Individual Review Stöckli Laser SC 170cm: the ski everyone should own

dawgcatching

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Stöckli Laser SC 170cm: the ski everyone should own

Review: Stöckli Laser SC 170cm, mounted with Attack 13 demo bindings

The ski: Stöckli's Laser SC is a do-it-all frontside tool and carver. SC stands for “slalom carver” it is 72mm underfoot, 14.9m radius. The ski has a very interesting flex pattern: quite soft at the tip and tail, quite soft laterally at the tip as well (no stiffer than the Stormrider 95), and fairly stiff underfoot. On snow, this gives the skier a very progressive loading feel, predictable release, and energy on demand, without a mind of it's own.

Conditions: skied over 4 days. ½ groomers, ¼ bumps, ¼ buttery windpack and choppy snow off-piste. Groomers ranged from “hero” to soft granular with ice underneath.

Tune: out of the box. Very flat ski, tips and tails were detuned past the contact point from the factory. If anything, the edges weren't super sharp out of the wrapper, but they were good enough for this test: I didn't touch anything aside from waxing them well.

Construction: full laminate race-room layup. Typical Stöckli: beautiful grind, perfectly flat out the wrapper. The ski has 2 sheets of metal, perforated; it skis light and doesn't feel stiff whatsoever. A very approachable ski, easily the most forgiving “carver” I have had the pleasure of owning.

On groomers, the SC is simply stellar. If I am buying one “frontside” ski that is going to see a lot of groomer duty, this is the one. Even though the 170cm is somewhat short, there is not even a hint of speed limit. I can crank out SL radius turns on it, or open it up and let it drift into GS arcs. I can do drills and releases from a dead stop. I can outrun anyone on the hill. There is not a ski out there with more speed range than the SC. Very impressive. I found that this ski has “positive feedback”. It will tell me when I screwed up (technically speaking) but not punish me; it is great tool for working to improve. For example, the first couple of days I skied the SC, something was off in my skiing (has been all year). I eventually realized I wasn't aggressive enough in down-unweighting at the end of the turn and pulling my feet back to absorb energy. The ski let me know that something was “off”, but never took me for a ride. After an afternoon of some slower speed skiing and skill building, I was loading and releasing the ski much more cleanly, flowing down the hill from turn to turn, loading the tip properly, moving my feet, and I was then getting feedback from the ski that I was really setting up the new turn much better. The ski rewards good skiing, but doesn't punish bad skiing. It will push you to make better turns. The more edge angle you can generate, the more fun you will have; at low edge angles, it is a great ski too. I actually had a guy stop me today and say “man, you are ripping, so fluid. I ski a lot here, what is your name? Never seen you before on the hill....” I told him it is because I hardly get time to ski anymore!

Bumps: not too stout. The tip handles brushed turns easily. It will swivel from edge to opposite edge if you are skiing steep competition-style bumps. The SC is one of the softer carvers I have taken into a bump run: it was quite pleasing here. The tail isn't all that soft; keep absorbing those bumps, get long after compressing, drive the feet forward, and the ski will love you for it. In the instances I did get back on the tail, I found forgiveness to be moderate, probably rate it a 6/10 here. Definitely acceptable as a bump ski and much better than a full race carver.

Off-piste: in 3-4 inches of windblown new snow, cream cheese snow, and cut-up cream cheese, this ski absolutely is the tool for the job. It is fairly narrow, so you need to let the ski drop though the new snow a bit, time the unweight release when the ski is bottoming, and boom, you have a fully weightless moment as you drive those tips back down and get long to start loading the ski again. It feels like you are a dolphin, arcing through the air, fully weightless, until you dive down again. Amazing. This ski has a fair amount of energy in it, but is so forgiving for a “carver” that you wouldn't know it is a carver without looking at the ski or the dimensions. Easily could be a do-everything frontside ride. I really got it loaded at speed, fairly big angles, and the release and flow from turn to turn was unreal. It is the kind of ski that you need to use the big energy it builds to release, to flow and set up the new turn. If you do that, the SC rewards you with superhero sensations, like you can do no wrong.

