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Shop Talk: K2 Mindbender Skis

The American brand has stepped up their game for the 2019/2020 season with a brand new line of all-mountain skis.

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K2 is born again. With new ownership, a new company president, and a new flagship line of skis, the brand is sure to be turning heads this ski season and beyond.

SKI Magazine was given a preview of the new K2 Mindbender line in December 2018 at Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., and let’s just say we’re impressed with the improved level of performance, especially compared to the Pinnacle and wider Luv ski lines the Mindbender will replace.

The all-wood core Mindbender series includes models with a modified Titanal laminate or a proprietary Carbon Spectral Braid, indicated by either a “Ti” or “C” in the name of the ski. The skis with Titanal include a full sheet of metal below the core, and what the brand is calling a “Titanal Y-Beam” on top of the core. The Mindbender Y-Beam is exactly what it sounds like: a fork in the shovel of the ski, putting more material over the edges and damping the forebody; a full plate of Titanal underfoot for binding retention and stability; and an edge taper in the tail, putting metal over the center of the ski but making the rear edges easier to release from the turn.

The Carbon Spectral Braid is a dynamic carbon laminate weave over the core of the ski that puts more material over the forebody of the ski and tapers off towards the tail. This variable angling process allows the ski’s torsional rigidity to remain solid while the longitudinal flex is adaptive to a variety of turn shapes at different speeds.

K2 Mindbender 116C

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 116Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 116C Photo courtesy of K2

On the men’s side, there are six new skis to look forward to. The biggest, the Mindbender 116C, is a burly beast of a ski that will replace the Pinnacle 118 for 2019-2020. With a maple/paulownia core, the Carbon Spectral Braid, and 22.9m turn radius in the 186cm length, this ski rewards strong legs with a perfect blend of chargeability and playfulness. I put the 193cm length version to the test all over Blackcomb mountain in funky crud and the Mindbender 116C didn’t even bat an eye. Add in a hot orange top sheet with camo details, and this ski will certainly stand out on the shop rack next season. 

  • Dimensions: 143-116-133
  • Lengths: 179cm, 186cm, 193cm
  • Radius: 22.9m at 186cm

K2 Mindbender 108Ti

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Photo courtesy of K2

My personal favorite in the Mindbender series is the 108Ti. This ski is designed to “wow” the skier seeking an all-mountain wide ski that can handle every bit of terrain with delight. With a near-perfect rocker profile, Titanal Y-Beam, and a 22.9m turn radius in the 186cm length, I didn’t want to take this ski off anywhere I went at Whistler Blackcomb. From the groomers to the moguls to powder, I felt this ski was as stable as any all-mountain wide ski made in Austria or Germany—and those Euro brands should note the new competition in this category in the SKI test for that reason.

  • Dimensions: 136-108-125
  • Lengths: 172cm, 179cm, 186cm, 193cm
  • Radius: 22.9m at 186cm

Mindbender 99Ti and Mindbender 90Ti

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 99Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 99Ti Photo courtesy of K2

The other two Mindbender skis with Titanal are the 99Ti and the 90Ti. Both are rocket ships with smoother rocker and flex profiles compared to the Pinnacle versions they replace, and both can hold their own at speed. The jet-black 99Ti in particular was dubbed the “Widow Maker” by testers in Canada, as it seemingly does not have a speed limit. The 90Ti has a little more versatility at lower speeds, but can still hold its own when the pace picks up.

  • Mindbender 99Ti (pictured above)
    • Dimensions: 138-99-123
    • Lengths: 170cm, 177cm, 184cm, 191cm
    • Turn Radius: 18.5m at 184cm
2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 90Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 90Ti Photo courtesy of K2
  • Mindbender 90Ti 
    • Dimensions: 127-90-114
    • Lengths: 163cm, 170cm, 177cm, 184cm
    • Radius: 17.9m at 177cm).

Mindbender 90C and Mindbender 85C

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 90C
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 90C Photo courtesy of K2

The two remaining men’s skis, the Mindbender 90C and the Mindbender 85, round out the family nicely. The red 90C is a great ski for intermediates on the verge of breaking though, but will satisfy experts who don’t like metal in their skis as well. The value-oriented 85 is also a very adaptable, entry-level freeride ski, but I did see Jonny Moseley absolutely destroy Whistler’s terrain on it for an entire day.

