3-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (20/21)

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Article Navigation:  Intro //  Luke Koppa //  Kara Williard //  Sam Shaheen //  Kristin Sinnott //  Paul Forward //  Sascha Anastas //  Jonathan Ellsworth

Intro

We recently published several of our reviewers’ selections for both 5-ski and 4-ski quivers and now we’re once again asking them to cut those down, this time to three skis. So below you’ll see some of their picks for 3-ski quivers, which we recently updated with additions from several additional reviewers.

To be clear, there is no single perfect quiver for everyone. It all depends very much on where you ski and how you ski. So our selections below should not be viewed as our answer to the question, “What are the best skis out there?” Instead, these are our personal picks, and our rationale for why we’d choose them. As always, we’re interested to hear what you’d pick for your own 3-ski quiver, so let us know in the Comments section at the bottom.

More Ski-Quiver Help

For more general suggestions — as opposed to what we personally would pick — check out our 20/21 Buyer’s Guide.

And if you’d like to get our recommendations for assembling your own ski quiver, then become a Blister Member, send us a note, and we’ll remove the guesswork.

Four Questions

For each of our reviewers, we asked them to answer the following questions:

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Luke Koppa

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

Continuing the trends of my 5- and 4-ski quivers, there won’t be a ton of drastic change here. I guess I just know what I like. But narrowing things down from four skis, I will be making one significant change.

Ski #1: Do-Everything Touring Ski — Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Moment Wildcat Tour 108

Ah, finally some real compromises.

For this 3-ski quiver, I think I’ll consolidate my mid-winter and spring touring skis into a single setup. I was very close to sticking with the Line Vision 108 and Fritschi Tecton combo, but there are a few drawbacks to that setup that I think are minimized with the Wildcat Tour 108 + ATK Raider 12 combo.

First, the main reasons I don’t love using the Vision 108 for steep lines in the spring are (1) its fairly tight sidecut radius and (2) its fairly soft flex pattern. When making hop turns in no-fall terrain, I prefer a stronger, straighter ski that’s less inclined to bend and want to carve across the fall line. So far (and also using my time on the regular Wildcat 108 as evidence), the Wildcat Tour 108 seems like a better option when considering those characteristics.

But unlike skis like the Armada Tracer 98, K2 Wayback 106, and Atomic Backland 107 (all of which I also considered for this role), the Wildcat Tour 108 still feels very much like a playful, freestyle-oriented ski. So I don’t think I’ll be mad at all when my days are more meadow-skipping and pillow-popping than hop-turning. And yes, I realize using a 108mm-wide ski on steep, firm lines is objectively dumb. There are tons of skiers I know who tour on <90mm skis all year and have a blast. But I’m not those people. And the Wildcat 108 and Wildcat Tour 108 just feel so intuitive to me that I think I’d rather have a ski that’s way more fun mid-winter (for how I ski) than one that’s a bit lighter and more precise on spring lines.

As for bindings, the Wildcat Tour 108 is certainly charge-y enough to warrant a burlier binding like the Tecton, but the Raider 12 is so good on the descent for how light it is. And I’d appreciate the few hundred grams that I save during all-day efforts in the spring and summer. But I think this is a case where I’ll be very inclined to swap the Raider 12 for the Freeraider 14 / Moment Voyager, depending on how testing of that binding goes this year.

Ski #2: Firm-ish Snow Resort Ski — K2 Reckoner 102, 184 cm + CAST System

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
K2 Reckoner 102

This ski is just so damn fun. Throughout many days in a very wide variety of conditions last year, I wasn’t able to have a bad time on the Reckoner 102. It gets knocked around a good deal when making big turns in crud, but it’s so fun at more moderate speeds that I don’t really care about its lack of stability.

Looking at my quivers this year and from years past, it’s obvious that my personal selections are becoming more of just that — personal. There are loads of skis that are more “practical” and “sensible” that I could’ve chosen. But in my quiver, I want skis that I know let me have as much fun as possible. And that criteria basically sums up the Reckoner 102, the close-second Line Sir Francis Bacon, and the next ski.

No, the Reckoner 102 is not “ideal” for the conditions on a lot of days. But I know that, for me, it’s still going to let me enjoy getting down the hill.

