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.  Just last year, the QST 92 adopted two features introduced two years ago in the QST 98, Double Sidewalls and full-length C/FX, Salomon’s signature carbon/flax combo.

While the latest improvements no doubt contributed to the QST 92’s stellar performance, the bones they’re built on were pretty stout to begin with: an all-wood (poplar) core, full sidewalls (i.e., no cap), cork inserts to muffle shocks and a central Titanal plate that makes the entire ski feel more substantial. Beginning in 2023, the QST 92 has also mimicked the slightly lower rocker profile launched two years ago in the QST Blank and QST 98, so it feels more connected on all snow surfaces.

Once you put it all in motion, you wouldn’t guess you’re piloting a price-point ski intended to retail at $550. The security on edge is fantastic on anything softer than boilerplate, it feels energetic crossing the fall line and it can switch between a carve and a drift on command.  A lower-skill skier can’t find a more tolerant ski with such a high-performance ceiling. For a ski whose DNA is all about off-trail conditions, the QST 92 feels right at home on groomers. It feels light and quick off the edge in bumps and placid as a glacier in long, spooling GS turns.

Stance 90

To understand where the updated Salomon Stance 90 fits in the All-Mountain East pantheon of Recommended models, it’s helpful to first understand its role within Salomon’s line, where it is cagily categorized as All-Mountain Frontside, a mash-up of two adjacent Realskiers categories.  The blended genre succinctly captures the intent of the Stance series, to create what are essentially Frontside skis with wanderlust, always interested in what lies off-trail yet easily persuaded to lay down a neatly carved turn on corduroy.  It’s the Frontside orientation that differentiates the three Stance models from Salomon’s other all-terrain series, QST, with its decidedly off-trail bias.

Within the cross-brand context of the All-Mountain East genre, the Stance 90 stands apart from the crowd in several respects. While its twin Titanal laminates put it toe-to-toe with the eminent Power players in the genre (think: Blizzard Brahma 88, Völkl Kendo 88), it responds to a light rein, emphasizing ease over brute force. While it’s positioned as having a Frontside bias, unlike other carving-centric AME skis – such as the Fischer RC One 86 GT, for example – it isn’t built on a Frontside chassis, but an all-mountain, double-rockered foundation. 

Salomon made a few alterations to the Stance construction this year, to further differentiate it from the crowded field. Already a comparatively light design, the Stances shed a few more grams by mixing ultralight Karuba with the earlier Stance’s all popular makeup. More importantly, the top layer of Titanal has been modified to minimize full-length metal laminates’ tendency to lock onto the turn. The goal of the new TwinFrame 2 design is a little looser connection to the snow that feels more playful and maneuverable in off-trail conditions.

Testers detected a definite improvement in the Stance 90’s ease of operation. “Surprisingly improved ski,” said one tester who pinpointed the upgrades’ impact. “The modification of the core makes this ski extremely versatile, easy to ski while maintaining high performance ski feel and characteristics.”

Stance 84

The Stance 84’s most stunning achievement isn’t its 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 of the Stance 84, it’s because Salomon trimmed its most expensive elements without eliminating them altogether. The Stance 84 retains a single topsheet of Titanal, with the distinctive Stance cut-out in its forebody filled with carbon instead of Salomon’s signature super-fiber, C/FX.  It turns out to be more than enough to keep the Stance 84 calm on edge when it’s rocking the groomed terrain it prefers.

We weren’t able to test the Stance 84 in off-trail conditions, but there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t do well.  As a practical matter, the typical Stance 84 customer doesn’t ski off trail unless he gets lost. He’s more likely to need help mastering the basics on-trail, where the Stance 84 proves to be that rarest of gems, a true bargain.  Every brand will tell you that its $499 model skis amazingly well – for its price. The Stance 84 skis amazingly well, period.

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, 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 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, for extra stability in heavy crud. To improve torsional rigidity and amplify force application, the 2023/24 QST 106 doubles up on its full-length sidewalls with extra strips of ABS underfoot. And the latest version has a lower rocker profile,  so it stays in better snow contact regardless of the conditions.

Two other innovations introduced during its previous make-over a couple of years ago contribute mightily to the QST 106’s remarkably quiet ride: Cork Damplifier at the tip and tail, and a Titanal binding platform underfoot.  The cork elements are reputed to be 16 times more effective at sucking up shock than the Koroyd honeycomb they replaced, and the Ti plate’s influence definitely extends beyond its mid-ski boundaries. Together with C/FX and Double Sidewalls, they give the QST 106 the stability on edge of a Frontside ski in a ski made for everywhere that isn’t groomed.

One trait that has been preserved in the QST 106 over the years is that it maintains the right blend of stability and agility, so it doesn’t ski as wide as it measures.  If a typical expert male were to ski a QST 106 in a 181cm while blindfolded (which I am not encouraging), after a run he probably wouldn’t guess he was on either a 106 or a 181, as it has the quicks of a narrower ski and the quiet ride of a longer one.  It just doesn’t feel fat, even though its weight and width are roughly average for the genre. “It’s a 106 that skis like a wide 100,” as Jim Schaffner from Start Haus condensed its character. It’s the epitome of an all-terrain ski, in that its competence and comportment don’t change as it moves from corduroy to trackless snowfields and yes, even bumps. In Schaffner’s words, the QST 106 is “very well blended, a true all-mountain all-star!”