Ski: 2021-2022 Salomon QST 98, 189 cm
Days Skied: 11
Available Lengths: 169, 176, 183, 189 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length (straight-tape pull): 187.7 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2080 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2054 & 2063 grams
Stated Dimensions: 133-98-121 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133.1-97.7-120.9 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (189 cm): 18 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 67 mm / 42 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3 mm
Core: poplar + basalt / carbon fiber stringers + cork tips & tails + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -8.45 cm from center; 85.4 cm from tail
Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Mach1 130 MV, Tecnica Mach1 130 LV / Salomon Warden MNC 13
A few weeks ago on episode 142 of our GEAR:30 podcast, Jonathan Ellsworth and I discussed a few skis from Salomon that are all around the same width: the 20/21 Salomon Stance 96 and QST 99, and the new-for-21/22 QST 98.
Along with the 112mm-wide QST Blank we reviewed earlier this season, the QST 98 is one of the new, more playful additions to Salomon’s line of “freeride” QST skis, and for the 2021-2022 season, it replaces one of the more versatile skis we’ve recently reviewed, the QST 99.
So when we first got a pair of the QST 98 in for testing, we were very curious about a few things. How similar is this new ski to the one it replaces? Are the same types of skiers going to enjoy it? Will it now appeal to folks who did not love the QST 99?
Dylan Wood and I both spent time on the QST 98 this spring, so let’s get to it:
2021-2022 Salomon QST Lineup
Most of the QST lineup returns unchanged (apart from graphics) for 21/22, with the QST 98 and QST Blank being the two brand-new models.
The unisex and women’s versions (which are the same construction, just different lengths and graphics) of the QST 92 and QST 106 don’t feature any construction updates, and the women’s QST Lumen 99 retains the same construction as the 19/20–20/21 version.
Here’s the full rundown on the available models and lengths:
- Salomon QST Spark (85 mm wide): 143, 150, 157, 164, 171, 178 cm
- Salomon QST Lux 92: 153, 161, 169 cm
- Salomon QST 92: 153, 161, 169, 177, 185 cm
- Salomon QST 98: 169, 176, 183, 189 cm
- Salomon QST Lumen 99: 153, 159, 167, 174 cm
- Salomon QST Stella 106: 159, 167, 174 cm
- Salomon QST 106: 167, 174, 181, 188 cm
- Salomon QST Blank (112 mm wide): 178, 186, 194 cm
What Salomon says about the QST 98
“From chasing natural features in the morning, to slaying glades ‘til après, the QST 98 is a playful yet powerful ski. With a new, modern, twin rocker shape and versatile 98mm waist-width, the QST 98 rises to any challenge. Double sidewalls transmit power to your edges while cork Damplifier and C/FX keep things stable and predictable regardless of conditions.”
This isn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary for a ski around this width — the QST 98 is supposed to handle a very wide range of conditions and terrain, and it’s supposed to be both powerful and playful. And on that note about its rocker and shape profile…
Shape / Rocker Profile
The QST 98’s rocker / camber / rocker profile is one of the biggest areas where it differs from the QST 99 it replaces. While the QST 99 had a notable amount of tip and tail rocker, the QST 98 has significantly deeper rocker lines, particularly through the tail, and has a bit more tail splay (though I wouldn’t quite call it a “true twin” tail).
Overall, for a ~98mm-wide ski, the QST 98 has a lot of tip and tail rocker.
There are also some changes when looking at the shape of this ski. Compared to the QST 99, the QST 98 has a slightly shorter effective edge, with more dramatically tapered tips and tails that narrow to more of a point. In this way, it kind of looks more similar to the original QST 99, though the QST 98 has a more tapered tail than that ski.
