The new 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.
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 which it’s competing. Perhaps the best way to define the role of the Stance 102 in Salomon’s 20/21 collection is identify what it is not, namely a QST.
The niche the Stance 102 aims to occupy is that of a wood (poplar) and metal (Titanal) laminate that’s just a bit less than the market leaders in the genre: a bit less heavy, a bit less torsionally rigid in the forebody and a bit less work to bow.
Mission accomplished. While the rockered tip isn’t over-eager to get into the next turn, it hooks up as early as any in this all-rockered-all-the-time genre. Because Salomon has tampered with its torsional stiffness, the Stance 102 doesn’t feel as wide as it measures, so it never feels ponderous. The Stance 102 feels quick off the edge in part because it doesn’t cling to a cross-hill arc, its tail’s unusually narrow width dictating a more direct route downhill.
Tester: Edie Thys Morgan
When you go to Jackson Hole, you want one thing and one thing only. You want powder, and lots of it. You don’t really care if your ski can carve GS turns without a whimper on firm groomers, or turn on a dime in the crux of a chewed up chute. You certainly don’t care if it will hold on a marble hard wind-scoured ridge or if it can downshift without flinching when you get into a dicey tight spot that was a whole lot friendlier the last time you were in it. Why bother wondering if it can navigate sun-baked moguls without your knees and your back squawking and your teeth rattling out of your head?
No, you don’t care about any of those things because you’re going to be ripping down Rendezvous Bowl and hitting the Hobacks for 4,000 vert of uninterrupted champagne fluff. And then you wake up, and guess what? Your vacation just might come between epic dumps. When it does, you’re going to wish you brought that one ski that can do all of the above.
The Secret102 may look like a fatty—and it’s definitely got the girth to plow through the powder of your dreams and its skied-out aftermath—but it’s no one trick pony. The ski gets happier as you dial up the intensity, which is also to say, it performs best when you’re the boss.
One of my favorite bump skis that wasn’t intended to be a bump ski was the K2 Shreditor 102 (circa 2105). Of course it couldn’t be as quick a real mogul ski edge to edge, so it did most of its navigation by slaving through the troughs and slinking around the lumpy bits. The new Reckoner 102 is in several respects the same ski, albeit embellished in ways its ancestor was not.
The similarities are hard to miss. The shape of the 184cm is identical save for a tip that’s 3mm wider on the Reckoner, giving it a marginally (.7m) snugger sidecut radius. Both Shreditor and Reckoner rely on K2’s patented Triaxial braid for its basic structure, but the latter reinforces it with lengthwise carbon stringers for added resilience and rebound. Both vintages use Aspen in the core, although the Shreditor complemented it with featherweight Paulownia while the Reckoner uses Aspen in concert with denser fir. Both have relatively low camber underfoot, use a reinforced sidewall for added resistance to ski-on-ski damage and both, of course, are twin-tips. Mercifully, the Reckoner 102, like the Shreditor before it, doesn’t need to be skied upside down and backwards to be enjoyed. If you like a ski that’s playful, poppy and super simple to drift, it can serve as an all-mountain ski for some who is aerially inclined. If you want to take your Pipe & Park skills to the sidecountry, the Reckoner 102 wants to come with you.