Ski: 2016-2017 Atomic Bent Chetler, 192cm
Available Lengths: 178, 185, 192 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 190.3cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 142-120-134
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 141-119-133
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2509 & 2455 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 20.5 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Carbon Fiber Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 71 / 64 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Boots / Bindings: Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 / Marker Jester (DIN at 12)
Days Skied: 2
Test Location: Craigieburn Valley Ski Area[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Bent Chetler, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
This is the sixth generation of the Atomic Bent Chetler, and so far, I’ve found a lot to like about this ski.
While the ski is marketed as a full-blown pow ski (and happens to be the pro model of one of the most playful, least traditional skiers out there), what has surprised me most is how well it has worked in New Zealand as a directional, fat all-mountain ski—and not only in pow.
So that’s going to be the angle of this particular review: how I (a directional skier) found the 192cm Bent Chetler to work in firm and variable conditions, as well as in fresh pow. Then, as soon as possible, we’ll have Jason Hutchins (who reviewed the 13/14 192cm Bent Chetler) A/B the previous and the new Bent Chetler to detail their specific performance differences.
A Tale of Two Skis
It’s safe to say that two of the most anticipated new skis of the 14/15 season are the Line Magnum Opus, and the redesigned Atomic Bent Chetler. But as Will Brown pointed out in his review of the Magnum Opus, these are two quite different skis.
Will called the Magnum Opus “one of the most specialized powder skis out there.” I would say essentially the opposite of the 192cm Bent Chetler. While it is positioned as a specialized tool for jibbing in deep pow, it has performed very well in firm and variable conditions, too.
So while the Magnum Opus and the Bent Chetler have very similar flex patterns, these skis are definitely not interchangeable.
Variable Conditions (192cm Bent Chetler vs. 186cm Blizzard Bodacious)
My first time on the Bent Chetler was a warm day at Craigieburn, where we were skiing very firm snow in the morning, then soft spring slush in the afternoon.
We had a really fun time making repeated hot laps down a run called The Guts. The conditions and the terrain were conducive to making big, fast turns from the top of the ridge down to the lower rope tow.
I was quite surprised by how hard I could push the Bent Chetlers down firm, off-piste conditions. And I don’t mean, “How hard I could push these given that they’re a fat, jibby pow ski.”
I did several back-to-back runs down The Guts on the Bent Chetler and the 186cm Blizzard Bodacious, a phenomenal big mountain ski that feels like a modern, freeride shape made with race ski construction. In short, I didn’t feel like I was able to push the Bodacious significantly harder than the Bent Chetler.
To be clear, I’d prefer to ski the Bodacious in firm, variable conditions (again, I’m a directional skier), but the differences on snow definitely did not make me feel like I was on a legit big-mountain ski on the one hand, and some dumb overly rockered pow ski on the other.
The Bodacious and the Bent Chetler don’t feel the same on snow—the Bent Chetler has a more centered stance than the Bodacious, and far more tail rocker (tail splay) than the Bodacious. But I felt like I could still get on the shovels of the Bent Chetler—its shovels are supportive, and didn’t feel that dissimilar to the Bodacious’.
And the 192 Bent Chetler actually weighs more than the 186 Blizzard Bodacious. In ripping through firm moguls or spring mashed potatoes, the Bent Chetler has the mass to keep them from getting knocked around.
Honestly, I think the most noticeable difference on-snow between the two skis is the amount of tail rocker: the Bent Chetler has a lot more. Even so, the Bent Chetler never felt short to me, but it did feel like it had a large sweet spot.
My point: I really like the Bodacious, and given how I ski and the sorts of skis I generally like, it seems I ought to like the Bent Chetler a whole lot less than I do.
In hindsight, I maybe shouldn’t be that surprised. I’ve heard from several former racers–big guys who aren’t tricking or even really skiing switch–swear by the previous Bent Chetler. I never really believed them, but I now understand where they’re coming from.
So if you’re a bigger skier who likes the sound of a surfy pow ski, but you also want / expect that surfy pow ski to work really well in variable and even firm conditions, the Bent Chetler ought to be high on your list.
I’m actually surprised how much Jason Hutchins liked the 13/14 192cm Bent Chetler as a playful pow ski. The 192s are not light, and Jason does not typically like heavy skis. Will Brown and I both agreed that tricking these would feel like a good bit of work. But Jason swore by the old 192s, and again, we’ll look forward to getting him on these—as well as the new 185cm Bent Chetler—as soon as the snow starts to pile up in Utah.
Steep, Firm Chutes
Dropping into Craigieburn’s most excellent Middle Basin’s Chutess (particularly the 210 Chute) where I was jump turning my way down portions of the chute, the 192cm / ~2500 grams-per-ski Bent Chetlers didn’t magically disappear beneath my feet; I was working to move these.
But the more significant issue I was having was staying balanced while jump turning down the firm, moguled steeps while skiing on the most tip and tail rockered ski I’ve been on in about a year. I would sloppily jump turn and land sometimes on the ski’s shovels, sometimes on the tails, but in either case, I found myself getting pitched forward or back.
This kind of sucked … till I remembered that I wasn’t on some subtly rockered ski that will let you get away with landing heavy on the tips and tails in firm steeps. So apologies to those of you who already know better, but about halfway down 210, I remembered that I simply needed to think about landing on the center of the Bent Chetler, remembering that the stable platform of this ski is directly under your boots.
That was honestly the biggest adjustment I made on the 192 Bent Chetlers, and other than that, I just had fun skiing these big “pow” skis in variable conditions.
Fresh, Maritime Pow
On our final day in New Zealand, 40 centimeters had dropped overnight on Craigieburn, then the day was quite warm, and by the late afternoon, the snow was setting up pretty quickly, making for a very coastal-feeling pow day.
While there is room for a number of opinions here, generally speaking, my take is that in high-water-content snow, a heavier, heavily tip and tail rockered ski provides the mass to plow through the fresh, thick snow, while the substantial tip and tail rocker allows the ski to turn & release easily, and be less prone to feeling locked in to a turn when sinking into the gooey snow.
And guess what? The 192 Bent Chetler is a pretty heavy, heavily tip and tail rockered ski, and performed quite well on the day.