Ski: 2018-2019 Salomon QST 106, 188 cm
Available Lengths: 167, 174, 181, 188 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.7 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2036 & 2064 grams
Stated Dimensions: 142-106-127 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 141.5-105.7-126.3
Stated Sidecut Radius: 20.0 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 58 mm / 24 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm
Core: Poplar + Titanal Underfoot + Koroyd Tip/Tail Inserts + Carbon/Flax/Basalt Laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.85 cm from center; 85.6 cm from tail
Blister’s Recommended Mount Point: Recommended Line
Bindings: Salomon SHIFT MNC
Test Locations: Telluride Ski Resort, Front Range backcountry, & Arapahoe Basin, CO; Alta, UT
- Sam Shaheen (5’10”, 140 lbs)
- Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, 175 lbs.)
Days Skied: ~17
Last year we reviewed the 17/18 version of the Salomon QST 106, and were impressed by its versatility, highly recommending it as a 50/50 resort + backcountry option.
And for the 18/19 season, the popular QST series from Salomon is getting a few changes. The QST 92, 99, 106, and 118 will all have another layer of directional flax laminate (horizontal, to reduce vibrations in that direction) and a bit more carbon. Then, the QST 99 and 106 will also get a layer of basalt under the core to increase edge hold and stability.
Yes, you read that right, basalt.
(And to think, I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid rocks on my skis.)
Anyway, the real question here is, how do these changes translate on snow? Jonathan Ellsworth and I have now had the 18/19 QST 106 in conditions ranging from bulletproof to light pow, and we’ve been impressed.
First, here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the new QST 106:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-8.5
Behind Heel Piece: 9.5-9
Jonathan: Since Paul Forward has yet to send us back the 17/18 QST 106 from Alaska (Hey Paul, stop all that heli skiing and ship us back some skis, yo!), we haven’t yet been able to flex the 17/18 and 18/19 QST 106 back-to-back. But having first put numbers up for the 18/19 QST 106, then looking back on our numbers for the 17/18 QST 106 … it doesn’t appear that the flex pattern has been altered much. If anything, I’d wager a very small amount of money that the back half of the 18/19 ski is slightly stiffer underfoot and behind the heel piece, but that’s about it. Long and short: there isn’t some newsworthy change in the flex pattern of the 18/19 QST 106.
(Sam Shaheen – 5’10”, 140 lbs.) The first thing I noticed about the QST 106 on snow was how directional it felt. Under my feet, it felt like it wanted me to drive the shovels, and it responded well to a stronger touch. The more input I gave the ski, the more energy and responsiveness I got out. The new QST 106 has a pretty powerful tail (again, perhaps just a bit stronger than the 17/18 QST 106) and feels distinctly less playful than some of the other ~105 mm-underfoot, tip and tail rockered skis in this category.
However, if the 188 cm QST 106 isn’t among the most playful skis in this category, the upside here is the ski’s versatility, since when conditions get bad, more playful skis often get scary.
But on the QST 106, I found that I could drive the ski hard to get through bad conditions or sketchy terrain. Heavier skiers than me should not expect to find the QST 106 to be extremely stable, but I found the 188 cm QST 106 to provide a long and solid platform underfoot, and it inspired confidence where more center mounted, playful skis tend to do the opposite.
Thankfully, the QST 106 is not overly demanding. The tail is fairly powerful, but it doesn’t feel punishing — the QST 106 isn’t the most forgiving ski in the category, but it isn’t punishing by any means.
But I would agree with Sam that the QST 106 can be pushed a bit harder than similar skis in its weight class — it just lacks the power and damp feel of metal laminate skis that weigh a whole lot more (and that I would have no interest in touring on).
And that’s one of the things that has impressed me most about the 188 cm QST 106: it feels quite predictable and manageable in most of the terrain and conditions that I’ve had it in.
Sam: Nothing about the shape or rocker profile of this ski screams “great bump ski,” but I’ve been impressed with the QST 106 in bumps nonetheless. When bashing early season moguls in the minefield of Palivachini at Arapahoe Basin, the QST 106 seemed to have just enough edge-to-edge quickness to avoid most of the rocks / trees / logs / stumps while still having enough girth to not feel punchy in the softer spots.
While the QST 106 is not extraordinarily fast edge-to-edge, it does have a good amount of energy. In Pali (where the bumps tend to be quite steep and oddly shaped), I don’t often ski the bumps hard, and the QST 106 doesn’t really encourage zipperline skiing in such bumps. When zipperlining moguls, the QST 106 definitely feels a bit sluggish, especially compared to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, which is very quick edge to edge with tons of energy.
But if you like to ski bumps with a driving stance while hopping over troughs and burning speed on the tops, then you’ll likely get along just fine with the QST 106.
Jonathan: I agree. I really dislike fat shovels in bumps, but in well-spaced bumps, the QST 106 is still easy to ski in more of a fall-line style, and in weird-ass bumps, the QST 106 is quite happy to have you slow things down and pick your way through. So I think most people will do just fine with the QST 106 in moguls, but those who put a premium on very hard, fast, mogul skiing might want to look elsewhere.
Sam: The most surprising thing for me about the QST 106 is how hard this thing rails groomers. Whether you chalk it up to the basalt (I love mineral puns) or not, the new QST 106 has a lot of edge hold, power, and torsional rigidity underfoot. Granted, this is still a lightweight ski, so it doesn’t match the precision and power of a dedicated carving ski. But in the category of ~105mm wide, 50/50 skis, the QST 106 does very well on groomers. It can be driven fairly hard through the shovels, and the harder I push it, the more energy I get out of the turn. With a sharp tune, this thing is an absolute blast on groomers.
