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Rating: 3.02 / 5
Waist Width: 98
Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184
Stability at speed: 2.88 / 5
Hard snow performance: 2.51 / 5
Crud performance: 3.33 / 5
Flotation: 3.43 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.04 / 5
Overall: 3.02 / 5
With its 98-mm waist width, the 2017 Volkl 90Eight, which returns unchanged, covers what has become a key waist width that is popular with ski buyers, but it does so in a unique construction. Like the 100Eight, its built with Volkl’s new 3D Ridge construction, in which a raised ridge down the middle of the ski gives it strength so that it can be slimmer, lighter, and more sensitive over the edges. The 90Eight is lighter and quicker to edge than the 100Eight, and will handle more responsively on hard snow. Volkl sees even Eastern freeriders using it as an everyday ski on all but the hardest snow.
It’s part of Volkl’s All-Mountain Freeskiing collection, which includes five midfat models built for all-conditions versatility and ranging in width from a modest 89 mm (Kink) to a powder-ready 108 mm (100Eight). Along with the newer models, the 100Eight and the 90Eight, the series includes two longtime Volkl stalwarts, the Mantra and Kendo. All are built with wood cores for snappy performance and durability. All but the relatively narrow-waisted Kink have tapered tips, where the widest part of the ski is pulled back toward the foot, giving them a looser, more maneuverable feel, especially in deep snow. All are sold flat (no binding). The Mantra and 100Eight are fully rockered for maximum buoyancy and shock absorption. The 90Eight, Kendo and Kink have rocker tip and tail with camber underfoot for positive edge grip and more traditional feeling rebound energy.
Volkl is based in Straubing, Germany (Bavaria), where it has been making skis since 1914. Affiliated brands include Dalbello and Marker. Like K2 and Line, Volkl is a subsidiary of Jarden Corp., which itself became a subsidiary of the Newell Rubbermaid consumer-products conglomerate in 2016. -J.C.