Ski: 2020-2021 DPS Foundation Koala 119, 189 cm
Available Lengths: 179, 184, 189 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.9 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2438 & 2480 grams
Stated Dimensions: 144-119-131 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 145.2-118.5-130.9 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (all lengths): 23 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 66 mm / 62 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm
Core: Bamboo/Poplar + Carbon Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Base: “high-graphite World Cup race base”
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -6.45 cm from center; 87.0 cm from tail
- Jonathan Ellsworth: 5’10’, 175 lbs
- Luke Koppa: 5’8″, 155 lbs
Test Locations: Crested Butte & Telluride, CO
Days Skied: ~7
[Editor’s Note: After we published our review of this ski, DPS athlete, Dash Longe — who had a large role in the creation of the Koala F119 — shared his assessment of our review, and offered his own take on the ski and its purpose. And you can now check out Dash’s thoughts at the bottom of this review. Also, our review was conducted on the 19/20 Foundation Koala 119, which was not changed for 20/21.]
DPS has been making unique and progressive powder skis since the brand was founded. They gave us some of the first reverse-sidecut, reverse-camber skis, massive super-fat skis like the Spoon and Lotus 138, and recently, the excellent Alchemist Lotus 124.
But one thing that’s been missing from DPS’s line has been a freestyle-oriented, twin-tip ski. That was, until they announced the release of the brand-new Foundation Koala 119.
Given some of DPS’s long-time athletes’ freestyle backgrounds (see below), I’m honestly surprised they didn’t come out with something sooner.
(Full disclosure: DPS athlete Santiago Guzman only spins a couple times in that edit, but I mostly just wanted an excuse to post it again, since it’s one of my favorite ski edits of all time.)
Anyway, now the Koala 119 is finally here, and we’re getting it on snow today. In the meantime, let’s see how the design of DPS’s first freestyle ski compares to the competition. Spoiler alert: this isn’t your typical jib stick.
What DPS says about the Koala 119
“A new ski built for animals. The Koala started from the DPS Koalas. As the stars of DPS Cinematic, skiers like Piers Solomon and Santiago Guzman are mixing hard-charging directional skiing in deep snow with creativity and a flair for play. Over the last few months, newly minted Koala Dash Longe has taken the design reigns and sparked a quick, focused evolution of the design. Structured around a more forward mounted chassis platform that enables butters, switch skiing, and landing airs, the Koala blends directional charging with freestyle nods to create a powder-oriented all-arounder for those who want to push the creative side of their big mountain skiing.”
DPS is making it clear right away that the Koala isn’t just for spinning and flipping. Instead, they say it’s designed to mix “hard-charging directional skiing” with “creativity and a flair for play.” They also highlight the Koala’s more forward-mounted platform, talk about its ability to butter and ski switch, and mention that it’s a “powder-oriented all-arounder.” There’s a lot going on there, so let’s take a closer look at the Koala’s design to see the result.
Shape / Rocker Profile
Overall, the Koala 119 looks fairly similar to DPS’s other pow shapes — the Koala has a lot of tip taper, a more subtle tail taper line, and a slightly more symmetrical shape than their directional skis. The Koala 119’s tail looks very similar to the DPS Lotus A124’s, while the Koala’s tip looks like a blend between the tip on the DPS Wailer A112 and the Lotus A124.
The Koala 119’s rocker profile is where things start to differ more. The Koala has a deep tip rocker line, a pretty deep tail rocker line, and a high, twinned tail. The Koala has much higher tail splay and a deeper tail rocker line than most of DPS’s other pow skis.
Compared to other freestyle pow skis, the Koala 119’s rocker lines aren’t crazy — if anything, they’re fairly average when compared to skis in its class like the ON3P Kartel 116, Rossignol Black Ops 118, Line Outline, Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, Folsom Trophy, J Skis Friend, and Icelantic Nomad 115.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Koala 119:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9.5
Behind the Toe Piece: 9.5
Surprised? I know I was. My notes from hand-flexing the ski start, “This ski is stiff as f***.”
There is no part of the Koala that I’d call “soft.” It’s just really stiff, through and through. So if you thought DPS was going to make their freestyle pow ski some noodly butter stick, think again.
Overall, the flex pattern of the Koala 119 reminds me of the flex patterns of the Prior CBC and Prior Husume. All three skis never soften up that much, and instead, just have a very solid flex throughout. And of the twin-tip pow skis we’ve reviewed, the Koala 119 is definitely the stiffest (though the CBC isn’t far off).
