2020 Stöckli Laser AR

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Philpug: This is the resurrection of a Stöckli letter combo that once was a mainstay in the Laser line. The current AX was previously referred to as the AR; now the AR moniker has returned with an all-new shape. Is the Stöckli Laser AR the love child of the AX and Stormrider 88, as some think it is? Kinda sorta but not really. If by love child you mean “quietly powerful and somewhat versatile?" I would say, Yes. The AR has neither the precision of the AX nor the playfulness of the SR 88. It is more its own ski with a solid, heavy connection to the snow, a bit more serious than the Stormrider.

Insider tip: It isn't the quiver killer you might expect, but it is a good wide charger. Available flat or with a system binding.​

Drahtguy Kevin
: Stöckli couldn’t be left behind in the wide-carver race, so it built the AR. It has the typical Stöckli feel: damp, strong, quiet, and refined. The power and predicability of a Stöckli never disappoint, but this pair was a minor exception. The tune may have been a little off, or perhaps a prior tester hit something on the pair I tested. The AR lacked the immediacy I’m used to with Stöckli. It seemed sluggish compared to most others in this class and a far cry from the Stöckli skis I'm familiar with.

Insider tip: Pay for a performance tune and reap the rewards of a well-built ski.​
Andy Mink: The Stöckli Laser AR is another premium ski in the hierarchy of the ski world. As with the Kästles, the AR is ridiculously smooth and silky. But there is more to a ski than silk, and the AR has it. It handled really well in the heavier chopped-up, late-day junk, and in bumps, too. Dubbed by Stöckli as an all-mountain racing ski, the AR sports a wider shovel than its AX brethren. The “racing ski” part is particularly noticeable as the ski flows effortlessly in turns across the groomers. The ski isn't super in powder, but the wider shovel does provide respectable float and allowed me to negotiate what was left of the overnight powder without concern.

Insider tip: Use the race heritage to your advantage on the groomers. Have fun!​
 
Who is it for?
Bigger chargers; the AR has more beef than the AX. Skiers who live 80% on groomers but demand a competent ski when stepping off to the side.
Who is it not for?
Those looking for a replacement for their Laser AX; this is a different animal. If you’re low on cash, a lot of skis will perform at 80 to 90% of the AR at a lower price. (You will miss that 10 to 20% of sweetness, though.)
Skier ability
Advanced, Expert
Ski category
Frontside, All Mountain
Ski attributes
Groomers
Segment
Men, Women

Specifications

HighFives
Available sizes
151, 161, 168, 175, 182
Dimensions
130-83-112
Rocker profile
Full camber
Construction design
All new
Binding options
Flat, System

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Noodler

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I spent the day on the 2020 Stöckli Laser AR while skiing at Taos (clocked in with almost 30K vertical skied). I skied the 175cm (16.5m sidecut). For me, this 83mm waist ski lands in the "narrow all-mountain" quiver spot. This had been a quiver category that I hadn't paid much attention to because I felt like skis in 80s weren't wide enough to be meaningful when skied off-piste, but were just wide enough to slow the edge-to-edge tipping as compared to narrower options. Well skis like the Fischer RC One 86 GT, and now the Laser AR, have really made me rethink how I view the narrow all-mountain skis. When a ski in this realm is really designed and built right, like the 86 GT and the Laser AR, it opens up a wider performance window than I originally thought possible.

Some of you may have seen my posts at the end of last season for the RC One 86 GT. I loved it and it even ended up being Ski Magazine's Ski of the Year for 2020. The Laser AR had originally received some lukewarm reviews and as noted above, the demo skis that the PugSki reviewers got on may have had a tuning issue that made it difficult to truly assess its capabilities. Luckily the demo pair I got from Le Ski Mastery in Taos were pristine and impeccably tuned. So I was able to fully assess these skis in a variety of conditions.

The demo skis had the Salomon Warden demo binding on them. This binding has a different delta than what I typically ski. This put my boot toes a bit higher up than normal (I already have a 3mm gas pedal) which in turn makes the tip engagement almost too quick and kind of grabby unless you modify your fore/aft stance a bit. My first 2 laps on the skis I found myself fighting this issue and trying to find the sweet spot. On the 3rd lap I relaxed and just skied them purely from a center stance. With the fore/aft alignment issue behind me I was able to really begin to experience just what the Laser AR is capable of.