Between the new shape and new rocker profile, I could instantly see why Salomon was emphasizing the playfulness of this new ski.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the QST 98:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7-10
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-7.5
The flex pattern of the QST 98 is fairly similar to the QST 99’s, but the 98 doesn’t stiffen up as quickly when you move from the tips to the middle of the ski, and the back half of QST 98 is notably softer. Overall, it has a nearly symmetrical flex pattern, with pretty soft extremities and a very stiff flex around the binding area (more on that below).
The QST 98’s flex pattern is also pretty close to the new QST Blank’s, though the Blank is a bit stiffer overall, apart from the very end of its tail.
Another change — the QST 98 has a tighter stated sidecut radius than the QST 99. While not a massive difference, the 183 cm QST 98 has a stated 17-meter sidecut radius, while the 181 cm QST 99’s was 19.4 m. The 189 cm QST 98 we’ve been testing has a stated sidecut radius of 18 meters, while the 188 cm QST 99’s was 20 meters.
At about -8.5 cm from true center, the QST 98’s recommended mount point is slightly closer to center than the QST 99’s (about -10 cm), but not as close to center as most all-mountain freestyle skis.
Yet another change — the QST 98 is lighter than the QST 99.
Our pair of the 181 cm QST 99 came in at about 2067 grams per ski, while our pair of the 189 cm QST 98 is coming in around 2058 grams per ski. And for what it’s worth, Salomon says the 183 cm QST 98 weighs about 1970 grams per ski.
While that isn’t a massive difference and the QST 98 is still far from the lightest ski in its class these days, it’s particularly noteworthy here since the QST 99’s blend of good suspension and easy maneuverability was arguably its defining trait, and I was consequently curious to see how the slightly lighter, more rockered, and more tapered QST 98 would compare in that regard.
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.
1734 & 1750 Renoun Endurance 98, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
1758 & 1758 Head Kore 93, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1803 & 1809 Line Chronic, 178 cm (19/20–20/21)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1810 & 1828 Armada Declivity 92 Ti, 180 cm (20/21)
1863 & 1894 Blizzard Rustler 9, 180 cm (18/19–20/21)
1896 & 1942 K2 Reckoner 102, 184 cm (20/21)
1883 & 1906 Season Aero, 180 cm (20/21)
1921 & 1968 Head Kore 99, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1925 & 1934 Black Crows Camox, 186.5 cm (19/20–21/22)
1925 & 1937 Liberty Helix 98, 186 cm (18/19–20/21)
1936 & 2013 Salomon Stance 96, 182 cm (20/21)
1937 & 1945 Fischer Ranger 94 FR, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1966 & 1973 Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20–20/21)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–20/21)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–20/21)
1999 & 2060 Line Blade, 181 cm (20/21)
2019 & 2022 Rossignol BLACKOPS Holyshred, 182 cm (18/19–20/21)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19–20/21)
2054 & 2063 Salomon QST 98, 189 cm (21/22)
2055 & 2080 Salomon QST 99, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2078 & 2138 Black Crows Justis, 183 cm (20/21)
2080 & 2102 Armada Edollo, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
2085 & 2096 Dynastar Menace 98, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2089 & 2105 Nordica Soul Rider 97, 185 cm (15/16–20/21)
2115 & 2149 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (16/17–20/21)
2256 & 2284 Nordica Enforcer 94, 186 cm (20/21)
2281 & 2284 Blizzard Bonafide 97, 177 cm (20/21)
2311 & 2342 K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
Alright, now onto how all of those design elements actually add up on snow:
Trees, Moguls, & Tighter Terrain
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): Let’s dive right into where the QST 98 really stands apart from its predecessor — tight spots.
Despite testing the QST 98 in a 189 cm length and the QST 99 in a 181 cm length, the QST 98 feels significantly quicker and more maneuverable. Its slightly lower weight, and maybe more importantly, its more tapered tips and tails add up to a ski that feels less sluggish and is easier to quickly flick side-to-side in bumps, trees, and steeps. Add on the QST 98’s deeper rocker lines, and the difference in maneuverability between the two is considerable.
