I’ve got a few more days on the Rustler 10, and I can now address a few of the questions we had after using the ski in warm, soft, spring conditions at A-Basin last year.
The one characteristic of the Rustler 10 that continues to stand out is how much it prefers to be turning / on edge. I’ll talk about the Rustler 10’s performance in different conditions, but the ski’s eagerness to turn was what I noticed most across all conditions.
Smooth, Firm Conditions
On fairly smooth and firm snow (e.g. off-piste chalk or good groomers), the Rustler 10 felt poppy, energetic, and provided good edgehold — as long as I was making shorter turns (a caveat that applies to pretty much everything I’ll say about the Rustler 10).
The front of the ski feels very accessible, and at ~155 lbs, I can easily bend the ski into turns, even at slower speeds. Despite being fairly soft, I didn’t feel like the tips / shovels of the Rustler 10 were holding the ski back in terms of high-speed stability (I never felt like the ski was folding up in smooth conditions).
The ski just prefers to turn, so when attempting to ski the Rustler 10 fairly straight at high speeds, it feels twitchy / hooky. However, when making shorter turns (and therefore skiing at slower speeds), I was perfectly happy with the Rustler 10’s stability on fairly smooth snow.
The Rustler 10’s tails are noticeably stiffer than the shovels, and the tails feel very supportive and provide a lot of energy out of each turn. I don’t ski many skis designed specifically to rip groomers, but I can say that I had an absolute blast on the Rustler 10 carving deep, tight turns on clean groomers. As long as you are ok with making shorter turns and aren’t skiing a lot of sheer ice (the one type of snow where (unsurprisingly) I have found the Rustler 10 lacking in edgehold), I think a lot of people will be very happy with the Rustler 10’s performance on smooth, firm snow.
When making shorter turns on the Rustler 10 on smooth snow, I never really found myself wishing for more stability. However, when the snow got a bit more bumped up or the conditions were more variable, I noticed the fairly low weight of the ski, and could feel it getting knocked around. This is yet another area where the ski felt much more comfortable so long as I was putting it on edge and skiing with a more active style.
In lower-angle and more spaced-out bumps, the Rustler 10 is a lot of fun, since it is quite maneuverable and the ski allows you to easily pop from one mogul to another.
But in steep, tall, and firm moguls, I felt like the sidecut of the Rustler 10 was fighting me. Despite the playful rocker profile, I had trouble pivoting / slarving through the trenches (my preferred technique in moguls) and the ski felt a bit hooky.
However, if you prefer to carve through moguls, this will likely be less of an issue, though the softer shovels might not provide all the support you might want if you really like to drive / stuff the tips of your skis hard into troughs.
It’s also worth noting that Kara Williard really likes the 180 cm Rustler 10 in moguls, and she describes her approach to moguls as “a bit deliberate and slowed down, with a lot of emphasis on carvy and fluid turns.” Additionally, she said “the majority of the bumps I’ve skied it on so far have been spaced out and on a steep pitch, so keeping to that type of shorter turns on the 180 cm length translated to a really energetic and playful experience.”
Moguls are the main area that has made me think more about the question of length with the Rustler 10. Though it’s pretty light and maneuverable, the 188 cm version of the ski still feels a bit long in bumps, and those big, not-very-tapered tips are noticeable when swinging the ski around. And since the 188 cm version doesn’t provide a ton of high-speed stability (mostly due to its preference for shorter turns), I’d personally probably opt for the 180 cm Rustler 10. I haven’t skied the 180 cm, but Kara’s notes about the ski make me think that the 180 cm version would provide a similar level of stability while being more manageable in moguls. (Longer skis don’t always equate to more stable skis — see our recent review of the 193 cm Line Mordecai vs. the 186 cm Mordecai.)
I haven’t skied the Rustler 10 in really deep snow, but in 8” of clean, fairly dense powder, the ski basically performed as expected — it preferred shorter turns, and its softer tips seemed to plane well. It was easy to break the tails free and slash, but it didn’t really hold a slarved turn / powerslide — after slashing it sideways, the ski felt like it wanted to lock back into a turn.
In the fairly shallow chop I’ve skied it in, the Rustler 10 exhibited more hookiness than it did on smoother snow, and I again noticed the ski’s low weight when trying to ski through chop at speed. This can be slightly mitigated by putting the ski on edge (which is very easy to do and feels intuitive), but then the ski’s fairly soft shovels and low weight come into play, and it does not plow through chop with ease. So, while the ski does fairly well in clean powder, it’s performance in chop makes it less ideal for resorts where “powder days” turn to “chop days” quite quickly.
Stance — Forward vs. Centered
In general, I found the Rustler 10 to be pretty versatile when it comes to skiing with a more centered stance as opposed to a more forward stance. At higher speeds, driving the front of the ski feels more natural and helps keep it a bit more composed. But at lower speeds, I found that it didn’t matter all that much if I was really concentrating on skiing with a ton of pressure on my shins. Though I haven’t felt like I folded the tips, I think heavier skiers (especially those who really like to get forward) may be left wishing for more support out of the shovels, especially considering that I’m around 155 lbs and have been skiing the Rustler 10 in its longest length.
The Rustler 10’s tails are supportive without being punishing, and they’ll help you out when you get backseat. The supportive-yet-forgiving tails are one of the main characteristics that I think makes the Rustler 10 well suited for beginner and intermediate skiers that want a ski they can grow into.
I like the Rustler 10 at its recommended mount of -7.25 cm, and after experimenting with the bindings +1 cm and -1 cm of the recommended line, I haven’t noticed a major difference. I can’t say that I found the ski to be more stable with the bindings 1 cm behind recommended since the ski’s stability at speed is limited more by its eagerness to turn, rather than the dampness of the front of the ski. At +1 cm from recommended, the ski felt a touch more playful, but this was very minor.
Is It a 50/50 Ski?
At ~1950 g in the 188 cm, the Rustler 10 is fairly light, and it’s therefore worth commenting on it as a 50/50 or backcountry ski. Though I’m happy to tour on skis in this weight range, the Rustler 10 wouldn’t be my first choice as a backcountry ski because of its hooky nature in variable conditions. For a backcountry ski, I prefer something that remains predictable in variable snow (e.g. rain crusts, wind slabs, etc.) that one often encounters outside the resort.
However, if you’re only going to be touring for fresh powder or spring corn, then the Rustler 10 could be a good option.
Who’s It For?
If you enjoy making shorter turns and are looking for an energetic, playful ski that handles most conditions pretty well, I think you will like the Rustler 10. On the other hand, if you prefer bulldozers — skis that offer maximum stability, prefer to make long turns, and excel at plowing through variable snow, then the Rustler 10 probably isn’t the ski for you. But ski with a lighter touch and a more active, dynamic style, however, and the Rustler 10 could be a match — and this is one time where we wouldn’t necessarily be quick to recommend bumping up in size; keeping things light and quick seem to play to the tendencies of the Rustler 10.
We think Blizzard’s description of the Rustler 10 as a “ski of choice for those looking to have fun while pushing themselves to ski better” is pretty accurate. It’s forgiving and playful while remaining pretty stable at moderate speeds, and it welcomes strong technique, but doesn’t demand it.
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