In relation to my title: here is why you should own this ski (or a ski that is very similar): it will make you a better skier. I had been skiing my Motive 95's most of this year, and I love that ski. But it does mask mistakes. I can get away with a bit of a “push off to release” in junk snow that won't fly on the SC. I don't need to move my feet as actively on the 95: in crud and new snow, I can stay more static and it will ski fine You may ask “Scott, why would I want a ski that makes me ski cleaner; why not just the easiest ski I can find for the conditions?”. That is a valid point: I won't be taking the SC into a foot of heavy cement either, too much work. With that said, in the 3-4” conditions I described, the SC will reward you in a way the 95 won't. That “push-off” move? It is a defensive move, and doesn't provide me with the clean release at the end of the turn, that “flow” that is the hallmark of dynamic skiing. Likewise, the fore-aft foot position can be static on the 95, whereas feet need to be active on the SC. The reward is more weightless float and better setup of the new turn with active feet. All good skiers use that move, but the 95 allows a skier (me) to cheat in a way that gets me through the turn, but in a non-dynamic way that doesn't take advantage of the forces developed in releasing out of the old turn. In short, I end up “fighting” the mountain, whereas I would rather dance with what it provides me. We have all seen people who “fight” the mountain with poor backseat skiing and defensive techniques: often people choose skis based on the fact that they can get away with skiing poorly on that ski. I don't want to fight the mountain: it is far less fun than executing the perfect “flow” that all true experts seem to possess, which is the holy grail of skiing. Also, resorting to “cheating” techniques won't help you when things get steep and sketchy, or you encounter a steep bump run. Clean, fluid skiing is the best way to tackle expert terrain. While I wouldn't recommend skiing an SC on really steep, gnarly terrain with funky snow, I do believe that skiing a ski such as the SC in moderately challenging snow builds technical skills, rewards dynamic and fluid skiing, keeps the skier honest about not developing “crutch” moves, provides relevant feedback, and provides more rewarding turns when a turn is executed properly. It's very hard to describe until you have felt that perfect turn unweighting, unloading, a weightless and balanced feel with energy redirected down the fall line, as you get onto the new edges, perfectly set up for the upcoming turn. It's like skippering a planing sailboat: otherworldly, like you are defying gravity. Developing those movement patterns is much harder on a wider ski that has lots of rocker and a huge sweet spot built into it; those that grew up in a race program probably will never develop those bad habits, no matter what ski they are on. For the rest of us, myself at least; I am keeping a narrower versatile ski in my quiver from now on. I am a better skier because of it.

Feel free to ask for comparisons. I have skied the following brands' frontside skis in the past few months: Fischer, Blizzard, Stöckli, Head, Dynastar, Rossignol.
 

KevinF

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Nice review... I tried the Laser SX at one point last season, and I found it to be a very one trick pony in terms of terrain and desired turn shape, etc.

Looking at the dimensions the SX and the SC appear to be pretty similar, but judging by your review and my experience, they're not. What's the difference between these?
 

Josh Matta

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Nice review... I tried the Laser SX at one point last season, and I found it to be a very one trick pony in terms of terrain and desired turn shape, etc.

Looking at the dimensions the SX and the SC appear to be pretty similar, but judging by your review and my experience, they're not. What's the difference between these?
Kevin anything with those dimensions is a one trick pony. If you can ski arc to arc on consistent snow though it would work. I would never take a ski like that in eastern woods though.....
 

Tom K.

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Seems like the AX will do everything the SC will, and more?

The AX and Blossom White Out are currently at the top of my short list for new "frontside-plus" ski.
 

Philpug

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I have yet to get on these for some reason but they sound the best balance of the power of the SX and the playfulness of the AX in a nice 72mm platform. This is all good.
 
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dawgcatching

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Nice review... I tried the Laser SX at one point last season, and I found it to be a very one trick pony in terms of terrain and desired turn shape, etc.

Looking at the dimensions the SX and the SC appear to be pretty similar, but judging by your review and my experience, they're not. What's the difference between these?
I don't know exactly the differences in construction, but the SX is quite a bit stiffer. It has a very GS feel to it, stiffer all around, really have to load it up to get it working: otherwise, you will just be skiing the sidecut. Great ski, but a full-on traditional carver. The SC is much more playful. I skied it for the first time in 6" of new at Alpine Meadows back in 2010 and was super impressed how playful it was. Different ski back then, but same general feel.
 
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dawgcatching

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Seems like the AX will do everything the SC will, and more?

The AX and Blossom White Out are currently at the top of my short list for new "frontside-plus" ski.
The AX and SC are quite similar. But I like the tip of the SC over the AX. AX may be a touch more versatile, but the SC is plenty versatile to start with for what I need in a ski like this. The tip bites earlier in the turn and provides better feedback. If my needs were a shade more "all-mountain frontside ski that is a capable carver" instead of "frontside carver capable of all-mountain conditions" then I would get the AX instead. The AX is a popular teaching ski for that reason; it can be skied in any condition, slow or fast. Different shades of a similar construction. They are all very impressive skis, and I love that Stöckli gives us a great range of skis to choose from in this category.
 