I stuck to some groomer zoomer laps to start and get a feel for the edge engagement, edge hold, ski torsion, and rebound power. All I can say is WOW. I honestly had a "goose bumps" moment as these skis pulled some serious G-forces. This is the kind of ski that is perfectly designed for the kind of skiing I love to do on groomers. Super high edge angles were easy to attain and maintain because the ski inspired so much confidence. The edge hold was unflappable and the skis never "folded" under increased pressure or speed. They kept asking for more. I was really surprised at just how capable they were at groomer zooming. I could honestly buy these skis and be happy to never ski a narrower shorter ski again. They felt like they were almost giving up nothing to my Laser CX. Of course the 16.5m radius means that they don't have quite as quick of a turn-in, but I could easily bring them around faster when needed. I'll be getting on the Laser SC in a couple days and will be able to compare.

The Laser AR is a full camber ski. It's wider than the Laser AX and quite a different design than what the AX is built for. I will readily admit that I'm not a fan of the AX. I don't like the early rise that Stöckli put on that ski as it leaves the edge engagement "fishy" in the high-C portion of the turn. In contrast, the Fischer RC One 86 GT has more rocker than the AX, but didn't exhibit this problem for me. So I know a ski design can properly marry the sidecut and rocker profile if it's done right. None of those concerns exist for the Laser AR and I'm quite happy about that. I think the 86 GT is probably the more versatile ski in the narrow all-mountain category as it's wider and has the rocker, but having the Laser AR too would provide a lot options in a 2 ski quiver; the Laser AR with its hard-snow bias and the 86 GT being more capable in softer snow.

I also ran the Laser AR through black and blue bumps and found these skis to be a compliant and capable partner. The Laser AR could have been challenging with its full camber and wider profile, but the flex pattern and tail shape make it easy to feather the turn-in and brush turns without getting hung up. These are characteristics I absolutely must have in a ski for the moguls and the Laser AR did not disappoint. It was slinky smooth and a joy to ski in the bumps. I happened to run into another skier on the exact same skis who happened to be a PSIA RM ex-examiner (and an instructor at Taos). We had a nice chat about why he skis the Laser AR and his skiing through the moguls was some of the smoothest I've seen in a long time. Incredibly elegant and never missed a step. He really showed off just how great the Laser AR is.

Needless to say, but the Laser AR is now on my buy list along with the RC One 86 GT. For a guy with way too many skis, I can honestly say that if I only owned the Laser AR and the RC One 86 GT along with a deep snow ski (since I have to deal with low angle powder in CO), I would be perfectly happy. My wife would be much happier too. ;)
 
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PNWRod

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Nice write up and much better explanation than my feeble old brain could come up with. I do know that if you are noodling around it's a fine ski, like a lot of fine skis but if you hit the afterburners...WOW... what a ride and ear to ear grins all the way down. It is super confidence inspiring for me as it hangs on and whispers...is that all you got? It was butter through the moguls where the other groomer skis I tested the same day didn't have that same smoothness. I've had it in 6" of new snow over firm and it was super fun. We get heavy wet snow and the last time out it rained hard and I should have been on something else for off piste. It was work in the thick cream cheese but that's not the intended use (I had to test it anyway even though I knew better). Your twin tip fat boards are for that muck.
 
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Dave

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Thx for the write up Noodler. I'd also be very interested in your comparison to the SC which has been my DD for the last three years. I love everything about it but wish it was just a bit wider. I'm normally not on really consistent snow and prefer a ski with a bit more than 72 under foot in variable conditions. I own the Tartan SR95 and have been on a couple of iterations of the AX. I much prefer the SC over the AX. Everything I've read about the AR has piqued my interest but I haven't been able to try a pair. Your review just increased my stoke regarding this ski by quite a bit and I'm really curious how it might compare to the SC.
 

Seldomski

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I'm a little confused on the length sizing for this ski. Does it ski 'long'? Is this an all mountain slalom ski? Who should ski the 182 cm?

Does the 182 ski (I am 183 cm tall/210 lbs) for added float on powder days (up to 1 foot) and greater fore/aft stability on steep terrain/crud make sense? Or is it a different ski? The SR95 at 184cm felt perfect. Laser AX - I skied both 175 and 182 and was not sure which one I would prefer most often. 175 was better at lower speeds on groomers. I appreciated the 182 AX stability in more challenging terrain and crud.
 

Noodler

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I'm a little confused on the length sizing for this ski. Does it ski 'long'? Is this an all mountain slalom ski? Who should ski the 182 cm?

