Review: Battle of the Premium 80mm Skis: Part Deux

The category of premium 80mm skis always impresses. Last year we talked about the Augment All Mountain 77, DPS Alchemist 79, and Renoun Atlas 80 along with the reference ski Stöckli Laser AX. We also discussed some other considerations if you would like to revisit the previous article.

For 2022, some new players will be going after King Laser AX and trying to gain your attention. The Alchemist 79 is no longer offered by DPS, which is a shame. According to our sources, they didn’t even sell two dozen pairs at retail. The Kästle MX74 and other MXs were replaced with a reimagined MX series. To appease one of our readers, we will be including the new MX83 in this year’s comparison. Past that, all other offerings are as good as they ever were and still deserve your consideration. But for this edition, we will revisit the reference Stöckli to set the stage before discussing the other contenders.

Stöckli Laser AX

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The Laser AX is the clubhouse leader in sales, which very well may equal all the others here combined. In a recent trip to Sun Valley, it felt like we saw more yellow skis on the hill than any other color. The sheer vast amount ... seriously, it was extremely disproportionate. What was not surprising was that it initially made sense, especially if you have ever skied Sun Valley with those long, thigh-burning groomers. Of the skis here, the Stöckli is the most common answer on SkiTalk to the question, “What ski should I buy?” and in most cases, it is the right choice -- or at least not the wrong one.
  • Who is it for? You like to play it safe. No worries, there is no better safe choice out there.
  • Who is it not for? Check the sizing, while the 167 and 175 get the lions share of love, the bookend 159 and 182's Kool-Aid is a bit watered down.
Blossom AM77

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Word is out that Blossom is no longer the wallflower it once was. The company is bringing its well-proven A-game out for everyone to see and taking on all comers. You may remember the AM77 as the White Out, but names have been changed for this season. Where Blossom has the advantage is price; it is the least expensive in this comparison, by far. Blossom’s direct-to-consumer pricing creates a significant advantage with zero compromise in performance. Very few skis, including the ones mentioned here, offer the sublime on-snow feel of the Blossoms. Blossom’s base structure is a nice chevron, and it is the best option if you want to take a ski out of the wrapper directly onto the snow.
  • Who is it for? You are budget-conscious and like tradition. You value smooooth above all else.
  • Who is it not for? Blossom who? Some still are stuck on a name.
Crosson Seventy Eight

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Crosson is new to this segment, so new that I am not sure the skis have cured 100% from the presses. The Seventy Eight is Bode Miller's concoction. In the reference 175cm length, the ski sports a 15m radius; if I didn’t know otherwise, I would have guessed it was slightly shorter than that. There is a bit of early rise to the design in both the tip and the tail and a beautifully balanced flex. What I appreciate with the Crosson is that even with its published 15m radius, it is capable of making a multitude of shapes at most any speed. I will add, the Crossons have the most beautiful base structure I have seen from a brand at any price point.
  • Who is it for? You like to make turns. The Crosson is about the turniest of the bunch.
  • Who is it not for? Pesky 10cm increments will leave some skiers in between sizes.
Kästle MX83

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Can we agree that the rumor of Kästle’s death was greatly exaggerated? Anyone who has been on the all-new MX83 will agree that it is everything and more that you would expect from an MX. Yes, although the new MXs might not be assembled in Austria, it is a Kästle through and through. The MX83 is as quiet on the snow as you would expect: smooth, damp, and refined. While the Stöckli and Blossom advertise a turn radius of 15 or so, the Kästle is slightly longer and more relaxed at 16.5 m. Base structure is one of the best of the group, too.
  • Who is it for? The MX83 is about the most versatile of the bunch.
  • Who is it not for? Hollowtech can be a little noisy in firm conditions.
Stereo Piste RS/78

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The Stereo Piste RS is the unique one here, as it is the only one that comes from the factory with a Marker piston plate. That right there shows the confidence that Stereo has in this screamer of a Norwegian missile. For the premium cost of entry along with the piston plate, you are getting a completely scaled sizing experience, so whether you are on the shortest or longest length, the ski will feel the same. If I had to describe the Piste RS/78 in one sentence, it has the feel and construction of the Augment AM77 and the ease of the Stöckli, truly the best of two skis that many feel are the reference skis.
  • Who is it for? You like speed and GS-type turns. You want a ski with no speed limit, and you are unafraid of losing your pass.
  • Who is it not for? Short turners who expect the ski to do the work. The RS/78 requires skier input.
When we get our hands on the all new Augment AM78, we will add it to the review. In the meantime, there really isn’t a bad choice in this list of skis. Just match up the attributes with what your wallet is willing to accept. Maybe find the credit card with either zero interest or 45 days to first payment and suck it up. In the long run, even a year from now, trust me, you will forget what you paid and won’t regret the purchase a single bit.
About author
Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

Replies

Phil,

Please take this reply as "I have your back" and I am looking out for you. The Crosson 78 is listed on their website for $499 and the Blossom AM77 is listed at $900. I was thinking of getting the Crosson for my wife because its such a good deal. Just FYI.
 
Phil,

Please take this reply as "I have your back" and I am looking out for you. The Crosson 78 is listed on their website for $499 and the Blossom AM77 is listed at $900. I was thinking of getting the Crosson for my wife because its such a good deal. Just FYI.
Looks like Crosson has the 78 on sale, great!
 
Great. But how about a review of the premium 68's or 65's ? Fish CT. Nord SLR. Volk Tigers. Dynastar Course ( whatever that current ski is) ... If you wanta Stockli then howz about a WRT ? I remember a really cool Kastle SL from about a decade ago and as I type a Kast GS... Does Kast make a current SL or GS ? Sub-70 is sumpin special.
 
Just read this review, I am thinking about frontside skis. However, I cannot see an article like this without thinking about a conversation I had with a young ski salesman at Hillcrest Sports in Gresham, Oregon. It was about 2005, and I was shopping for skis after taking up the sport again at age 50. I was looking at some Fischer Watea 78's, which were considered a "mid-fat" ski at that time. The salesman, who was 22 at most, told me he would never ski on anything less than 80 mm. I thought he was radical....
 

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