2020-2021 HEAD Kore 117

Next Day: 6” of light, dry pow on top of that 24”

After a pretty demanding and tiring day of skiing heavy pow, the next day turned out to be shockingly amazing. So I skied without stopping for lunch, water, ski changes, anything. We hiked a ton, hitting repeat laps out Highline Ridge, and even more laps out to West Basin. And I’ve got to say that by the end of the day when my legs were shot, the KORE 117 was probably easier to continue to ski pretty hard and fast than some heavier skis would have been.

After that 24 inches fell in 48 hours, we then picked up another 6” of the lighter, drier snow that we’re used to around here. And there were deep pockets of perfect, untracked snow all along Highline Ridge, making Sunday one of the best pow days of the season, with outstanding coverage on a lot of steep lines.

And on this day, the KORE 117 performed very well, and I would say that they skied pretty similarly to the (heavier) 190 cm Rossignol Super 7 RD. In completely untracked runs down Highline Ridge’s Two Bucks, Purgatory, and Billy Sol, these fairly big skis offered plenty of flotation (I never once experienced tip dive) while also remaining pretty nimble for tighter tree skiing.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Head Kore 117 for Blister Gear Review.
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Head Kore 117, Taos, NM. (photo by Kristin Sinott)

To be clear, if quickness in tight spaces is your primary concern, then there are better options out there. But I’m assuming that it’s clear by now that the 189 cm KORE 117 falls more into the ‘big-mountain pow ski’ category, and I would call this a pretty maneuverable big-mountain, directional pow ski.

Deep Chop / Big, Soft Moguls

If your approach is to slow down a bit when you encounter the massive piles of pushed-around snow that start to form on the afternoons of pow days, then you will appreciate the relatively light swing weight of the KORE 117 that makes it pretty easy to quickly toss the shovels of the ski from side to side — it’s a bit lighter and easier than the Rossignol Super 7 RD.

But if you tend to stay in attack mode when you encounter big pow-day moguls, then you’ll want to ski with a bit of a lighter touch. Nuking out the bottom of early West Basin runs (like Zdarsky, St. Bernard, Stauffenberg, etc) onto the very bumped-up apron, the KORE 117 held up fine at very high speeds if I would just point the skis and run them bases flat, engaging the long, stiff section of the skis rather than trying to drive and carve the slightly softer (and tapered) tips on edge through the big piles of pushed-around snow; when doing the latter, the KORE 117 felt a bit twitchy and prone to deflection, and this is precisely where a ski like the (again, much heavier) 190 Moment Bibby / Blister Pro really shines.

Wind-scoured Patches / Scraped-Off Moguls

All in all, I was very impressed with how well the KORE 117 handled these conditions. A few years ago on an early iteration of the DPS Wailer 112RPC (a ski that, on paper, bears a strong resemblance to the KORE 117), I found the RPC’s combination of stiffness and low weight to produce a pretty jarring ride. So far, that isn’t at all true of the KORE 117.

On the very last run of the day, I skied down a run called Tell’s Glade, where you will always find some big, fairly tight bumps in a gladed area. Normally, a 189 cm, 117mm-wide would feel quite cumbersome in this section, but the overall weight and low swing weight made for some pretty easy skiing — even though my legs were absolutely shot from two full days of skiing and hiking the ridge all day.


Honestly, I have no idea. Taos’s groomers were pretty buried, so I have yet to get these on clean corduroy. I’ll report back if / when I do, but I personally don’t really care how this ski handles on corduroy, and I’m not sure that any of you do, either?

How Does it Work as a Wider, Everyday-ish, All-Mountain Ski?

Given the lower weight of this big ski, I think we’d be wise once again to caution beating the crap out of these skis down rocky, billy goat lines. It’s common sense here: this is a strong, lightweight ski. If you want to abuse your stuff — whether skis or bikes, etc — you probably shouldn’t opt for the lightest products in the category. But for use on days where the snow is soft and you’ve got good coverage (or really deep coverage!), then have at it.

50/50 — Inbounds & Backcountry Use

Yes. Stick your favorite AT binding on these, and you’ll have a lot of fun big-line hunting. These skis have impressed me enough across a range of inbounds conditions and terrain that, given their weight to downhill-performance ratio, this would be a pretty ideal choice for those who want to walk uphill on a fat ski that shines at speed in soft / deep snow.