  • Mindbender 90C (pictured above)
    • Dimensions: 127-90-113
    • Lengths: 156cm, 163cm, 170cm, 177cm
    • Radius: 17.5 at 177cm
2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 85
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 85 Photo courtesy of K2
  • Mindbender 85 
    • Dimensions: 130-85-113
    • Lengths: 156cm, 163cm, 170cm, 177cm
    • Radius: 13.5 at 170cm

Mindbender Alliance

McKenna Peterson Action
K2 Alliance Member McKenna Peterson hard at work prototyping the new K2 Mindbender Alliance 116C in Montana.Photo credit: Axel Peterson

For 2019-2020, K2 will replace the wider Luv skis with the Mindbender Alliance (the piste-oriented Luv skis will become the Anthem series). Like the men’s version, the women’s Mindbender line will also feature either the Carbon Spectral Braid or the Titanal Y-Frame tech in a variety of shapes, sizes, and wood cores in skis ranging from an 85mm-waisted value ski to the powerful 115C.

“I’m incredibly proud of this line of skis,” said Alliance member and professional skier McKenna Peterson, who was heavily involved in the development process. “These aren’t women’s skis because they are less in any sense. These are women’s skis solely because they were designed by women.”

Mindbender 115C Alliance and 106C Alliance

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 115C
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 115C Alliance Photo courtesy of K2

The two widest models, the 115C Alliance and the 106C Alliance, are made to rip. Both feature a female-specific flex pattern, the Carbon Spectral Braid, and confidence-inspiring dimensions. We expect to see even more women join the K2 Alliance after trying out these freeride-specific planks.

  • Mindbender 115C Alliance (pictured above)
    • Dimensions: 140-115-129
    • Lengths: 165cm, 172cm, 179cm
    • Radius: 20.4m at 172cm
2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 106C
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 106C Alliance Photo courtesy of K2
  • Mindbender 106C Alliance 
    • Dimensions: 139-106-124
    • Lengths: 159cm, 167cm, 175cm
    • Radius: 15m at 167cm).

Mindbender 98Ti Alliance and Mindbender 88Ti Alliance

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 98Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance Photo courtesy of K2

The two Mindbender Alliance skis with Titanal, the 98Ti Alliance and the 88Ti Alliance, are all-mountain skis designed to take on the comfort, stability, and excitement of the Blizzard Black Pearl series, considered to be the benchmark of women’s-specific skis at the moment. One key variable is K2 Alliance’s Correct Flex technology, which allows the ski to have true longitudinal flex in the shorter lengths, an important variable for shorter skiers who want the same level performance no matter what size of ski they are on.

  • Mindbender 98Ti Alliance (pictured above)
    • Dimensions: 134-98-120
    • Lengths: 154cm, 161cm, 168cm, 175cm
    • Radius: 15.6m at 168cm
2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 88Ti
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 88Ti Alliance Photo courtesy of K2
  • Mindbender 88Ti Alliance 
    • Dimensions: 139-106-124
    • Lengths: 149cm, 156cm, 163cm, 170cm
    • Radius: 14.7m at 163cm

Mindbender 90C Alliance and Mindbender 85 Alliance

2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 90C
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 90C Alliance Photo courtesy of K2

The final two skis in the Mindbender Alliance series, the 90C Alliance and the 85 Alliance, are similar to the men’s versions with similar dimensions: very approachable for intermediate skiers looking to advance their skills without going bankrupt, but can serve the best female skiers on the planet at the same time. 

  • Mindbender 90C Alliance (pictured above)
    • Dimensions: 127-90-113
    • Lengths: 149cm, 156cm, 163cm, 170cm
    • Radius: 14.5m at 163cm
2019/2020 K2 Mindbender Alliance 85
The 2019/2020 K2 Mindbender 85 Alliance Photo courtesy of K2
  • Mindbender 85 Alliance 
    • Dimensions: 130-85-113
    • Lengths: 167cm, 156cm, 163cm, 170cm
    • Radius: 12.1m at 163cm).

All of these skis will be available starting September 2019, and we look forward to testing them this year in the SKI Test. See more about the K2 Mindbender Skis on K2’s Website.

Mindbender Ski Boot

In addition to the new line of skis, K2 took some of the tech in the super lightweight Recon boot line and put it in a new boot with a proprietary walk mode mechanism. Clocking in at 1675 grams (3.69 lbs) with a Powerlite shell, GripWalk sole with tech inserts and full heat customizability, SKI is excited to get these boots on the mountain—and on the skin track—soon.