2nd Look: HEAD Kore 117

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Head Kore 117 for Blister Gear Review.
Head Kore 117

Ski: 2017-2018 HEAD Kore 117, 189 cm

Available Lengths: 180, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 188.0 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1973 & 2020 grams

Stated Dimensions: 145-117-129 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 144.5-117-128 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (189 cm): 24.6 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 69 mm / 23 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~4 mm

Core: Graphene, Koroyd, & Karuba wood

Base: Structured diecut UHM C

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.6 cm from center; 82.4 cm from tail

Blister’s Recommended Mount Point: currently +1 of Rec. line

Boots / Bindings: HEAD Raptor 140 RS / Tyrolia AAAttack² 13 AT

Test Locations: Mt Bachelor, OR; Alyeska & Chugach Powder Guides, AK

Days Skied: 9


The HEAD Kore 117 arrived in Alaska toward the end of my heli guiding season at Chugach Powder Guides, so I had the chance to take them out in the heli for a few days of phenomenally good powder skiing, in addition to some fun spring skiing at Alyeska Resort and Mt Bachelor over the past couple of weeks. So it’s time to weigh in.

But if you haven’t done so already, you should first read Jonathan Ellsworth’s review of the Kore 117, and see his discussion of the weight of the 117 with comparisons to other skis in this class. I’ll be making references to the Kore 117’s weight below, but will just jump right into my on-snow experience on the ski.

Heli Skiing on the HEAD Kore 117

I don’t usually put a ski in the heli basket that I’ve never skied before, but after hearing about Jonathan’s experience and taking a good look at the shape and flex of the Kore 117, I tossed them in for a day of hunting big lines with the heli.

Paul Forward reviews the HEAD Kore 117 for Blister Gear Review.
Paul Forward on the HEAD Kore 117, Chugach Powder Guides, AK.

My first run of the day started with a steep rollover on to a wide-open face filled with 12-14” of cold, dry, north-facing powder. By my second turn, I was accelerating fast and laid into a deep powder carve to feel out the flex and float of the 117, and was rewarded with a solid platform, an even flex, and plenty of floatation for me and my heavy guide pack. A handful of turns later, I rocketed out the bottom into some old avalanche debris that had warmed up in the late April sun, and was surprised to find a relatively damp, supportive ride through the soft chunder, even at high speed.

A few runs later, I dropped into a skinny powder-filled chute that goes for about 500 ft before spilling onto a fun, steep face with small cliffs and lots of little ridges and ribs to play on. I had mounted the Kore 117 on the recommended line (more on that below) and seeing so much tip in front of me, I was a little apprehensive about being able to make the quick turns I needed to negotiate this relatively technical terrain.

As I slid into the chute, I made my first turn, easily pivoting on the shovels of the skis, and found them easy and intuitive enough to let them run and race my sluff down the chute. As I got into the lower, more featured section of the run, I had a similar experience of being able to bring the skis easily and quickly under me when hopping and slashing my way down the small spine-like and rock features. Overall it was super fun skiing, and the Kore 117s were much easier than I expected them to be in tight terrain. When I got to the bottom of the run, one my clients who I’ve guided many times in the past and who knew that I was on a new pair of skis for the first time said, “Well it sure looks like you like those new skis.”

Over the next week, I had a few more great days on the Kore 117 in a variety of big Alaska terrain, and overall, had a great time. The 117 isn’t as playful, balanced, or slashy as the DPS Lotus A 124, and a little less stable at speed. But it inspires similar confidence to be able to make critical turns where I needed to, while still providing enough stability when shooting out at high speeds onto more variable runouts.

The only other thing I’ll add about the powder performance of the Kore 117 is that the 189 model provided great flotation (especially in the shovels) for a ski of this width. I think some of this is due to the set-back mount point, in addition to the relatively light weight of the ski. But fact is, the Kore 117 performed great even in deep powder and when skiing with a forward stance. Skis like the Salomon QST 118 (that have more tip rocker and taper), provide a much more slashy, playful ride, but they are also more prone to getting knocked around in variable snow than the Kore 117.

Inbounds Spring Skiing on the HEAD Kore 117

I was fortunate to catch a few days of spring riding at Alyeska Resort and then the past week at Mt Bachelor in super fun spring conditions. My first runs at both ski areas were on firm, bumpy slopes that were just starting to soften up in the heat of the day. In my experience, firm, bumped-up snow is not a place where fat, light skis excel, but I was again surprised that the Kore 117 provided a reasonably stable and damp ride.

At Alyeska, I skied them back-to-back on several runs with the 190 cm Moment Blister Pro, 191 cm Nordica Enforcer Pro, and the 193 cm Volkl Confession. Of the four of those skis, the Kore 117 was probably the most likely to get knocked around, but it was much more composed than I expected and not far off of the other three skis (2 of which — the Enforcer Pro and Confession — have 2 layers of metal and the other, the 190 cm Blister Pro, is a charger that we’ve praised for a long time. The Kore 117 could hold an edge when tipped into a hard carve, and didn’t buck me around too much when I needed to skid the skis.

Fast forward a week to Mt Bachelor and my first day on snow there. For the first time in a few days, things clouded up, cooled off, got windy, and even started snowing a bit. So what had been amazing spring condition the days before now skied a lot more like coral reef off-piste, and the groomers were edgeable but not soft and slushy. Despite its relatively light weight and girth, the Kore 117 was again well behaved and allowed me to ski fast and in control. The other ski I rode that day was the 17/18 189 cm ON3P Billy Goat, and the Kore 117 initiated a turn better, carved better, and felt more stable when running bases flat.

For the next three days at Bachelor, we had super fun, soft spring conditions, plus some occasionally sticky spring snow off-piste. In these conditions, the Kore 117 continued to be a fun ski. There were times when the playful, rolly nature of Bachelor’s terrain made me gravitate more toward skis with more tail rocker or a softer flex for little slashes and jumps, but for the most part, I was very comfortable on the Kore 117. The tails of the Kore 117 will break free into skidded or smeared-out turns, but partly due to the 117’s very traditional mount point, it doesn’t feel as balanced off edge as some of the other skis mentioned above.

NEXT: Groomers, Mount Point, Etc.

1 comment on “2nd Look: HEAD Kore 117”

  1. Nice review! Do you guys have any plans of getting on the scott scrapper 115? Seems like a similar light but wide charger. I would be very interested in a review of that one.

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