For bindings on this setup, I think I might as well throw the CAST system on this ski so that I have an option for days when we want to build jumps in the backcountry and embarrass ourselves. While the Wildcat Tour 108 would be awesome for that, the Raider 12 would not, and I have no reservations about using the CAST system for everyday inbounds skiing. The Marker Duke PT could also serve this role, but for now, I’m going with the binding system that’s been proven for a longer period of time.

Ski #3: Playful Charger — Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer, 186 cm + Salomon STH2 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer

Still my favorite ski of all time. Thank you, Rossi, Parker, Chris, and all else involved for making it.

Sure, it’s not the best ski for everyone or everything, but again, I’m going to have an absolute blast every day I’m on it.

I’ll be grabbing the Reckoner 102 for very shallow days, mellow days, park days, and any time I feel like trying some new “tricks.”

But when I’m going out with a crew who likes to ride hard, the fresh snow (read: chop) is deep, and / or I just want to scare myself a bit, the big Blackops will be under my feet, and a smile will almost certainly be on my face.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

I always feel like a broken record by the time we get to 3-ski quivers. Cause, yeah, there is now an even bigger number of skis that were very difficult to leave off the list.

Obviously, the Line Vision 108 and Majesty Superwolf that were in my other quivers were hard to remove.

Luke Koppa reviews the Line Vision 108 for Blister.
Luke Koppa on the Line Vision 108, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

The Line Sir Francis Bacon is a ski that I’d be sad not to own at any point, so that’s tough, too. But the Reckoner 102 is like an SFB that’s a bit better on firm conditions, so I’m ok with that.

Same as my other quivers, I’m going to miss the following skis, among many others: Line Blade, Moment Wildcat, Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, ON3P Woodsman 108, Volkl Revolt 121, Line Outline, J Skis Masterblaster, Dynastar Menace 98, Sego Big Horn 106, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, and a ton of others that I’m forgetting.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Moment Deathwish Tour — I feel like this could be a better choice for my do-everything touring ski, but I have yet to ski it. And despite the excellent edge hold afforded by Moment’s Triple Camber profile, I’d still be a bit hesitant to go even wider than the Wildcat Tour 108 when I know I’ll be picking my way down some pretty steep, firm couloirs.

J Skis Hotshot — for all the reasons stated in my 4-ski quiver selections. Could this finally be the narrower Blackops 118 I’ve been begging for?

Volkl Revolt 104 — more stable but equally playful Reckoner 102? Need more time to say.

And though I can’t say anything about them yet, we’ve started getting the rundown on the new, 21/22 lines from several brands, and there are already several skis that I’m very excited to get on later this season.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Moment: Wildcat Tour 108, Wildcat 101, Wildcat

I think this family of Wildcats could be cool, though I’m pretty sure the Wildcat 101 will be a bit stiffer than I want for my ultra-playful all-mountain ski (we have yet to ski it). I’m also typically someone who likes each ski in a quiver to feel different than the others, rather than very similar, so I think going with three skis all designed around the same shape and rocker profile might leave me wanting a bit more diversity from my quiver.

Line: Vision 108, Sir Francis Bacon, Vision 118

The Vision 108 isn’t ideal for steep, firm lines and I wish Line made a more stable pow ski, but I’d still be happy with this quiver.

Volkl: Blaze 106, Revolt 104, Revolt 121

Main downside is that the Blaze 106 is pretty directional / not playful for my taste.

Kara Williard

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

As I stated previously, I am coming back from an ACL replacement and consequently didn’t get my usual days last season, so I am feeling a little out of the loop. There are a lot of skis out there that I am hoping to try this winter.

As I narrow my quiver from four skis to three, my approach would be to merge the two touring setups I discussed in my 4-ski quiver into one well-rounded and highly versatile touring setup that I think could work for just about any backcountry objective.

Ski #1: All-Mountain Everyday Charger — Nordica Santa Ana 98, 179 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 98

This is the ski that sets my standards for what an all-mountain ski should be. While slightly altered in dimensions from the previous iteration and with one sheet less metal, this ski still offers it all in terms of what I want from a damp, responsive, everyday tool for resort skiing. It is smooth and stable, while still feeling playful and maneuverable. The Santa Ana 100 was my main contender for the last two seasons, and the Santa Ana 98 still fills the same role after spending a few days on it last season. While the 98 is a bit lighter, it’s still a hard-charging women’s ski. The Santa Ana 98 provides the confidence I want from my everyday ski, both when I just need something predictable as I’m getting my legs back under me, and when I want to ski harder.

