrain. Here’s what I wrote in my First Look:

“I love how hard the Meridian can be pushed, but I have also been curious to see how the Meridian would perform if it had mellower tip and tail rocker lines and tip and tail splay, since I don’t care too much about the deep-snow performance of my ~107mm-wide ski; instead, I want to emphasize and enhance performance at speed in firm-snow and in moguled-up terrain. Once again, it seemed like this Primary SRC could fit the bill.” And I very much believe the Primary could, but our version has softer shovels and just a dead-easy flex pattern overall. But with a few tweaks…. Let’s hold that thought for a minute.

(5) 184 cm & 194 cm 4FRNT Devastator

First off, our 188 cm Primary has nothing in common with the 194 cm, 2600+ g per ski Devastator. Nothing. But when running back-to-back-to-back-to-back laps on the Primary and the 184 cm Devastator, once I adjusted to them both, I felt like I could push them equally hard. But the 184 cm Devastator was a bit more composed, especially through the front half of the ski (the Primary’s tails are a touch stiffer than the 184 cm Devastator’s). It wasn’t a world of difference, but it was noticeable, and I found myself expending more energy to ski the lighter Primary as hard. But let’s imagine that you made the Primary a bit heavier, a bit stiffer, but kept its more subtle amount of splay compared to the 184 Devastator (or even reduced the Primary’s splay a bit). That could be pretty interesting.

The Upshot?

I think a ton of skiers could get on the Primary and instantly love it. It’s super easy to ski without being boring (it has too much pop to be boring), it will make you a rockstar in moguls, and as a one-ski quiver, it is going to plane up and provide enough float to easily handle 1-2 feet of snow.

So those looking for something with the feel of a (not-short-shoveled) Black Crows Atris, or a lighter weight J Skis The Metal … or a more durable Candide 3.0 … or a more playful Meridian, etc. (see my notes above) — should take a serious look at this iteration of the Primary SRC.

And since so many of you expressed interest in this ski, Folsom has agreed to make this particular model of the Primary SRC available to Blister members for 30% off. (More on this below.)

Bottom Line + What’s Next

Given that this was the first Folsom ski I’d ever been on, Mike and I ended up talking so much about the potential of this particular shape and construction that we ended up focusing on a profile and construction that showed off just how easy and versatile this design could be. And in case this is somehow unclear from my review, I think a very broad range of skiers will love this ski.

But for me personally, I do tend to like a bit “more” ski. Some of that is because I do like to ski fast, some of it is because I’m too lazy to slow down. Mike specifically talked about how he often likes to make a ski with a soft flex but with solid torsional rigidity, because it makes for a user-friendly ride. And again, that is certainly true of the Primary SRC. But I personally tend to gravitate toward skis with stiffer shovels, because I spend a good bit of time skiing in steep, bumped-up terrain, where I want to be able to drive the shovels hard down into steep troughs and not have the shovels over-flex or fold up (a la the Meridian, Cochise, etc). Personally, I tend to value stiffness and stability over quickness; for inbounds skiing, I’ll opt for heavier over lighter; and I’ll give up playfulness and low-speed compliance for a bigger top end; and I’m willing to give up outstanding deep-snow performance to gain outstanding variable-conditions performance.

And to be honest, I suspect that most people will prefer the ski Mike built to the ski that I’m describing.

But now that Mike has demonstrated how fun and user-friendly the Primary can be, he now wants to build the other version of the Primary that I’m describing. And he is already referring to as, the Hammer. So stay tuned for more about that.

Exclusive Deals for Blister Members on Folsom Skis

As mentioned above (and since a number of you had asked), become a Blister member and you can order this exact Folsom Primary SRC for $850, which is 30% off the full price of a Folsom custom build.

Alternatively, Blister members now also get 15% off the going rate of a Folsom custom process and build — plus free shipping to the lower 48 states & Alaska.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

28 comments on “2017-2018 Folsom Skis Primary”

  1. Looking at the rocker profile pics I was surprised to see how much rocker, especially tail rocker there is. I didn’t get that sense from your write up.

  2. This is pretty much my ideal ski shape and construction that doesn’t exist. More versatile than the Hoji or Chugach, less Moment-y than the meridian. I love that you could tweak the design to either be fatter or lighter or both.

    I just can’t spend $1000 on skis…especially when everyone can get a great ski for $400-500 in April / May. The issue is: skiers can have TWO pairs of skis for the price of one custom pair.

    When this ski is really good, which I’m sure it will be, set up a production run a la the Blister Pro (Bibby resurrection) and I’ll buy a Blister membership + purchase a “stock” version of this exact ski….but not with that top sheet. :)

  3. This design makes a lot of sense for a daily driver in snowier areas imo. Could also be a killer one ski quiver for a lot of bigger mountains in the alps. I had considered the romp 106 mold in a 185 with 20 cm tip rocker and slight tail rocker with a flatter tail (no twin tip) as a similar offering, but I still cannot decide whether to go with 1 – 2mm of camber or fully flat. Maybe your review does help whether such semi custom ski process makes sense at all and with which design to go…

  4. Hot damn! I’ll second Daryl’s comment: I hope Blister forces Folsom’s hand and we can get these for around $600 when they make a bunch of them.

