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2017-2018 HEAD Kore 93

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Head Kore 93 for Blister Gear Review.

Head Kore 93

Ski: 2017-2018 HEAD Kore 93, 180 cm

Available Lengths: 153, 162, 171, 180, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 179.1 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: not listed

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1585 & 1586 grams

Stated Dimensions (180 cm): 133-93-115 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 132.5-92.5-114 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (180 cm): 16.4 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 59 mm / 19 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Core: Graphene, Koroyd, & Karuba wood

Base: Structured diecut UHM C base

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.15 cm from center; 78.4 cm from tail

Intro

We’ve posted our initial reviews of the HEAD Kore 117 and HEAD Kore 105, so it’s time now to take a look at the third ski in the lineup, the Kore 93.

HEAD says about the Kore 93, “Sometimes it’s deep. Sometimes it’s tracked. Sometimes it’s bumped. Lots of times it’s groomed. If this is when and where you ski, then the 93 is for thee. Any condition, anytime.”

“Any condition, anytime.” Well that certainly puts us squarely into one-ski quiver territory. Question is, is there reason to think that the Kore 93 can really pull it off?

For as long as I can remember, HEAD has specialized in making heavy skis (often the heaviest in their class) with a solid race construction. But at less than 1600 grams per ski, the KORE 93 is significantly lighter than most other skis in it’s class (which tend to range from 1800-2100 grams).

We are very quick to point out around here that lightweight construction often negatively affects the downhill performance of a ski. So for a company like HEAD that has strong race roots (where downhill performance is the primary goal), creating such a light ski is a dramatic statement, and it begs the question: Is HEAD onto something special with their KORE series in terms of lightweight construction and downhill performance? Or are they just after a piece of the trendy, lightweight pie?

Weight

As you know by now, the primary story with the Kore lineup is the weight of these skis. HEAD claims that their KORE skis are the highest performing and lightest skis in their respective categories. And as we wrote in our review of the 189 cm Kore 105, that ski may actually be the lightest we’ve ever seen for a ski of its length and width.

And the same is true for the Kore 93. Take a look at these comparisons in the 93-98mm width range:

180 cm HEAD Kore 93: 1585 & 1586 g
185 cm Blizzard Zero G 95: 1353 & 1376 g
184 cm Salomon MTN Explore 95: 1507 & 1595 g
178 cm Black Crows Camox Freebird: 1661 & 1664 g
180 cm Fischer Ranger 98 Ti: 1807 & 1833 g
187 cm Liberty Origin 96: 1991 & 1997 g
185 cm Nordica Enforcer 93: 2114 & 2133 g
180 cm Blizzard Bonafide (16/17): 2167 & 2199 g

The first thing to keep in mind: HEAD is positioning the Kore 93 as a high-performance inbounds ski. So in terms of ski shape and purpose, the Nordica Enforcer 93 and Blizzard Bonafide are really the closest comparables here. And take a look at the weight difference.

It’s also interesting to note the weight of the Blizzard Zero G 95, which is a dedicated touring ski, and the Salomon MTN Explore 95, which is a dedicated touring ski that has gained some traction as a “50/50” ski.

But again, I think it’s important to note that HEAD isn’t thinking of this as a “50/50” ski, and as I wrote in our Blister SIA Awards, HEAD wanted us to put this ski up against the heaviest skis listed here. Swagger indeed. But we’ve gotten good enough results in our reviews of the Kore 105 and 117, we’re genuinely curious to see what this Kore 93 can do.

Shape

Another thing I’m psyched on is that the Kore 93 has a bit less tip taper than the Kore 105 and 117. I think that’s a good thing, and if you want to geek out a bit about tip shapes in particular, you might want to give this Blister podcast episode a listen.

Flex Pattern: KORE 93, 180 cm

All three skis in the Kore lineup have very similar flex profiles. Hand flexing the 93, here’s how I’d sum it up:

Tips: 7-8
Shovels: 8-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 10-9
Tails: 9-8

FWIW, the tails of the 93 feel very similar to the 189 cm Kore 105, while the shovels of the Kore 105 actually feel just a touch stiffer than the shovels of the 180 cm KORE 93.

And just to show how similar these skis feel, here are our numbers on the Kore 105 and 1117:

Flex Pattern: KORE 105, 189 cm
Tips: 7-8
Shovels: 9-10
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 10-9
Tails: 8

Flex Pattern, KORE 117, 189 cm
Tips: 7-8
Shovels: 9-10
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 10-9
Tails: 9-8

Point is, all three skis have a pretty burly flex pattern. So if you know you prefer softer, more buttery flex patterns, these might not be your skis.

Also, the Kore 93 (like the Kore 105 and Kore 117) has a very traditional mount point (Kore 93 = -11.15 cm). So while we haven’t tried slamming bindings forward to -4 cm (in the way that we never tried to turn the Nordica Enforcer 93 or Blizzard Bonafide into some jib ski), I think it’s best for most skiers to think of the Kore skis as very lightweight, directional options.

Low Weight + Stiff Flex

This is a combination that we haven’t always found to work well on snow; light & stiff has often produced a pretty jarring ride that lacks suspension and damping.

But so far with the Kore 117 and 105, I have to say that we’ve been pretty impressed. Yes, these are light skis, but they have not produced that jarring, tin-like sensation on snow.

But with the narrowest Kore 93, we’re moving more and more toward a width that you might use when it hasn’t snowed for several weeks, so really, the Kore 93 seems like it will be the toughest test of HEAD’s construction — can this ski really smooth out variable snow and firm, chunked-up or refrozen nastiness as well as the heaviest skis in the category do? Our intuition says no, but we shall see.

