Individual Review 2020 Ogasaka TC-LK Technical Competition Carver

Eric Edelstein

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Ogasaka TC-LK 182cm 2020-2021
104-66-87 r=24.2m @182cm


Manufacturer Info:

Ogasaka Ski Co., Ltd.
653 Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan
Phone +81-26-226-0678
FAX +81-26-228-4857
https://www.ogasaka-ski.co.jp/

U.S. Importer:
Fast Ski Sports
437 Old Mammoth Rd #120
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Phone +1 760-934-4447
https://www.fastskisports.com/
[email protected]

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

$1319.99 usd (with SR585 plate - no binding)

Usage Class:

Long-radius frontside technical carving

Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")

8-9 This is essentially a civilized, shorter-radius version of a narrow GS race ski with a less-demanding, yet dead-serious purpose for technically excellent skiers

Background:

Ogasaka ski company started making skis in 1912...so as of 2020, it is a 109 years old and still making skis...perhaps the largest ski company in Japan...so they must be doing something right. Ogasaka is relatively unknown in North America, even if they make a full range of very modern, high-quality racing, technical carving, recreational and junior models (nearly 60 models by a count of their catalog in 2020).

The Ski Assocation of Japan (SAJ) hosts a technical competition series with intense regional and national championship rounds judging competitors on technical prowess and execution (not racing). This can include technical judgement of mogul, short-radius, long-radius and even off-piste ski techniques and apparently it is very serious and very prestigious in Japan. Ogasaka creates an entire series of "Technical Competition" (TC) skis in short, medium and long radius designs in various lengths for skiers participating in these competitions, and they have found a fanatical following not only for the Technical Championships, but for recreational, highly technical carving enthusiasts around Japan. We were lucky enough to get test skis of the TC-SK (short radius 11.8m), TC-MK (medium radius 18.1m) and TK-LK (long radius 24.2m) models.

For the best insider-details into the Japanese Technical Ski competitions:
https://www.paullorenzclinics.com/post/japan-s-technical-competitions-exposed

What if you took today's SL and GS racing skis and defanged them a little to make them less demanding, less explosve, less tiring, easier to engage, slightly lighter, yet retained their narrow waist (less than 70mm), intense grip, powerful acceleration and carving geometry? You would get something unlike the explosive, high-tension "race carvers" for rowdy beer league antics, but refined, specialized carving instruments designed to etch carved turns into firm, groomed surfaces at high levels of precision and power. These are not all-mountain carvers with slightly rockered tips and/or tails weighing in at 75-95 mm underfoot, but dedicated instruments to execute carved turns from technical specialist on firm surfaces at speed.

Manufacturer's Description:

"Technical Competition Long turn model. Re-designed sidecut and radius coupled with newly adopted base structure and bevel angle assure dynamic sharp-turns. Advanced ski tip deflection ensures quick turn initiation and powerful acceleration at turn end."

Technical Ski Data:

"NF Light Wood Core" rumored to be a blend of Chinese paulownia, Japanese wing nut, North American poplar, North Americanm Maple and Japanese beech depending on the model...exact core specs not available. Proprietary core curing techniques are used...some sources indicate cores are dried in a controlled environment for 3 years before assembly. AL7178 (aluminum alloy) sheet(s), Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (F.R.P) & F.R.P (ZTC) (zeolite templated carbon), Rubber Sheet

Base edge angle = 0.55°, side edge angle = 1.5°

Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:

Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo with Ogasaka SR585 11mm riser plate



Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots


Lange RX 130 boots


Green Ice Waxes

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Like the other Ogasaka ski models we tested, this pair was stunningly assembled, superbly finished, precisely race-tuned and given a nice base grind pattern and even waxed out of the box. These came premounted with the Ogasaka SR585 riser plate (11 mm) and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings. Hefty, but not heavy feeling, although it "feels" like a hardwood core carving tool. Rock-solid torsional flex and quietly damp and controlled rebound to hand flexing. Flex is softer than the full-on racing GS model, but still firm throughout the body from tip to tail, but nicely balanced demonstrating a rounded arc shape with no hinge points. Like the TC-SK short-radius model, it feels and looks like the offspring of a racing GS ski that dropped out of school to chase technical carving titles. It's definitely a ski intended for the business of etching lines into hardpack under high edge angles at high speed. Somewhat demanding (but less so than a full-on GS race ski) to drive constantly into its high-performance zone, and it might send you looking for a different pair of skis at lunch time if you're not in shape. Very subdued, business-like graphics with a touch of cool blue accents on the topsheet and blue sidewalls. Nicely textured topsheet looks like it would take nicks and cuts well and age well. These skis gave the impression of high quality craftsmanship and precision rarely found in other brands.