[Editor’s Note: DPS decided to slightly soften the tips and tails of the production version of the Koala F119. We’ve been told that this change is subtle.]
While many of DPS’s skis come in on the lighter end of the spectrum, the Koala 119 is not a dainty ski. In fact, it’s one of the heavier pow skis we’ve reviewed. If you’re a frequent reader of Blister, you’ll probably know that this makes us very excited. Because heavy skis often stay more composed at higher speeds in rough snow, and since DPS is claiming that the Koala 119 mixes hard-charging directional skiing with a playful nature, its heftier weight seems to make sense.
For reference, here are a whole bunch of our measured weights (per ski, in grams) for a number of notable skis. As always, note the length differences to keep things apples to apples.
1710 & 1744 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm (17/18–18/19)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2034 & 2052 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2043 & 2046 4FRNT Inthayne, 188 cm (18/19-19/20)
2083 & 2097 Line Magnum Opus, 188 cm (15/16–18/19)
2102 & 2137 Line Sick Day 114, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2126 & 2173 Rossignol Super 7 RD, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2130 & 2130 Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 190 cm (18/19–19/20)
2133 & 2133 Salomon QST 118, 192 cm (17/18–18/19)
2183 & 2190 Black Crows Anima, 188.4 cm (17/18–19/20)
2196 & 2199 Icelantic Nomad 115, 191 cm (17/18–18/19)
2220 & 2252 Faction Prodigy 4.0, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
2212 & 2215 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2222 & 2278 Prior CBC, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2228 & 2231 Blizzard Spur, 192 cm (17/18–19/20)
2230 & 2250 Black Diamond Boundary Pro 115, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2246 & 2265 Fischer Ranger 115 FR, 188 cm (17/18–18/19)
2267 & 2270 Whitedot Ragnarok 118, 190 cm (16/17–18/19)
2296 & 2309 Liberty Origin Pro, 192 cm (17/18–19/20)
2297 & 2317 K2 Catamaran, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2341 & 2357 Dynastar PR-OTO Factory, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2343 & 2360 J Skis Friend, 189 cm (18/19)
2346 & 2351 Nordica Enforcer Pro, 191 cm (17/18–19/20)
2382 & 2395 ON3P Billy Goat, 184 cm (17/18–18/19)
2408 & 2421 ON3P Kartel 116, 186 cm (17/18–18/19)
2429 & 2437 Kingswood SMB, 188 cm (16/17–18/19)
2438 & 2480 DPS Foundation Koala 119, 189 cm (19/20)
2438 & 2492 Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2490 & 2529 K2 Catamaran, 191 cm (17/18–19/20)
In line with DPS’s claims about the Koala’s freestyle design intent, the ski comes with a pretty progressive recommended mount point of around 6.45 cm from center. That’s not crazy far forward, nor crazy far back. It’s just a pretty moderate mount point that should allow for a more balanced feel, while potentially still allowing you to drive the front of the ski (based on our experience on many other skis with similar mount points).
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) The Koala 119 has a twin tip, lots of rocker, and a progressive mount point — yet it’s super stiff and quite heavy. So our main question is: just how playful it will actually feel?
(2) On the flipside, how stable will the Koala 119 be, and will directional skiers who aren’t spinning still get along with it?
(3) At 119 mm wide, the Koala is pretty fat. So should it be thought of as a dedicated pow ski for super deep days, a versatile soft-snow ski, or even a wider all-mountain ski for high-snow areas?
(4) We can’t think of any current skis that offer the Koala 119’s combo of weight, flex pattern, and shape, so what are the most relevant comparisons going to be?
Bottom Line (For Now)
For their first freestyle pow ski, DPS went with something a bit different than what else is currently on the market. The Foundation Koala 119 has a rocker profile and shape that’s similar to many other playful pow skis, but the Koala 119 clearly stands out once you flex and weigh it. We’re spending time on the Koala 119 today, so Blister Members will soon be able to read our initial impressions in a Flash Review, and then stay tuned for our full review.
Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Koala F119 for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): I didn’t get to ski the 189 cm Koala F119 in a ton of super deep snow, but I did spend some time skiing it in about 6” of soft, wind-deposited pow.
In fresh snow, the 189 cm Koala F119 feels like a pretty loose, playful ski. It’s far from the easiest ski to flick around from your ankles — this is a ~2460 g ski after all. But weight aside, the Koala F119’s shape and rocker profile seem to make it pretty easy to pivot and slide across the fall line, rather than straight down it.
But if you do want to ski straight down the fall line, the Koala F119 can certainly do so. In all conditions, this ski just feels incredibly solid. That’s not all that important in forgiving powder, but it is useful when all that fresh snow makes you a bit too eager to hit that big cliff you’ve been eyeing all season. On landings, the Koala F119 (especially in the 189 cm length we’ve been skiing) feels extremely supportive, and again, solid.
There are plenty of skis that are looser, surfier, and otherwise more playful than the Koala F119. If you’re a freestyle skier who cares a lot more about playfulness than you do stability, this is not your ski. But if you’re a playful skier like me who places a pretty equal priority on both stability and playfulness, then the Koala F119 is definitely worth consideration.
I’m looking forward to getting the Koala F119 into some truly deep snow during the upcoming season, but after skiing it in shallower pow, I have high hopes. I doubt this’ll be the most “floaty” ski in really deep snow, due to its mount point and stiff flex pattern, but right now I have no reason to assume that it’s not gonna be fun when things get deep.
Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, 175 lbs): Apparently I lead a more charmed life than Luke, because I did get the Koala 119 in some pretty deep snow. And there was nothing I disliked about the ski when skiing in deep snow down some big lines. In fact, the bigger the line in deep snow, the more eager I would be to reach for the Koala 119 — perhaps above every other ski I’ve ever been on — unless we’re talking about snow that’s like 3 feet deeper or deeper. (At that point, I’d probably opt for the DPS Lotus 138 or Praxis Protest.)
All that said, if we’re talking about deep snow and low-angle terrain, there are plenty of other pow skis I’d probably prefer. The 189 cm Koala 119 is a big, heavy ski, so not the best tool out there for noodling around at low speeds in low angle terrain. (For that, DPS offers several other skis that will work very well.) The Koala 119 is a big-mountain gun.
Luke: Ah, soft chop. It’s what most of us spend our time in during our inbounds “powder days,” and some people dread it.
But I’m not one of those people. Yes, I’ll take pure, untouched pow over chop any day. But soft chop can still be really fun, especially if you’ve got a ski like the Koala F119 under your feet.
The Koala F119 blasts through soft chop like few other skis I’ve been on. If, say, the run in front of you has only seen a few other skiers hit it before you, I doubt you’ll be able to feel their tracks if you’re on the Koala F119. Its very stiff flex pattern and very heavy weight make this ski extremely capable when it comes to mobbing through soft chop.
That said, this is a good time to bring up skiing stance and style. If you’re a directional skier who (1) likes to drive the front of your skis super hard, (2) values precision and power over a loose feel, and / or (3) have gotten along well with really burly chargers with traditional mount points, there are better options for you than the Koala F119.
The Koala F119 feels best to me when skied with a pretty centered or slightly forward stance, but it’s not a ski that encourages me to get all over the shovels. Combine that with its notable amount of tip taper and tail rocker, and I think aggressive directional skiers will be better off on similarly heavy skis with more rearward mount points.
But for me, the stance that the Koala F119 encourages is just about perfect. I appreciate a balanced feel and a ski that I can ride centered, but I also like to drive the front of my skis a bit when skiing fast. The Koala F119 lets me do exactly that. I can rally it hard through the front in open terrain, switch to a neutral stance before and during an air, and then get back on the shovels during the runout. Given how strong and composed the Koala F119 is at speed, that makes it really fun to mess around on in soft chop.
Jonathan: I liked everything about the Koala F 119 in soft chop. I didn’t feel like I had to get off the shovels of the ski / couldn’t drive the shovels as hard as I wanted … but maybe that’s because the ski let’s you go very, very fast so comfortably, that I was perhaps keeping a more centered stance in order to anticipate and adjust to terrain changes — they tended to come up quick on this ski.
In sum, the weight, length, and rocker profile are pretty ideal for skiing hard and fast in chop. And I personally found no downside to the ~6.5 cm mount point.
Firm Chop / Crud
Luke: This is where Jonathan and I started to have some interesting discussions about flex patterns and suspension / damping, and what spurred a conversation with DPS’s Stephan Drake on this episode of our GEAR:30 podcast (see around 36:25).
Compared to the rest of the pow-ski market, I think the Koala F119 we tested is very good in firm chop and crud. I think it’s quite damp; its looser feel makes it easier to move around than similarly heavy, but more directional skis with less rocker; and it does a good job of mowing through / over rough snow. So yes, the Koala F119 is a very good ski (for its width) when it comes to skiing fast in firm chop and crud.
But Jonathan and I also thought that, if DPS slightly softened up the tips and tails of the 189 cm Koala F119, it could go from “very good” to “excellent.” To me, the suspension of the 189 cm Koala F119 we tested didn’t feel quite as “plush” during harsh impacts compared to similarly heavy skis that are a bit softer at the ends (e.g., Rossi Black Ops 118).
And lo and behold, DPS did decide to slightly soften up the Koala F119 for the production run of the ski. So there’s a chance that the version of the Koala F119 that you’ll see on the rack at your local dealer may offer slightly better suspension in really rough snow. Given that we already think the Koala F119 that we tested is very, very good in rough snow, we’re excited about this update, though we can’t say how subtle or significant the reported update feels on snow.
Jonathan: Yep, I really liked the version we skied a lot. But with a slightly softer flex, I have every expectation that I will like the ski’s suspension even more.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
Luke: Astute readers might be able to guess what I’m about to say here.
The Koala F119 is one of the heaviest and stiffest skis we’ve reviewed. And with its fairly progressive mount point, you have a lot of very stiff tail behind the bindings. So no, this is not a quick or nimble or otherwise sprightly ski.
And yet, I didn’t find myself thinking that the 189 cm Koala F119 felt particularly punishing in tight terrain (even as a fairly small individual at 5’8”, 155 lbs).
If I had to guess, I think this comes down to the Koala F119’s deeper rocker lines (which make it pretty easy to pivot), and the fact that its flex pattern is consistently stiff, rather than being soft in the front and disproportionately stiffer in the back.
I’m not a former racer, and I don’t bend the crap out of the shovels of my skis. Yes, I still often ski with a forward stance, but I also move around my stance a lot, including getting more centered / neutral or *gasp* backseat. Because of this, I find skis with more symmetrical or “round” flex patterns to feel very intuitive. There’s something about having an even flex in front of and behind my boots that just feels comfortable to me. While it’s a very stiff flex pattern, the Koala F119’s flex pattern is pretty symmetrical. I think that’s a big reason behind it having a pretty large sweet spot, given how stiff it is overall. And since DPS is softening up the ends a bit, I would be even less worried about the stiffness of the Koala F119’s tail.
Would I recommend the Koala F119 to beginners or intermediates? Nope. There are plenty of softer and / or lighter options that will work better for those skiers.
But I think advanced to expert skiers will not have too much trouble with the stiffness of the Koala F119’s tail. If anything, I’d focus more on the Koala F119’s hefty weight — it requires a good deal of physical input to move around.
So, in summary, the Koala F119 is pretty easy to slide / pivot on the snow, its tail is not extremely punishing, but it is not very easy to quickly flick around. I think the key point here is that this is a ski that feels extremely solid at high speeds, but is not a massive handful in tight terrain (unlike some more traditional, directional skis with similar high-speed stability). And I imagine that the shorter lengths of the Koala F119 will offer a more balanced mix of high-speed stability and low-speed maneuverability.
Jonathan: I think the most useful thing I can add is that, the more physical strength you have, and the more able / willing / interested you are to put the required input into this ski when skiing in moguls and tight terrain, the more you’ll get along with it. So if you aren’t sure or are worried about this, I’d assume it’s safe to say that you probably shouldn’t go with the 189 cm model of this ski. So as Luke said, it’s not that this ski will kick your ass if you make a mistake, it’s just that it does require you to muscle it around a bit.
Luke: Nothing particularly out of the ordinary to report here.
The Koala F119 can carve clean turns on groomers, from GS to Super-G sizes. Its edge hold feels pretty good for a ski this wide (and with this much rocker), you can get some energy out of it, and it does a very good job of smoothing out end-of-day, roughed-up groomers. It doesn’t “pull” you into a turn like less tapered skis can, and I wouldn’t break it out on days when it hasn’t snowed all week. But it’s totally fine and predictable on groomed snow — this isn’t some ski that’s only good in super soft snow.
