Ski: 2016-2017 Liberty Schuster Pro, 192 cm
Available Lengths: 176, 184, 192 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 190.2 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (192 cm): 2296 & 2309 grams
Stated Dimensions (192 cm): 150-123-142
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 149.5-123-142
Stated Sidecut Radius: 25.5 meters
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 77 mm / 59 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~1 mm
Core: Bamboo / Poplar / Carbon
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.6 cm from center; 87.5 cm from tail
Boots: Lange XT 130 LV, Nordica GPX 130, 17/18 Salomon X-max 130, Head Raptor 140 RS
Bindings: Marker Jester
Days Tested: 20+
Test Locations: Alyeska Resort, Chugach Powder Guides Heli and Snowcat skiing, AK[Note: our review was conducted on the 16/17 Schuster Pro, which comes back unchanged for 17/18, except for the graphics.]
“Made for the biggest, deepest, best days,” the Schuster Pro is Joe Schuster’s pro model, and we first wrote about the Schuster Pro in our Winter Buyer’s Guide.
But when I first heard that the Schuster Pro was headed to Alaska for me to review, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I spend three months a year heli ski guiding, and then I ski tour or ski at Alyeska Resort before / after the season and on my days off. Throughout all of that, I generally prefer directional powder skis that are stiff enough to handle my 190 lb self, 30 lbs of guide gear and pack, and have a long sidecut radius to better handle variable conditions and high speeds on big runouts.
So when I learned that I was getting a pro model from a backcountry freeskier, I imagined a relatively soft, jib-oriented pow ski that might not fit my usual preferences.But when the 192 cm Schuster Pro showed up, I was surprised to find a 2300 gram, stiff-flexing pow board.
But when the 192 cm Schuster Pro showed up, I was surprised to find a 2300 gram, stiff-flexing pow board. And I was even more surprised to see that this “jib” ski had a recommended mount point of -7.6 cm. Jib skis typically have mount points ranging from 0 – 4 cm behind true center, and -7.6 is moving into more traditional territory. Interesting.
So I tossed them in the heli basket the next day, and I have since put quite a few days on them while heli and cat skiing at Chugach Powder Guides and while hammering out powder laps at Alyeska Resort.
I’d sum up the flex pattern like this, and will comment more on it throughout the review:
Any ski that’s 123 mm underfoot should be judged heavily on its powder performance, and I’ve had at least twenty good powder days on these skis. As the flex and mount point would suggest, the 192 cm Schuster Pro feels much more like a strong directional powder charger than a soft, backcountry freestyle ski. One of my first days on them was a 16” powder day earlier this year at Alyeska Resort. I slid into my go-to first run of the day, a relatively steep ramp that sometimes has a few bumps formed-up from the last time it snowed.
I let the skis run, built up a ton of speed, and arc’d my way to the runout after airing out a few old bumps. The skis planed up nicely and immediately felt intuitive for my skiing style. Pushing into the fronts of the skis was rewarded with a solid platform, and when I hit someone else’s tracks lower in the run, I felt them buck slightly, but again, was surprised by the overall stability of the skis.
Throughout this winter, when it was time to grab a pair of skis for an Alyeska powder day, I continued to throw the Schuster Pro in the back of my truck, albeit usually with a few other pairs for comparison. I’ve skied them in everything from the typical creamy windblown pow that we often get (my favorite!), to a couple of 20″+ super low-density dumps. In all of the inbounds pow skiing, I’ve encountered this year, the Schuster Pro continued to impress and inspire confidence.
The tight, steep tree runs along the western edge of Alyeska’s North Face are riddled with cliffs and extra large bumps, and during the long high-pressure system we recently had, the bumps got polished smooth enough that even 24” of pow couldn’t completely soften the blow of skiing through there at speed. In these situations, the Schuster Pro’s rockered tips and poppy rebound makes them feel much lighter than their 2300 g weight would suggest. I think part of their quickness is also related to the relatively short sidecut radius. I’ll get into comparisons in an upcoming Deep Dive article, but suffice it to say that the Schuster Pro feels quicker in tight terrain and bumps than any other 2300 gram ski I can think of, including the 16/17 Blizzard Spur.
In big open powder fields (like the upper parts of Alyeska Resort, or while out heli skiing) the Schuster Pro feels a little less inspired. Many of the powder skis I’ve used that feel quick and poppy are also loose and easy to roll over and drift in powder. While the width and rocker of the Schuster Pro do enable it to break free of the fall line, and its flex pattern allows for super fun tail slashes, it is not particularly easy to roll over and drift across the fall line. Instead, the Schuster Pro seems most suited to less angulated powder surfing with lower edge angles, and rewards a more playful, upright style.
The shovels will support aggressive turns and a more forward stance, but the skis feel more natural and fun when skied more centered or upright. I should also mention that its tails are reasonably supportive (more on this below) when I get knocked back, and overall, are very forgiving of skiing in the backseat, both in powder and in firmer conditions.
NEXT: Chop, Crud, Etc.