But given how well the other Kore skis have performed, we are ready to believe that the 93 is going to be a blast on clean groomers and softer, fairly-forgiving off-piste snow.

What about the Kore 93 as a “50/50” or dedicated touring ski?

Well, it’s certainly in an extremely competitive weight range, so we’ll be weighing in on how these skis would perform with touring bindings. And we’ll predict that in terms of strength to weight, this ski is going to be impressive.

It’s also worth noting, perhaps, that this is not a wildly-rockered-out 93 mm ski that has clearly been optimized to plane up in deeper snow. The 180 cm Blizzard Bonafide has a deeper tip rocker line, and skis like the Liberty Origin 96 have way more tip and tail rocker to aid flotation.

But having said that, the combination of the Kore 93’s low weight and very traditional mount point may go a long way toward helping it to plane in deeper snow.

The biggest question mark for us, really, is that the 180 cm Kore 93 has a pretty tight sidecut radius of 16.4 meters, which doesn’t sound ideal for dealing with punchy, grabby, backcountry snow. But stated sidecut numbers rarely tell the whole story, so we’re just going to have to get this ski on snow. Still, the idea of touring on this ski up to a big, wide-open bowl of soft spring corn, or to billygoat down a steep, consequential, wind-scoured couloir … it’s easy to imagine this ski shining in either scenario.

NEXT: ON-SNOW PERFORMANCE

10 Comments

  1. DB Cooper April 19, 2017 Reply

    Been waiting anxiously for this review, especially comparisons to the enforcer 93.

  2. Blister Member
    Tom July 25, 2017 Reply

    Great review. Damn you. Now I’m second guessing my desire for a pair of Monster 88s!

    • Blister Member
      Andrew July 28, 2017 Reply

      Don’t worry Tom, you will never regret the monster unless you need light. It’s impressive what they’ve done but don’t see why I’d give up even the slightest performance to save weight unless going uphill. JMHO

  3. Tim September 25, 2017 Reply

    Thoughts on length for this ski? I’m 5’10” at 200lbs with a back ground in bumps and slalom (odd combo right) I’m looking at this in the 180 length. Run that or size up to the 189?

    • Author
      Brian Lindahl September 27, 2017 Reply

      Hi Tim,

      That’s really not enough information to make a proper suggestion. Knowing your ski preference history would definitely get us started in the right direction. What ski would this be replacing for you in your quiver – what size and name of skis have you enjoyed skiing in the past?

  4. Tim October 4, 2017 Reply

    Brian,

    this would be replacing a head collective 105, 180 that i felt skied too short.

    I’ve also had in the past Volkl mantras in a 177 (first year of tip rocker) and I thought the length was good on those.

    • Author
      Brian Lindahl October 4, 2017 Reply

      Based on your experience with the Head Collective 105, I’d recommend sizing up to 189.

  5. TMac October 10, 2017 Reply

    Just ordered your buying guide for this year, did you guys end up testing the ski in any different mounting point other than recommended? Recommended line sure seems VERY far back to me, even for a modern directional ski. My blizzard bushwackers/Brahma’s and wife’s black pearls always seemed like factory recommended needed to be moved ahead. The Head seems similar, lot of tip and not much tail. Thoughts?

    • Author
      Brian Lindahl October 12, 2017 Reply

      Hi TMac,

      No, I did not try the ski at any other mounting points. And yes, the Head Kore 93 is about -11 which is similar to many Blizzard freeride skis, such as the Brahmas.

      Mount points are a somewhat personal choice. Manufacturers change the location of the center of the sidecut to give the design a certain amount of tip and tail length. For example, freeride-oriented skis often have noticeably more tip length than tail length, so the center of the sidecut will be placed further back. And, freestyle-oriented skis often have a more equal tip and tail length, so the center of the sidecut will be placed closer to the center of the ski.

      The recommended mount point is then generally chosen so that, for a given boot size, the ball-of-foot will be within 1-2cm of the center of the sidecut (it can vary based on the ski’s designed stance and style of skiing). Generally speaking, your ball of foot should be close to the center of the sidecut, regardless, for a ski to turn properly. Deviating from this recommended mount point by 1-2cm is GENERALLY ok. Deviating further beyond that point can make the ski feel a bit odd when initiating and finishing a turn (I’ve been on skis before where I could easily tell the mount point was off). However, when it comes to freestyle skiers, some choose to throw that advice into the wind, and mount more forward than that, hoping to gain a better balance in the air or when spinning.

      Again, it’s still a personal choice and the stance and style that you want to adopt on the ski. For me, I typically like mounting my skis so that my ball of foot is about 1cm behind the center of the sidecut (I tend to have a moderately forward stance).

      Sorry I can’t be of more help, but the ideal mount point really does depend on the skier to an extent – kind of like boots.

      • Author
        Brian Lindahl October 12, 2017 Reply

        To be clear, for my own personal skis (that I’m not testing), I’ll generally ignore the manufacturer’s recommended point, determine the center of the sidecut, and then mount the ski so that my ball-of-foot is about 1cm behind it.

        To determine the center of the sidecut, I’ll take a strip of paper, wrap it around the edges, and slide it down the ski while pulling the ends of the strip towards each other. When the paper stops sliding, I’ve found the center of the sidecut, or the ‘choke’ point (moving the paper forward or backward would require slacking off the tension on the ends of the strip).

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