Overall, the QST 98 is a very nimble ski off piste. It requires little effort to get its deeply rockered, tapered tails to release and slash it sideways, it’s not fatiguing to ski, and it’s also really energetic if you push it hard.
That said, I’m not sure I’d say the QST 98 is drastically more forgiving than the QST 99, in that the QST 98 can still feel a bit punishing if you get really far back on its tails. Somewhat similar to the QST Blank, the QST 98 feels quite stiff around the middle where Salomon uses their “Double Sidewall” construction, and that stiff, cambered section behind the bindings can stand you up if you try to steer several turns from the backseat. Now, there are loads of more punishing, demanding skis out there and the QST 98 still falls on the easier end of the spectrum in bumps and trees, but I think that its generally more accessible ride (compared to the QST 99) comes more from the new ski’s lower swing weight and deeper rocker lines, rather than it feeling notably softer on snow.
Especially in more “normal” bumps and trees (i.e., not very tight ones like those on Mt. Crested Butte’s Crystal and Sylvanite), though, I really liked this ski. It encourages a much more dynamic and playful skiing style than the QST 99, and as someone who likes to slash and get my skis in the air as much as possible, the looser, quicker, more lively ride of the QST 98 is more appealing to me off piste than its predecessor.
Dylan Wood (5’11”, 155 lbs / 180 cm, 70 kg): I should start by saying that I haven’t skied the QST 99, so I will leave those comparisons up to Luke.
Comparisons aside, I really enjoyed the QST 98 in tight terrain and moguls. Despite being 189 cm and on the longer side of what I am usually most comfortable skiing, it didn’t feel too cumbersome or overwhelming in tight spots like Mt. Crested Butte’s Big Chute and Headwall Glades. I also found its swing weight to be quite manageable and it had a quick, somewhat loose feel. However, despite its deep rocker lines, I wouldn’t call it a super surfy, ultra-loose ski in tight terrain, I think due to its stiff cambered section that feels like it wants to dig in a bit more than on skis like the Dynastar M-Free 99 or J Skis Vacation. While it is quite playful, the QST 98 still falls on the more directional side of the spectrum and you can put some significant pressure onto its shovels without the ski totally folding over.
Luke: Especially considering its shape, rocker profile, and width, the QST 98 carves quite well on piste.
While skis with notably tapered tips like the QST 98 typically offer more subdued, slower turn initiation on groomers, I was happy to find that the QST 98 will pretty easily “pull you into a turn” once you put a bit of pressure on its shovels. It’s not quite as quick to do this as the QST 99 was, but it’s still quite easy to get the QST 98 up on edge. It also requires less speed and effort to bend into tighter, higher-edge-angle turns than the previous ski.
On firm, end-of-day groomers with a mix of scraped-off sections and piles of pushed-around snow, the QST 98 is not as composed as the QST 99, particularly when making bigger turns. With its shorter effective edge and lower weight, the QST 98 requires a more attentive pilot when skiing fast in inconsistent conditions. However, there are lots of lighter skis these days that are even less stable at high speeds, and for how playful and maneuverable it is, I’d say the QST 98’s suspension and stability are quite good.
As far as overall edge hold goes, the QST 98 is pretty good. Not quite as good as the QST 99, but far from scary. If you don’t need to actually carve ice on your ~98mm-wide ski, the QST 98 should be just fine in the edge-hold department.
Dylan: Yep, I’d say the QST 98 is a fine ski for groomers, so long as carving on ice or totally beat-up groomers is not a priority. I liked that I was able to carve fairly hard and push the QST 98 on piste, but its tails would also easily release and feather when I needed them to. I’d also agree with Luke in that the suspension of the QST 98 is better than its weight would suggest, and that it has a really nice balance of playfulness, maneuverability, and stability.
Soft Chop & Spring Slush
Luke: I’ve had a ton of fun on the QST 98 in soft chop and slush, and it’ll be particularly appealing to you if, when you hear the words “soft chop” or “spring slush laps,” you think of lots of slashing and jumping.