Ski #2: Resort Powder Ski – K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance, 179 cm + Look Pivot 14

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance

The K2 Mindbender 115C has proven to be an exceptional powder ski in a variety of places and conditions. From bottomless days in Japan, to enough dust-on-crust to constitute a Taos powder day, I have been stoked on this ski in a variety of conditions, even as things get chopped up. I continue to be pleased by the nimble-yet-powerful combination of this ski.

Ski #3: One-Quiver Touring Ski — Blizzard Sheeva 10, 180 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Sheeva 10

This ski served as my single touring ski last season, and I was so pleased with it for a variety of reasons. It feels like just the right blend of my two touring picks from my 4-ski quiver, which were the Sheeva 9 and Nordica Enforcer 104 Free.

The Sheeva 10 is slightly more nimble, light, and narrower than the Enforcer Free 104, while still being pretty stable and damp. The Sheeva 10 is an awesome, quick, versatile ski that is wide enough to seek out deep days in the backcountry, while still being manageable in hateful, crusty, or heavy conditions. It will likely remain my main touring ski for the season because I trust it, to get me through most any adventure outside the resort.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

It remains a toss-up between the Santa Ana 98 and the Blizzard Bonafide for my first ski. I have yet to get on the 20/21 Bonafide 97, so I will be curious how the redesigned ski compares to the previous iterations, which were previously my go-to choices for stable, responsive, and powerful everyday options.

I am also super keen to try the women’s Black Pearl 97, since it’s the most direct comparison that has existed to the Bonafide, and it’s now available in a suitable length for me to really get a direct comparison. It will also be exciting to test the Black Pearl 97 against the Nordica Santa Ana 98, as they both seem aligned with my preferences.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

I’ve spent enough time on the Enforcer 104 Free to know that it pretty much suits my every wish for a versatile and well-rounded ski, which leaves me curious to try the 20/21 Santa Ana 110 Free and Santa Ana 104 Free. Especially since they’re a bit lighter and potentially more touring-friendly than the pretty heavy Enforcer 104 Free.

After having so many good experiences on the Blizzard Bonafide and Brahma, I am really curious to try the Blizzard Black Pearl 97 and Black Pearl 88, especially now that they are coming in 177 cm lengths. I am also eager to try the new Rossignol BLACKOPS Rallybird.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I feel like I stay pretty consistent on this answer, but as I stated above, I have A LOT of skis I want to spend time on this winter, which could very easily change my pick.

For me, it’s always a toss-up between Nordica and Blizzard. Since I have yet to spend time on the new Black Pearl line from Blizzard or try the new Bonafide, which I have previously been a diehard fan of, I will defer to Nordica on this one. Santa Ana 98 for everyday resort ski, Enforcer 104 Free + Salomon Shift for my touring setup (likely to be exchanged for the Santa Ana 104 Free once I spend some time on it), and Enforcer 110 Free as my resort powder ski.

Sam Shaheen

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

As mentioned in my 4-ski quiver, I’ll be primarily (if not exclusively) touring this winter, so my 3-ski quiver will reflect that.

Ski #1: Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Atomic Bent Chetler 120

This is the winter workhorse. Instead of the Shift binding I had on it in the 4-ski quiver, the 3-ski quiver gets the much lighter ATK Raider 12 — mostly just because I don’t want to drag a Shift uphill all winter since I expect this ski will get the bulk of my days between November and March.

I think I read in a scientific journal somewhere that skiing the Bent Chetler 120 makes every ski day 21% more fun, so this is a pretty easy choice for me.

Ski #2: WNDR Alpine Intention 110, 185 cm + Shift Binding

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
WNDR Alpine Intention 110

This ski stays for all the same reasons I had it in my 4-ski quiver — potential lift-riding coercion, bad / unpredictable snow conditions, and for training weight to prep the hip flexors for big spring days.

This is pretty much the ski I’ll take every time a friend asks me to go skiing and I don’t really want to go, because if I wanted to go, then the conditions would likely warrant either the Bent Chetler 120 or the MTN Explore 95.

Ski #3: Salomon MTN Explore 95, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Salomon MTN Explore 95

Well yeah, this ski stays. It will be a sad day when I have to say goodbye. There will be tears shed over cherished memories and a long hug. Then I’ll say something cool like “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here” or “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.”

