• For more information on how to avoid pop-up ads and still support SkiTalk click HERE.

Preview: Stereo Skis: The Ones That Go to 11

0C4287F6-04E3-4D37-BC1E-D5F2F7770F87.jpeg
Exclusive: Premiere of Stereo Skis in the US Market

2E0DB113-BBDE-45DF-B2CD-809066E29CE4_1_201_a.jpeg
SkiTalk has become the voice of premium skis looking to make their mark, and not only in the US. With our increasing global outreach and balanced review platform, our email inbox has been very active.

There are certain people whose calls I always answer, no matter when they call, no matter what we are doing. Not only have these people earned a solid reputation in the industry, but quite frankly, I enjoy their conversation. They also attach themselves to projects of high quality. One of those people is Marshal Olson, who was one of the first to reach out to us when we launched Pugski five years ago. Marshal recently contacted us regarding the introduction of his new association, Stereo Skis.

Stereo Skis? Yes, I had to Google them too. We have been seeing an influx of high-quality European brands, but we had never heard of them, either. In my initial call with Marshal, I could feel the excitement resonating in his voice; as I was talking to him, I was looking at Stereo’s website. Norwegian. Different. Narrow offerings, but not too narrow. Unique shapes for on piste, freeride, and even touring. Hmmm. A Euro brand without a race ski? Sacrilege, right?

We are seeing some serious contenders come across the pond looking for a piece of the US market. I was adamant with Marshal and Stereo that I was unwilling to start this discussion unless the skis were truly all that and a bag of KiMS: I needed to know that Stereo was a true contender and not a pretender. Marshal expected nothing less, which is why he reached out to us; he is well aware of our readers and their level of critical views.

A couple of things on the Stereo site piqued my attention. First was the construction of the skis: the typical dual Titanal, two layers in the skis with metal, triax-braided fiberglass in the others, beech and poplar cores ... but the vulcanized rubber dampening is what got my attention. This is what keeps a ski smooth on the snow -- done right, even more than metal.
CD9D3570-64B3-4C12-A0D5-82FF17C4654C.jpeg
BC8CE8D1-7DFC-4E6D-ABD3-5FD89C1C22E0.jpeg
Another thing that caught my eye was that all the skis are scaled in size. This IMHO is something that even some of the most premium manufacturers neglect, and understandably so, because it is very expensive to create a unique mold for every size. The Piste RS/78 comes in widths of 76 to 78 mm depending on length, and the Piste V3/88, at 84, 86, and 88 mm, again depending on length. The only thing I would suggest is to use one of the middle sizes as the reference width rather than the largest. But that is really just picking nits.

Marshal was most excited to get us a Piste RS/78, Stereo’s frontside offering, which he sent in a longish 183 cm along with the Piste V3/88 in the reference 186 length.

In examining the Stereo products once they arrived, I could see that quality and finish are on par with the other premium brands we have come to respect (aka fawn over). Fit, finish, and feel are superb; where lesser skis feel like they are built, these are crafted. It's like the difference between a watch and a timepiece. Stereo got its start in wake skis before transitioning to snow skis. One of the designers, a well-known retired racer whose name cannot be mentioned yet because he is still under contract with another brand, had much influence over the mannerisms of the skis, especially the Piste RS/78.

DD7F36B3-AF45-46F2-BEE0-16DC40475983.jpeg
How many premium non-race skis come with a Marker piston plate? I can’t think of too many, but this is how Stereo is offering the Piste RS/78. As soon I heard that this ski was on its way, I started trying to source the unicorn of bindings, the Marker Xcomp 16 GW. Only a few shops in the country carry this rare binding -- a 16 DIN binding for $269 -- such a deal and GripWalk-compatible. Score.


0FFC8884-2E27-4EFE-A1A4-673DD6E7B3BF_1_201_a.jpeg
Enough of the back story: how are the skis? Well, I never had KiMS potato chips, but I imagine they are good, and I know I like regular American chips like Wise and Lays. I can't really use the term "regular" when describing Stereo skis because they are premium in every sense of the word, except price point. They pretty much split the difference between most mainstream skis and other premiums, with the Piste V3/88 coming in at tolerable $900 and the Piste RS/78 at $1200. Considering that the Piste RS comes with a Marker piston plate, that is actually lower than other skis of the same caliber, considering the Marker plate retails north of $200.
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

Stay tuned for a perspective on Stereo's offerings from the East Coast as well.... These are unusual skis built with a purpose and goal...constructed by one of the newest, freshly-equiped, all-renewable energy powered ski factories in Scandinavia.
DSC07119.JPG

From L to R: Stereo Piste RS, Stereo Piste V3, Stereo Apex
DSC07090.JPG

Stereo Piste RS Tip Detail
 
Something you may want to ask, the nomenclature RS likely has some reference towards Giant Slalom given length. So......

