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, early morning corduroy even when driven with an open throttle. It’s unlikely that many experts will slum it in the bargain basement where the Stance W 84 dwells, but they’d be gob-smacked it they did. For the intermediate who is its most likely operator, the Stance W 84 provides a performance ceiling that will most likely never be taxed.
QST is an abbreviation of Quest, Salomon’s umbrella label for off-piste gear, the first tip-off that the QST Stella 106 comes from a family of off-trail tools. While the Quest name and its various abbreviations have been part of the Salomon lexicon for over a decade, the skis that bear the QST mark have evolved considerably over that span.
The current Stella 106 uses a trifecta of technical fibers to get just the flex and torsional rigidity that works best in choppy terrain, which sounds like it’s trying to be as light as possible, but that’s not really Stella’s calling card. Her core is all poplar, not Paulownia, balsa or Karuba, and her secret sauce is a Titanal mounting plate that influences the ski’s entire mid-section. If you’re looking for a cross-over model you can put a Salomon Switch binding on and toddle off into the backcountry, there are lighter options available.
Since the QST series was launched by Salomon many moons ago, its male and female iterations have been indistinguishable beneath their decorated top-sheets. Not so this season, where the unisex QST 99 was singled out for transformation, while the QST Lumen 99 was unchanged except for a purely cosmetic makeover.
The two generations could not be more different. The new QST 98 tilts its terrain interests decidedly in the off-trail direction. Its well rockered extremities seem as nervous as a 13-year old on a first date, unless there’s some snow under them to calm them down. The unadulterated QST Lumen 99, in contrast, is a true all-terrain ski. It isn’t fazed by hardpack, where its relatively shallow sidecut likes to stay close to the fall line.