Like all ski areas, Alyeska gets cut up on a powder day resulting in super fun afternoons of deep and shallow chop shredding. Sometimes it’s my favorite part of the day, and I love powder skis that excel in these conditions.
If you read my Blizzard Spur review, you know that I love that ski in chop, and the Schuster Pro won’t be knocking the Spur off of the (120mm+ powder ski) deep-chop podium. But if the Schuster Pro isn’t best-in-class in chop, it still performs pretty darned well in these conditions, and I find myself consistently skiing very fast though chop on these skis. As in powder, the Schuster Pro isn’t a ski that loves to drift and skid around in the chop. Rather, it does best when skied with an upright stance and an eye for popping over hard ruts and deep bumps, which is easily achieved by ollieing off of its springy tails.
More surprising, however, is that when driven harder in these conditions, it continues to hold its own. There is a slight feeling of “folding up” in the tips, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as something like the Salomon Rocker 2 122, which feels almost like hitting a wall when the tips flex deeply backward. I think part of the Schuster’s resilience in chop is related to the relatively small amount of early tip taper for a ski of this width. Whatever the recipe, the Schuster Pro is a very fun ski in deep and shallow chop and can be driven hard or ridden playfully, as you wish.
No ski this wide excels in crud compared to the best crud skis in the 105-110 mm category, like the Blizzard Cochise or 194 cm 4frnt Devastator, but those of us who ride powder skis in the 120 mm class at the ski area often find ourselves smashing around in crud at the end of a powder day when there’s no more fresh snow or soft chop to play around in. In these conditions, I most notice the relatively short sidecut radius of the Schuster Pro and the grabby feeling that comes with it when skidding on firm, bumpy snow. And this feeling is magnified by the width of the ski underfoot.
There are, however, some mitigating factors that make crud performance more tolerable. First, the relatively heavy overall mass of the ski that keeps it more planted. Second, the more traditional mount point and stiff underfoot flex does reward a hard-carved turn, which results in increased stability. This is most notable when comparing the Schuster with more playful powder skis with a more forward mount and light weight.
On smooth groomers, the Schuster Pro does very well for a ski of this width. I think the extra rebound from the flex that I note above contributes to this, as does the relatively short sidecut radius and less severe tip taper when compared to other skis of this width. The only powder ski I’ve ridden recently that surpassed the Schuster on groomers is the DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist.
In the Air
Joe Schuster spends a ton of time in the air, hitting pillows, and floating big tricks, so it’s not surprising that the Schuster Pro feels loose and well balanced in the air.
The biggest cliffs I’ve hit with these is probably in the 20-foot range and it was into deep powder. And my terrain park laps usually consist of straight airs on all the jumps, so I’m not the best person to comment on how well one can trick these skis. I can say that I haven’t done 360’s or 180’s in a few seasons, and the Schuster Pro (and the DPS Lotus 124) are skis that have inspired me to give it a go. I’ve even flailed my way through some attempts at nose butters.
If I was placing any priority on tricking, I think I’d move the mount point forward a bit to see if that made them feel even more inclined to spin, and I have to think that guys like Joey Schuster are mounting their bindings far in front of the recommended line.
Like many truly twin-tipped powder skis I’ve used, the Schuster Pro is more prone than most directional powder skis to wheelieing out of landings and runouts, but, as I wrote above, the tails are pretty forgiving when leaning back on them. I haven’t had it happen while skiing at the ski area, but while heli skiing with my guide pack (about 25-30 extra lbs of gear). I took an air a bit deeper than I had planned, and ended up landing way back on my tails. I was able to hold onto it in the runout, but really struggled to pull myself back up as I rocketed across the runout.
Mounted on Liberty’s recommended line, the Schuster Pro is a fun and versatile powder ski for those looking for a more directional ride. It’s not the surfiest powder ski on the market and doesn’t seem to be the answer for those looking to make high-speed drifts and slashes across the fall line. But it is remarkably nimble and poppy, while remaining stable enough for high-speed chop smashing. I suspect that a more forward mount position will yield a ride more true to its namesake’s skiing style. But at the recommended line, this 2300 gram, 192 cm powder board can handle big terrain and deep snow remarkably well.
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