Does the 182 ski (I am 183 cm tall/210 lbs) for added float on powder days (up to 1 foot) and greater fore/aft stability on steep terrain/crud make sense? Or is it a different ski? The SR95 at 184cm felt perfect. Laser AX - I skied both 175 and 182 and was not sure which one I would prefer most often. 175 was better at lower speeds on groomers. I appreciated the 182 AX stability in more challenging terrain and crud.
I also ski the SR95 at 184cm. I think the length you would choose for the AR really depends on what you need to get out of it in your own quiver. For me, I think the 175cm is perfect (I'm 5' 7" 175 lbs.). It's quick enough to blast out turns on demand, but not so "twitchy" that you can't just charge doing longer radius GS turns. It really was equally aplomb at both. As I noted, it's not going to grab onto the new turn as quick as an SL ski, but it is willing to tighten up the radius as the turn progresses. I have a pet peeve about skis where some are kind of "digital"; very on/off response to the skier movements while others are more analog; infinitely variable. I like analog when it comes to how a ski handles the inputs I'm providing in a turn. I want a ski that "steers" without any abrupt over-steer while not suffering from under-steer. I find skis that over-do the torsional stiffness become very digital. You need just enough torsional stiffness for good edge hold, but if you go overboard then the ski becomes tougher to handle. Two ski brands that come to mind as being more digital are models from DPS and Faction. Hopefully this explanation makes some sense.

Regarding how I would ski the Laser AR... As I noted, I see this as a hard-snow biased narrow all-mountain ski. It's the kind of ski I would grab when I want to ski everywhere and there hasn't been any new snow for a week. If there's the possibility of some deeper softer snow, then I'd probably lean more toward something less "race-oriented" in its design and construction.
 

Noodler

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More info on the Laser AR after more laps on it today at WP.

I was able to ski the AR in both the 168cm and 175cm lengths. 175cm is absolutely the better length for me. Better stability at higher speeds while it still has the ability to pop off quick tight turns when brought up high on edge.

I skied the AR at Taos on beautiful groomers with great snow conditions. Today I took out the AR 175cm at the very end of the day; after all the Colorado "ice" was exposed on the slopes and the old surface was pushed into piles. The temp had dropped and the slopes had hardened up too. In these conditions I had been skiing lots of different skis. So many of the skis left me feeling like a "terminal intermediate". Their lack of grip, stability, and nervousness on the snow left me with little confidence to really open it up and let the skis rip. I was also really tired by the end of the day after skiing about 25K of vert. But then the Laser AR skis were back on my feet and that's when I realized just how special this ski really is. With these skis I felt practically invincible. I was tired, the snow wasn't great, but the Laser AR tamed me and the slope with such supreme capability that I'm honestly just floored that a ski this good exists. Once again, this is honestly one of the best skis I've ever skied in my life.

The moral of the story is how much a ski can bring out the best in your own skiing. The dramatic difference in my own skiing always amazes me when I'm ski testing. For the type of skiing I like to do, Stöckli has been producing winner after winner. And to continue that thought...

I got on the new Laser AX for a few laps. I want to update my thoughts because I mentioned it in my review of the AR. Today the AX really skied well for me. Maybe the previous 3 times I have tested the AX I just didn't get skis with a great tune, but the skis I tested today were fantastic. Really, really solid edge grip. Very quiet and smooth on the snow. And most important, I did not feel the "fishy-ness" at the very top of the turn that I previously have. Of course these skis were the revised 2021 version (that are now 60g lighter due to a change in the edge anchors), but I have to say that these skis convinced me that the Laser AX can be a great ski for the right skiers. I still have a difficult time figuring out where a 77mm ski with some early rise fits into the ski world, but maybe I'll even make a space in my quiver. ;)
 

USCskibum

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What exactly makes the Stöckli’s “smooth and silky”? It seems like this description is used for a few of the different Stöckli’s (i.e. Stormrider 88, Laser AX and Laser RX). What attributes help make a ski smooth and silky...weight, materials, rock/camber profile, etc. vs. another brand?
 

Plai

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What exactly makes the Stöckli’s “smooth and silky”? It seems like this description is used for a few of the different Stöckli’s (i.e. Stormrider 88, Laser AX and Laser RX). What attributes help make a ski smooth and silky...weight, materials, rock/camber profile, etc. vs. another brand?
Don't know about construction, but whenever I drop my AX at the beginning of the day.... Oh, the sweet thump, rather thin twang of other brands. It just feels more solid and satisfying.

YMMV
 

Noodler

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What exactly makes the Stöckli’s “smooth and silky”? It seems like this description is used for a few of the different Stöckli’s (i.e. Stormrider 88, Laser AX and Laser RX). What attributes help make a ski smooth and silky...weight, materials, rock/camber profile, etc. vs. another brand?
Of course it's a combination of things; design, materials, construction. There have been discussions that there is something that Stöckli clearly does different in the way they construct their skis. They don't have sole domain over this as other brands have their own "good" feels too, but what I find that truly differentiates the special ones is how a ski handles bad snow / tough conditions. Many skis can feel pretty good on the snow when the snow is great, but how do they feel when it's icy, cruddy, scraped off, etc.? Stöckli's skis can make bad snow days feel like the snow is actually much better than it is.
 

