Ski: 16/17 & 17/18 Salomon QST 99, 188 cm
Available Lengths (cm): 167, 174, 181, 188
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.2 cm
Stated Dimensions (188 cm): 140-99-122
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 139-98-121
Stated Weight per Ski (181 cm): 1825 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (188 cm): 2024 & 2029 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius (188 cm): 19.6 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Titanal Layer + Carbon & Flax Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 55 mm / 20 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2-3 mm
Recommended Line: -8.8 cm from center; 84.8 cm from tail
Total Days Skied: 11 (Brian Lindahl: 5; Jonathan Ellsworth: 6)
Test Location: Breckenridge & Arapahoe Basin, CO; Taos, NM
Intro[Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 QST 99, which comes back unchanged for 17/18.]
Salomon’s ad-copy for the QST 99 on their website is packed with phrases like, “excels in all playgrounds,” “charges on or off-piste, whatever the terrain,” and “quick and agile.” So Salomon is pretty clearly positioning the QST 99 as something of a one-ski-quiver, and I think they’ve done a good job to that end.
As Jonathan Ellsworth noted in our First Look at the QST Lineup in general and the QST 99 in particular, the QST 99 is more directional than the QST 106 and QST 118 in rocker profile, construction, and mount point. And after several days on the ski, he was still trying to pin down whether or not he would describe the 188 cm QST 99 is a “charger.” While nobody is going to confuse the 188 cm QST 99 with similarly-sized, heavier, metal skis like the 191 cm Volkl Mantra, 187 cm Blizzard Bonafide, or 184 cm Head Monster 98, the QST 99 is still quite capable of being skied hard relative to its weight.
Hand flexing the QST 99, we’d sum up the flex pattern like this:
The flex pattern through the tips appears to be optimized a bit more for soft snow performance, while the tail is still relatively strong. I found this to jibe with its on-snow performance.
As mentioned in our First Look, the mount point, at nearly -9 cm behind true center, is fairly traditional. This would seemingly indicate that the QST 99 prefers a forward stance when being skied. However, Jonathan and I both found that mounted on the line, the QST 99 actually preferred a more centered stance. When I drove the tips hard, I felt like I was a bit too far forward in relation to the sidecut of the ski, and how the ski wanted to bend. So after a few runs in variable terrain, I shifted the mount point to -2 cm from recommended and the QST 99 felt a bit more natural with an aggressive stance.
So, if you drive the tips aggressively, you may prefer -1 cm or even -2 cm from the recommended line. If you ski with a pretty centered stance, then you may prefer the recommended line.
(FWIW, I’d personally opt for a mount point around 1.5 cm behind the recommended line, and Jonathan would go 1 cm behind the line.)
On groomers, the 188 cm QST 99 is a smooth, solid and stable ski, but it is not a particularly lively ski. The tip profile of the QST 99 won’t really pull you into a turn like, for example, the Head Monster 98 or the Fischer Ranger 98 (two other skis I’ve been spending time on). So you’ll want to be a bit more patient with turn initiation on the QST 99. Having said that, the 99 can snap off short turns with the right amount of speed and if you are driving the tips, but it felt most natural making more medium-radius turns, and the ski’s blend of flex, taper, and tip rocker has created a very non-hooky ski.
Advanced and expert skiers who like to bang out quick, high-speed slalom turns and generate lots of energy while on groomers will probably be better suited with a different ski, or at least may prefer the QST 99 in a shorter length. However, those who aren’t looking for a high degree of energy while carving will probably be happy with the less hooky nature of the QST 99, and experts will appreciate its strong tail, which will hold strong through the end of the turn and can generate power when you ask it to.
On end-of-day, roughed-up groomers, the QST 99’s light weight becomes more apparent, and the ski exhibited some tip flap at speed that is pretty on par with other skis of a similar weight that have a significant amount of tip rocker (e.g., the Fischer Ranger 98). The QST 99 still maintains the smooth and solid feel throughout the rest of the ski, but the ski’s softer tips begin to lose composure at the very top end, which can be a bit unnerving.
The same characteristics that create more laid-back turn initiation on groomers also allow the QST 99 to perform very well in powder and soft snow. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the QST 99 in smooth windslab. While some skis will really pull you into a turn, especially in more dense, untracked powder), the QST 99 is definitely not one of them, despite its very wide tips. No matter the speed, the 99 offers up a predictable, non-hooky ride in deeper snow.
We haven’t had any huge storms recently, but I’ve skied the QST 99 in up to a foot of fresh snow, and have been impressed with its performance, even when mounted on the recommended line. The ski’s mostly-flat and stiffer tail also offers an excellent landing platform, and I’ve been surprised by its ability to land some decent sized cliffs.
The same strong tail, however, wants to hang on through the end of the turn. This was totally fine in more open terrain, but if you ski tighter terrain, you may find softer or more heavily tail-rockered skis to be easier to break free and slash.
The QST 99 also performs well in soft chop. It doesn’t rage through it like a heavier ski will, but those that like to ski quite fast should still find plenty of stability, especially when skied on edge in soft chop. The 99’s tip rocker blends well with the rest of the profile, and it skis nearly its full length once you get it into softer snow.
When skiing at more moderate speeds, the QST 99 is plenty happy making shorter turns, and the tip design is easy to work through the beginning of slower turns. However, the ski’s strong tail will still tend to take more work to break free through a pile of soft snow than skis with more tail rocker.
NEXT: Firm and Variable Crud, Moguls, Etc.