Mount Point

Without question, HEAD’s recommended mount of 11.6 cm behind center puts us in very traditional territory. But that’s not unusual for pow skis, and a more rearward mount surely helps a ski from tip diving in deep, dense snow.

After my first day on the KORE 117, I moved the bindings forward one centimeter of the line, and I found there to be zero downside. I’m not sure whether I’ll have time to play again with mount point, but I like the ski at +1, I’d advise nobody to mount behind the recommended line (I just don’t believe that it would improve performance), and I’m only slightly curious about going +2 of the line. (FWIW, HEAD includes marks of 1 and 2 cm in front of and behind their recommended line.)

Who’s It For?

Advanced skiers who want a relatively light, directional ski for inbounds and backcountry use.

Lighter skiers who like to go fast and jump off stuff, but who find most “powder chargers” to be too heavy and demanding. And I don’t know how stable the 180 cm Kore 117 will be, but I can safely say that it is going to be one quick 117mm-wide pow ski, since at my 5’10”, 175-180 lbs, I never felt like I needed more quickness out of the 189.

Bottom Line

If you are skiing an area with decent snow coverage and even 3-4 inches of fresh snow, you can have a lot of fun on the Kore 117. And if you changed the metric of “inches” to “feet” of fresh snow, the Kore 117 will work very well.

This ski works better once you get some speed behind it, so I wouldn’t suggest it for wiggling around at slow speeds in tighter spaces. But if you like to let your skis run on pow days, this is a pretty light option that can be pushed harder than most skis this size and at this weight.

2nd Look: HEAD Kore 117

You can now also read Paul Forward’s review of the Head Kore 117.

Deep Dive Comparisons: HEAD Kore 117

Become a Blister member or a Deep Dive subscriber to get our further thoughts and comparisons of the HEAD Kore 117 vs. the Rossignol Super 7 RD, Rossignol Super 7 HD, Moment Governor, Moment Bibby / Blister Pro, Salomon QST 118, Kitten Factory Chairman, and DPS Wailer 112 RPC 2.0, and more.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics

13 comments on “2020-2021 HEAD Kore 117”

  1. Nice write up, as usual. How does this ski stack up in terms of damp/poppy, etc.?

    I’d love to see the new Enforcer Pro in the Deep Dive comparison to this ski.


  2. Very excited to read your write up of the Kore 93, especially if you are going to draw comparisons to the Enforcer 93. I’m mostly sold on the Enforcer 93 to be my next ski to balance out my Backland 109s in my 2-ski quiver but I’m intrigued enough by the possibility of what the Kore 93 could be to keep me from making the purchase. Hopefully they will both be at Alta’s demo day and I can try them back to back!

  3. I had the Collective 105’s so I am curious as to how you will review the KORE 105 when you get a chance. Have you skied any of heads other “flight” series skis? like the CYCLIC 115? The new KORES are suppose to be replacing that series so a series to series comparison could be really interesting.

  4. Hi,
    I like the review, it is pretty informative. What I understand that Kore 117 is stiffer than Moment Governor/Bibby PRO and Rossi S7 RD?
    Did I get this right?
    Thank you

  5. Between this in the 180cm 115mm waist or the Blizzard ruslter 11 in 180cm w/ 112mm waist. What has better all mountain performance to pair in between a 100mm enforcer and a 124mm moment nighttrain?

  6. You mention better options for quickness in tight spaces… Could you expand on that with a few recs or a write up?? I came here hoping kore 117 might be the answer to that question. Thanks for the article.

  7. At 5’ 11”. 170. 62 years. Need to be able to make lots of controllled tight turns in steep trees with good moderate to higher speed GS turns through chop and crud. 180 or 189?

  8. Watch Sam Kuch on these in Return to Sender! Wonder where he mounts them…?

    Also the K2 Mindbender 116 seems quite similar but softer.

  9. Can anybody speak to this vs the black crows anima…? Plan to mount with tecton 12’s. 50/50 ski. I know the anima has more weight but performance wise looking for input. Thanks.

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