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Probably the Atomic Redster GS FIS. With my current quiver, I’m never going to break 100 mph which is a bit of a downer.

The Moment Wildcat Tour 108 (or regular Wildcat 108) could also replace the Intention 110 but I just never quite felt as comfortable on the Wildcat Tour 108 as I did on the Intention 110. I think that’s mostly due to tuning issues, but for me, the Intention 110 still gets the nod.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Moment Wildcat Tour 108 for Blister.
Sam Shaheen on the Moment Wildcat Tour 108, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Luke still won’t let me ski the Line Vision 108. Which is probably smart because I doubt I would give it back to him if he did.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Line: Vision 108 (daily), Sick Day 104 (tricked into skiing resort), Sick Day 94 (peaks)

Or potentially:

Salomon: QST 118 (purely masochistic), QST 106 (daily), MTN Explore 95 (I love you so much)

Kristin Sinnott

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

Every season, narrowing the ski selection down from 5 to 4 to 3, and etc. gets harder and harder. I’m not sure if it’s because the skis keep getting better and better or if I’m just getting spoiled. Honestly, it’s probably a combination of the two.

Quick recap: I spend most of my ski days in the southern Rockies, skiing morning corduroy (if I get the first shift), narrow steeps, odd-shaped moguls, and everything else I can find. And while I love a good powder day, I am no longer able to line up before the lifts open with my favorite ski buddy (my husband) as we now take turns caring for our child as the other one skis. Fortunately, I am a fan of all snow and believe that 95% of the time, you can find something fun to ski on … at least where I ski. With that in mind, my 3-ski quiver selection is similar to my 5- and 4-ski quivers, and all the skis work well in almost all conditions I regularly encounter.

Ski #1: All-Mountain Everyday Ski — Nordica Santa Ana 93, 172 cm + Marker Griffon 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 93

Stiff and narrow enough to hold their own in just about every condition and with the new construction, the Santa Ana 93 is now more nimble. I thought the previous model was a great all-mountain ski and the new design gives me more confidence in tight trees.

Ski #2: Touring / All-Mountain Ski — Head KORE 99 W, 171 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 13

Head Kore 99 W

I decided I only wanted one touring ski in this quiver but I also kinda cheated (again) by adding the Salomon Shift bindings. For my single touring ski, I wanted a ski that could function well on and off-piste and not completely exhaust my legs on the up or down. The Head Kore 99 W doesn’t have the same energy or pop when exiting a turn as the Santa Anas do, but it’s stable, light, predictable, and fun in almost every condition.

Ski #3: All-Mountain Softer Snow & Powder Ski — DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, 171 cm + Marker Griffon 13

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
DPS Alchemist Zelda 106 C2

Every time I ski the Alchemist Zelda 106 C2, I have a great day, so here they are again, making my ski quiver list. They don’t require a lot of muscle to perform well and they are stable in most conditions while also being a bit playful.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 and a lighter ski for touring, like the Line Pandora 110 or Renoun Earhart 88.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

For this quiver, I knew I wanted a ski with an 88-93mm waist but I had a hard time picking one. I went back and forth between the Santa Ana 93 and Blizzard Black Pearl 88 and either ski would have been fine. But for my slightly fatter touring / all-mountain ski, I really struggled. I ended up choosing the Head Kore 99 W somewhat by default. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the ski and the choice I made, but I think there is room for competition here once I try a few more skis and / or put in more time on ones I’ve already skied. There are two skis in particular that I think could bump the Kore 99: the Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free and the Blizzard Black Pearl 97.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 3-ski Quiver Selections
Kristin Sinnott on the Nordica Santa Ana 93, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I passed on this question for the 5- and 4-ski quivers but I think I can now say Nordica with some confidence. My quiver would consist of the Santa Ana 93, Santa Ana 98, and Santa Ana 110. Full disclosure — I haven’t skied the new Santa Ana 110, so perhaps I should still disregard this question, but I really enjoyed the previous version and I imagine the new design will be as good if not more enjoyable for me, since it got notably lighter. Once I get on the Santa Ana 104 Free, I think it could really solidify my answer as I think it could make a decent touring ski in this situation, based on what reviewer Sascha Anastas has said about it.