Jonathan: Yep, agreed. And I would actually be very curious to see how the 181 cm QST 106 feels on groomers, because I think it is going to be an even snappier, quicker ski that could still be pushed pretty hard (at least on softer groomers) in bigger GS turns.
And to tip my hand here, I am quite curious about the 181 cm QST 106 in general. I.e., for those skiers who have no interest in touring on a 188 cm-long ski, the 181 cm QST 106 is going to be lighter and quicker than the 188, and if you’re willing or simply prefer to make quick, short turns, I think the 181 is going to be the better option, and I suspect that it isn’t going to sacrifice all of the stability of the 188 cm QST 106.
Sam: Paul Forward was extremely impressed by the powder performance of the previous iteration of the QST 106, and I’ve had fairly similar experience on this version.
The shape of the QST 106 really lends itself to high-speed slashes and slarves. No, it doesn’t float like a 120+ waisted powder ski, but of the skis I’ve used in this class, I think the 18/19 QST 106 still belongs near the top of the category.
While I personally haven’t skied the 17/18 QST 106, given what Paul and Jonathan have said about it, it sounds like the new QST 106 is a touch stiffer and stronger, so it might (??) not float quite as well as the 17/18 QST 106. But we’ll have to A/B the two skis to confirm this.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the 18/19 QST 106’s tip splay is fairly low at 58 mm (our 17/18 pair has 62 mm of tip splay). With a bit softer tip or a bit more tip splay, I think the QST 106 would plane up in pow slightly better.
Jonathan: It’s never occurred to me that the QST 106 could use more tip splay or a softer tip, but Sam has also skied the QST 106 in more pow than I have. (And yes, it’s a fact that more tip splay will facilitate more flotation.) But I personally wouldn’t be tempted to add more tip splay or to soften the tip of the QST 106. Because as Sam said, I already think the QST 106 is a good pow ski for its width. But what I think is most impressive is that it is a good pow ski that also works quite well outside of pow. And that’s not the easiest trick in the world to pull off on skis of this width or weight range.
Variable Snow / Chop
Sam: For a ski that weighs in around 2040 grams, I’d say that the 18/19 QST 106 does surprisingly well in choppy, variable conditions. I didn’t find it to feel hooky, jittery, or pingy, even in variable snow. Of course, this isn’t a damp, dedicated crud buster, but in the category of 50/50 skis, it feels strong and has a powerful tail.
Jonathan: Yeah, if we were going to go ski open bowls of chopped-up snow, I can’t think of any skis of this weight / width that I would clearly choose over the 188 cm QST 106. I also don’t think I’d call it head-and-shoulders better than some of the other skis in this category, but I have yet to ski the QST 106 in terrain or conditions where I felt like the ski simply didn’t work or became terrifying.
In the Air
Sam: For a ski that feels so directional on snow, it is surprising to me how comfortable the QST 106 also feels in the air. It is most comfortable sending straight airs off natural features, but it also doesn’t feel completely out of place spinning.
Sam: When I first got on the QST 106 with a factory tune, it felt quite track-y and locked in — especially in the tails. A quick gummy stone to the tips and tails (detuned to just past the contact point) loosened the ski up perfectly and predictably.
Jonathan: I typically am less quick to detune a ski as Sam is, but I only skied the QST 106 after Sam took his gummy to it, and I’ve had zero complaints about its performance. So I personally would advise skiing the QST 106 straight out of the wrapper, then see if you agree with Sam that it could use a bit of a detune.
As a “50/50” or 1-Ski Quiver
Sam: Our QST 106 is mounted with the Salomon SHIFT bindings, and as a result, about half of the days I have on it are touring days. If you have a more traditional skiing style and like to drive the shovels, then I think the QST 106 would make a great 50/50 or 1-ski-quiver in most higher-snow areas.
For a backcountry ski, the 188 cm QST 106 definitely falls on the more powerful end of the spectrum. And when mounted with a Shift binding, the 188 cm QST 106 is a great BC charger that can be pushed quite hard in snow ranging from even slightly soft to quite deep.
As a 50/50 or inbounds ski, the QST 106 is a good, directional option that performs quite well in soft snow with surprisingly good edge hold when things firm up — though again, it won’t be as damp or stable as other heavier, dedicated inbounds skis.
Jonathan: Personally, I would be most interested in the QST 106 either as a touring ski, or as my resort pow ski. If it hasn’t snowed in a week or two, I’d prefer to be on something heavier inbounds. But I’ve now toured on the QST 106 in enough crap snow that I’d feel pretty comfortable on it as my only touring ski. You’ll have to decide if you want something lighter for the touring you do, but the QST 106 + SHIFT binding is a very impressive combination.
And if I was going to throw an alpine binding on the QST 106, I could happily break it out for any 6” – 18” storms.
The 18/19 Salomon QST 106 is a pretty powerful ski that can be pushed hard for its weight, yet it is still quite easy to ski. Jonathan and I have found few instances where the ski has felt wildly out of place, and that’s what you want to be able to say about a 1-ski quiver. While it isn’t the most playful ski in this category, it is among the most predictable.
Strong, predictable, and quite easy to ski. We’re pretty sure that combination is going to appeal to a broad range of skiers, and it should.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics