2019-2020 K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance

Ski: 2019-2020 K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance, 179 cm

Available Lengths: 165, 172, 179 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.8 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1867 & 1890 grams

Stated Dimensions: 140-115-129 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 139.5-114.7-128.0 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (179 cm): 22.3 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 69 mm / 29 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 1-2 mm

Core: maple/paulownia + “carbon spectral braid” + fiberglass laminate

Base: sintered

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -10.6 cm from center; 78.8 cm from tail

Boots / Bindings: Lange XT 130 FreeTour LV / Salomon Shift MNC

Test Locations: Taos, NM; Hokkaido, Japan

Days Skied: 20

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Full Review //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

In case you haven’t heard, K2 is overhauling their freeride lineup for 19/20, replacing the previous Pinnacle and “Luv” skis with the brand-new Mindender series. This launch includes 13 new pairs of skis — 6 men’s and 6 women’s-specific “Alliance” versions. We’ve already talked a lot about these skis, including reviews of the Mindbender 106C Alliance, Mindbender 99Ti, Mindbender 108Ti, and Mindbender 116C. We also talked to K2’s head ski designer, Jed Yeiser, about the new line on our GEAR:30 podcast.

The Mindbender 115C Alliance is the widest women’s-specific ski in the brand’s 19/20 lineup, and I was very excited to test this 115mm-wide, 179cm-long ski and see how it compared to some of my other favorite pow skis, as well as the old K2 Gottaluvit 105Ti.

After spending a few soft and variable days on it at my home resort in Taos, I made the decision to mount the Mindbender 115C Alliance with a Salomon Shift binding and use it as my 1-ski quiver for a month-long spring trip to Japan and Alaska. After all that, I’m definitely a fan.

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance.

First, let’s talk about the Mindbender 115C Alliance’s design:

Shape / Rocker Profile

The Mindbender 115C Alliance’s shape and rocker profile look extremely similar to the unisex Mindbender 116C’s. Both skis have tips that taper pretty early, but they don’t taper to much of a point like K2’s old Pinnacle and “Luv” skis (i.e., the Mindbender’s shovels are more “blocky”). Similar story with the tails, as they have a bit of taper but not as much as K2’s previous freeride skis.

The Mindbender 115C Alliance has a very deep tip rocker line and a shallower, but still fairly deep tail rocker line.

Compared to the Nordica Santa Ana 110, the Mindbender 115C Alliance is a bit more tapered overall and has deeper rocker lines, though its tips and tails don’t rise as abruptly as the Santa Ana 110’s.

Compared to the Blizzard Sheeva 11, the Mindbender 115C Alliance’s rocker lines are very similar, but it has significantly more tapered tips and tails.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Mindbender 115C Alliance:

Tips: 6-6.5
Shovels: 7-7.5
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Underfoot: 9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8.5
Tails: 7.5

The Mindbender 115C Alliance’s flex pattern is very similar to the other women’s Mindbender skis we have (106C and 98Ti), and also the Mindbender 116C.

The Mindbender 115C Alliance starts fairly soft in the tips and shovels, but most of its midsection is quite strong and it finishes with a tail that’s a bit stiffer than the tails on the Mindbender 106C Alliance and Mindbender 98Ti Alliance.

The 179 cm Mindbender 115C Alliance’s flex pattern is very close to the 172 cm Sheeva 11’s, and the 177 cm Santa Ana 110 is also pretty similar, apart from having a notably stiffer tail.

Weight

Like the Mindbender 106C Alliance, the 179 cm Mindbender 115C Alliance is a fairly light ski. It’s notably lighter than the 177 cm Santa Ana 110, though not as light as the (shorter) 172 cm Sheeva 11.

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 and keep things apples-to-apples.

1626 & 1645 Line Pandora 104, 165 cm (18/19–19/20)
1651 & 1669 Moment Sierra, 172 cm (17/18–19/20)
1702 & 1721 K2 Gottaluvit 105Ti, 170 cm (18/19)
1709 & 1710 Blizzard Sheeva 10, 172 cm (17/18–19/20)
1711 & 1772 DPS Zelda A106 C2, 171 cm (19/20)
1735 & 1740 K2 Mindbender 106C Alliance, 175 cm (19/20)
1750 & 1769 Armada Victa 97 Ti, 171 cm (17/18–19/20)
1762 & 1801 K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance, 168 cm (19/20)
1764 & 1778 Rossignol Soul 7 HD W, 172 cm (17/18–19/20)
1806 & 1821 Blizzard Sheeva 11, 172 cm (17/18–19/20)
1808 & 1809 Line Pescado, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
1812 & 1813 Head Great Joy, 168 cm (17/18–18/19)
1821 & 1824 Liberty Genesis 106, 171 cm (16/17–18/19)
1867 & 1890 K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance, 179 cm (19/20)
1920 & 1936 Line Sick Day 114, 180 cm (16/17–19/20)
1983 & 1999 Nordica Santa Ana 100, 177 cm (17/18–19/20)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat / Blister Pro, 184 cm (17/18–19/20)
2019 & 2051 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm (19/20)
2076 & 2078 Nordica Santa Ana 110, 177 cm (17/18–19/20)
2097 & 2103 Liberty Origin 112, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)

FULL REVIEW

Powder

It came as little surprise that this ski excelled in soft snow. Its wider platform and subtly tapered shape provided plenty of float and a fairly loose feel in all types of fresh snow. The shovel has a surfy and poppy feel as it rebounds out of turns, even in deep snow where the energy of a ski is often lost.

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. (photo by Zach Husted)

I found the Mindbender 115C to float a little better than the 177 cm Santa Ana 110 and 172 cm Sheeva 11. While I’d chalk some of this up to surface area and the Mindbender’s longer length, I also felt like the shovel of the Mindbender 115C tended to do a better job of surfing / staying on top of deeper snow. In fact, the 179 cm Mindbender 115C Alliance offered the best flotation of any women’s-specific ski I was on during this past season.

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance.

I found the Mindbender 115C Alliance to be a bit more work when it came to making quick pivots / slarves in deep snow vs. the 172 cm Sheeva 11. But compared to the heavier Nordica Santa Ana 110, the Mindbender felt quicker, looser, and did a better job of not getting bogged down in deep snow.

Soft Chop

I continued to enjoy the energetic feel of the Mindbender 115C Alliance in soft chop, and thought it gave it more of a playful feeling in soft snow (despite its pretty traditional, directional shape and mount point).

In soft chop, the Mindbender 115C Alliance felt more lively and stayed on top of the snow better than the heavier, narrower Nordica Santa Ana 110, which I preferred for the playful, powder-filled terrain in Japan. Compared to the Blizzard Sheeva 11, the Mindbender 115C Alliance felt comparably playful but offered a bit more float which, again, was exactly what I was hoping for when skiing in Japan.

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. (photo by Brooke Edwards)

During spring storms at Taos when it dumped some oddly heavy snow, I again appreciated the quick, lively feel of the Mindbender 115C Alliance, especially compared to the Nordica Santa Ana 110, which feels a bit more sluggish. That said, the Santa Ana 110 is still more stable when blasting through chop at speed, as its shovels didn’t get knocked off track as easily as the Mindbender 115C Alliance’s.

Firm Chop / Crud / Variable Conditions

In addition to the deep pow it’s famous for, I also knew I’d be skiing a lot of variable crust and unpredictable snow during my late-spring to Japan. Despite being pretty wide, I was able to confidently choose the Mindbender 115C Alliance as my only ski for the trip as I was impressed by its versatility during my time on it at Taos. And after spending four days skiing multiple aspects and virtually all snow conditions on Rishiri Island in Hokkaido, I was very happy with my choice.

The Mindbender 115C Alliance is surprisingly damp for its weight and it felt quite stable through chunky, firm, and rough snow, given how wide it is. While it was strong enough to ski hard, the Mindbender 115C Alliance also allowed me to quickly shut things down, switch to tighter turns, and overall feel as nimble as I needed it to. The shovels remained pretty composed at speed, though I did feel like I needed to maintain a pretty aggressive, forward, and dynamic stance to keep them from getting knocked around too much.

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. (photo by Chris Robertson)

The Nordica Santa Ana 110 is definitely the better option if you mostly want a ski that feels really planted and that can track unphased through crud, but it also feels like a much heavier / more sluggish ski. Given that we had many long tours planned for the trip and would be skiing a mix of more open and tighter terrain, I felt that the Mindbender 115C offered a near-perfect balance of performance and weight, even across varied conditions and terrain.

Groomers

This ski is ~115 mm wide, so I didn’t have high expectations for how well it’d rip groomers. But I was quickly surprised by how accessible, snappy, and solid it felt for a ski of this width.

The Mindbender 115C, like the Mindbender 116C, initiates turns quickly, offers lots of energy out of a turn, and maintains a relatively damp feel throughout, given its lower weight.

While it prefers longer turns, the Mindbender 115C Alliance is still easy to shut down when needed and I could still bend it into some tighter, quicker turns. And if you haven’t picked up on this already, “quickness” was a theme during my time on this ski — despite how wide it is, the Mindbender 115C Alliance felt quick to respond to inputs and not as sluggish as I anticipated.

The Mindbender 115C Alliance feels like it skis pretty true to its length, and definitely more so than the old, more tapered and rockered Gottaluvit 105Ti (which had a fairly short effective edge). For this reason, I felt a lot more confident at speed on groomers on the Mindbender 115C, despite it being wider than the Gottaluvit 105Ti.

When compared to the 177 cm Nordica Santa Ana 110, the 179 cm Mindbender 115C feels similarly stiff, skis slightly longer, but also feels lighter and slightly quicker. I found the Mindbender 115C Alliance to feel almost as damp and stable as the Nordica Santa Ana 110, though the Santa Ana 110 is still our top pick for those seeking maximum stability in their wider ski. Compared to the 172 cm Blizzard Sheeva 11, the Mindbender 115C Alliance was slightly more stable on groomers, which I’d primarily chalk up to its longer length.

Moguls, Trees, and Tight Terrain

I was a bit intimidated to take out a 115mm-wide, 179cm-long ski in some of the long bump runs at Taos. But as in other conditions, I was quickly surprised by how nimble the ski felt. The Mindbender 115C Alliance has enough tip and tail rocker to pretty easily release from turns in tight places, and its lower weight helps it feel pretty easy to flick around in tight spots, as long as I stayed over the front of the ski.

In some of the mogul fields with really big, weird bumps it felt like I had a lot of ski in front of me, which required a lot of forward pressure and an aggressive stance to precisely command and direct. This doesn’t surprise me when considering the size and mount point of this ski (and the car-sized moguls I was trying to maneuver it through).

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. (photo by Zach Husted)

When compared to the 177 cm Nordica Santa Ana 110, the 179 cm Mindbender 115C feels slightly more maneuverable and forgiving in bumps. Compared to the 172 cm Blizzard Sheeva 11, the Sheeva 11 feels much more forgiving and a bit quicker, but it is a significantly shorter ski.

Given that its the longest women’s-specific ski I’ve been on and also one of the widest, the Mindbender 115C Alliance did a good job of allowing me to drive it quickly through tight terrain, even in some of the firmest moguls.

Who It’s For?

If you used the old Gottaluvit 105Ti or K2’s other, older freeride skis and wished they were a bit more energetic and strong on edge, the Mindbender 115C Alliance is worth a look (and so is the Mindbender 106C Alliance).

Kara Williard reviews the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance for Blister.
Kara Williard on the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. (photo by Chris Robertson)

While it excels as a powder ski, the Mindbender 115C still maintains most of its composure on firmer and variable snow. For the aggressive lady skier who spends a lot of their time in softer snow, this could easily serve as a 1-ski quiver with a powder focus, or as the wider ski in a quiver. While it is on the slightly heavier end for a dedicated touring ski, you do get more stability than lighter skis. And after using it in and out of bounds, I think the Mindbender 115C Alliance is an excellent 50/50 pow ski for resort and backcountry use.

To me, the Mindbender 115C Alliance seems like a great middle-ground between the very-stable Nordica Santa Ana 110 and the more forgiving, less stable Blizzard Sheeva 11. If those skis seem like they’re too far on one end of the spectrum, check out the Mindbender 115C Alliance.

Bottom Line

After skiing it in just about every snow condition and doing so in a lot of different terrain, I’ve come away very impressed by the K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance. While it excels in powder and soft snow, it performs surprisingly well in a broad array of conditions, especially for a ski that’s 115 mm underfoot.

It floats well in the deepest snow, is playful and lively, light enough to tour on, and still stable enough to ski hard. For ladies looking for a powder-oriented ski, the Mindbender 115C is an excellent option.

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