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K2 Recon Syndrome: The Pain Is Real

KRS is real. Its effects have been felt on ski walls everywhere. What is KRS? K2 Recon Syndrome. It is when a model is so easy to ski that better skiers don’t take it seriously. It is a ski that anyone from a competent intermediate to top expert can get on and have a great day. I used the Recon because it checks all the boxes: easy to ski, huge sweet spot, fun, and unappreciated on some levels. It was a global sales success and a ski that defined a brand for years to come.

The idea for this article has been simmering in the back of my mind for a while, but it actually came to a boil because of a conversation on another forum. I was talking with a member there about the attributes of the Dynastar Legend, and I used this issue and the Recon as a point of reference. The Legend 96 and 106 were really good skis that didn’t get the respect they should have because they were so easy to ski -- ie, they suffered from KRS.

Another example of a ski with KRS is the Stöckli Laser AX, although its reputation with better skiers has not suffered yet. From my first turn on the Laser AX, I thought it had a familiar feel. Then I thought, “This is the best K2 Recon I ever skied.” I said that because it reminded me of the Recon, a ski that offered a full range of performance for a multitude of skier levels and could hold the hand of an intermediate with a good skill set and still reward a high-end skier … very much like the AX. But the difference is the Stöckli is built with the best materials (bean counters be damned), and priced accordingly. The Laser AX is the K2 Recon if the K2 designers had been allowed to throw production costs aside and build the best Recon they could. The K2 Recon was the ultimate Toyota Camry; the Laser AX is the Lexus ES350, a Camry built with the best materials. I tried to explain this to the Stöckli rep, but he didn’t really understand the analogy I was trying to make -- to the point he was almost offended. The more I tried to explain that it was a compliment, he more it got lost in translation.

As a powder ski, the DPS Wailer 112 was another ski with KRS. DPS had built its reputation for making premium boutique skis, and the Wailer 112 was its calling card, a ski that was completely recognizable because it looked like a big banana. The Wailer 112 (and even its evolutionary replacement, the Wailer 112 RP) opened up powder skiing to more people than any other ski except maybe the Rossignol Soul 7. Like the Recon, the Wailer 112 had a huge sweet spot, and the five-point sidecut and high-rise tip and tail made it the weapon of choice for any intermediate to expert on the hill.

We were racking our heads for a women’s ski and thought about the original K2 Burnin’ Luv, but that was a little redundant of the Recon. Then we thought of the Blizzard Black Pearl, very well the most successful women’s ski ever produced. The Black Pearl’s reputation over the years has been tarnished only by its immense popularity; Yogi Berra would say, “No one buys the Black Pearl any more because it’s always sold out.” But yes, the Black Pearl displays many of the symptoms of KRS.

A ski with reverse KRS was the first-generation Völkl Yumi. I say reverse in that the Yumi was an intermediate ski that actually skied well above its weight class to the point that a lighter expert women skier could go out and rip on it. So the Yumi never had the panache, but it was a little secret of a ski that built a solid virtual following, especially with the awareness that we created here on Pugski.com and Tricia sharing her love of that value-priced treasure.

Elan released a series of skis last season that are carrying over this year and check many of the symptom boxes: the Wingman CTIs and the new women’s versions, the Wildcat CXs. Elan’s Amphibio design that adds a bit of additional rocker to the outside edges makes for a ski that is exceptionally easy to ski, yet the extended edge control from the inside edge allows a stronger skier to get the most out of Elan’s top-level construction. The Amphibio concept is very subtle -- until you get back on another ski that doesn’t have it and think, “Boy, that Elan was just easier to ski; I wonder why?” Then it hits you.

These are just a few examples skis that have been very good but might not have received all the accolades they deserved or perhaps were victims of their own success. There are many others; please feel free to share skis that you think were better than what the masses perceived, about which you could say with confidence, “You are really missing out if you don’t try this ski” or "Even though that ski skied easy, I never found its limit.”
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

I agree with the point about the Wingman CTI. It's a great ski. Very well rounded and handles most conditions with no fanfare or problem. It's just not as sexy as some of the other skis out there, though it's just as good, or better, at what it is designed to do.
 
Oh, its easy for me to come up with one. The Dynastar Exclusive Legend Paradise. This ski, at 98 underfoot, was marketed as a versatile powder ski in 2011. It was made up until at least 2013, the latest graphics being more geometric and less feminine. But this ski is basically the Slicer 98.

This was such an easy ski to ski, it held a fantastic edge, had a lot of pop, and stability as well. One day I demoed the Nordica Nemesis, a 98mm wide women’s ski that received a lot of rave reviews. It felt planky and stiff. I was happy to jump back on my Paradises! I owned this ski in a 169, then sold it when it began to feel too short. I sold it to the ski instructor husband of a friend of mine, who skied it and loved it. Then it got passed on to a friend of theirs.

