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 which it’s competing. Perhaps the best way to define the role of the Stance 102 in Salomon’s 22/23 collection is to identify what it is not, namely a QST.
Salomon’s well established QST series goes all-in on the Lighter is Better approach; while the top models use a Titanal platform underfoot, the rest of their construction depends on a mix of fibers to deliver the right ratios of longitudinal flex, torsional rigidity, light weight and shock damping. Within the global Salomon product universe, the QST label is shorthand for Quest, which connotes off-trail skiing in resort.
So, the Stance series wasn’t intended to go head-to-head with QST in the race for the lightest in-resort ski. The competition it was made to stare down are the wood-and-Titanal powerhouses issuing from the likes of Blizzard, Nordica and Völkl. 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. Because Salomon has tampered with its torsional stiffness, the Stance 102 doesn’t feel as wide as it measures, so it never feels ponderous. Although its rockered forebody inhibits early turn entry, it’s secure through the belly of the long turns it prefers.
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 full-length allotment of C/FX, the carbon and flax amalgam that provides the principal structural support for all the QST’s. Also onboard is a Titanal plate underfoot that improves stability throughout its mid-section.
The QST series is a unisex family, so the Lux 92 received the same bundle of upgrades as the “men’s” 2023 QST 92. Part of the 2023 package is a segment of injected ABS underfoot that boosts edge pressure in this critical zone. The combined effect of all these embellishments is an elevation in performance that makes the new Lux 92 one of the top performers in the genre. It isn’t $499 anymore, nor should it be, as its performance range now runs from the basement to the penthouse.
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.
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 metal/non-metal border is a testament to just how substantial a weave of fabric can be, for the absence of Titanal is usually instantly detectable. In the Stella, the full-length C/FX factor is more dominant than the metal element, delivering a balanced flex stem to stern with a bite underfoot that won’t wilt in the face of boilerplate.
Any Big Mountain ski is going to offer plenty of flotation for lighter weight women; the differentiator is how well it handles its business when the freshies are shot. Not to worry, the Stella has you covered. The same imperturbability it displays in tracked-up crud fields carries over to just about any condition you can encounter.