2021 Salomon Ski Brand Profile






Salomon was riding a string of ridiculously successful product introductions when the brand introduced its first ski in 1989. The monocoque shell was the big story, creating such a groundswell of demand that all the ski brands that came before had to re-tool to some kind of cap ski design or risk a swift, painful death.

Salomon followed up the ski launch a few years later with an idea that continues to reap rich rewards for all brands to this day. Salomon declared that experts didn’t possess a single, monolithic skill set, but that they could be divided into 3 fields, Equipe, Force and EXP, each with its own rationale for an expert-level – and most importantly, expert-price – product.   This was the moment when the market began to invert its product pyramid, to go from a base of a gazillion, low-cost package skis to a foundation built from expert skis in a minimum of 7 iterations from every supplier.

To put things in perspective, Salomon’s initiation of multiple expert ski genres has been as beneficial to the entire ski market over time as the career of Tiger Woods has been to the golf world.

Eventually, Salomon’s magic touch wore off. It looked down its Gallic nose at the arriviste shaped skis, raising eyebrows by being behind the trend for once. Its transition away from rear-entry boots wasn’t smooth, although it’s safe to say that rocky era is well behind it. Although the brand would have star products again – X Scream and Pocket Rocket come to mind – it didn’t always display its formerly flawless feel for the market. Important launches such as the BBR failed to get off the ground.

This led to a period of retrenchment during which Salomon relied on the lower cost of monocoque manufacturing to pursue a price-advantage strategy. Consumers responded well to the easy-skiing style of the Q series, but opinion leaders shied away from skis they perceived as too soft.

This takes us up to three seasons ago, when Salomon unveiled the QST series of off-trail-oriented skis. With a weave of carbon and flax (C/FX), Salomon finally found a formula for a lightweight ski that didn’t flop around on hard snow like a carp on a hot dock. With the QST series, the brand bid adieu to monocoque, building these models instead with square sidewalls from tip to tail. The top 3 QST’s, the 118, 106 and 99, also insert a segment of Titanal underfoot so the edge won’t wash out in ratty terrain.

For 2019, Salomon doubled down on C/FX, adding transverse strands to create a carbon and flax grid that makes the many models that rely on it more powerful and responsive. C/FX3 was the defining ingredient across the top of four product families: QST, QST Women’s, XDR and the Aira collection for women. The QST 106 and QST 99 also received a layer of basalt between the base and core to better withstand the battering of harbor chop.

It’s unusual to overhaul a product family’s design two years in a row, yet Salomon did so last season with QST. It jiggered the deployment of carbon, flax and basalt as introduced in 18/19, separating out the flax into its own layer and braiding the carbon and basalt into crosshatched strands. Koroyd, a synthetic honeycomb integral to QST design since its inception, was replaced in the tip and tail with bits of cork that Salomon assessed to be 16 times more shock absorbent than Koroyd.

And the changes don’t stop there. Salomon also altered the shape and sidecut radius of every QST, reducing the width at tip and tail. The prior generation’s deep sidecuts had a tendency to over-steer and didn’t slice as evenly through broken snow as the new editions. The net effect is the current QST’s are more directionally stable, quieter on edge and give the pilot more control over trajectory.

The 2021 Salomon Season

No matter how well Salomon makes its lightweight QST collection, it can’t make them into something they’re not. (This premium profundity comes at no extra charge.) To put a different spin on the same point: if you set out to make a lighter ski that doesn’t feel like a traditional, wood-and-metal make-up, one measure of your success is that you’ll alienate skiers who prefer the Old School feel.

Now that Salomon has the lightweight card covered, it’s turned its attention to going toe-to-toe with such Titanal-laden powerhouses as the Enforcer 100, Bonafide 97 and M5 Mantra. Salomon’s new all-terrain series is called Stance, available in 90mm, 96mm and 102mm widths. Fighting fire with fire, the Stance series surround a poplar core with Titanal laminates, laced a dose of C/FX for added strength and damping.

