Ski: 2016-2017 Liberty Variant 113, 186cm
Available Lengths: 172, 179, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 185.3 cm
Stated Dimensions for the 186cm model (mm): 145-113-132
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 144.5-113-132
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2345 & 2407 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 26 meters
Core Construction: Bamboo/Poplar + Titanal + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip & Tail Splay: 51 / 12 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2-3 mm
Boots / Bindings: Fischer Vacuum RC 140 / Marker Jester (DIN at 11)
Mount Location: “Standard” Line (~82.7cm from tail, ~9.95cm from center)
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 5[Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Variant 113, which is unchanged for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
The Liberty Variant 113 is the first ski by Liberty that I’ve ever been on, and it’s been a compelling introduction.
But let’s back up for a minute…
We’d been getting more and more requests from readers to check out Liberty’s skis. So Will Brown took a closer look at Liberty’s line, and decided that we ought to start with the Helix and the Variant 113.
So far, Will has been quite impressed by the Helix. And I’ve been having a blast on the Variant 113 at Taos.
A big, fast blast.
Liberty’s Description of the Variant 113
I hadn’t read Liberty’s own description of the Variant 113 till I’d already put three days on it, but it’s on point. Allow me to highlight a few things from it:
“Powerful edge grip and stability at speed on any snow surface. Titanal layer, stiff tail and Hammer Rocker inspire confidence in terrain with consequences. For charging hard no matter what comes your way, you can count on the Variant 113.”
I’m going to get to most of the stuff in bold, but yes: Powerful, Stable, Stiff, Charger.
And actually, Liberty has tweaked their product copy a little for 15/16. There is a line in their current description of the Variant 113 that I love:
“Whether touring to access the best lines, lapping the sidecountry, or just demolishing your resort, you can count on the Variant113.”
Designed to demolish. Get the idea?
The Variant 113 is a big, fun gun.
And for those Volkl Katana owners who are still lamenting the demise of the metal Katana, you should pay very close attention to this review…
Flex Pattern of the Variant 113
Stiff tails, Medium shovels — exactly as Liberty describes them.
I’ve just spent about ten minutes hand flexing three rather similar skis that I’m going to be referencing a lot in this review: the Variant 113, the 190cm Salomon Q Lab, and the (now retired / discontinued) 191cm Volkl (metal) Katana. The tails of these three skis are similarly (quite) stiff, close enough that it’s difficult to place a clear rank on them.
As for the shovels, the Variant 113’s are stiffer than both the 191 Katana and the 190 Q Lab, by a noticeable but not huge amount.
And in terms of the consistency and feel of the flex patterns, I’d have to say that I like the Variant 113’s best—both in terms of the overall consistency of the flex pattern, and in terms of the progressive nature of the flex as you push into the tips and tails. It’s pretty money.
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (with Comparisons)
190cm Salomon Q Lab 109: 2571 & 2484 grams
191cm Volkl Katana: 2427 & 2397 grams
186cm Liberty Variant 113: 2345 & 2407 grams
As you can see, we’re talking about some pretty big, fairly burly skis here. If you feel tempted to write a comment like, “I like to ski hard and fast, but I also really like to mellow out and slow things down sometimes,” then none of these skis are probably going to be a great fit for you.
Conversely, if you find yourself saying things like, “I hate skiing slow,” or “I’m too lazy to ski slow,” then by all means, keep reading!
The Variant 113 requires a lot of speed to hit high-angle carves. But once you do get going, the edgehold and stability of these skis is remarkable.
“Alarming” would be another apt word.
Again, for those who are too lazy to ski slow, or too lazy to make too many turns, you will get a big kick out of the Variant 113. They are pretty “one dimensional” on groomers in this regard, but they do this one dimension very well and like to make big turns at very high speeds.
When A/B-ing the Variant 113 against the 190 Salomon Q Lab, there’s no question that the Q Lab is the more natural fat “carver” — with its tighter, 20.5 meter sidecut radius and softer shovels, the ski is easier to bend and bring around, while also exhibiting tenacious edge hold like the Variant 113. And the Q Lab doesn’t require quite as much speed to hit high edge angles. The Variant 113 is – and feels like – a straighter ski.
So for pure carving, the Q Lab is still one of the very best 109-115mm skis I’ve ever been on.
But for huge, very fast, stable, GS turns, it’s tough to think of any skis in this width range that outperform the Variant 113.
“Stability on any snow surface”
In Liberty’s description of the Variant 113, they talk about the ski’s “stability at speed on any snow surface.” And so far, Yes.
I have yet to get the Variant 113 in really deep pow, but I have had them in thick slush, light pow, super sun-baked mashed potatoes, very firm moguls, icy afternoon groomers and chop.
And these pretty straight, fairly heavy skis with fat, flat tails have been at least good, and generally great, in all of the above.
It’s like cheating.
And if you’re talking about untracked snow on big-mountain faces, then these are like Heaven.
Liberty nailed the formula for going big and fast in fresh untracked snow and sun-baked untracked; pretty much whatever. And I wouldn’t hesitate to ski these in deep snow, so long as very tight trees or very low-angle pow fields are not involved. The Variant 113 was not designed to noodle around at low speeds.