It will likely be described as gentlemen’s GS race, more refined, preforms as well, without the unpleasant high performance overtones, but all of the versatility of GS ski. Let me know how close I am.....
 
Marshal has good taste in skis. So, do you know if the freeride (Apex 100) has the rubber dampening layer as well? I think with the demise of the old Kastle MX line no other brand puts rubber dampening into the sandwich. Any prospects in getting them to send you a demo Apex 100 (in 186 :) )?

Judged by the shape, I like what I see the tip is very generic, with tapen but not an excessive amount of it, and the tail seems to be pretty nice with an effective edge almost up to the end. The name is a little wonky, but as long as the product is good...

And by the way, what is up with the "made in Scandinavia" label? It is not Norway, so is it Finland or Sweden? If that is, why not say that? Is that a renovated factory in one of the old Soviet block countries? They are clearly not making them in a place that they think is beneficial for their brand cachet.
 
Last edited:
I agree Marshal knows his way around the biz and has seen a large number of brands come and go through the years....

I don't believe the Apex 3 gets the same VDS rubber feature. My initials days on the Apex show it's construction, mass and resulting behaviors are really balanced and does not need the VDS dampening the GS-carvers receive to keep them quietly planted on hardpack at warp 9.75, and the Apex picks up a zesty agility underfoot in mixed snow conditions without the rubber. The choice of disclosing the manufacturing facility is always a delicate subject when several brands utilize the same factory...and it's something the owners of Stereo have definitely considered carefully. All I can say is a discussion with one of the founders of Stereo revealed they have been thinking carefully about their product and their company's entry into the market. The factory chosen to manufacture their designs has been operating for nearly 40 years and has been modernizing with several large investments in state-of-the-art equipment and processing...their products are top-shelf and produced with all-renewable energy which scores points with a bunch of ski enthusiasts. They are dead serious about producing great skis.
 
I asked this in the other thread, but not much response.

I'm curious if there is any difference in the VDS Stereo uses compared to what other manufacturers use.
 
I asked this in the other thread, but not much response.

I'm curious if there is any difference in the VDS Stereo uses compared to what other manufacturers use.
I am not sure but we will find out.
 
Marshal has good taste in skis. So, do you know if the freeride (Apex 100) has the rubber dampening layer as well? I think with the demise of the old Kästle MX line no other brand puts rubber dampening into the sandwich. Any prospects in getting them to send you a demo Apex 100 (in 186 :) )?

Judged by the shape, I like what I see the tip is very generic, with tapen but not an excessive amount of it, and the tail seems to be pretty nice with an effective edge almost up to the end. The name is a little wonky, but as long as the product is good...

And by the way, what is up with the "made in Scandinavia" label? It is not Norway, so is it Finland or Sweden? If that is, why not say that? Is that a renovated factory in one of the old Soviet block countries? They are clearly not making them in a place that they think is beneficial for their brand cachet.

Stockli uses rubber dampening in all of their sandwich construction skis.
 
I agree Marshal knows his way around the biz and has seen a large number of brands come and go through the years....

I don't believe the Apex 3 gets the same VDS rubber feature. My initials days on the Apex show it's construction, mass and resulting behaviors are really balanced and does not need the VDS dampening the GS-carvers receive to keep them quietly planted on hardpack at warp 9.75, and the Apex picks up a zesty agility underfoot in mixed snow conditions without the rubber. The choice of disclosing the manufacturing facility is always a delicate subject when several brands utilize the same factory...and it's something the owners of Stereo have definitely considered carefully. All I can say is a discussion with one of the founders of Stereo revealed they have been thinking carefully about their product and their company's entry into the market. The factory chosen to manufacture their designs has been operating for nearly 40 years and has been modernizing with several large investments in state-of-the-art equipment and processing...their products are top-shelf and produced with all-renewable energy which scores points with a bunch of ski enthusiasts. They are dead serious about producing great skis.


@Eric Edelstein -Thanks for the details. The lack of rubber in the freeride ski is, frankly, a bit disappointing. Without the rubber it is just another wood-metal laminate 100 mm underfoot ski and there are plenty of those on the market. Some have a a few other tricks up their sleeves and some are backed by the marketing muscle and dealer network of the bigger companies.
Factory... Whenever a ski brand does not disclose the country manufacture, the default suspicion is eastern block or China. Witness the recent "Austrian Technology" marking on the "new" Kastle. However, it may be a very poorly guarded secret as according to Facebook, the only ski factory in Scandinavia is Are Skidfabrik, and it does use renewalble energy (as any decent Swedish business would strive to do). This is actually good news, because I was worried that Stereo was making their boards in a converted workshop in Russian Karelia that used to make wooden sleds for peasant farmers and the Russian version of Santa :).
 
