Ski: 2021-2022 Elan Wingman 86 CTi, 184 cm
Days Skied: 7
Available Lengths: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 182.9 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2235 & 2236 — including binding plates
Stated Dimensions: 131-86-115 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 130.4-85.2-114.3 mm mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 17.4 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 50 mm / 15 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3 mm
Core: poplar/maple + carbon tubes + titanal layer + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.95 cm from center; 83.5 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Mach1 130 MV / Elan EMX 12.0 GW Fusion X
[Note: our review was conducted on the 20/21 Wingman 86 CTi, which returns unchanged for 21/22, apart from graphics.]
The term “all-mountain” is one of the most ambiguous in the ski industry, with one skier’s or company’s definition frequently varying a lot from another’s.
The Wingman 86 CTi is one of a number of “all-mountain” skis offered by Elan, and frankly, I was a bit suspicious of that description when I first saw it, since this ski looks pretty similar to a lot of more piste-specific skis on the market.
But upon further inspection (and more importantly, lots of time on-snow) the Wingman 86 CTi has proven to live up to its “all-mountain” designation. So let’s get into the details.
What Elan says about the Wingman 86 CTi
“The Wingman 86 CTi blends the finesse to tackle off-piste terrain with powerful carving capability, making it your ultimate mountain companion.
As the widest ski in the Wingman series, the Wingman 86 CTi is the bridge to the Ripstick collection. Wide enough to explore off piste, but crushes groomers from early morning light to afternoon bumps. It rips through soft snow and chews up the hardpack. The Laminated Woodcore is enhanced with Amphibio Truline, Carbon Rods and Mono Ti construction for increased stability, responsiveness and overall performance, the Wingman 86 C Ti exudes energy across every turn you make on the mountain.”
While it’s a bit on the over-zealous side in terms of phrasing (“crushes,” “rips,” “chews”), I think Elan’s description of the Wingman 86 CTi is actually pretty accurate. Elan highlights its carving performance, but also notes that it’s “wide enough” to head off piste, effectively serving as the in-between option for those who aren’t sure they want or need the wider “freeride” skis in the Ripstick collection.
Elan Wingman & Wildcat Lineup
The full Wingman and Wildcat (women’s version) series serves as the more versatile, less piste-oriented alternative to Elan’s Amphibio / Insomnia series, while reportedly being better suited to more advanced skiers than their beginner-focused Element series.
The Wingman and Wildcat series span a lot of models, with the full series listed below:
Elan Wingman Collection:
- Wingman 78 C
- Wingman 78 Ti
- Wingman 82 Ti
- Wingman 82 CTi
- Wingman 86 Ti
- Wingman 86 CTi
Elan Wildcat Collection:
- Wildcat 76
- Wildcat 82 C
- Wildcat 82 CX
- Wildcat 86 CX
On the men’s / Wingman side of things, the main difference between the “Ti” and “CTi” models is that the CTi versions feature Elan’s “TubeLite Woodcore,” which features carbon tubes embedded in the core near the edges.
Similar story with the women’s / Wildcat series, with the “CX” models featuring a TubeLite Woodcore, while the “C” models do not feature those carbon tubes. Additionally, the women’s Wildcat skis do not include any models with a layer of titanal metal, instead replacing it with a layer of carbon fiber. Many of the men’s Wingman models with metal do run down to a 160 cm length, but worth noting.
On that note about construction…
There’s a lot going on here. The Wingman 86 CTi starts with a poplar / maple wood core, and then adds the aforementioned carbon tubes to reportedly add “torsional rigidity and powerful rebound.”
All of the Wingman and Wildcat skis feature an asymmetrical design, with deliberately different “left” and “right” skis (conveniently marked on the top sheet of each ski). In terms of the core construction, this is most obvious due to the Wingman 86 CTi’s layer of titanal metal. It spans edge-to-edge underfoot, but then tapers as you move to the tips or tail of the ski. The metal layer goes to the sidewall on the inside edge of each ski, but doesn’t cover the whole ski all the way to the outer edge near the tips and tails. The idea here is that you get more power, precision, and torsional rigidity where you need it (inside edge), while maintaining a looser, more forgiving feel on the outside edges.
Shape / Rocker Profile
The Wingman 86 CTi’s shape is not asymmetrical, but its rocker profile is. Overall, it’s mostly cambered, but it does have tip and tail rocker. And while the difference is small (see our rocker pics), the rocker lines on the outside edges of this ski are deeper than those on the inside edges. In terms of design concept, it’s the same theory as the ski’s asymmetrical core construction — more precision on the inside edges, looser feel on the outside edges.