    Seems like my dream ski for a daily driver. Having skied the metal Katana, Rossi Sickle, and 4Frnt Devastator in the 183-186 cm lengths as daily drivers over the past decade, I’m sold on the subtle reverse camber with no tip/tail taper profile in a 106-112 waist width. On paper this ski improves upon the others I mentioned above because:

    1) Straight pull length of 186-187. Yes!
    2) Mount point between the Dev (-5cm) and the metal Katana (around -12 cm in the 184)
    3) Lighter build at 2150 gm but not Candice 3.0 light
    4) Not the full twin of the Sickle, which can get hung up in thick snow and creates a nasty rooster tail
    5) Potentially more energy out of a carved turn according to Folsom?

    If this thing skis damp like a Dev/Sickle/metal Katana, I’ll need to buy one! I bet JFE is one excited skier right now

  5. I 2nd or 3rd Dan and Daryl…..I am looking at Meradian and Dev….I have Sego Prospect 120 with a partial Swallow tail for deep days in PNW it has little tip taper if any at all..the Prospect 112 is more playful/quick..I have demo bindings on them both so I can adjust +1 or -2……I am surprised the Dev does not come in 187 or 88….this Folsom looks like a charger…..looks like a lot of effective edge zero camber…..and bet editor is pretty happy about now.

    So my reading on Meridian says it does well on groomers…..and -6 mount for All Mtn…..is the Meridian something one would enjoy skiing groomers all day ? Regardless of quiver…say ya went to ski area and only brought 1 ski was expecting a dump but storm missed mtn, freeze thaw inversion instead – should have brought front side 88……I am hoping and thinking the Meridian would be OK maybe not 1st Choice obviously.

    Maybe 1000 is less than 5 x 700 ? In my next life I want to grow up and be a ski analyst I know that for sure :)

  6. Still hoping JFE will post some first impressions of this ski soon.

    For those that really want to try the Folsom Primary SRC but don’t want to spend full custom money, know that Backcountry is selling the stock versions of this ski for significantly less than the cost of custom.

    • Hi, Dan – apologies for the delay — we’ve been busy as hell with the buyer’s guide.

      Full review drops this Sunday. We put a lot of time on the ski this spring, and there is a lot to talk about.

      A shorter writeup is in our buyer’s guide. But long and short: you can basically turn this shape — the Primary with the “SRC” profile — into anything you want.

  7. Thanks Jonathan. At 150 lbs and 5’9”, I’m wondering if the standard Primary would feel more stable through the shovels for me? You weigh about 180lbs? (It sounds like a great ski. But if it’s less stable in the shovel than the 184 Devastator, then it might not be exactly what I’m looking for.)

    But having owned the metal Katana and the Sickle and the Devastator, I’m now intrigued by the custom Primary option to get the best combination of traits possible. Might have to wait on your review of the Hammer, and consider making my own “Hammer Lite.” Will the Hammer feature both a stiffer shovel, and decreased tip and tail splay?

    • Hi, Dan – I think the short answer is, “probably?” (And yes, I’m 5’10”, 175-180 lbs.) I just tend to prefer stiffer shovels — *for all-mountain / off-piste use* — and that has come out in a number of reviews I’ve written (cf. Black Crows Atris, J Skis The Metal – two skis that I reference here.) Go too stiff, however, and you’d certainly give up some of the fun factor of being able to bend these skis in half while carving. But I’m usually ok with that compromise.

      As for the Hammer … a couple of the key things (that I’ve already spoken about with Mike) are (1) stiffen up the shovels; up the weight to about 2300 g. Of course, many / most people prefer a lighter ski, and I understand why. But for this “variable charger” version of the Primary, I think ~2300 g in a 188 makes good sense, and honestly, I wouldn’t be at all afraid of going heavier — this profile is so easy to ski, you can afford to go heavier.

      And as for the tip & tail splay, I am a bit tempted to reduce it — since as I note in my review (and unlike a whole lot of skiers) I wouldn’t be aiming to optimize this ski for deep snow; I’d be optimizing it for chopped-up snow — and even fairly beat conditions. Variable.

      But the version I reviewed feels nicely balanced, and I don’t think the way to design skis is to simply say take this exact ski, reduce the tip & tail splay. So it’s something I’ll discuss with Mike.

