2023 Kastle MX88
Radius 17.1m @ 173cm 159,166,173,180,187 1859g @ 173cm $1,299
Weight 1859g @ 173cm
Power Score: 8.75
Finesse Score: 8.42
The Kästle MX88 has been around long enough - over a decade - to be secure in its own identity. It does not lack for self-confidence. When confronted with a surface that would cause most double-rockered baselines to quake, the nearly fully cambered MX88 yawns. You can almost hear it say, “That all ya got?” The MX88 never wavers because it has the bravado that comes from knowing it’s ready down to the last detail. Its constituent elements check all the boxes of elite design: an all-wood, poplar and beech core encased in a glass and Titanal sandwich, with a dash of extra damping. In Kästle’s case, it’s hard to miss the bonus shock-absorbing element, as its signature Hollowtech tip, now in its third iteration, can be ID’d from 100 meters. There are some skis in the AME genre that do all they can to keep the tip off the snow; the MX88 is obsessed with the opposite concern, how to maintain contact over a rumpled surface that defies it. Its natural camber line extends almost to the shovel, where the Hollowtech insert suppresses low frequency shocks before they get any fancy ideas about disrupting edge contact at the top of the turn. There are a couple of other models in the All-Mountain East segment that belong to carving-centric clans - RC One 86 GT at Fischer and V-Shape 10 from Head come to mind - but these are outliers in a culture of loosey-goosey baselines. If the MX88 has a character flaw, it’s that it can’t resist the urge to show off. It’s ability to stay blasé when other skis are getting buffeted around like a teacup in a typhoon can’t be evinced unless the pilot is willing to lay on the gas. So what if it’s not great at slow, short turns? That’s no way to ski crud and it’s certainly a boring means of consuming groomers. One pays a pretty penny for a MX88; what you’re paying for is its unperturbed ride when it kicks into a gear most skis in this genre don’t possess.