The QST 98 does require a more active, dynamic, light-on-your-feet skiing style to ski fast in chop, compared to the ski it replaces. But that slight drop in suspension and stability is also what adds to its maneuverability and playfulness. That same lower swing weight and looser feel I mentioned above make the QST 98 really easy when you need to make a last-second adjustment or speed check when skiing on your limit in soft, cut-up snow, and it feels much more eager to get in the air than the QST 99, thanks to its lighter and more lively feel.
Those who prefer a very planted, steamroller-type ski in chop should look elsewhere, and if you found the QST 99 borderline not stable enough for your taste, the QST 98 won’t be for you. But for folks who wouldn’t have minded giving up a bit of the stability of the QST 99 for a quicker and more maneuverable ride, the QST 98 is for you.
And overall, the QST 98 is still more stable in these conditions than a lot of the similarly playful options. It still offers pretty nice suspension for its weight, and you can drive it hard through the shovels when needed.
As for pure powder, I only got a few turns in it on the QST 98, but everything about its design makes me think that it’d be one of the better options in this width when it comes to flotation — and especially maneuverability — in fresh snow.
Dylan: I didn’t get any time in on the QST 98 in soft chop, but I definitely did get some good slush laps on it.
In slushy conditions, the QST 98 was a blast. Its balance of good suspension and a playful ride encouraged me to ski fast, popping off moguls and then throwing the ski sideways to shed speed. I’d agree with Luke in that the QST 98 is definitely not a planted charger, but rather one that works best with a dynamic style. But while softer, twin-tipped all-mountain skis may be a tad more playful in slush, the QST 98 beats many of those skis when it comes to stability.
Firm Chop / Crud
Luke: Here’s where the QST 98 falls a bit short of its predecessor, though your take on that statement may depend a bit on your skiing style.
As noted above, the QST 98 is not as damp as the QST 99, and the 98 is also more prone to getting knocked around when skiing in firm, rough, chunky conditions. So for most people, I think the QST 98 is going to be a bit more difficult to control in these challenging conditions. That said, if you mostly want a ski that is easy to casually turn and slide when conditions are nasty, the QST 98’s looser and lighter ride might make it more appealing in crud than the more sluggish QST 99.
And again, compared to the current market — and especially similarly playful skis — the QST 98 is quite predictable in variable conditions. It does not encourage fast, aggressive skiing in these scenarios, but it’s more composed and planted than some lighter alternatives, like the Liberty Origin 96 or Head Kore 99.
Dylan: It’s the same story here as it is with basically every other relatively light ski with a significant amount of rocker: the QST 98 isn’t ideal for mobbing through crud at high speeds. Rather, it felt most appropriate to dial down the speeds and just focus on getting to someplace else where the snow is better. The QST 98 isn’t the best tool for making the best of bad snow conditions, but it will let you get through them at more controlled speeds.
Luke: The QST 98 isn’t what I’d call a typical “freestyle” ski, but it has lots of playful qualities.
The QST 98 is easy to throw sideways, it’s got a low swing weight, you can ski it quite centered, it’s poppy, and it even skis switch pretty well in shallow-ish conditions.
So why doesn’t it feel like a freestyle ski? To me, that mostly comes down to flex pattern and mount point. This ski still feels like it wants to be driven through the shovels most of the time, and that stiff section around the bindings + the -8 cm mount point just doesn’t feel quite as intuitive when loading up the ski for an air, skiing switch, or trying to bend it into a deep butter.
That said, moving the bindings forward a couple centimeters does help make the ski feel more balanced, and allows for a more centered stance. So my main point is that, if you ski switch a lot, spend a lot of time in the park, and / or have freestyle performance as one of your top priorities, you’ve got better options. But if you’re like me and don’t spin or flip a ton, but still like the feel of most freestyle-oriented skis, I think you’d get along quite well with the QST 98.