TahoeWarrior

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I just skied the AX in a 175 for nearly a full day at Squaw, and then the AR also in 175 for 1/2 a day. Conditions were firm in AM and soft mid day. Loved both! For comparison, I popped onto the SR88 for an hour or so, solid ski for sure but didn’t speak to me as much as the sporty race and shorter radius of the AX and AR....the SR is a different category.
I’m pretty sold on either the AR or AX as a front side ski quiver. I have a playful 102 underfoot Bilzzard Rustler as my daily driver/off piste and play ski. So to add, I’m torn between the AX or AR (never owned a ski under 100) and honestly might just go with whichever I find at a better deal? I might prefer the AX a hair as it felt slightly more playful in terms of bouncing from turn to turn. The AR felt like it has more beef...
The other dilemma is at 41 years, 5’7 140lbs, the 168 vs the 175 I skied might be a better fit...?
love this tread as it’s so relevant to me...
 

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Tony S

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The other dilemma is at 41 years, 5’7 140lbs, the 168 vs the 175 I skied might be a better fit...?
love this tread as it’s so relevant to me...
I'm exactly your size, though 16 years older. In this category of ski, a 175 is a lot. I'd lean toward the 168.
 

TahoeWarrior

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I'm exactly your size, though 16 years older. In this category of ski, a 175 is a lot. I'd lean toward the 168.
Thanks Tony. As stated, I demo’d the 175 in the 2020/2021 barely releases version and it felt very good, but yes, 168 might be a better fit....
 

markojp

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FWIW, IMHO, the AR may be hands down the best sub 90 ski currently on the market, perhaps by a full order of magnitude. @Philpug , you remember when you asked me how I liked the Z-90, and I said, "great ski, but I'm going back down to get my Monster 88's" ? (And Phil says, "you're dead to me.") Well, this is the ski I don't change out. Smooth, great edge grip, a bunch of turn shapes, etc.... Is it worth the full retail price tag? This is a first for me. I dare say yes for the right skier.
 

Noodler

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I just skied the AX in a 175 for nearly a full day at Squaw, and then the AR also in 175 for 1/2 a day. Conditions were firm in AM and soft mid day. Loved both! For comparison, I popped onto the SR88 for an hour or so, solid ski for sure but didn’t speak to me as much as the sporty race and shorter radius of the AX and AR....the SR is a different category.
I’m pretty sold on either the AR or AX as a front side ski quiver. I have a playful 102 underfoot Bilzzard Rustler as my daily driver/off piste and play ski. So to add, I’m torn between the AX or AR (never owned a ski under 100) and honestly might just go with whichever I find at a better deal? I might prefer the AX a hair as it felt slightly more playful in terms of bouncing from turn to turn. The AR felt like it has more beef...
The other dilemma is at 41 years, 5’7 140lbs, the 168 vs the 175 I skied might be a better fit...?
love this tread as it’s so relevant to me...
I think you did an amazing job of nailing the difference right out of the gate. I skied these skis back-to-back-to-back (albeit the 2021 versions). The AX does have a more playful character with a surprising amount of rebound popping from turn to turn. The AR is much more of a beefy ride, but without feeling slow and heavy; just really solid.

I've got 30 lbs. on you and I would take the 175cm in either. I did test them both in 168cm and that's too short for me for the purposes I would use these skis for. The AR in 168cm gave up some of the power and grip for me. In 175cm it still turns quick enough for me. The AX in 168cm started feeling almost like a "toy" to me. Would be way fun blasting some moguls, but everywhere else I would be missing the added stability from the 175cm length.
 

USCskibum

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I think you did an amazing job of nailing the difference right out of the gate. I skied these skis back-to-back-to-back (albeit the 2021 versions). The AX does have a more playful character with a surprising amount of rebound popping from turn to turn. The AR is much more of a beefy ride, but without feeling slow and heavy; just really solid.

I've got 30 lbs. on you and I would take the 175cm in either. I did test them both in 168cm and that's too short for me for the purposes I would use these skis for. The AR in 168cm gave up some of the power and grip for me. In 175cm it still turns quick enough for me. The AX in 168cm started feeling almost like a "toy" to me. Would be way fun blasting some moguls, but everywhere else I would be missing the added stability from the 175cm length.
Any more thoughts/input on the Laser AR? At 6’2” - 230lb...I’m interested in getting on the 182’s. Sounds like the Laser AX or AR & Stormrider 95 could be a fun 2-ski quiver?
 

Noodler

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Any more thoughts/input on the Laser AR? At 6’2” - 230lb...I’m interested in getting on the 182’s. Sounds like the Laser AX or AR & Stormrider 95 could be a fun 2-ski quiver?
What part of the country are you in? What's your home mountain?
 

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