Rating: / 5
Waist Width: 118
The 2017 Head A-Star is the widest ski (118 mm) in the Head collection, and it's a pro-level model, built to suit the needs of Head's sponsored big-mountain freeriders and other elite-level skiers. To that end, it's extra-stiff and has a never-hooky, long-sidecut radius (28.6 meters) that works best at high speeds in deep snow. It's the only Flight series model with a flat (non-twin) tail, for powerful turn finishes and secure rearward support. It's available in only one length, a big-boys-only 187 cm. Head's Flight series (all model names are helicopter-themed) includes four models with waist widths that range from a powder-specific 118 mm (the pro-level A-Star) down to a more all-conditions-versatile 95 mm (the Venturi). With the exception of the A-Star, all are twin-tips, designed for looser, slashier, more bi-directional performance than the skis in the Head's Monster series, which are stiffer, edgier, and carvier. Rocker profiles vary. Two models, the Cyclic 115 and the Venturi 95, feature Head's most pronounced TNT rocker, which is 50 percent underfoot camber, for hardpack carving, with 30 percent tip rocker and 20 percent tail rocker for deep-snow buoyancy and terrain-smoothing shock-absorption. The A-Star and Collective 105 have tip rocker only. Like the Monsters, all Flight series models are built with Head's World Cup Sandwich Cap construction: wood core for durability and responsiveness, metal laminates (plus vibration dampening strips over the edges) for high-speed calm and edge grip. The sidewalls are vertical and full-length, for maximum edge strength, but not quite full-height: the topsheet drapes over the top corners and rests on three-quarter-height sidewalls, making the ski both more forgiving and more resistant to damage from contact with the other ski's edge. Unlike the Monsters, all Flight Series models are metal-free, which is common in skis this wide, to keep them light and lively. Head's TTS (Tip and Tail Stabilizer) technology is designed to quiet the tip-flap that plagues some rockered skis while increasing torsional rigidity for better edge grip and decreasing swing weight. It's an glass-fiber exoskeletal structure that adds lateral stiffness and edge grip, with rubber inserts to dampen vibrations. The Flight series models are the only skis in Head's line that have not been updated with Head's new graphene laminate. All are sold flat (no binding). Head Skis is owned by a Dutch company that also owns Tyrolia bindings. Its factory headquarters are in Kennelbach, Austria; U.S. headquarters are in Boulder, Colo. Head was founded in 1950 by American recreational skier and aeronautical engineer Howard Head, who is acknowledged as the first ski designer to successfully combine metal and plastics in ski design. -J.C.