Test Conditions:

Eastern U.S. hardpacked artificial snow, packed powder corduroy, yellow boilerplate, cold granular sugar with death-cookie ice chunks, cold, skied-out early season granular on top of boilerplate.

Summary:

The Ogasaka TC-LK is a dead-serious, large-radius GS carver capable of intensely precise carving behaviors and surprisingly powerful acceleration in a damp, connected manner on hard surfaces. Superbly quiet on-snow without feeling dead or overly damp, it instills confidence and has a deep reservoir of energy and power on-tap. It prefers gradual and increasingly intense edge angles and pressure to generate a 24-meter radius of carved etchings into the snow at a variety of medium to semi-high speeds with a professional delivery and laser-like grip onto the snow surface. This is the real deal and feels refined in its purpose and personality. Wider performance envelope and lower top-speed than a dedicated GS racing ski, but capable of gripping intensely with exciting acceleration like a race ski with (a little) less effort and mandatory attention to keep control. The TC-LK is a brilliant ski designed to deliver superb grip and high-performance technical acuity for long-radius carving afficianados who don't need a full-on "race ski". Addicting and best suited for highly proficient technical experts who know what they're doing...but not for softish snowpack since it is so narrow. Closest thing to a 30-meter radius GS race ski but with a 24 meter radius in 182cm length to make it work on more typical resort runs. This is a rare item with an appeal to a limited population of large-radius technical carving enthusiasts.

Hardpack and Boilerplate:

The Ogasaka TC-LK's natural habitat (being 66mm underfoot) is hard snow, and that's where it reveals its true personality as a tool to execute a variety of long radius carved turns with deft precision, solid confidence and high-performance acceleration. Vibration control is excellent across roughed-up, rutted or cat-tracked boilerplate surfaces, resulting in quiet, continual edge contact without feeling heavy or deadened. Feel for the surface conditions through the ski is excellent, even with the SR585 riser plate and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings mounted to our test pair, so you always know what the density and condition of snow underfoot is. You don't feel as if you are isolated from the snow, but instead you feel well-informed about the condition of the surface. While you can run the TC-LKs flat without feeling nervous or twitchy on firm snow, they are eager to be tipped on-edge and pressured, where they become laser-focused and pull their chassis across the hill intensely under increasing acceleration. Don't get into the back seat on the Ogasaka TC-LKs...you really don't want to be there because they have a surprisingly powerful acceleration out of the loaded turn and can take you for a long ride on an unwavavering, locked-in edge when you're not paying attention. This is precisely what makes them addicting. The big difference between the TC-LK and its pure racing GS sibling is the TC-LK does not demand you commit to a major, 30 meter radius trajectory. The 24 meter radius is its sweet spot, and forcing it tighter results in a contest of strength between the ski and the pilot. While the GS race model has a higher speed and pressure intensity tolerance at speed than the TC-LK, the TC-LK can begin laser-like carving behaviors at lower angle and pressure levels and requires less management effort throughout the trajectory...but can feel a little loose at highest speeds if not piloted with attention. Dead-quiet vibration control without feeling too heavy..but it's no lightweight.. there is mass underfoot and it feels good. This ski can be thrilling, but requires a strong hand at the helm so you don't lock yourself into an unwanted direction at high speed under pressure. It can be deadly serious when needed, like the full-blown GS ski, but can be skied under less pressure. Some beer league racers might choose the TC-LK over the GS race model if they are lighter weight or less prone to working out 5 days a week in the gym. Ogasaka's TC-LK is an excellent example of what a state-of-the-art long-radius carver can be when you don't want a full-on GS race ski.

Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:

The TC-LK was expectedly intense in cut-up snow conditions, holding an unwaveringly large arc through whatever surface we drove it through, but its narrow dimensions resulted in some "sinking feelings" along its length (it's only 104-66-87). You don't buy this kind of ski for mixed snow conditions...it is designed to ski "on firm snow" instead of "in snow"...but if you drive it, it ignores any irregularities in the surface conditions with zero deflection, zero twitch, zero wobble...nothing but rock-solid, powerful arcs on the trajectory you set. While skiers with 1-oh-something width skis with rockered tips and tails might surf and flap through mized conditions at speed...the Ogasaka TC-LK tracks like someone bent a locomotive rail into the snow and decided to ride it at speed to prove a point.

