Kastle FX94 (2011) - Ski Mag

Kastle FX94 (2011)

Chris Davenport is a cool dude, being one of the world’s greatest big mountain skiers and all that. So it follows that the ski he inspired, as one tester put it, “RULES!” The FX94—the newest in Kastle’s freeski/mountaineering line—eats up the fall line regardless of what lies beneath: powder, trees, crud, cord, bumps. It’s ravenous for speed and can never get enough. Two sheets of metal sandwich a wood core—the sturdiest in the category. (It’s also the only unisex model; Kastle’s women’s line is in the works.) “Crushed the chop, great float, and could still carve way out from under me,” said Schultz.
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2011 Kastle FX94

Rating: / 5
Price: $1440.00
Year: 2011
Level: 3
Gender: Female
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 128/94/117
Lengths: 166

Stability at speed: 3.80 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.11 / 5
Crud performance: 3.91 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.44 / 5

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2011 Kastle LX

Kastle LX82 (2011)

This one should come with a helmet. A damp powerhouse that insists on speed, the LX 82 goaded our testers to the edges of their comfort levels. We should have expected as much from the only unisex ski entered in the category (see also: Men’s Hard Snow) but its lightweight construction—the trademark of the new LX line—had us fooled. The secret is a light, soft wood core sandwiched in metal then wrapped in fiberglass, giving it the torsional rigidity to bite on ice. It only has one speed, though: hauling butt. “Good for someone who charges all the time,” said Gillet.

Kastle LX82

Kastle LX82 (2011)

What’s with the oval cutaway in the tip of every Kastle? That’s Hollowtech, and it’s a Kastle hallmark harking all the way back to the ’76 Innsbruck Olympics. A lighter tip vibrates less, so the edge remains engaged, and reduced swing-weight gives it a more nimble feel. At 82 mm, the LX82 lacks some quickness edge-to-edge. That might be a problem in bumps, but it’s a blessing on powder days. And overall this flagship of the new LX line of lighter, softer Kastles offered a smooth and velvety ride that was enjoyable in crud as well as on the groomed. “Nice balance of power and finesse,” said Scholey.

Nordica Nemesis 2011

Nordica Nemesis (2011)

Nordica took last year’s burly, damp Nemesis and lightened it up, replacing the two sheets of metal with carbon to make it significantly easier to handle. One thing hasn’t changed: It’s still an aggressive charger with a more demanding feel. Pro: It carves cleanly on hardpack, making it one of the more multitalented skis in the category. Con: It doesn’t have the buttery smooth feel of some of the powder purists in the category, and it requires a skilled, powerful driver. (It scored last among winners in Forgiveness.) “Solid at speed and holds a nice edge,” said Humes. “This is definitely a ski for an aggressive woman.”

2011 Blizzard The Crush

Blizzard The Crush (2011)

Let’s hope the still-small, reemergent Blizzard factory is fully staffed: These skis are going to sell. The redesigned Crush blows through everything in its path. All you have to do is look down your line, and this ski will take you there. Steep, tight trees? Chuck yourself in. Chopped up crud? Ditto. Groomers? It rips. A rockered tip and tail work with its sidecut for supreme contact on hard snow, making it the most versatile in the category—tops in Hard-Snow Grip, Crud, Rebound and Stability. And yes, it smears lusciously through pow. “I couldn’t go as fast as this ski wanted to,” said Beale. “What a standout.”

2011 Exclusive Eden

Dynastar Exclusive Eden (2011)

Some skis are like Meryl Streep, expressive and sensitive to your every thought. This one is like Rambo—out for first blood. Our stronger and/or heavier testers were huge fans, feverish about its wood-core, sandwich/sidewall construction and scoring it highly in Overall Impression—perhaps the most important criterion in the test. Our lighter girls, though, found it a bit bullheaded and ranked it last among winners in Forgiveness. But everyone agreed that when crud comes your way, the Eden will flex all its muscles, if only you have the strength to hang on. “A powerhouse!” said Shultz.

2011 Volkl Kenja

Volkl Kenja (2011)

Völkl’s got a thing for Japan. We suspect it’s because they craft skis as fine as samurai swords—and the graphics are cool, besides. Enter Kenja (“wise one”). It has the same hip freeride feel as the wider Aura and Kiku—plus Völkl’s classic edge-grip to rail on the groomed. It’s No. 1 in Stability and Rebound and last in Quickness/Bumps, which tells you it likes speed and power. It’s stiff, too, but a tapered tail scrubs speed in powder and releases relatively easily on groomed, earning it respectable scores in Forgiveness. Still, its talents are best suited for experts. “Stable, yet not heavy,” said Gibbons. “Performs best when pushed.”V

2011 Elan Apex

Elan Apex (2011)

In a category where versatility is prized above all else, the Apex gets the job done with a pleasing blend of power and forgiveness. Testers gave it high marks for its hard-snow performance. Yet with plenty of taper (i.e., relatively narrow tail in relation to tip), it releases readily at the end of each arc, so you’ll never feel overmatched. It’s a no-gimmicks, unrockered, wood-core, vertical-sidewall, metal-reinforced construction with a smooth, supple feel—plenty of fun at speed. “Direction changes are quick, stability is super high—it does everything well,” said Preston.

2011 Atomic VF75W

Atomic D2 VF75W (2011)

Our testers were shocked by this ski: It was so heavy they had to drag it to the lift, but it zipped playfully—joyfully—down the hill. Atomic’s “double deck” construction is responsible: Two independently flexing decks are stacked on top of each other. The lower deck absorbs the shock, and the upper deck distributes your power to stiffen the tip and tail as needed at higher speeds (hence the energetic pop). The end result is a ski that’s both damp and stable and snappy and lively. It is still an Atomic, though, so you’d better be in for a race-like ride. “A great hard-snow and crud-buster ski,” said Gibbons.