About a year ago I found a pair of 175’s new in plastic on EBay for $75. I bought them and had them shipped to my Maine friend whose husband had skied the original 169 cm pair. He loves them! He could care less that his 2011 version has flowers:



8A913750-4E27-4023-BE22-D67525F5E58C.jpeg

It always seems like Dynastar makes fantastic skis that just don’t grab the attention of many skiers. I also owned and skied the Dynastar Exclusive Elite Pro, which was a fantastic yet very accessible high end carving ski. (“Exclusive” was Dynastar’s designation for women). I also sold that ski to a guy. That’s one I’m sorry I let go (the skis, not the guy). ogsmile

There‘s an unused pair of the Paradise, in the geometric graphic on EBay if anyone’s interested.
 
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Oh, its easy for me to come up with one. The Dynastar Exclusive Legend Paradise. This ski, at 98 underfoot, was marketed as a versatile powder ski in 2011. It was made up until at least 2013, the latest graphics being more geometric and less feminine. But this ski is basically the Slicer 98.

This was such an easy ski to ski, it held a fantastic edge, had a lot of pop, and stability as well. One day I demoed the Nordica Nemesis, a 98mm wide women’s ski that received a lot of rave reviews. It felt planky and stiff. I was happy to jump back on my Paradises! I owned this ski in a 169, then sold it when it began to feel too short. I sold it to the ski instructor husband of a friend of mine, who skied it and loved it. Then it got passed on to a friend of theirs.
Very true. The ski also stuck around for years as the Slicer! Best part it was only $499!
 
I think the Blizzard Rustler series, specifically the Rustler 10 is also in this category. Just ridiculously easy to ski but can hold it's own on harder terrain as well.
Agreed! I skied trees with my rustler 9 in less than perfect conditions and I was going down with more speed that I would have with my Kendo and I suddenly lost control but ,by some miracle, manage to recover without involving any trees... If I had been on my kendo, I was toasted for sure...
 
The Legends are an interesting case. The x106 was one of the first skis I got after a 25+ year hiatus from skiing. I got them because I came across several reviews from different sources -- including some from pugski -- that all had the same theme: a skier was at a ski test, a pair of Legends were available, they took them out with zero expectations, and they quickly became their favorite of the day. This is probably another characteristic of KRS.

These Legends advanced my skiing more that any other skis I've owned. Lots of early tapper, tip and tail, big shovels, full camber, light weight. It's too bad Dynastar wasn't able to capitalize on this model when Elan has been successful selling a very similar formula with the Ripstick. I can't help but think that part of the problem is Dynastar being the unloved stepchild in the Rossignol family. Also, I think calling them Legends and thus comparing them to the Legend Pro 105 was a mistake. It's ironic that the 105 has survived -- a ski that is impractical for the majority of the population -- when the user friendly x96 and x106 were canceled. I haven't ridden the M-Free line yet; maybe these are just as capable.

I'd label the Speedzone as another ski with KRS. Actually, maybe any decent ski from Dynastar that hasn't yet crossed the threshold of immortality (e.g. Pro Rider, Slicer, Twister) has KRS.

Yay to the Wingmans! The 86 CTI were my second favorite skis last season!
 
Yeah, interesting article. When I moved back home to Utah after being away for a while and got back into skiing, I got a pair of used Amp Rictors. Loved those skis. Admittedly any ski I got on after being away from the sport for a while would have felt fantastic given newer technology. But I enjoyed how easy they were to ski and right away felt just how much I missed this sport.

Friends who are avid skiers wouldn't touch them because they weren't burly enough. K2 followed up with the pinnacle line, and wow I enjoy my pinnacle 88s. But again my guess is k2 didn't quite regain momentum like they hoped because those skis were again, not burly enough. While I personally don't care and choose a ski based on how much fun I have on it, most of my friends will have nothing to do with a ski that's considered too easy and not great at handling mach schnell.

Meanwhile, we just had a long debate on the Kästle forum about skis that are too burly and demanding don't sell well, with someone quoting someone at the ski shop saying that skiers want a "fun" ski. Damn this ski equipment business is hard!!
 
Great article. Two skis that I love come to mind: K2 Pinnacle 95ti - which one reviewer characterized as "stupidly easy to ski", and Aramada Tracer 98 - which is softish, light and fun with a huge sweet spot (and I like so much that I picked up a pair of the 108's too). I love both of these skis. I consider myself to be an intermediate middle of the road mellow type skier and these skis enable me to have more fun more confidently on more areas of the mountain than heavier more "serious" skis can allow (until I'm a better skier).
 