Jonathan: Yep. It’s a totally fine and competent and predictable ski on edge.
Luke: This was one of our biggest questions coming into this review — just how playful would the Koala F119 feel?
Like many skis, the Koala F119 is playful in some regards, and not very playful in others.
The Koala F119 is easy to break free from a carved turn, it’s pretty balanced in the air, you can ski it centered, and it produces a lot of energy when you bend it (though it does require a lot of physical effort to do so).
But the Koala F119 is also stiff and heavy. That means it’s not easy to butter on firm snow and it feels pretty sluggish in the air. You can definitely butter it in soft snow (where you’re pressing into the snow more than the ski itself) and I got used to the weight pretty quickly. But if it’s not clear already, those seeking maximum playfulness should look to lighter, softer options.
To me, the Koala F119 makes the most sense for skiers who want a ski that will make skiing fast to and from features much more comfortable, and who place less of a priority on a low swing weight, forgiving flex pattern, and super loose feel.
Who’s It For?
Physically strong, aggressive, yet playful skiers looking for a supportive pow ski that will let them ski fast and throw the occasional trick in softer snow.
Don’t get the Koala F119 if you know you love light and / or soft skis that are super easy to spin, press, and flick around. For you, we’d recommend taking a look at the “Powder Skis – More Playful” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide (and keep an eye out for new skis in that class in our upcoming 19/20 Winter Buyer’s Guide).
We also wouldn’t recommend the Koala F119 to directional skiers who love a precise, fairly “locked-in” feel, and don’t care much about being able to ski centered or slashing out the tails of their skis. If you fall into that category, we’d suggest that you check out the “Powder Skis – More Directional” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide.
But if you prefer a looser feel in your pow skis, appreciate a ski that feels balanced in the air, and you want a ski that feels composed, damp, and very solid at high speeds, the Koala F119 is worth a good look.
We mentioned in our First Look that the DPS Foundation Koala 119 is not that similar to most other playful pow skis on the market. But after skiing it, we think the design makes a lot of sense for certain skiers. If you find yourself thinking that most playful pow skis are too flimsy and unstable, but find most directional pow skis to be too one-dimensional / not playful enough, the Koala F119 should be on your short list.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive of the Koala F119 to see how it stacks up against the Rossignol Black Ops 118, Prior CBC, Dynastar Menace Proto, J Skis Friend, ON3P Jeffrey 116, Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, Volkl Revolt 121, Nordica Enforcer Pro, Icelantic Nomad 115, Faction Candide 5.0, and Faction Candide 4.0.
[Editor’s Note: After we posted our review of the Koala F119, we got a note from DPS athlete, Dash Longe, who had a very significant role in the design and development of the Koala F119 — especially the burliest, 189 cm version of the ski. So we thought we’d include here what he had to say. Take it away, Dash…]
Thoughts on the Koala 119 from DPS athlete, Dash Longe
“I think Luke and Jonathan’s interpretation of the Koala 119 is spot on in many ways.
This ski isn’t a jib stick. It’s a big mountain charging ski for the progressive skier that wants the ability to land backwards and butter without giving up the ability to stomp 70-foot cliffs if they decide the day is right to step to some huge shit. If we wanted to make a jib ski, then we would have made one.
My understanding of this ski is that it was mainly built to shred super hard on any snow Mother Nature might have laid in front of your eyes, or is possibly hiding under her seemingly fresh surface that you weren’t at all anticipating, i.e: wind pack, dust on crush that appears to be pow, or the classic, “Looks gorgeous from across the valley but oh shit, this face is an ice wall and I’m already doing 25mph.” (Not a moment most consumers experience unless they like to ski big mountains in the high alpi
We refined it from early prototypes so it would be able to stomp both forward and backward in hardpack or on the deepest of days. We optimized it to handle the weight of a 200-pound human going top speed off of a massive cliff and provide them with enough ski to ride out of an incredible amount of force without being sent into an unrecoverable wheelie. This ski has the ability for its rider to lean into it and load it up in powder like a slalom skier. That is a very unique characteristic.
This is the age-old battle of playfulness vs. stability, the Koala 119 is for very advanced and aggressive skiers. To ski this ski how it was built to be skied is not likely going to be easy for a jibber or someone who isn’t used to leaning into the tongue of their boot in order to reach maximum arc capacity.”