The elves at DPS have been busy. Most notable is the new Wailer 106 which comes in three different constructions, Pure3, Tour1 and Foundation. Pure3 and Tour1 are the most applicable to Wildsnow readers. The new Foundation series replaces the Hybrid series and will be available in many different models next fall.
Tour1 106 178cm: I have these mounted with a G3 ION and skied them with both my Dynafit TLT6 Performance and Atomic Waymaker Tour 110. My first turns were during a huge storm cycle that slammed Colorado in late January and early February. At one point we received 3 feet in 3 days (yeah, we know, Mount Baker gets that in an afternoon — but beggars can’t be choosers).
Day 1 was guiding cat skiing with a full guide pack leading a group of capable locals. In other words, the Tour1 106 had to put up or shut up. Perfect ski review situation.
After my first run on the 106, I racked my trusty Wailer 112’s for the rest of the day. Not to say that the 112’s are retired by any means but the 106 proved to be light, very smooth and supple, responsive, nimble and fun. They had a surprising amount of float considering the depth of the snow and the moderate waist dimension.
After the storm snow had settled out, I toured with the 106 in some of our steeper cat terrain. I was able to drive the 106 from the tip which resulted in a dynamic and energetic turn. There was a good pop at the end of the turn which propelled me into the next turn. The more I let them run, the better they responded. I also found the 106 to be a good blend of directional and loose, as desired.
Lastly, I did a day of uphill fitness at a local resort while my daughter was in ski school. The weight of the 106 is respectable and I suspect anything less would compromise the downhill performance. I rode corduroy on the way down and with a high enough edge angle was able to arc turns with some effort. I found some crud towards the bottom and the 106 smoothed it right out with no deflection. As a general comment, my experience on the Tour1 skis regardless of model tells me they belong in the backcountry and really aren’t intended for the ski area. Short of perfect corduroy they do not have the torsion to stand up to the rigors of a ski area. As long as they stay in their element they are great and that’s OK because there is always the…
Zelda Pure 168cm: these babies have power to burn and I love it. My one day on them began with a tour out the Highlands Ridge beyond the top of Highlands Bowl, just outside of Aspen. This is big terrain that starts above timberline dropping 3000′-4000′ down large historic avi paths. Initially the snow had a paper thin wind texture that the Zelda slapped into submission. That quickly became pure powder that the Zelda gobbled up. Despite powering in and out of each turn, the Zelda is also damp and smooth. My inclination was to drive the tips hard into each turn because they respond beautifully to an aggressive style. That said, I quickly realized due to the shorter length I needed to stand a little more upright and over the middle of the ski. Once there, Zelda snaked, slithered and slingshot out of each turn at will. I couldn’t believe how fast I was skiing on a 168cm ski.
As soon as I got back to town I ran up the gondola on Aspen Mountain for a few resort laps on the Zeldas. I hit cruisers, bumps, etc. They track well, held firm on hard snow, great stability and very responsive. Very quick relative to their width. In the bumps I noticed getting bucked now and then and thought it would be great if they were just a touch softer. In a subsequent conversation with DPS, they said a bit of softening was their intention for the final production version. Great minds ski alike. All in all, a great one ski quiver. Perfect ski to mount a Kingpin on as one could go anywhere and do anything with that setup.
Later in my full schedule as an official WildSnow ski tester, I got a chance to ski the Wailer 106 Pure3 178cm in the softer flex. It was just a few short laps on Aspen Mountain but better than nothing. While not giving up anything in the torsion, the new flex brings this ski down to Earth for us mere mortals. It still held firm, tracked well, had plenty of power but now does not require having just come off of the World Cup to tame them. The softer flex performed better across the full spectrum of conditions and abilities (bear in mind I’m not heavy, so your mileage could vary if you’re of a more commodious build and need the support of a stiffer ski).
In summary, the DPS 106 represents a new tip shape and profile from any previous DPS skis. Regardless of construction, the tip of the 106 engages and pulls the ski into the turn better and easier than any other skis from DPS. The other common thread in all the 106’s is this is the most damp feel I have experienced in any of their carbon constructions. This dampness, without any loss of power and response, makes for a very supple and fluid feel which has an uncanny knack for keeping the ski glued to the snow. If I were a politician running for office, I would call this a quiet show of strength. I think I’ll skip politics and just keep to skiing. It’s way more fun.
According to Lou’s bench work this winter the Tour 1 series is very light, while the Pure3 construction also results in a ski of below average weight but not as impressive as a few years ago. You can get a good idea of where the DPS skis are in the spectrum by spending some time on the WildSnow ski weight chart. These skis will be added to the chart as time permits.
The DPS Wailer 106 Tour1 in 178 cm weigh 1351 grams per ski.
Dps Wailer 99 Tour1 in 168 weighs 1199 grams per ski. Interestingly this “eleven hundred gram” target seems to occur quite often in lighter touring skis. That’s probably a result of current materials engineering being taken to the limit in terms of cost and performance. In a few years, that target will perhaps truly be “one kilo.”
Bear in mind the Zelda I tested was NOT in Tour1 construction but rather in Pure3, it is 130/106/120 with an 18 meter radius and weighs 1,689 grams for the 168 cm flavor. That’s a bit on the heavy side by today’s standards for a touring ski, it would be noticeably lighter in Tour1 construction but most certainly ski differently.