When Laurent Boix-Vives acquired the distressed fledgling brand Dynastar, he already had Rossignol in his portfolio. Thus was born a sibling rivalry that persists to this day, with the elder trying to establish an untouchable record and the younger always looking for a way to upstage the first-born.
While we can’t say for certain that the Cham series Dynastar launched in 2013 was a conscious effort to outperform Rossi’s successful S7 model, it’s a plausible assertion. Dynastar’s powder skis had always been beefier than whatever Rossi had in play; consider the Jeremy Nobis signature Dynastars versus Rossignol’s Bandit XXX, for example. Heavily rockered, the S7 skied shorter than it measured and without any metal in it was kind of a noodle.
Retaining the idea of the shorter effective platform, Dynastar gave the Cham a stiff front rocker that was segregated from the main structure of the ski by moving the widest contact point well down the ski. Then they tucked the last several cm’s of tail in so they also wouldn’t interfere with turn radius. Finally, they turned up the torsional rigidity so the ski could handle higher speeds. The result was a whole line of S7’s on steroids, christened the Chamonix series in honor of the resort just down the road from Sallanches, where Dynastars are still made.
With an appetite for hugging the fall line, the Cham 97 and Cham 107 developed a strong – literally and figuratively – following in their debut season, but they came across as a bit too aggressive for the weekend warrior. Overlooked in the excitement over the powerful Cham series headliners were their metal-free doppelgangers, the High Mountain versions meant for true alpinists. The Cham High Mountain 107 in particular proved a better choice for those who ski less than 50 days a season and mean to use it primarily as a powder ski. By “better,” we mean you won’t have to work as hard, which is the main rationale for skis this wide in the first place.
In 2015, Dynastar began the transition to a metal-free Cham collection when it modified the Cham 117 to make this monstrous ski more maneuverable. The new design, dubbed Cham 2.0, lessened the severity of the front rocker and smoothed out the transition zones in the 5-point sidecut. The following year the entire Cham line was given the 2.0 treatment, so all the Chams were mellower and easier to ski for those who don’t attack straight down the fall line.
Two years ago, Dynastar launched the Legend X series, an amalgam of a Cham-like chassis with a unique sidewall construction called Powerdrive that first appeared on Dynastar’s Speed Zone and Speed race series the year before. Situated in a section of the forebody where vibration amplitude peaks, Powerdrive consists of a 3-piece sidewall that both dampens shock and disconnects the core’s components from the fixed outer sidewall. This allows the separate laminates in the structure to shear relative to one another, so the ski stays in better contact with the snow. The combination of Powerdrive and the Chamesque shape makes for a relatively soft-flexing, easy-steering set-up that performs at its peak in soft snow.
The best powder ski in the Dynastar line isn’t a Legend X but the Menace Proto F-Team (formerly the Dynastar Proto Factory). The slightly revised 2020 version is now available in a 180cm, so more skiers can discover how simple powder skiing can be.
A propos of nothing whatsoever, my godfather Bill Parrish was the first to import Dynastar skis to America when the brand was virtually unknown. I think every ski that first year delaminated, but they were sweet while they lasted. There’s been a home in my heart for Dynastars ever since – I used to ski bumps on a 207cm Acryglass – that lights up when Rossi’s little brother shows it’s still got the game to compete in their everlasting sibling rivalry.