As we noted in our First Look, the Bent Chetler 100 wasn’t quite what we were expecting. On the one hand, it’s named after one of the most playful skiers out there, Chris Benchetler. And it shares the name with the Bent Chetler 120, one of the most playful powder skis on the market.
But the Bent Chetler 100 didn’t seem to share all that much in common with either Chris Benchetler or his powder ski. The Bent Chetler 100 has a recommended mount point of -7.8 cm from center (aka, a pretty traditional mount), and has neither a symmetrical rocker profile nor symmetrical flex pattern. So you can probably see why we were a bit confused when we first got the ski.
We posted a Flash Review of the Bent Chetler 100 back in the spring, and now that Sam Shaheen, Jonathan Ellsworth and I have all spent time on the ski, it’s time to further tease out what this ski is, what it isn’t, who it’s for, and what it’s for.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): One of the most unusual things about the Bent Chetler 100 is that it includes marks for mount points ranging from -1.8 cm to -11.8 cm from center. I started out on the ski at the recommended line of -7.8 cm from center, and here, it definitely feels like a directional ski that rewards a forward stance. But I tend to like skis that feel more balanced in the air, and really appreciate skis that give me the option of either skiing with a forward stance or a more centered one.
So after a few runs, I bumped the bindings forward two cm to -5.8 cm, and then another cm to -4.8 cm from center.
With the bindings two and three cm forward of the recommended line, the Bent Chetler 100 felt more versatile to me as I could still drive the front of the ski and I didn’t feel like I lost any edgehold, but I could also ski with a more centered stance. With a more forward mount the Bent Chetler 100 also felt more comfortable in the air, more playful overall, and easier to hop-turn down runs like Stauffenberg and Zdarsky on Taos’ West Basin.
And while I preferred it with the bindings moved forward, Jonathan and Sam (who tend to get along well with skis with more rearward mount points) both liked the Bent Chetler 100 on its recommended line. Point is, the Bent Chetler 100 works well across (at least a modest) range of mount points, and that’s one of the reasons why I’d recommend it to a pretty wide range of skiers.
Luke: I spent a good portion of my time on the Bent Chetler 100 on fairly firm to super slushy groomers. In these conditions the ski felt pretty precise, and I was surprised by how hard I could ski it. The Bent Chetler 100 is still a light ski at ~1820 grams, so it did get knocked around when I encountered some firmer or more roughed-up portions of the groomers, but I’d say that the Bent Chetler 100 punches a bit above its weight when it comes to stability.
The Bent Chetler 100 didn’t feel like the most dynamic carver (it didn’t feel extremely energetic in a turn), but I’d say that the Bent Chetler 100 is a pretty strong carver for its weight.
Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, 180 lbs): I totally agree with Luke — on even slightly soft groomers, these were fun to carve. And while I didn’t find them launching me out of turns, the back half of the ski (or at least behind the heel piece) felt pretty strong.
Point is, the Bent Chetler 100 is not merely some slimmed-down, floppy powder ski.
Luke: Despite its Bent Chetler name, the Bent Chetler 100 feels like more of a directional ski than some sort of jibby spin stick. While I could break the Bent Chetler 100’s tails free into slashes, I definitely would not call it a particularly surfy or loose ski (I skied it with the factory tune, so there’s a chance it could be loosened up a bit with a detune). There are much better options in this class if you like to spend much of your time on your skis sliding across the fall line, rather than pointing down it.
But while the Bent Chetler 100 doesn’t feel very loose, it’s still easy to pop off its tips and tails, and its flex felt more symmetrical on snow than it did while just hand-flexing the ski. In the air, the Bent Chetler 100’s swing weight felt quite light and conducive to quick shifties (and this is further improved with the bindings moved forward a bit).
So despite its traditional mount point and slightly asymmetrical flex, the Bent Chetler 100 still felt quite poppy and playful. And it felt a lot more playful with the bindings pushed forward. But while some of Atomic’s athletes are riding the Bent Chetler 100 with the bindings around -2 cm from center, I think there are better skis out there if you’re primarily focused on tricking, spinning, buttering, etc. (Mounted around -2 cm, I think the back half of the ski would feel weirdly stiff, and the front would feel weirdly soft, but that’s just conjecture for now since I haven’t had a chance to ski it with the bindings that far forward.)
But while I don’t think it’s the best ski out there when it comes to freestyle performance, I do think the Bent Chetler 100 falls on the more playful end of the all-mountain spectrum.
Sam Shaheen (5’10”, 140 lbs): It’s important to reiterate Luke’s point. Although this ski can be broken free and slashed / popped around, this ski felt very directional to me when mounted on the recommended line. It felt quite locked into a turn (with the factory tune) and exhibited strong edge hold. The shape and pedigree of the ski all point to it being a park ski / all-mountain freestyle ski, but that is not how I’d classify it. While you can trick this ski, there are better options out there if you’re primarily looking for an all-mountain freestyle ski.
Steep, Tight Terrain
Luke: While I never imagined that a ski bearing the Bent Chetler name would be one of my top pics for steep, consequential terrain, I had a lot of fun hopping around Taos’ West Basin on the Bent Chetler 100.