The Stances are all comfortable at speed, which is useful as their flat, narrow tails keep them close to the fall line. Their design is a hybrid of sorts: the rear is built like a Frontside ski, while the forebody has the rocker and slightly softer torsional flex associated with all-mountain models. The front end keeps them calm in crud while the rear gives them the propulsion and precision to tear through any terrain.

Surely one of the goals of the Stance series is to win the hearts of aggressive experts who wouldn’t give a QST 99 or 92 a second look. While they may not wow everyone who tries them, all three are definitely contenders, putting Salomon in the game in a way they weren’t before.

QST 106

Salomon’s QST 106 was already pegged as a star product when it was introduced in 2016/17, and Salomon has been enhancing the QST flagship on a regular basis ever since. The latest batch of improvements aim to boost power and grip while trimming a few grams off its total weight. First, the woven mat of carbon and flax (C/FX) that is the QST 106’s primary structural element now extends the entire length of the ski, …READ MORE

QST 92

The Salomon QST 92 has risen from humble origins to its new position among the elite of the genre. Originally conceived to meet a lower price point ($500) and therefore underserved in the technology department, Salomon has been steadily enhancing its construction to match the latest innovations already added to pricier models, like the flagship QST 106. This year, the QST 92 adopted two features introduced last season in the QST 98, Double Sidewalls and …READ MORE

QST Lux 92

Like a fairy tale princess, the Salomon QST Lux 92 was born in humble circumstances, endured an awkward adolescence and gradually transformed into a raving beauty. You see, the first edition of the Lux 92 was clearly intended for intermediates, first-time buyers and bargain hunters, as it sold for $499 and didn’t share much of the high-tech construction of its wider siblings, the Lumen and Stella. The latest Lux 92 has top-of-the-line features, including a …READ MORE

QST Stella 106

Salomon’s R&D department must be constantly fiddling with fibers, for every few years they re-arrange carbon, flax and basalt into different combinations. For 2023, Salomon applied the same, end-to-end layer of C/FX’s latest incarnation that debuted last year in the QST 98 to the QST Stella 106. The 2022 Stella already had a Titanal mounting plate, a critical component whose stabilizing influence extends beyond its borders. The fact that the skier has trouble defining the …READ MORE

Stance 102

The Salomon Stance 102 is a Frontside ski in a fat suit. Were it not for its width, which by Realskiers’ rules lands it in the Big Mountain genre, and a dash of tip rocker, it would be a Frontside ski, and a strong one, at that. To understand a ski’s purpose, one needs to know what void it’s filling in its brand’s big picture, as well as where it fits in the category in …READ MORE

Stance 84

The Stance 84’s most stunning achievement isn’t its top-of-the-podium finish among our Finesse Favorites, or even its elite, on-trail performance; the headline story about Salomon’s Stance 84 is its off-the-charts value. The Stance 84 is slotted to sell at $499; there’s a slew of models slated to retail at $699 or more that can’t hold a candle to it. There’s always a reason why a modestly priced model punches above its weight. In the case …READ MORE

Stance 90

If you digest all the brochure copy expended on All-Mountain East models, you’ll find somewhere in every model description that it’s a “50/50” model, meaning it’s equally suited to skiing on-trail or off. What this seemingly innocuous shorthand term for a versatile ski masks is that no ski can ever truly be half-and-half, for every model is part of a design family that’s inherently biased to one side of the mountain or the other. This …READ MORE

Stance 96

One way to grok the role played by the Stance 96 in Salomon’s line is to look at its counterpart in Salomon’s QST collection, the QST 98. Earlier versions of this QST included on-trail features like super-wide tips and multiple doses of shock-dampening fibers, but the latest QST 98 has a clear bias for off-trail conditions. Salomon can afford to tilt the QST towards side-of-the-trail conditions because the Stance 96 is so rock-solid on groomers. …READ MORE

Stance W 84

Every so often a ski maker screws up and makes a ski that’s considerably better than it needs to be. Salomon removed half the Titanal from its pricier (and wider) Stances to extend the Stance family down to the $499 price point, intending to drop the performance level to fit the target skier’s performance expectations. Instead, it exceeded them. The Ti-C Frame Single Ti construction delivers a connected, carved turn that won’t wilt on crisp, …READ MORE