Dylan: Having read about the QST 99 and having expected the QST 98 to be at least somewhat similar, I was surprised by just how playful it was. Like Luke, I found that moving the bindings forward (to about -6 cm from true center) definitely helped this ski feel more playful and freestyle-oriented.
On one occasion, I took the QST 98 out for a late-spring inbounds day expecting to mostly focus on skiing slush bumps and groomers with a more directional style. However, I was of course drawn to the late-season park, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed the QST 98. I was having lots of fun doing nosebutters, slow-speed jibs, and spinning some of the larger jumps. I even did some very quick-spun 540s and bigger shifty-180s just for good measure, which I’d usually be a bit more hesitant about doing on other skis with recommended mount points similar to the QST 98’s. Overall, the QST 98 surprised me by how playful it was, especially given how well this ski caters to a more traditional, directional style.
Luke: We had initially planned on testing the 183 cm QST 98, but due to shipping delays with that model, Salomon sent the 189 cm length over instead. I was hesitant about the length of the ski at first, especially given that we ski a lot of tight and technical terrain at Mt. Crested Butte, but I ended up being pretty happy with it.
As someone who typically likes skis in this width that are around 182-186 cm long, I think I could probably get along fine with either the 183 cm or 189 cm QST 98. It has very deep rocker lines, isn’t very heavy, and has pretty tapered tips and tails, all of which make it ski a bit shorter than it actually is. We’re hoping to get on the 183 cm QST 98 next season to compare, but as of right now, I think those on the fence with sizing may benefit from sizing up on this particular ski, especially if you rarely ski super tight bumps and trees.
Who’s It For?
Skiers looking for a maneuverable, nimble, playful, and versatile all-mountain ski that can still be skied pretty hard.
Who is it not for? Skiers who want a really damp, planted, and stable ski. The QST 98 can handle high speeds and variable snow, but it requires more attention and input from the skier to be skied fast, compared to heavier, less rockered, and less tapered skis. As we noted above, if you skied the QST 99 and it didn’t feel quite stable enough for your preferences, the QST 98 isn’t your best choice and we’d recommend checking out the “All-Mountain More Stable” and “All-Mountain Chargers” sections of our Winter Buyer’s Guide.
But if you found the QST 99 a bit too sluggish or not maneuverable enough off piste, you should definitely check out this new ski. Or if the QST skis always seemed a bit too directional for your tastes, the QST 98 might change your mind, especially if you mount it a couple cm’s in front of its recommended line.
Overall, the QST 98 will be most appealing to folks who spend a lot of time off piste and who like a ski that’s easy to slash and flick around, but who still want something with pretty good suspension and that can still be a lot of fun on piste. It can be a blast in soft and fairly deep conditions, yet is enjoyable on all but the iciest slopes, making it a very strong contender as a 1-ski quiver for a lot of areas.
We were big fans of the Salomon QST 99 as a ski that could work for a huge range of skiers. With the QST 98, they’ve made another ski with a broad potential demographic, it’s just now shifted slightly more toward the “maneuverable and playful” end of the spectrum, rather than the “damp and stable” end.
Particularly given the introduction of the stronger and more stable Salomon Stance series, that decision has some logical rationale behind it, and if you’re looking for an all-mountain ski that can truly handle a bit of everything and that encourages an active, playful style, we’d definitely recommend checking out the new QST 98.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the QST 98 to see how it compares to the Salomon QST 99, Salomon Stance 96, Salomon QST 106, 4FRNT MSP 99, Volkl M6 Mantra, Blizzard Bonafide 97, Nordica Enforcer 100, Moment Commander 98, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Dynastar M-Pro 99, K2 Mindbender 99Ti, Black Crows Camox, Black Crows Justis, Liberty Origin 96, Blizzard Rustler 10, Nordica Soul Rider 97, Dynastar Menace 98, & J Skis Masterblaster.