Powder Conditions:

Not tested.

Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The TC-LK is a little balky to initiate turns at slow speeds, and until you get some velocity going, the TC-LKs can feel a bit reluctant. As soon as you hit the magic combination of speed and edge angle, they sink a laser-like bite into the surface along their length and ask you to deliver serious attention to the job at hand, and that is to deliver pressure into the body of the ski and hold it into a deliberate and increasingly accelerating carve without hesitation. While you can pressure the TC-LKs into a long-radius turn without intently focused deliberation, they really want a master at the helm to flex them into an intensely pressured arc and deliver the full sequence of initiate-drive-achieve_apex-release-and-transition. If you ski them lazy and only complete some of steps of the carving sequence, the Ogasakas feel like they have been cheated out of their destiny. Ski them with deliberate concentration, execution and dedication to the task of laying intensely-held arcs at speed into the surface. The security and confidence throughout the sequence is impressive and achievable for less-than-professional technical skiers, and this is a ski to take you to the next level of mastering high-speed GS carving. The finish of a turn on the TC-LKs can be surprisingly powerful if you load them up and release the tension built up in the belly of your arc. If you get in the back seat on these skis and drop your guard after loading them into an intense arc, you might end up in the weeds..or worse. These are professional-level carving tools meant to execute their craft at high speed, high radius conditions like a race ski...but with more finesse and precision along a wider speed envelope than full-on GS skis.

Manufacturer's Mounting Position:

Factory-specified mount with the SR585 plate and FreeFlex 14 bindings was right on the money.

Analogies: ("This ski is like...")

A race horse specifically bred to deliver Preakness-level performance with a slightly more forgiving personality for mere mortals.

Notable Tester Comments:

Brian Finch:

Only spent a couple runs on the TC-LK. What I found was that they were too long to short swing and when I took them up to speed they just folded.

This was obviously my least favorite of the five Ogasaka skis I tested. It’s also the one that I think has the least market share to go after. I am hard-pressed to picture who would be a good partner for this set of sticks.

Footnotes, all of the skis were tested with the Lange RX 130 low-volume boot, additionally the carvers were skied with the Lange (DIN) and a DeBello Lupo HD with grip walk soles.

Quick Comments:

Slightly curvier, (slightly) less-demanding, more civilized GS carver than Triun GS race.
Dead-quiet feel on the snow... no vibration, no buzz...just intense grip and acceleration.
More tolerance to drifting than Triun GS..but not much. Be serious when you ski the TC-LK.
Craves to sit in its radius under pressure all day long. Don't ask it not to.

Things I Would Change About This Ski:

Nothing.

Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":

If you crave long-radius, high-speed carving capabilities of the highest level without going into race-ski territory, this is the answer.

What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?

Technically nerdy carving afficiados who want to test and refine their skills will love the TC-LK.
Ex-racers who still want the grip and intensity of hard-carving of their race skis but don't need the intense demands and higher top speed of a race ski all day long will eat these up.
Beer league racers who don't want to drive a pure racing GS ski will fine a home with the TC-LK.
Advanced intermediates who want to take the next stage of development into real carving may feel out-gunned with the TC-LK and may want to try the MK or SK models instead.

Advice To People Considering This Ski:

This is a dedicated, specialty ski for technically proficient experts intent on carving firm, groomed surfaces at high speeds...the harder the better. If you want an all-mountain ski, look elsewhere.

Other Reviews:

None found.

Pics: (click for larger versions)


Left-to-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK, Triun SL, Triun GS, E-Turn 8.6

From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-LK, TC-MK, TC-SK

From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK

Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK tail shapes

Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK forebody shapes

Ogasaka TC-LK Tip Detail

Ogasaka TC-LK Tip Detail

Ogasaka TC-LK SR585 riser plate

Ogasaka TC-LK SR585 sidewall detail

Ogasaka TC-LK SR585 tail detail​

Ogasaka TC-LK SR585 topsheet texture

Ogasaka TC-LK SR585 tail detail


 
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