The ski’s combination of (1) a pretty low weight, (2) strong edgehold, and (3) a fairly forgiving but still supportive flex pattern all felt pretty ideal in this terrain. The Bent Chetler 100 was very easy to flick around, its tails felt like they offered a nice blend of support and forgiveness, and it didn’t feel unpredictably hooky, despite its good edgehold (and large amount of camber).
Heavier skis will definitely feel more composed at higher speeds, but for picking my way through tight, steep terrain, the Bent Chetler 100 felt like a great choice.
Sam: To me, this is what it seems like the Bent Chetler 100 was made for. Specifically for skiing a wide variety of snow types in steep, technical and consequential terrain. It has the edgehold to make due on firm / icy couloirs while being light enough to easily flick around (and to skin for your turns).
I suspect Chris went to Atomic and said, “I really dig the Bent Chetler 120 for surfing around in pow, but I need a ski that can get me through no-fall terrain in the backcountry too.” I think the Bent Chetler 100 achieves this quite well.
Jonathan: While the Bent Chetler 100’s big, soft, boat-hulled tips make it look like it’s designed for powder, this ski actually holds up on firm conditions and steep, techy lines. And personally, if I’m on a ski that’s only 100mm-wide, I want that. I don’t just want my 100mm-wide ski to punch above its weight class in deep snow.
To zoom out for a sec, it’s quite interesting what Atomic has done here. This isn’t a ski that I would have associated with the name “Benchetler,” but I’m not against the idea that skis in a series (“Bent Chetler”) should simply be slimmer or wider versions of the same ski. I think as you go wider or as you go narrower, there can be very good reasons to adjust flex patterns and rocker profiles. I’m not going to break out a 120mm-wide ski on the same day or the same conditions that I’m going to be taking out a 100mm-wide ski, so, rather than make these two skis feel the same, why not make them complement one another?
And furthermore … we should probably stop pigeonholing Chris Benchetler as being one single type of skier. Granted, there are worse things in the world than being categorized as one of the most creative all-mountain skiers in the world, but lest you think Chris is simply spinning every line then running it out switch, check out how much consequential backcountry couloir skiing he’s doing on some pretty beat snow.
As a 50/50 Ski
Luke: Yes. Definitely.
The Bent Chetler 100 has pretty much all the characteristics I personally look for in a ski that I’d use both inside and outside the resort. First, it comes in at a reasonably low weight for a touring ski (~1820 grams for the 188 cm), but it provides better suspension than many skis I’ve used in this weight class. Second, the Bent Chetler 100 has performed very well across a wide range of conditions, from steep chalk to deep slush. For a truly do-everything 50/50 ski, versatility is huge. And lastly, the Bent Chetler 100 is a bit more playful than most skis I’ve used that fill my two criteria above, which is a fairly rare combination in the 50/50 category.
And with all that said, it’s important to keep in mind your personal preferences when it comes to backcountry, inbounds, and 50/50 skis. Some people prefer lighter skis and might not need the stability of a 1800+ gram ski like the Bent Chetler 100. And other people don’t mind hauling up a heavier ski in the backcountry, since they get more stability on the way down. But for me personally, I think the Bent Chetler 100 strikes a really nice balance between weight and stability.
And for what it’s worth, if I were picking the Bent Chetler 100 for 50/50 use I’d get the 180 cm instead of the 188 cm for an even lower weight and better performance in tight spots, and would mount it with the Atomic / Salomon Shift binding.
Jonathan: My thoughts on this are summed up very well by Luke in the next section…
Who’s It For?
Luke: I think the Bent Chetler 100 could work for a lot of different people, but I think the most important thing to consider is the ski’s weight. This ski is light for an inbounds ski, and while it offers very good suspension for its weight, it’s not as stable in rough conditions as skis above the ~2000-gram mark. So if you know you like the damp, smooth feel of heavier skis and want to basically ski like you’re driving a monster truck, plowing over everything in your path, the Bent Chetler 100 is not for you.
But if your skiing style is less monster-trucky and more active, dynamic, and playful, then the Bent Chetler 100 makes a lot more sense. It is a fairly strong ski that offers nice suspension for its weight. But it’s also a fairly playful ski, and I’ve found it to work pretty well with the bindings anywhere from -7.8 cm to -4.8 cm from center. So I’d recommend it both to directional skiers looking for a slightly more playful all-mountain ski that they can still drive, and to more playful skiers that are looking for a lighter ski with a bit more backbone than some of the jibby all-mountain skis out there.
While it wasn’t what we were expecting, the Atomic Bent Chetler 100 is a very good ski. It is not just a slimmed-down Bent Chetler 120. Instead, Atomic made a narrower ski that performs quite well on firm snow, while retaining some of the playful character of Chris Benchetler’s fat ski. The Bent Chetler 100 is not the most playful ski out there, and it’s definitely not the most stable, but it strikes a really compelling balance of weight, stability, and playfulness.
Deep Dive Comparisons Update: Atomic Bent Chetler 100
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Bent Chetler 100 to see how it stacks up against the Line Sick Day 104, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Liberty Origin 96, Faction Prodigy 3.0, Blizzard Rustler 10, Nordica Enforcer 100, Black Crows Daemon, and Rossignol Soul 7 HD.
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