Ski: 2019-2020 Kye Shapes Metamorph, 185 cm
Available Length: 185 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.3 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2100 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2125 & 2134 grams
Stated Dimensions: 137-114-130.3 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 137.6-114.5-130.6 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (185 cm): 23.5 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 66 mm / 58 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3-4 mm
Core: aspen/maple + fiberglass laminate
Base: sintered graphite
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -3.65 cm from center; 88.0 cm from tail
Test Location: Crested Butte, CO
Days Skied: ~9
In my opinion (and many others’), Kye Petersen is one of the best big-mountain skiers out there right now. He’s been voted “Skier of the Year,” he’s been in tons of films, and if you don’t believe me, watch below his Chatter Creek segment from his film, Numinous. Oh, and then watch the entire film, cause it’s amazing.
In the past, Kye skied for a number of different brands, but now he’s doing something different — designing his own skis. Kye Shapes is his new ski brand, and we’ll be reviewing both of the skis currently in the line, the Numinous and the Metamorph.
Kye Shapes skis are built in Pemberton, British Columbia by Foon Skis, a company started by Johnny “Foon” Chilton, who has been making skis there for many years. Kye, Johnny, and another badass BC skier, Matty Richard, all helped to make the 19/20 Kye Shapes lineup.
So, even just with that backstory, many of us at Blister were extremely excited to see what Kye, Foon, & Matty came up with. Now that we have the skis in hand, we’re even more excited. We’ll be posting a video First Look ASAP, but in the meantime, let’s dive into the details of the Metamorph.
What Kye Shapes says about the Metamorph
“The Metamorph came out of what Kye wanted in a true all mountain ski. At 114mm under foot and 185 in length, this ski is designed to perform well in moderately deep powder yet is lighter and more manageable on long backcountry tours or days when you’re skiing mostly in resort and still want the option to duck the ropes to find secret powder stashes.
This ski has a slightly longer running surface than the Numinous (yet shorter overall length) with shorter blend curves, tighter radius rockers and a tighter sidecut. Kye finds this ski to be the most well rounded in his quiver. It’s his tool of choice for back to back days on the resort when there hasn’t been a whole lot of recent snow and for foot powered skiing on the most remote peaks. It is also a fun choice for getting tricky at any backcountry booter session where weight and size are optimally toned down.”
Now, I know some people are about to smash their keyboard and type out something along the lines of “a 114mm-wide ski is way too wide to be an all-mountain ski!!!!”
But let’s keep in mind that Kye predominantly skis in British Columbia, where they tend to get just a bit of snow. So this is Kye’s take on an all-mountain ski, and we’re very curious to see how it performs as such here in Crested Butte.
While the Metamorph is wider than many “all-mountain” skis, it’s still supposed to do the things that a lot of other brands talk about when referencing their all-mountain skis — float in moderately deep powder, handle days when it hasn’t snowed in a while, and the Metamorph, in particular, is also supposed to be light enough to haul around under your own power.
Given all the crazy materials and designs that have been put out in skis over the years, the Metamorph’s construction is fairly simple. It uses an aspen/maple wood core, fiberglass, a sintered base, and all of that is put together in a full-sidewall construction and pressed in Pemberton.
And you know what? I like that. While there are plenty of very good skis with wild tech that’s fun to talk about, there are also a ton of really good skis that keep things simple with time-tested materials.
What’s also cool is that Foon / Kye Shapes is a certified B-Corp, they source the vast majority of their materials from North America, their wood cores are all sustainably harvested in Canada, they recycle all excess base and edge materials, and the scraps of wood from the skis are used to heat Johnny’s house during the winter.
Shape / Rocker Profile
Kye Shapes talks about the Metamorph’s shorter blend curves and tighter-radius rockers [vs. the wider, 122mm-wide Kye Shapes Numinous], and that’s accurate. Compared to the very tapered Numinous, the Metamorph’s tips and tails don’t start tapering quite as early.
But the Metamorph is still far from a traditionally shaped ski — it’s much more tapered than something like the Volkl Confession, Liberty Origin 112, or Icelantic Nomad 115. Overall, the Metamorph’s shape is not all that far off from the Nordica Enforcer Free 115, Prior CBC, J Skis Friend, and Moment Wildcat, though there are still some differences between them.
For a 114mm-wide ski — and especially one that’s designed with freestyle performance in mind — the Metamorph’s rocker lines are fairly shallow. It has nearly symmetrical tip and tail rocker lines, but there are plenty of similarly wide skis in the “Powder Skis — More Playful” section and even the “All-Mountain Freestyle” section of our 19/20 Winter Buyer’s Guide that have much deeper rocker lines.