I think the Blizzard Rustler series, specifically the Rustler 10 is also in this category. Just ridiculously easy to ski but can hold it's own on harder terrain as well.

Totally agree. Rustler 10 = awesome, fun and stable enough!
 
Great article. Two skis that I love come to mind: K2 Pinnacle 95ti - which one reviewer characterized as "stupidly easy to ski", and Aramada Tracer 98 - which is softish, light and fun with a huge sweet spot (and I like so much that I picked up a pair of the 108's too). I love both of these skis. I consider myself to be an intermediate middle of the road mellow type skier and these skis enable me to have more fun more confidently on more areas of the mountain than heavier more "serious" skis can allow (until I'm a better skier).
The Tracer is definitely a winner. Armada did good.
 
add the K2 Pinnacle 88 (RIP) to that list. I loved this ski and said it was the 88 that most recreational skiers should have been on as opposed to so many other more stiff and less forgiving skis. its was stupid easy to ski but was also smooth, responsive and more than capable.
 
Interesting, fun article for sure and a lot of truth.. the Soul 7 should be on that list as well. Funny thing is, this whole category of skis (though I do like the Tracer skis and would happily tour on them) makes me ski...well.... like an intermediate. They're like driving on the highway in Japan back when there was a dinger, literally an incredibly annoying bell installed in all cars that would go 'ding........ ding........... ding....... ' whenever the speedo hit 105 kph, which was about 5 kph over the max speed limit. That said, getting comfortably from point A to B with good mileage, a cruise control, and maybe some fun cornering, manual shifting if it's a 'carver' and manageable payments is is what most want. This describes my current car to a T (even the manual bit!), but I want my skis to purr, then roar and light up when asked. :)
 
PSA_. STP has some killer deals on Pinnacle 88 and 95's.
Corbett’s - just bought 2017 Pinnacle 88 184cm / attack 13s for a little over $200 US w/ bindings mounted. And I do miss my Apache Recons that I bought on eBay for $35. Got me back into skiing 6 or 7 years back. I didn’t realize how good they were until I think about it now. Buying these Pinnacles - I want that same type of fun, easy skiing. Great article.
 
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i know this might sound crazy, but the head monster 88 and 98 have a unique characteristic of being super high performance but much easier to ski than other high performance skis. I've seen intermediates ski great on a monster 88. They might be stiff from tip to tail, but they have a huge sweet spot, and non punishing tail that releases at will. Maybe different than the topic, but somewhat interesting nonetheless.
 
Hmmm, I've never heard anyone say the Monster 98 was easy to ski.
 
Hmmm, I've never heard anyone say the Monster 98 was easy to ski.

The only time that I found the Monster 98 "easy" to ski was in boot top +2-3 inches of untracked pow. It was like skiing in heaven. That day will go down in my short list as "best ever" days
 
The only time that I found the Monster 98 "easy" to ski was in boot top +2-3 inches of untracked pow. It was like skiing in heaven. That day will go down in my short list as "best ever" days

But in all fairness, anything will ski that well and easy. :thumb:
 
Hmmm, I've never heard anyone say the Monster 98 was easy to ski.
would you say the 88 is easy to ski? personally, it was buying that ski that upped my bump skiing massively. of course, it was my first 177cm ski vs my usual 185ish.

As for the m98, although I was concerned that the 21m radius was getting to the top of my preferred TR range(18-21m), the turn initiation is so good, the edge hold great, and its stability through anything is great I didn't notice it being too long turning.

But most of all, the magic with the monsters is in their ability to hold an edge almost as well or maybe better than a kaslte mx, but release that edge or tail easily. And if released on firm snow, the great damping makes the chatter not the slightest bit harsh. The original mx series on the other hand, I could not release the tail well and thus couldnt ski bumps very well. At least that is my recollection. But I know those mx's had a punishing tail, while the monsters stiff tail never punishes me. Not sure how or why.

Suffice to say, I am buying monster 88s, 98's and 108's if anyone has any in decent condition. Preferably 2017-18 models.
 
The only time that I found the Monster 98 "easy" to ski was in boot top +2-3 inches of untracked pow. It was like skiing in heaven. That day will go down in my short list as "best ever" days

Well thank you so much for letting me feel that heaven feeling regularly by selling me yours! Sunday had 6-7" tracked out quickly and they were perfect for that day. Soft bumps, scraped off sections, railing groomers. For me, I would say, its the most versatile ski I have ever owned. Carves as good as the monster 88(and almost anything short of a carving ski), skis any single digit pow great, blasts through crud, and has a tail that releases at will and without punishment. I'm not so sure about tightish trees, I'll try them in Temerity on Friday.
 

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