Ski: 2016-2017 Armada TST, 192cm
Available Lengths: 165, 174, 183, 192 cm
Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 190.0cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 120-133-103-124
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski (grams): 2,025 & 2,045
Sidecut Radius: 18.9 meters
Core Construction: Poplar/Ash + Fiberglass Laminate
Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Cochise 130 Pro / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line
Test Location: Alta Ski Area
Days Skied: 6
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 TST, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
Armada calls the TST a “true all-mountain charger,” and this season, I have ridden and reviewed two other skis that fit into that category: the Line Influence 105 and the Nordica El Capo. Above all, It’s been interesting to identify just how much variety there is within this category.
But Armada actually does help to locate the TST on the “all-mountain charger” spectrum by emphasizing the TST’s ability to carve on hardpack and float / slash through powder. That emphasis demonstrates Armada’s priorities in creating the TST, and, in regard to those priorities, they hit their mark.
Flex and Camber Profile
In his review of the Armada TST, Will Brown already covered Armada’s flex pattern rating system, so I’ll just discuss the flex and camber profile of the TST compared to the Influence 105 and El Capo.
Compared to the Influence 105, the TST is softer all the way through. However, the flex pattern between these two skis is actually fairly similar, as both gradually transition from the stiffest section underfoot to a noticeably softer tip and tail, with the tip being the softest part of the ski. On both of these skis, the gradual softening of the ski provides a very predictable level of support and stability.
The El Capo, which I described as being stiff underfoot but as transitioning abruptly to a softer flex at the tip and tail, has a stiffer section underfoot than the TST, a slightly but noticeably stiffer shovel, and approximately equally stiff tails. Even though the TST’s shovels are slightly softer than the El Capo’s, their gradual transition from stiff to soft was much more predictable when I was driving the shovels of the ski, and I never felt like the shovels might fold in on me like I did on the El Capo.
I agree with Will’s assessment of the 192 length TST as a manageable, cooperative ski for its length. It never felt difficult to maneuver. The rocker line on the TST is about 40cm from the tip, which, combined with a significantly tapered tip, substantially reduces the TST’s effective edge on hard snow. This, along with a fairly light swing weight, make the 192 feel quite manageable.
When I first looked at the TST and saw its deep rocker line and tapered tip, I didn’t expect much in the way of groomer performance. With a significantly reduced effective edge I was under the impression that these skis would struggle to carve on-piste, especially in firmer conditions. After many groomer laps in a variety of snow conditions, I’ll readily admit that my first impression was wrong.
Despite the length of the 192, the TST’s effective edge has a surprisingly short (18.9 meter) sidecut radius. When compressed, this sidecut radius bites into the snow and favors quick, short GS turns. And because the TST is not as stiff underfoot as the El Capo or Influence 105, I found it easier to get the sidecut to bend and carve at lower speeds than those other skis.
The TST also feels poppier and more energetic than the El Capo or Influence 105, both of which I described as damp, energy-absorbent skis. I found that the El Capo and 105 performed best on groomers while driving the shovels, but by subtly working the ski from shovel to tail throughout the turn, I felt like I could build up a substantial amount of energy in the ski to pop me into the next.
Will describes the TST as being able to “rail like a race ski.” While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, the TST is very competent carving turns on groomers for an all-mountain ski. I had trouble getting the TST to hold an edge on true boilerplate conditions, but I felt comfortable laying them on edge on anything softer than that. I found the TST to hold an edge on firm groomers better than the El Capo, but not quite as well as the Influence 105.
Will and I were both pleasantly surprised by the stability of the rockered tip when skiing fast through chopped-up groomers. While softer and more rockered than other skis in the category, the TST’s tips are stiff enough to smooth out chopped up snow on groomers.
Finally, the TST felt very versatile in that I could rail one turn, then feather my edges and smear the next. I think that the rockered tip and relatively soft flex helped these smeared turns feel smooth and comfortable, and I appreciated having that versatility.
Overall on groomers, the TST feels livelier and poppier than either the El Capo or the Influence 105, and prefers shorter radius, snappier turns than those skis. The TST is easier to carve than the El Capo and the Influence 105 at slower speeds, yet still feels almost as stable as the El Capo and nearly as stable as the Influence at high speed. I found them to be better at carving on firm snow than the El Capo, and close to, but not quite, as good at doing so as the Influence 105.
Firm, Smooth Off-Piste
The past couple weeks in Utah have been clear and dry, which this time of year makes the snow on steep, north-facing aspects fast, firm, chalky, and smooth. In these conditions, the TST still exhibits each of the traits I attributed to its groomer performance. The TST was still easy to maneuver, felt poppy, held an edge/carve, and was stable at speed. Applying these traits to firm, smooth off-piste conditions, the quality I want to emphasize the most is that they still feel stable at very high speeds.
I spent one morning on the TST making laps in the Upper Cirque at Snowbird, skiing several lines that entailed a short straight-line through a chute, followed by 3-5 high speed turns to the bottom of the bowl. I was very impressed by how little the TST’s rockered tip was deflected or felt like it was “flapping,” even during these very high-speed turns. But, as I will discuss later, I want to make clear that this was on very smooth firm snow.