The Metamorph still looks like it’ll be a very playful ski and its tail seems high enough for skiing and landing switch in most conditions, but it’s by no means some super-rockered ski. We’re curious to see how that plays out in terms of how surfy and loose the Metamorph feels, and how solid it feels on edge when conditions aren’t ideal.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Metamorph:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-10
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-8.5
The Metamorph has a nice, round flex pattern that’s pretty strong. There are lots of directional skis in this class that have stiffer tails and / or tips, but the Metamorph is stiffer overall than a good number of the more playful skis in this category.
On our pair of the Metamorph, the ends of its tails are actually ever-so-slightly softer than the tips, which is something we’ve seen on a few skis that are designed to land switch in deep snow (where a softer tail can plane up easier). But this difference is very subtle.
On a note of pure speculation — I think I’m really going to like the flex pattern of the Metamorph. The ends of the ski seem like they’ll be fairly easy to bend while still being supportive, and the middle of the ski feels nice and strong. And all the changes in the flex pattern of the Metamorph are nice and smooth — no hinge points or abrupt shifts.
The Metamorph has a line labeled “Kye’s Mount Point,” which on our pair is -3.65 cm from true center. Kye Shapes said they’ve also had positive feedback from people skiing the Metamorph a cm or so behind that line (around -4.5 cm from true center on our pair).
Both of those mount points are pretty far forward and are in line with the more freestyle-oriented skis in this class. But we’ll definitely be playing around with the mount point on the Metamorph to see how it responds — and if changing the mount point can alter how you can ski the Metamorph (e.g., forward vs. centered).
For its size, the Metamorph is a fairly light ski, but by no means crazy light. At an average weight of ~2130 grams per ski for the 185 cm length (the only currently available length), the Metamorph falls between hefty resort skis like the Nordica Enforcer Free 115 & J Skis Friend and much lighter, touring-oriented skis like the Moment Wildcat Tour, Atomic Bent Chetler 120, and Moment Deathwish Tour.
The Metamorph’s weight is fairly similar to the Moment Wildcat and Line Sick Day 114, two skis many of us really like — and that some of us would be very happy using for a mix of resort and backcountry skiing.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1660 & 1680 Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm (19/20)
1710 & 1744 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1753 & 1756 Renoun Citadel 114, 186 cm (19/20)
1795 & 1817 Moment Wildcat Tour, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1808 & 1809 Line Pescado, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm (17/18–19/20)
1959 & 1975 Volkl V-Werks Katana, 184 cm (15/16–19/20)
1964 & 1972 Moment Deathwish, 184 cm (19/20)
2006 & 2011 Rossignol Super 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2019 & 2051 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm (19/20)
2024 & 2031 Line Outline, 186 cm (19/20)
2034 & 2052 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2043 & 2046 4FRNT Inthayne, 188 cm (18/19-19/20)
2097 & 2103 Liberty Origin 112, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2102 & 2137 Line Sick Day 114, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2105 & 2185 Head Kore 117, 189 cm (19/20)
2125 & 2134 Kye Shapes Metamorph, 185 cm (19/20)
2126 & 2173 Rossignol Super 7 RD, 190 cm (17/18–19/20)
2147 & 2286 Prior CBC, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20)
2174 & 2187 Moment Wildcat, 190 cm (18/19–19/20)
2188 & 2190 Prior Northwest 110, 190 cm (19/20)
2212 & 2215 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2220 & 2252 Faction Prodigy 4.0, 186 cm (18/19–19/20)
2221 & 2245 ON3P Jeffrey 108, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
2280 & 2286 Icelantic Nomad 115, 191 cm (19/20)
2343 & 2360 J Skis Friend, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2346 & 2351 Nordica Enforcer Free 115, 191 cm (17/18–19/20)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) For many people, a 114mm-wide ski is pretty wide for an “all-mountain” ski, so just how versatile will the Metamorph be across a wide range of conditions?
(2) Kye Shapes talks about the Metamorph’s performance in “moderately deep snow,” but could it serve as a dedicated pow ski for some people? How will it compare to similarly wide skis in terms of float?
(3) The Metamorph has a progressive mount point and a pretty symmetrical rocker profile and shape, so how playful and freestyle oriented will it feel?
(4) While it looks like it’ll be fun in the air, how stable will the Metamorph feel when skied with more of a directional style?
(5) The Metamorph isn’t super light, but it’s also not super heavy. So how will it perform in cruddy, challenging resort conditions, particularly compared to heavier, dedicated inbounds skis?
Bottom Line (For Now)
Given Kye Petersen’s skiing background, we have very high hopes for the Kye Shapes Metamorph. It looks like a playful, yet still pretty strong ski that could potentially work in a wide range of conditions and skiing scenarios, from lapping to the resort to skinning for good snow in the backcountry. We’ll be getting the Metamorph on snow ASAP, so stay tuned for updates.
Sam Shaheen, Eric Freson, and I have now all spent some time on the Kye Shapes Metamorph, and all of us came away with very positive impressions. While this won’t be a ski for everyone, for the right people, it will be excellent. Let’s dive in:
Kye Shapes calls the Metamorph an all-mountain ski, but at 114 mm underfoot, many people will be considering it as their pow ski, so let’s start there.
We’ve skied the Metamorph in up to about a foot of snow, and it’s been great in anything soft. I never experienced any unpredictable tip dive, the ski is super easy to slarve around in soft snow, and overall, it felt like a fun, playful, and surfy ski in powder. While it doesn’t have super crazy rocker lines, its tapered shape is, I believe, a big part of what makes it easy to slide sideways through soft snow (and probably why it doesn’t feel crazy loose or unpredictable on firm snow).
One thing that’s stood out across the board with the Metamorph is its preference for a more neutral, centered stance. This is not a ski that encourages you to really get over the shovels and drive it in a traditional manner. While you can ski it with fairly strong pressure on the front of your boots (and that helps in rough snow), in powder, this is a ski that feels best when you have most of your weight balanced around the middle of the ski. And I’d say that’s most noticeable in deeper snow — those accustomed to more rearward-mounted skis will likely need some time to adjust their stance and back off the shovels of the Metamorph compared to most directional skis.
But ski it centered, and the Metamorph is predictable and surfy in deep snow. For a place like Crested Butte that doesn’t see many 2’+ storms — and as a person who prefers more playful, forward-mounted skis — I think I could be happy with the Metamorph as my widest ski.
Pow is great and all, but if you’re skiing inbounds, most of us end up skiing way more chop than pure, untracked pow. And compared to the current crop of playful, ~115mm-wide skis, the Metamorph is a blast in soft chop.
One of the defining features of the Metamorph is just how good it feels in the air, and how extremely solid it feels on landings. On soft chop days, all I’m looking for is things to jump off, and the Metamorph is pretty dang ideal for that. It just feels incredibly good when touching down after a big drop or boosting off a side hit.
In terms of stability in soft chop, the Metamorph is quite good. Again though, it’s important to think about your skiing stance. If you love to drive the shovels of your skis through patches of chop and crud, you may not find the Metamorph to feel super stable. But if you’re used to skiing through these conditions with a more neutral, upright stance — and especially if you’re coming from playful, freestyle-oriented skis that encourage this — I think the Metamorph will feel quite stable in soft chop.
The Metamorph does not get knocked around a lot in soft chop. It’s not a super damp, chop-demolisher, but it’s far from some noodly ski that you need to ski super light on your feet. And, just like in pow, the Metamorph feels pretty loose in soft chop so it’s very easy to shut down speed in the event that you go a bit too big or a squadron of ski-schoolers cuts in front of you mid-straight-line.
Firm Chop / Crud
Kye Shapes mentioned that the Metamorph is designed to handle the days between storms, so it better do pretty well in cruddy conditions. And overall, I’d say it does — with some caveats.
When the snow is more consolidated (think a couple days after a pow day during a freeze-thaw cycle) and more difficult to just blast through, the Metamorph gets knocked around more than in soft chop (no surprise there). I’d say its suspension / damping is still quite good for its weight (doesn’t feel harsh), but its tapered, fairly symmetrical shape makes it feel best suited to ski fast through the smoother snow, and burn some speed with a quick slash before blasting into the cruddy snow. Fortunately, quick changes of direction and slashes are still very easy on the Metamorph in crud, so skiing with this technique feels intuitive and predictable.
In the category of playful, ~115mm-wide skis, there are heavier options that stay a bit more composed in these sort of conditions, but the Metamorph doesn’t feel totally out of place in them. Overall, I’d call the Metamorph a very versatile, 114mm-wide ski.
All that said, it’s still important to keep in mind that this is not a ski that you can drive super hard. All else being equal, skis with more rearward mount points often feel more stable in cruddy snow, since you can put more pressure on the shovels to help keep them pointed in the right direction. I could ski the Metamorph with a bit of pressure on the shovels, but not as much as most directional skis, which made it feel a bit less stable for me compared to similarly heavy skis that let me drive them a bit more. But if you’re not someone who always wants or needs to be driving your shovels through crud, this won’t be an issue.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
Overall, the Metamorph is a very maneuverable ski. Its tails are not at all “locked in,” and its swing weight feels pretty low for how heavy and big it actually is. But it’s also quite strong through the middle of the ski and its mount point means there’s a lot of tail behind you.
So, what that equates to is a ski that’s very easy to slip and slide through tight spots, provided you don’t get super far back onto the tails. Particularly in very steep bumps, there were a few times where I could feel the Metamorph’s tail behind me and had to make a more conscious effort to unweight it before making the next turn. The good news is that, since its tail is pretty tapered and rockered, it doesn’t get hung up very easily. But there’s still a lot of pretty strong ski behind your boots. Just stay centered or a bit forward, and it’s not an issue.
One area where I came to really love the Metamorph was in the many zones in Crested Butte where there’s an air that’s preceded and followed by pretty tight terrain. The Metamorph is easy to slash and make quick turns before the air, feels amazing in the air and on the landing, and then it’s pretty easy to quickly slash after landing so I don’t go careening into a tree. In other words, the Metamorph is high on the list for skis I’d choose for attempting to make my way down a steep pillow line.
I wouldn’t call the Metamorph particularly exciting or inspiring on groomers (few ~114mm-wide skis are), but it’s also far from scary. For how much taper and rocker it has, the Metamorph holds an edge quite well, and nothing weird happened while carving it back to the lift.
As with most tapered skis, and especially more center-mounted, tapered skis, the Metamorph wants you to carve from a more centered stance and doesn’t really pull you across the fall line. But once I got some speed going, I was happily making GS and larger-sized turns on the Metamorph. As I alluded to before, the Metamorph doesn’t feel super loose on firm snow, but does feel pretty surfy in soft snow, which is good since Kye Shapes isn’t positioning this ski as some powder-only tool.
For someone who’s interested in a 114mm-wide, playful ski that will spend a bit of time on groomed snow, there’s nothing about the Metamorph’s performance on piste that would make me dissuade you from considering it.
We’ve been spending most of our time on the Metamorph with the bindings on the recommended line (around -3.6 cm from true center). But since the Metamorph’s preference for a centered stance has been one of its defining features, I ended up trying it at -1 and -2 cm from that recommended line (-4.6 and -5.6 cm from true center, respectively).
All in all, I didn’t notice any drastic differences while moving the bindings. Even at -5.6 cm, the Metamorph still felt best when skied pretty centered. I didn’t really notice myself being able to drive it more, and my main takeaway was that I just felt a bit less tail behind me in very steep terrain.
But then the ski felt a bit less balanced in the air. And so, because of this, I ended up liking it best on the recommended line (who would’ve thought, these ski designers seem to have nailed the recommended line?).
The Metamorph feels like a ski designed with a playful skier in mind, but one who wants to ski hard and fast.
As I’ve noted, the Metamorph feels great in the air (balanced and low swing weight) and amazing on landings. The only other ski Sam and I have used that rivals the vague “stomp factor” of the Metamorph is the Prior CBC — and that is high praise. It just feels so good to come back to earth on this ski.
A big part of why the Metamorph feels so great after jumping off stuff is its very strong flex pattern across most of the middle of the ski, which does take a bit away from its playfulness at slow speeds. Butters are easy in soft snow, but on firm snow where you’re actually flexing the ski, they’re a bit more difficult than many of the softer (and less stable) skis in this class. I also wouldn’t call the Metamorph super poppy, though bigger / stronger skiers may feel different. (It’s far from a dead ski, but I didn’t feel like I was bending and loading it much at 5’8”, 155 lbs.)
Who’s It For?
Intermediate to expert skiers who love to jump off things, ski with a more centered stance, and want a playful ski with plenty of backbone.
If you’re a directional skier who loves to get over the shovels of your skis, I’d recommend something with a more rearward mount point (see the “Powder Skis – More Directional” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide). And if you’re a beginner who’s prone to ski in the backseat, I think you’d be better off on something with a softer tail (see the “All-Mountain – More Forgiving” section of our Winter Buyer’s Guide).
But for skiers accustomed to more forward-mounted skis who don’t want a super-soft butter stick, the Metamorph should be very appealing. It’s happy to slash and slarve around, feels awesome in the air, yet is strong and just heavy enough to be skied very hard in most conditions. While it’s plenty capable for inbounds use, it’s also light enough to serve as a 50/50 or dedicated touring ski for some. I think it could certainly function as a 1-ski quiver for places that don’t see a lot of very icy snow, a powder ski for many people, or that special ski in the quiver for when the snow’s decent and you’re looking to see just how big you can hit that cliff, just how many spins you can do off that little side hit, just how much you can impress the folks on the chairlift, etc.
The Kye Shapes Metamorph fills a niche very well. It feels well suited to skiers with more playful styles, yet it’s also very strong and pretty stable. It seems pretty ideal for former park-rats turned big-mountain freeriders, or anyone who wants a wider ski that’s surfy and playful but fully capable of skiing hard all over the mountain, whether it’s super deep or it hasn’t snowed in a while.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Metamorph to see how it compares to the Prior CBC, Icelantic Nomad 105, Icelantic Nomad 115, Moment Deathwish, Moment Wildcat, Blizzard Rustler 11, Faction Prodigy 4.0, Nordica Enforcer 115 Free, Nordica Enforcer 110 Free, DPS Foundation Koala 119, Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer, Dynastar M-Free 118, Volkl Revolt 121, Faction Candide 4.0.