Compared to most other skis in the <90mm-wide category, the Wingman 86 CTi’s rocker lines are notable. They’re certainly not wildly deep, but they’re deeper than a lot of other similarly narrow skis. The Wingman 86 CTi’s rocker lines are quite subtle, in that they do not rise abruptly until near the tips and tails, but this ski has deeper rocker lines than something like the Salomon S/Force Bold, Liberty Evolv 90, or even the Blizzard Brahma 88.
The Wingman 86 CTi’s shape is more standard, with a slightly more tapered tail shape than piste-specific skis, but overall a pretty traditional shape with a very long effective edge.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Wingman 86 CTi:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8
For a ski in this class, the Wingman 86 CTi has a surprisingly accessible and almost symmetrical flex pattern. It hand-flexes notably softer than, say, the Blizzard Brahma 88 or Nordica Enforcer 88, particularly through the back-half of the ski.
That’s not to say the Wingman 86 CTi is some noodle, but in general, the <90mm-wide skis we’ve flexed have been on the stiffer end, and in comparison, the Wingman 86 CTi feels a bit more forgiving.
Nothing super out of the ordinary here. At a stated 17.4 meters for the 184 cm length we’ve been skiing, the Wingman 86 CTi’s sidecut radius is right around the middle of the pack.
Now, this is a bit out of the ordinary. The recommended mount point on our pair of the Wingman 86 CTi is around -8 cm from the true center of the ski. That’s not super far forward when looking at wider all-mountain skis, but it is a bit closer to center than most similarly narrow options out there.
Our pair of the 184 cm Wingman 86 CTi came with binding plates already installed (it’s also available as a flat ski), and with the ski + plates (binding toe and heel removed), the ski came in at 2235 grams per ski.
I’d hoped to get a weight without the binding plates, but honestly … I just could not figure out how to get them off (despite shouting out lots of four-letter words while scouring the internet). So anyway, with a bit of speculation, that measured weight puts the Wingman 86 CTi somewhere around the middle of the pack when it comes to weight. It’s not nearly as light as the K2 Disruption 78C or Black Crows Orb, but I doubt it’s as heavy as the Nordica Enforcer 88 or Blizzard Brahma 88. And that framing is also based on real-world experience regarding how these skis feel on snow.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences and those with binding plates included to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1728 & 1750 Renoun Atlas 80, 177 cm (19/20–20/21)
1758 & 1758 Head Kore 93, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1790 & 1828 Black Crows Orb, 179.1 cm (19/20–21/22)
1801 & 1839 Salomon Stance 90, 176 cm (20/21–21/22)
1810 & 1828 Armada Declivity 92 Ti, 180 cm (20/21–21/22)
1855 & 1877 Liberty Evolv 90, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
1863 & 1894 Blizzard Rustler 9, 180 cm (18/19–21/22)
1911 & 1917 K2 Disruption 82Ti, 177 cm (20/21–21/22)
1937 & 1945 Fischer Ranger 94 FR, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
1947 & 2022 Liberty V92, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
1952 & 1958 Renoun Endurance 88, 184 cm (21/22)
1990 & 2036 Blizzard Brahma 88, 177 cm (20/21–21/22)
1999 & 2060 Line Blade, 181 cm (20/21–21/22)
2008 & 2015 Folsom Spar 88, 182 cm (18/19–20/21)
2043 & 2089 Volkl M6 Mantra, 177 cm (21/22)
2049 & 2065 Volkl M5 Mantra, 177 cm (18/19–20/21)
2098 & 2105 Nordica Enforcer 88, 179 cm (19/20–21/22)
2131 & 2194 Nordica Enforcer 88, 186 cm (19/20–21/22)
2178 & 2195 Volkl M6 Mantra, 184 cm (21/22)
2235 & 2236* Elan Wingman 86 CTi, 184 cm (19/20–21/22)
2414 & 2441* Salomon S/Force Bold, 177 cm (19/20–21/22)
*weights include binding mounting plates
So that’s a good bit about the design of the Wingman 86 CTi, now let’s talk about how it performs on snow.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): I’ve now had the chance to ski the 184 cm Wingman 86 CTi in what I’d consider to be pretty “all-mountain” conditions and terrain. Meaning, everything from super firm, man-made, early season groomers to Mt. Crested Butte’s steeps, and plenty of bumps and trees in between.
Let’s kick things off where the Wingman 86 CTi excels: groomed snow.
“But Luke, you said this was an “all-mountain” ski!?!?!”
Well, first off, I’m flattered you read and remembered the intro. But remember how I also said that one person’s or brand’s interpretation of what constitutes an “all-mountain ski” is often different from another’s? The Wingman 86 CTi is a good example of this.
