2016-2017 DPS Cassiar 85 Hybrid T2, 178cm
Available Lengths: 168, 178 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 176.5cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 122-85-109
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2030 & 2038 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 15-18 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Titanal Metal (2 Layer) + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 51 / 33 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2 mm
Mount Location: +1cm of the Recommended Line (~76.4cm from tail)
Boots / Bindings: Lange RS S.C. 120 / Marker Griffon (DIN at 8)
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 4
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Cassiar 85, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
It’s been a while since I spent time on a dedicated frontside ski—probably since I officially retired my race skis four years ago. So I was pretty excited to spend some time carving on skinnier skis the past week at Taos, where Blister had planned to test a number of designated carvers.
The snow gods had other plans, though, and we were blessed with over two feet of new snow … just in time for our carver test.
The good news, though (in addition to getting to ski a lot of pow) was that I was able to spend some time on groomers, but also to evaluate some of our narrower skis in deeper, all-mountain conditions.
The Cassiar 85 is DPS’s frontside carver, and is offered in both a Hybrid T2 and a pure3 carbon construction.
Compared to many other fairly traditional carving skis with flat, substantial tails, minimal rocker, and plenty of camber, the Cassiar 85 doesn’t have a totally classic carving shape. The ski has a wider shovel with a bit of tip and tail rocker, which I hoped would make for a fun ski to carve while also providing a little more versatility.
Soft, Buttery Groomers
Right before I arrived at Taos, a two-day storm dropped 18” on the mountain, softening things up quite a bit, to say the least.
While I couldn’t have been happier to have some fresh snow, most of the groomers stayed very soft over the next couple of days, producing that buttery quality where your skis really sink into through the turn.
Early in the morning while the groomers were still mostly smooth, I tried to bring the Cassiar 85 up to speed and lay into some deeper carves. The softer snow made it slightly more difficult to achieve those really high edge angles, but the Cassiar 85 was happy to start carving and could dynamically move from edge to edge once I got a little bit of speed.
Almost immediately, I really liked the way the Cassiar 85 felt, and I would describe the ski as having a really nice balance of nimbleness and stability. Even though the ski has some metal and isn’t super light (2030 & 2038 grams per ski), it does not have a heavy, metal feel, and is actually pretty light, snappy, and quick underfoot.
At 178cm, the Cassiar 85 is closer in length to my GS skis, although the rocker in the tip and tail does decrease its effective edge a bit. Still, with a little speed, it wasn’t difficult to make shorter radius turns. The Cassiar 85 did prefer larger, sweeping, GS-like turns, and I had a lot of fun bringing the ski up to high speeds.
I also spent some time on other frontside carvers like the SkiLogik Front Burner and the Fischer Progressor 900 (reviews coming soon), which have flat, substantial tails and no rocker. Both of these skis feel like they are meant to carve—and only carve—and the tails absolutely lock you in through a turn. These two skis (the Progressor 900 especially) reminded me more of the powerful carving I could make on my slalom skis, whereas carving on the Cassiar 85 felt slightly less precise, but also slightly easier. This didn’t surprise me much given the ski’s tip and subtle tail rocker.
But, given that I’m not training gates anymore, I really appreciated both the ease with which I could still make powerful, high angle turns on the Cassiar 85, as well as the variety of turns I could make.
The flat tails on the Front Burner and the Progressor 900 made it more challenging to experiment with slashy or slarvy turns, while the Cassiar 85 felt a lot more easy to play around with.
And while I absolutely love making fast slalom or GS turns on a ski like the Front Burner or the Progress 900, it’s also really tiring. The Cassiar 85 allowed me to carve when I wanted to, but also dial it back and ski with less energy if I needed to.
I didn’t spend a ton of time skiing the Cassiar 85 in moguls, but I thought it handled them well. While the ski’s tails feel a bit looser than other carving skis I’ve been on, they’re still flatter than skis with more tail rocker (Blizzard Sheeva or Rossignol Savory 7), making the ski slightly more difficult to wiggle through bumps. The narrower width definitely contributed to the ski’s maneuverability, but I felt the tails held me back just a bit from making easier turns through bumped up runs. However, since I value the Cassiar 85’s carving ability a lot more, this is a little tradeoff that I will happily live with.
After a few dry, cool nights, several of Taos’ groomers finally firmed up. Bringing the Cassiar 85 up to speed, I really felt like I could push the ski quite hard and fast on the firm snow. Here, I was even more impressed by how stable the Cassiar 85 felt despite its light, and at times, playful feel.
Where I’d had trouble finding those high angle carves on soft groomers, the Cassiar 85 had no issues really digging in and getting up on edge once the snow was firmer.
On steeper, really firm slopes (though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ice), I had a little less confidence trusting my edges at high speeds and angles, and occasionally lost my outside ski on slippery patches.
While I think this may be partly because of the Cassiar 85’s looser tail (the Progressor 900 and its flat tail didn’t have the same issue here), I also think a good tune and sharper edges would have helped. I am quite confident that with sharper edges, the Cassiar 85 would have been fine on some true, East Coast ice.
NEXT: Off-Piste Performance