Paul Forward

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

Ski #1: DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, 191 cm

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
DPS Alchemist Lotus 124

The first ski I need is a dedicated powder ski for my work as a full-time heli-ski guide out of Girdwood. How many times now have I listed the Lotus A124 as one of my favorites ever? (Answer: every year since it came out!)

I ski lots of new powder skis every year and I’m always hoping I’ll find something I like better, but the simple truth is that nothing else I’ve used strikes as good of a balance between floatation, stability, and predictability in big terrain and all kinds of backcountry snow.

Ski #2: Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 3-ski Quiver Selections
Volkl Mantra 102

In my 5-ski quiver, I’d also have an inbounds powder charger like the DPS Koala F119 or the Moment Blister Pro, but I could live with just the Lotus A124 for the deep days and the excellent Mantra 102 for all of my other inbounds skiing at Alyeska. I lean toward the 184 cm as a quiver ski but I also like the 191 cm version here in AK. For anywhere with tighter terrain, the 184 still gives me everything I need and only lacks a little in floatation and extreme high-speed stability.

Ski #3: Black Diamond Helio 116, 186 cm

Blister's 2019-2020 Reviewer Quiver Selections
Black Diamond Helio 116

I still spend as much time as possible ski touring, and from November through May, I’m mostly chasing pow. In the spring, the Helio 116 will feel a little sketchy on firm, steep conditions, and on the biggest, steepest, deepest days in the AK backcountry, I’ll feel undergunned in terms of length and width. But this ski is light enough to drag around everywhere and stable and predictable enough that I’ll be happy on the descent the vast majority of the time. This is my Goldilocks AK touring ski. That said, all of this is based on the previous Helio 116; Black Diamond updated it for 20/21 and the new Helio 115 appears very similar, but we haven’t yet skied them yet.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Some of my favorite days of the year are inbounds pow days at Alyeska and I love stable, playful 115-120mm-wide skis for that situation. I would be sad to give up the DPS Koala F119 or the old Moment Blister Pro for those days.

I’d also love to keep a narrower, even lighter touring ski in the mix. The Blizzard Zero G 105 has been fun in most conditions and I still dig the ultralight Black Diamond Helio 105. Once the pow is truly gone, I’d also be happy to have something like the Salomon MTN Explore 95 back in the quiver as well.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

My initial impressions of the Majesty Havoc were really positive. I could see it being a totally reasonable do-it-all touring ski that could even hold its own inbounds. Color me intrigued.

I still haven’t tried the Atomic Bent Chetler 120 and it sounds like a super fun ski that would work well in Alaska.

Lastly, I need to spend more time on the latest batch of 105-110mm inbounds chargers. I’m really excited about trying the Volkl Katana 108, the new Blizzard Cochise 106, Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, and the J Skis Hotshot if / when any of them make it to AK this winter. I could see one of these usurping the Mantra 102.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

So many ski companies have bailed on true, dedicated powder skis that I can’t really think of any company that could fill in all the blanks for me. DPS has great powder skis but I don’t love anything they have under 119 mm right now.

Paul Forward on the DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, Chugach Powder Guides, AK. (photo by Charlie Renfro)

Volkl crushes it for me with their skinnier skis, but the Revolt 121 isn’t my ideal heli ski.

I haven’t skied the MSP 107 but I could live with a 4FRNT quiver of Renegade, Raven, and then something with metal in it for inbounds, which would mean the MSP 99 or MSP 107.

I need to ski the new Blizzard Spur and Cochise 106 so this is a stretch, but I liked the earlier iterations enough that a Spur, Cochise 106, and Zero G 105 quiver could make me quite happy here.

Sascha Anastas

With the COVID pandemic front and center this year, I have been having a hard time imagining what the 2020-2021 ski season will look like. In years past, my ski selections have always been focused mostly on resort skiing in the Central Rockies, but with all this uncertainty (including my own work schedule as a physician assistant in the emergency room), I am more focused this year on what setup(s) would be most suitable for the backcountry skiing that is available from my backyard here in Buena Vista, CO.

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

Ski #1: Lightweight, Mostly Touring Ski — Liberty Genesis 96, 165 cm + Dynafit TLT Speedfit 10

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 3-ski Quiver Selections
Liberty Genesis 96

This ski has made my list every year and when I have friends or colleagues approach me for ski beta, this is one of my first recommendations. I first reviewed these skis 3 years ago in Telluride. It was not a great snow season but we found chalky steeps in Prospect Bowl / Black Iron Bowl and I was impressed by how easy these skis felt when maneuvering around the trees and how quick the skis were to turn in the steeper and more technical terrain. In my opinion, these skis are the bread and butter for everyday Colorado resort skiing. They are nimble on steeper trees, stable at high speeds yet are still playful and easy to get on edge. 