While I’m about to argue why this ski certainly warrants the “all-mountain” designation, the fact of the matter is that this ski feels best when on edge, and preferably on consistent conditions. And where can you often carve a ski hard on edge in pretty consistent conditions? Yep, groomers.
On piste, the Wingman 86 CTi is a blast — whether on a steep, sustained, high-speed run like Mt. Crested Butte’s International, or on a mellower-angle green run like Warming House Hill. It’s very quick to initiate turns, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to do so, and it offers reliable edge hold on all but the firmest / iciest conditions.
If we’re comparing the Wingman 86 CTi to narrower, dedicated piste skis, there are some compromises. But compared to even slightly wider, more off-piste-oriented skis, the Wingman 86 CTi offers some clear upsides on piste.
The Wingman 86 CTi doesn’t match skis like the K2 Disruption 82Ti or Salomon S/Force Bold when it comes to just how instantaneously it gets on edge or how cleanly it can carve up ice. But compared to something like the Salomon Stance 90, Folsom Spar 88, or Nordica Enforcer 88, the Wingman 86 CTi is notably better in both regards.
As someone who spends a lot of time on wider, more off-piste-oriented skis, the Wingman 86 CTi is tons of fun on groomers. In particular, I love how easy it is to manipulate into a variety of turn shapes, and the energy it produces when pushed hard. It’s a ski that I think could be a great learning tool for someone who is working on their carving technique (it’s not very hard to bend), or an experienced skier who prioritizes accessibility and fun at more moderate speeds, rather than maximum stability when making huge, fast turns.
Those looking to actually carve ice would benefit from a narrower ski with less (read: zero or almost zero) rocker. But for a place like Mt. Crested Butte, where we typically only see ice in the form of early season groomers or dispersed patches of scraped-off snow, the Wingman 86 CTi has performed great. And compared to those skis that I’d choose for actually carving icy patches, the Wingman 86 CTi is far more capable off groomed snow.
I could see very aggressive skiers or those who are much heavier than I am finding themselves wishing for a stiffer ski than the 184 cm Wingman 86 CTi. It’s a bit softer and lighter than would be ideal for pushing really hard at high speeds on very firm snow. But for the majority of skiers, I think this ski offers a fun blend of “soft enough to be easy to carve” and “stiff enough to be exciting when pushed hard.” It doesn’t require a lot of effort to get on edge, but once you put in that effort, it rewards you with a very lively ride that encourages you to push it harder.
When I first saw the Wingman 86 CTi, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to taking it off piste. But after taking a closer look at its asymmetrical rocker profile and hand-flexing it, I became less hesitant.
And while this is not the ski I’d pick if I was going to spend most of my time skiing bumps, the Wingman 86 CTi is much more versatile than I anticipated.
Compared to narrower, piste-specific skis, the Wingman 86 CTi is far easier to release and pivot, and much more forgiving of mistakes. This ski still requires pretty good technique (i.e., not steering from the backseat) to work through tight bump lines, but the Wingman 86 CTi doesn’t feel totally locked into a turn like many similarly narrow skis do.
If you don’t often ski really tight bumps (e.g., Crystal and Twister at Mt. CB), I think the Wingman 86 CTi could serve as a good tool as you branch out into off-piste skiing. It’ll reward you when you ski it with good technique and stay over the shovels, but unlike many skis of this width, the Wingman 86 CTi won’t immediately punish you when you screw up.
The Wingman 86 CTi isn’t as easy to release and throw sideways as something like the Nordica Enforcer 88, but it isn’t nearly as far off as I expected. And the more widely spaced the bumps, the more fun the Wingman 86 CTi becomes. In more open bumps, like those in Hawk’s Nest or lower Headwall at Mt. CB, I can pretty easily get its tails to slide out. But the Wingman 86 CTi really gets fun when the bumps let you carve-slarve your way through — putting the ski on edge but still periodically feathering / sliding out the tails. And that energy I mentioned in the groomer section? That’s still a (fun) factor off piste.
The way I see it, the Wingman 86 CTi makes a lot of sense if you’re going to primarily use it on groomed snow, but spend somewhere around 10-30% of your time off piste. More time off piste, and I’d personally be willing to compromise groomer performance to go with something with a bit more rocker and / or tip and tail taper. Less time off piste, and I’d opt for something with neither of those design elements. But for how well it carves, the Wingman 86 CTi is surprisingly easy and capable when you venture away from clean corduroy.
Here at Mt. Crested Butte, our tree runs tend to mostly resemble mogul runs, so most of what I said above applies here if that’s the case where you are. The one thing I’d add is that, if your tree runs tend to feature shallower troughs / smaller mounds of snow compared to true “mogul” runs (e.g., Double Top Glades off the East River lift at M. CB), then the Wingman 86 CTi is even more appealing. Where you’re not forced to make as many slash-y turns, the Wingman 86 CTi feels even more versatile and comfortable. Again, not as maneuverable as the more all-mountain-oriented alternatives, but quite capable for its width.