      I think the direction I’m heading in is something in the ballpark of a slightly-less directional / more playful 13/14 Cochise. A twinned up tail, a more progressive mount point. But I want to be able to push this ski really hard. (Especially since I heard back from my surgeon today, and the x-rays show that I’m healing faster than he was expecting…)

  8. Sounds like a ski ripe for experimentation with an idea I’ve been bouncing around for a few seasons now. To increase damping, tweaking longitudinal flex pattern, and add or remove mass in a customizable fashion… add a removable tip to tail stiffening object that could be attached to the ski top sheet. I experimented with 1/4 inch thick aluminum strips to stiffen up the forebody of my k2 darkside skis and they had a noticeable effect of stiffening the flex and give the ski a more solid feel when charging and working through heavy wet ‘pushy’ cementy snow. The alu strips were carefully bent to match the rocker profile of the ski and attached via heated double sided carpet tape for optimum and a durable bond. It was easy to remove them after heating the area slightly as well.

  9. With this option perhaps you could tweak the version of ski skied by J.E. and have a more chargey, stiffer, damper ski with the same shape for conditions that require it or days where you prefer it…then remove the appendages to revert to the easier going lighter o.g. ski? 2 skis in 1?

  10. …and also, sending vibes for continuing positive healing; really hope it all comes together for ya for ski season either sooner or later.

  11. “…I’m heading in is something in the ballpark of a slightly-less directional / more playful 13/14 Cochise.”

    Yes! Since my 12/13 Cochise is finally going into retirement (kicking and screaming), and the only tweaks to it I would have made were less dive and a bit less grunt required on occasion, I’m really looking forward to hearing how your Hammer turns out.

    Jonathan, did I read correctly, no metal in the Primary you tested?
    Would Folsom build that same version with a ti layer tip to tail?
    Thinking dampness, mass, flex boost and that smooth ti feel.

    Glad to hear your fusing quickly. See you in LCC soon.

  12. Can you compare/contrast this* with the wren 108? The wren sounds way friendlier than it has been in a while now, and the primary (with a bit more stiffness than this setup) seems like it’s starting to push into stable enough but still fun. Or am I reading too much into them being compared to some of similar skis?

    Both were compared with plenty of other skis, considering both for a daily driver (and appreciate the answers you gave me about the wren a bit back).

    * but with more beef, basically “the hammer” vs wren speculation, since I’m planning to pick something up in the next couple weeks.

    • Just to clarify, the Wren 108 has been equally friendly for the past couple of seasons now, but all in all, you are correct to see them as belonging to a very similar category. And no question that even with a bit of an adjustment toward ‘The Hammer’ end of things, you’d have ‘more’ ski than a Wren 108. Do keep in mind — the Wren 189 would technically be the direct comparison to the 188 Primary we reviewed, and we’ve only skied the 184 cm Wren. But the Primary is a pivot machine with lots of pop; the (184 cm) Wren 108 is more of a forgiving, directional ski that can still be pushed a bit, but not like the Wrens of old.

      • Yeah, I was thinking 189 Wren and 188/192 Primary. Sounds like, even with a bit more meat on it, the primary is likely to be less well behaved on chopped up heavy snow. In tahoe, chopped up heavy snow is kind of ubiquitous. Chatting with Folsom tomorrow, this was extremely helpful!

      • Really appreciate your feedback. You did mean “you’d have ‘more’ ski with the wren” rather than “than a wren” right?

        Decided to try a pair of the primaries, but more in the hammer direction. 190 cm
        same base material, but thicker (p4)
        directional rocker
        stiff flex, reinforced tip.

        Hoping to keep most of that pivot machine fun, but better performance in variable snow. (also, I’m tall and heavy)

  13. Jonathan,

    Any updates on the Hammer? Did you end up decreasing the tip/tail rocker splay or rocker length? Any days on snow with the Hammer yet?

    Lastly, if it turns out great, do you think Blister will offer the same discount to members on the Hammer as you did in your initial Folsom Primary build?


    • Hi, Dan – no updates yet. I’ll be circling back on this shortly, but the low tide + crazy busy-ness for both Mike & me means that we’ve shelved this a bit … which is probably for the better … since I’m not supposed to be back on snow till February. But we’ll see if I actually hold out that long….

  14. Just received my Primary in the mail 2 days ago. I went w the same flex and core as the Blister SRC version but added 2-3mm of camber. Folsom calls it the directional rocker build which has tip rocker/camber underfoot/shallow tail rocker. I told Mike I was looking for more of an in-between storm ski but not a “charger” like the Cochise. Can’t wait to get it on the snow and try it out. Just need some snow now….

  15. I just bought the 2020 Primary in a 182cm from Evo Denver. Ideally, I like my skis to be 184-185cm. Do you know if the the 2020 model will run a little shorter then the stated measurement based on how you measure a ski?

    • While we haven’t measured a 182, most brands’ ski lengths tend to be pretty consistent, so the 182 cm Primary will likely measure a bit shorter than 182 cm when measured with a straight-tape pull. Though for the vast majority of brands (apart from K2, ON3P, and maybe a couple others), Folsom skis don’t tend to run abnormally short, since most brands measure length before the ski is pressed, and their skis therefore measure a bit shorter with a straight-tape pull after the ski is pressed.

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