While I have only reviewed this ski on the resort, I feel confident this ski’s versatile inbounds performance (and pretty low weight) would make it a solid option for Colorado backcountry snowpack. It is fairly light and I feel that it would be sufficient for surfing through all sorts of crusty / sunbaked layers, despite not being very wide. I opted for a really lightweight binding as I would mostly use this setup touring around the backcountry near Buena Vista in the Sawatch Range. I have not yet tested the Dynafit TLT Speedfit 10, this is a bit of a placeholder for now, but I am intrigued by the fact that it is marketed as a “women’s-specific” binding — although I am not entirely sure how a tech binding can discern / be designed around gender?

Ski #2: All-Mountain Charger — Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free, 165 cm + Marker Griffon

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 4-ski Quiver Selections
Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free

Even though planning ahead and making reservations for resort skiing seems like a big hassle with my hectic schedule, I am confident I will spend a notable amount of time in the resort so I don’t think I could have a 3-ski quiver without a dedicated resort ski. I had a really hard time choosing this ski over the Line Pandora 104 and the (now discontinued) Rossignol Soul 7 HD W. I found that the Soul 7 was incredibly easy to get on edge, stable at high speeds, and was really surfy in the deeper / heavier snow. The Line Pandora 104 has been one of my all-time favorite skis due to its general versatility, and particularly its stability for how light it is. But the Santa Ana 104 Free is slightly more damp and stable in rougher conditions, ultimately making it a better ski for charging and thus my final decision.

Ski #3: 50/50 Powder Ski — Line Pandora 110, 162 cm + Salomon Shift MNC 10

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Line Pandora 110

I was pretty excited to see that Line had redesigned the Pandora 110. From 2014-2018, the previous iteration of the ski was beloved by many for its versatility, relatively low weight, and surfy ride in powder. That version was my one and only ski for a full two seasons (after I retired my Volkl Aura). Line stopped making the Pandora 110 in 2018, but then they redesigned it and brought it back for 2020-2021 with a much lighter construction and a bit more tip and tail rocker. While I have not actually been able to get on this ski, based on what reviewer Kristin Sinnott has said about it and how well the Pandora 104 floats and surfs through fresh snow, I feel that the new Pandora 110 will be a great option for deeper days in the backcountry or the resort.

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

Definitely the Line Pandora 104. I feel like I am committing adultery when I leave it out of a quiver — it has been my go-to for the past three years. When reviewing other skis, I make sure to have the Pandora 104 in the back of my car in case I need to provide a reference point. I am pretty sure Jonathan has made fun of me on more than one occasion for insisting to bring this ski to the base for it to simply stay in the ski rack all day.

Sascha Anastas reviews the Line Pandora 104 for Blister
Sascha Anastas on the Line Pandora 104.

That said, after spending a substantial amount of time on the Santa Ana 104 Free, that ski is notably more damp and smooth on firmer conditions, which made chasing Luke Koppa around Crested Butte last season that much more enjoyable.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

After spending time on the Santa Ana 104 Free and really enjoying that ski’s damping and stability, I am pretty eager to get on the Volkl Secret 102. I spent at least four consecutive seasons on the old Volkl Aura as my one and only ski, and am curious to see how different the Secret feels compared to the Aura, and also how it compares to the Santa Ana 104 Free. Kristin Sinnott noted both how stable and how demanding the 170 cm Secret 102 felt, so being on the short / petite side, I would probably size down to at least 163 cm.

And since I think I’ll be spending more time in the backcountry this year, I’m also curious about the Atomic Backland 107 W. This ski is designed for the backcountry and is very light, so I am curious to see how well it performs on the downhill and how it would handle deeper days in the resort. The Backland W also comes in a 97 mm width so that serve as a lighter alternative to the Liberty Genesis 96. I think if this was a normal year (as in a non-pandemic year), my answer would be the Santa Ana 110 Free, since my pow ski would see more resort use and I could get away with something heavier and more stable.

