Off-Piste Performance (Deep Pow and All Sorts of Chop)
Although the Cassiar 85 is designated as a frontside ski for carving, as I said above, I had the opportunity to ski it in some deep, fresh powder, and the subsequent soft chop. This is where the 85mm-underfoot “frontside” Cassiar really surprised and impressed me: it was actually pretty fun.
Since it’s still early, Taos Ski Patrol continued to open runs for the first time of the season, and the snow on these runs was deep (though also unconsolidated, making it possible to sink through to rocks and logs, so slower and more deliberate pow skiing was advisable).
We got to Lorelei soon after it was opened, and before I dropped in, I was wishing I had some wider skis. But as I started to pick my way through sections of untracked snow and some of the deeper tracked-out sections, I found that the Cassiar 85 was staying afloat a lot more than I had expected and was planing at or near the surface of the snow quite nicely.
I definitely noticed how much the ski’s tip and tail rocker and lighter feel helped me drive the ski from a fairly neutral stance, though I still needed to lean back a bit to prevent tip dive. Again, this is skiing at pretty slow speeds and in fairly untracked snow. While the Cassiar 85 didn’t make skiing powder a challenge or create too much additional effort for me, other, fatter skis would have made it a lot more fun. So, on deeper days I’d still definitely bring a wider pair skis that offered more float, but the Cassiar 85 wouldn’t prevent me from having a fun time, and could be skied fairly hard in deep, smoother powder.
I also got to take the Cassiar 85 down Reforma, a steep run with plenty of soft, deep chop. Unsurprisingly, the Cassiar 85 didn’t feel quite as stable or capable in these conditions as it did in fresh snow, and I needed to dial back my speed and turn size. But while I would still prefer a wider ski with a bit more float to charge through this sort of chop, working my way down Reforma at slower speeds wasn’t miserable or scary on the Cassiar 85.
And just to reiterate, DPS calls the Cassiar 85 a frontside tool, so they weren’t intending this ski for deep powder or deep chop. But it was surprising to me that I still had fun in these conditions. If you’re thinking about the Cassiar 85 as a one-ski quiver and want something more carving oriented that can still be taken out in new snow, I was quite impressed by the ski’s performance in powder and chop relative to how it skis on groomers, and compared to other dedicated frontside skis.
Shallower soft chop may be a more common occurrence, though, and over the next few days, Taos received 3-4” of new snow each night, which produced plenty of soft, shallow chop around the mountain. The Cassiar 85 was actually really fun here, and felt light and easy to work through and around the softer bumps at any speed. While I couldn’t charge top speed and blow up all the consolidated piles of snow, the ski was playful and could make quick, slarvey turns, while still feeling quite stable.
I will note, that, for the first few days, I skied the Cassiar 85 one centimeter in front of the Recommended Line. After moving back to the recommended line, I didn’t feel too much of a difference, but the ski felt just a bit more stable at high speeds down steeper pitches. Still, I’d personally probably opt for +1 (since at my size, +1 was still plenty stable and a little quicker than the recommended line), though I suspect that bigger skiers than me would feel happy on the line. (Will Brown will be weighing in on this, too.)
Bottom Line (For Now)
The DPS Cassiar 85 Hybrid T2 is a ski that has pleasantly surprised me all around the mountain.
Will Brown will be spending more time on the ski soon and will offer his thoughts, but so far, I’ve found it to be a versatile, frontside ski.
I actually think that it could be a good one-ski quiver if you like to carve and don’t care quite as much about soft-snow performance.
The Cassiar 85 is a fun, energetic carver that doesn’t take a whole lot of work. While it’s fairly light and playful for a carving ski, it is still stable at speed, and has been surprisingly capable in off-piste fresh snow and chop conditions, too.
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