Exclusive: Premiere of Stereo Skis in the US Market

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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.
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.

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.

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.