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

I would agree with Kara in that, for me, it is a close tie between Nordica and Blizzard. Even though I didn’t include any Blizzard skis in my quiver, the Blizzard Pearl and Sheeva lines cover a substantial amount of snow conditions and skiing scenarios, so I think I’d be happy with a quiver from Blizzard. That said, I need to get on most of the current models, so I’ll hold off on that until I can spend time on some of the newer skis (hopefully this season).

Jonathan Ellsworth

I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver, and why?

There was a lot of hand-wringing over my 5-ski quiver. Less over my 4-ski quiver. And even less over this 3-ski quiver. Perhaps because with the 5-ski quiver, I had to start making specific choices out of a sea of options, but once I did that, the possibilities narrowed and my path started to take shape. And as evidence of this, I’m only going to change up one ski here in the drop from 4 skis down to 3:

Ski #1: Blizzard Bonafide 97, 177 cm + alpine binding

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
Blizzard Bonafide 97

I was just fondling our pair in Blister headquarters earlier today … and as a firm-snow oriented, all-mountain ski … I feel very, very good about this choice. If I skied more sheer ice (and especially bulletproof groomers), I would go with a dedicated carver here. And if I wanted my narrower ski to be more soft-snow oriented, the 181 cm J Skis Masterblaster is a super fun choice. But now that the latest iteration of the Bonafide is back to being more similar to the version of this ski that I once called “perfect,” I’ll take it.

Ski #2: ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm + alpine binding

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 3-ski Quiver Selections
ON3P Woodsman 108

When I dropped down from 5 skis to 4 skis, I wrote that “if the Fischer Ranger 102 and Blizzard Cochise 106 had a love child, it would look a whole lot like the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free. And for that reason, I’m really not mad at all about this drop from 5 skis to 4 skis. In fact, I think I felt worse about not having a spot for the Enforcer 104 in my 5-ski quiver.”

And once again, I have to say that I’m really not mad about having to go without three skis that I love: the Ranger 102, the Cochise 106, and the Enforcer Free 104, because the ON3P Woodsman 108 can step in to take over for the Bonafide 97 in deeper chop and softer crud, while also serving as my resort pow ski on the deepest of days. And it handles that (skiing deeper pow) more effectively than the Ranger 102, Cochise 106, or Enforcer Free 104. An all-mountain ski with some guts to it that’s good in chopped-up conditions but also planes up pretty well in deeper pow (especially steeper-angle pow). Sounds about right.

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer 3-ski Quiver Selections
Jonathan Ellsworth on the ON3P Woodsman 108, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Ski #3: 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm + ATK Raider 12 (or potentially ATK Freeraider 14)

Blister's 2020-2021 Reviewer Ski Quiver Selections
4FRNT Raven

Still remaining loyal here. (But maybe not for much longer…)

II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?

I do find myself wondering about throwing a Shift binding on the WNDR Alpine Intention 110, making it my resort pow ski and single touring ski, and then pairing the Bonafide 97 with a Volkl Mantra 102 or Enforcer 104 Free. But other than really switching things up in that way, I’m liking my 3 selections here.

III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?

Hmmm… do I really see the Salomon Stance 90 or 96 knocking out the Bonafide? Seems like a tough task.

But maybe the Salomon Stance 102 will find a place in my heart — and my quiver? (I’m very much looking forward to a Stance 102 vs. Volkl Mantra 102 A/B.)

IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?

Runner Up / A Very Close 2nd:

  1. Blizzard Bonafide 97, 177 cm
  2. Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm
  3. Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm + SHIFT binding – resort pow + do-everything touring ski

I love the Bonafide and the Cochise, and I like the Rustler 11. And especially when it comes to inbounds skiing, I love this quiver. But I’m not quite so psyched about using the Rustler 11 for all of my touring? And so given that…

1st Place

  1. Salomon Stance 96 + Salomon Warden binding – firmer inbounds days
  2. Salomon QST 106, 188 cm + SHIFT binding – resort pow ski + pow touring ski
  3. Salomon Mtn Explore 95, 184 cm + ATK 12 or 14 for longer and / or lower-snow tours
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17 comments on “3-Ski Quivers: Reviewers’ Selections (20/21)”

  1. Hi Luke–you wrote about Volkl as the one company for all your skis: “Main downside is that the Blaze 106 is pretty directional / not playful for my taste.” What about mounting the Blaze at + 1 or + 2 or more…do you think that would increase the playful/surfy feel…even if just a little? Drawbacks? I’m agonizing about this ski…