Steeps (& Chalk)
On smooth chalk like the stuff that’s covered Headwall for the past several weeks, I was pretty blown away by how much I liked the Wingman 86 CTi. In these conditions — firm, but easily edge-able and fairly smooth — it’s a blast to lay over the Wingman 86 CTi hard on edge, knowing that you can still release its tail when needed or bend it even harder and get some air between turn transitions.
If the chalk feels hollow and punchy, I’d prefer to be on something wider that’s less prone to punch through. But for skiing fairly smooth, firm, supportive conditions, the Wingman 86 CTi can be a lot of fun if you stay over its shovels and appreciate a ski that’s got some life and pop to it.
If we’re talking about soft chop that’s less than about 4” / 10 cm deep, the Wingman 86 CTi performs admirably. Given its lack of tip taper and subtle rocker lines, I was surprised by how not-hooky this ski felt in soft snow. No, it’s not going to let you McConkey-slide sideways through soft conditions, but I also very rarely felt like the Wingman 86 CTi was yanking me across the fall line in an unpredictable fashion, which is often the case with skis around this width.
The Wingman 86 CTi still prefers to carve (rather than slarve) through softer snow, but as long as the snow isn’t very deep, this ski can still be lots of fun on soft days.
Firm Chop / Crud / Refrozen Crap
The Wingman 86 CTi isn’t great for these sorts of conditions. As I said above, this ski excels on fairly consistent, smoother conditions. Firm chop / crud / whatever you call off-piste snow when it’s thawed, cut up by skiers, and then refrozen the next day — that’s basically the opposite of consistent.
In this sort of snow, the Wingman 86 CTi is pretty predictable, but not exactly fun. And I’d say that about most skis of this width. If you’ll be skiing a lot of variable, firm, inconsistent conditions, I’d look to something wider and heavier.
But if your “crud” means the pushed-around snow that’s left at the end of the day on groomers, the Wingman 86 CTi handles that pretty well. There are some heavier options that will get deflected less when skiing fast, but provided that I wasn’t trying to make Super G turns in those conditions, the Wingman 86 CTi performed quite well, especially given how accessible this ski is at slower speeds. It doesn’t feel harsh, it’s forgiving, and it’s easy to shut down if you get going faster than you’d prefer.
Who’s It For?
There are a few different scenarios where I think the Wingman 86 CTi would make a lot of sense.
For those looking for a 1-ski quiver, I think the Wingman 86 CTi warrants a close look if you spend the majority of your time on piste, but don’t want a ski that’s going to feel like a huge burden when you feel like venturing into the bumps, trees, etc. While it doesn’t quite match the edge hold or stability of some more piste-specific options, the Wingman 86 CTi isn’t super far off, and it’s far easier to ski off piste.
The Wingman 86 CTi would also be worth a close look for those who ski almost entirely on piste, but who find most groomer-oriented skis to feel unforgiving or difficult to bend and engage at mellower speeds. This ski isn’t super stiff and is pretty easy to drive, but once you get used to it, you can also push it quite hard without worrying about it folding up or giving out.
In a larger-quiver scenario, I think the Wingman 86 CTi would be great for those people who are looking to add a more piste-oriented ski, but who don’t want something that is piste-specific. The Wingman 86 CTi is a clear step above wider, off-piste-oriented skis when it comes to turn initiation and edge hold on piste, but it’s still fine with some bump laps throughout the day. Personally, for how and where I ski, a ski that’s only fun on groomers isn’t going to have a spot in my quiver, but the Wingman 86 CTi could since it’s not going to discourage me from going where the groomers can’t.
The Wingman 86 CTi wouldn’t be my top pick as a piste-oriented ski if you’re, say, an ex-racer who loves super stiff, fully cambered skis. Or if you only like to make big turns. Or if you spend the majority of your time off piste. But if you value precision and energy on piste, with the ability to ski some bumps and trees, the Wingman 86 CTi offers a lot to like.
If your personal definition of “all-mountain skiing” means spending a lot of time carving on groomed snow with a few laps through mogul lines or trees, the Elan Wingman 86 CTi could be the all-mountain ski for you.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Wingman 86 CTi to see how it compares to the Blizzard Brahma 88, Nordica Enforcer 88, Salomon Stance 90, Armada Declivity 92 Ti, Liberty Evolv 90, Renoun Endurance 88, Salomon S/Force Bold, Folsom Spar 88, Black Crows Orb, K2 Disruption 82Ti, Fischer Ranger 94 FR, Volkl M6 Mantra, & Elan Ripstick 106.