@Eric Edelstein -Thanks for the details. The lack of rubber in the freeride ski is, frankly, a bit disappointing. Without the rubber it is just another wood-metal laminate 100 mm underfoot ski and there are plenty of those on the market. Some have a a few other tricks up their sleeves and some are backed by the marketing muscle and dealer network of the bigger companies.
Factory... Whenever a ski brand does not disclose the country manufacture, the default suspicion is eastern block or China. Witness the recent "Austrian Technology" marking on the "new" Kästle. However, it may be a very poorly guarded secret as according to Facebook, the only ski factory in Scandinavia is Are Skidfabrik, and it does use renewalble energy (as any decent Swedish business would strive to do). This is actually good news, because I was worried that Stereo was making their boards in a converted workshop in Russian Karelia that used to make wooden sleds for peasant farmers and the Russian version of Santa :).


 
I'm curious if there is any difference in the VDS Stereo uses compared to what other manufacturers use.

Hello! To my knowledge, there is only one manufacturer of VDS rubber used in skis (Haberkorn), though many wholesale distributors and different dimensions to choose from. Full-width and Length VDS adds $150-200+ (the wider you go the more it adds) to the retail price of a ski, just FWIW. It is not an inexpensive material. But gosh, it sure skis nicely.


Thanks for the details. The lack of rubber in the freeride ski is, frankly, a bit disappointing.

Hey Alex, glad to chat with you on this! I would be happy to arrange a test pair of skis for you, Phil, and the Tahoe crowd to give a go. I certainly think you would like what you find here (and am also open to feedback). From my perspective, the Apex shape is a bit more soft-snow biased, but adding VDS is certainly plausible... but I also wish to note that a "Piste 98" with less tip taper, less rocker, and VDS is not out of the question as a complementary option as well. It will be fun to land which path makes the most sense.


@Eric Edelstein Factory... the only ski factory in Scandinavia is Are Skidfabrik, and it does use renewable energy (as any decent Swedish business would strive to do). This is actually good news, because I was worried that Stereo was making their boards in a converted workshop in Russian Karelia that used to make wooden sleds for peasant farmers and the Russian version of Santa :).

To be certain, yes Are Skifabrik is the manufacturer of all Stereo Skis, though some skis in the past were sourced from other Scandinavian makers. I don't know the exact details and its old history at this point, but helps give context to the broader statement's origin.
 
Last edited:
Hello! To my knowledge, there is only one manufacturer of VDS rubber used in skis (Haberkorn), though many wholesale distributors and different dimensions to choose from. Full-width and Length VDS adds $150-200+ (the wider you go the more it adds) to the retail price of a ski, just FWIW. It is not an inexpensive material. But gosh, it sure skis nicely.




Hey Alex, glad to chat with you on this! I would be happy to arrange a test pair of skis for you, Phil, and the Tahoe crowd to give a go. I certainly think you would like what you find here (and am also open to feedback). From my perspective, the Apex shape is a bit more soft-snow biased, but adding VDS is certainly plausible... but I also wish to note that a "Piste 98" with less tip taper, less rocker, and VDS is not out of the question as a complementary option as well. It will be fun to land which path makes the most sense.




To be certain, yes Are Skifabrik is the manufacturer of all Stereo Skis, though some skis in the past were sourced from other Scandinavian makers. I don't know the exact details and its old history at this point, but helps give context to the broader statement's origin.

If it's full width, then that is certainly interesting.
 
Stay tuned for a perspective on Stereo's offerings from the East Coast as well.... These are unusual skis built with a purpose and goal...constructed by one of the newest, freshly-equiped, all-renewable energy powered ski factories in Scandinavia.
Eric- Sorry for getting a bit personal, but how tall/light are you? Do you feel the longer 183 would ski significantly different than the 175 based on user weight? I am 6'/155lbs, and enjoy skiing longer skis. I am looking at the RS in 183 because my current go-to ski is a 183 R27 FIS GS ski. I too am on the East Coast, NH, and ski mostly at night on rock hard. The reason I am looking at a new ski is because I don't weigh enough to get the most out of my current skis without 100% input. The Blossom No1 GS is also at the top of my list.

Thank you for the excellent review on your webpage!
-Bob K.
 
Bob... I am 5'11" and 199 lbs (working at home and my Wife is a great cook..too many leftovers!) Personally, I would not go for the 183cm unless I lived out West with wide-open terrain all over the place. Here in VT, the 175 is right-on for me. Phil skied the 183 and can probably give you insights into how it skied...I only tried the 175 and would not change size or East coast antics. I just finished testing an Ogasaka Triun GS 180cm, so I know where you're coming from on the 183 r=27 FIS GS ski.

P.S. - Our full reviews and pics of the Piste RS/ Piste V3 and Apex are available over at the Review forum:
https://www.skitalk.com/forums/gear-reviews-and-comparisons.11/
 

Article information

Author
Philpug
Views
9,961
Comments
26
Last update

More in Gear

More from Philpug

Top