    • It’s tough to say since we haven’t been able to play with the mount point, but I think there are more factors than mount point at play (at least for me). The Blaze has a very directional shape (almost 20 mm difference between width of tips vs. tails), a pretty flat tail, and given just how traditional its mount point is, I highly doubt that moving the bindings a few cm would turn it into something like the Vision 108 or Wildcat Tour 108. But those skis are the outliers, not the Blaze. I.e., there are so few skis out there that are that light but still have somewhat symmetrical shapes, rocker profiles, and flex patterns. So that note was just for my preferences, which are not really the norm (wanting a freestyle-friendly design for my light touring skis).

      All that said, I think moving the Blaze’s bindings a couple cm forward of the line would make it feel a tiny bit more balanced (in the air and on snow). I doubt it’d make it feel much surfier (and I’d say it’s already a easily maneuverable ski, just a directional one), but I also doubt moving 2 cm would have a major downside apart from maybe float, given the big sweet spot of that ski.

      I think the Blaze 106 is an excellent, directional ski. It’s just never going to feel as playful overall vs. skis designed with freestyle skiing in mind. And for me personally, having something I can ski very neutral / centered, ski switch, and that feels natural in the air is a priority.

      • Thanks for the great reply Luke–You guys are awesome. The weights, width, and general shape of the ski seem great for me…maybe it’s a little too directional, though. I like to ski a little more centered. That said, I’m not hitting any jumps, skiing switch, or anything like that, so maybe it will be fine, especially at +1 or +2. If I’m not mistaken, I think it does have some additional lines. I’ll have to try and se if I can test one. All the best–Bruno.

        • Sweet. And FWIW, I never felt like it was a ski that required me to be driving its shovels super aggressively, it’s just that, particularly on firm / shallow conditions, it felt best with some pressure on the front.

  2. Bummer, I was really hoping for Jonathans selections here as he is the closest to my skiing style and preferences (more directional, more inbounds, etc.).

  3. Luke, totally agree with you on the WIldcat tour 108. Perfect 1 ski touring ski. On your moment quiver, one advantage to also having an inbounds WC in your quiver is that they ski so similarly that when you are standing on high consequence terrain on a ski you don’t get as many laps on (as say in a resort), it’s nice to know exactly how the ski will behave.

    I’m running a 3 moment quiver right now, WC 184, WCT108 184, meridian 107. Think about swapping the WC101 for the meridian. I just got it and loving it. Definitely has a different feel from the wildcat. For reference, I’ve never gotten along with the triple camber skis, just not my style, the meridian just rages while still being surfy and not too much of a bear in tight bumps. Good for everything but deep pow or straight ice. Fun to carve, stable through crud and roughed up slopes, and a high enough top speed. Now I haven’t skied the wc101 / pbj so maybe that would change things, but I don’t think it’s mandatory to have a skinny ski any more. Sure they are better in certain conditions, but those usually aren’t the days you have the most fun on. So better to have good tools for the best days that are good enough for the meh days.

  4. Fun stuff.

    Older, classic charger that doesn’t always charge these days:

    1. Enforcer 88
    2. Enforcer 100
    3. Enforcer 115

    Caveat: 115 skis are a bit much for the aging MX-beaten knees. Mindbender 108s were astounding last season, but they did NOT age gracefully.

    Gobble gobble guys!

  5. @Sam: What boot do you steer that Bent Chentler 120 / ATK Raider 12? I will put the Raider 12 on my Moment Bibby Tour (which is 200g heavier per ski) and steer it with my Scarpa F1.

  6. vision 108 183, shift, tecnica zero g tour (low angle pow touring)

    manta 102 184, sth2, tecnica mach1 lv (resort angry skiing)

    ugh I wish I could ski more skis. gonna put the k2 reckoner 102 184 here since Luke seems to love it (resort fun skiing)

  7. Sounds as if Mr Forward has time on both the Koala and Revolt now, looking forward to his input into the review.

    No Cy this year? Always enjoy his perspective – on the Deathwish ;o)

  8. Jonathan – Why not the Black Ops 118 for your chop/pow ski? Woodsman 108 seems reasonable too but just curious about how you think of the trade offs between those two skis.

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