Lorenzzo

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The AX and SC are quite similar. But I like the tip of the SC over the AX. AX may be a touch more versatile, but the SC is plenty versatile to start with for what I need in a ski like this. The tip bites earlier in the turn and provides better feedback. If my needs were a shade more "all-mountain frontside ski that is a capable carver" instead of "frontside carver capable of all-mountain conditions" then I would get the AX instead. The AX is a popular teaching ski for that reason; it can be skied in any condition, slow or fast. Different shades of a similar construction. They are all very impressive skis, and I love that Stöckli gives us a great range of skis to choose from in this category.
Nice review. I have the AX and it was as though you were describing that ski although I get what you are saying about the tip and versatility. I also have the SX FIS cross ski and it's more demanding at initiation, less versatilie and will carve through a glacier. The AX has a much lighter feeling and will carve/dance through a glacier. You can get a similar results but differently, each being demanding in their own way to get those good results.

You can never have too many St.
 

ARL67

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I rented an AX 175 a couple weeks ago and really liked its ski feel, and was surprised how versatile the tip was with 6" of fresh snow and chop
Though I would prefer an AX with an 18+/- radius, as I am not the guy to hammer out turns rapid fire like they AX is capable of.
The next size up from the AX 175 (15.8 rad) is a 183 (17.5 rad) , 183 seems a bit long for me.

I just see that Stöckli has updated their site with 2016/2017 skis:

SC
http://www.stoeckli.ch/int-en/produkte/ski/ski-466/laser-sc

AX
http://www.stoeckli.ch/int-en/produkte/ski/ski-466/laser-ax-29567

~ Andy
 
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dawgcatching

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yeah, they changed up the lineup for 2016/2017. The changes are minor however; more evolutionary than a redesign. If you get a good deal on a current model ski, no reason not to grab it. The current AX is sold out most everywhere however, we just ordered a few more to cover backorders and have a couple of spares, as it is a classic "spring" ski that is versatile on groomers and wonderful in corn.
 

Ben

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Nice review by the way.

I can find absolutely nothing on the web reviewing the laser gs. It comes in various lengths and I am interested in the 175, 180 and maybe the 188 though my feeling is that the 188 might be a little gs specific. Please, can someone go and test and review the laser gs and if possible make a comparison review between the gs, sc and sx.

Last year I skied on the laser gs and was so totally impressed but I can't remember the length and didn't have time to test the others mentioned above. Also, it was a boiler plate day and my worry is that, although the gs was bloody awesome in such conditions I always feel that a ski should be able to do many things well and ski well in a number of conditions at least for recreational enthusiasts like me.

All comments welcome

Thanks
 
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Ben

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I know that the 2016/17 sx has no metal in it, has it lost that Stöckli feel as a result?
 
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dawgcatching

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I know that the 2016/17 sx has no metal in it, has it lost that Stöckli feel as a result?
Hmmm, are you 100% sure on that? I skied the '17 SX in a 178cm, it wasn't a ski that should be anywhere near a run with other skiers on it. Full on freight train.
 
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dawgcatching

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Nice review by the way.

I can find absolutely nothing on the web reviewing the laser gs. It comes in various lengths and I am interested in the 175, 180 and maybe the 188 though my feeling is that the 188 might be a little gs specific. Please, can someone go and test and review the laser gs and if possible make a comparison review between the gs, sc and sx.

Last year I skied on the laser gs and was so totally impressed but I can't remember the length and didn't have time to test the others mentioned above. Also, it was a boiler plate day and my worry is that, although the gs was bloody awesome in such conditions I always feel that a ski should be able to do many things well and ski well in a number of conditions at least for recreational enthusiasts like me.

All comments welcome

Thanks

Hi,

I have skied all 3, and owned the SC and SX.

The GS really feels a lot like the SC, but with a different radius. They have the same damp, versatile carver feel. The GS was the best cheater-GS I have had in the bumps; very easy to ski, not too stiff at all. It's a friendly ski, easy to rip around the hill. I would totally buy a 175cm as a fun carver length. The 180cm is a bit more high speed, and I haven't been on the 188cm, that seems like a lot of ski. From what I felt, the SX has a bit burlier flex and isn't as fun: I would rather own a 175cm GS as a frontside fast carver than the SX. The SC is going to be a bit tighter radius but overall a very similar ski.
 

Ben

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Hi,

I have skied all 3, and owned the SC and SX.

The GS really feels a lot like the SC, but with a different radius. They have the same damp, versatile carver feel. The GS was the best cheater-GS I have had in the bumps; very easy to ski, not too stiff at all. It's a friendly ski, easy to rip around the hill. I would totally buy a 175cm as a fun carver length. The 180cm is a bit more high speed, and I haven't been on the 188cm, that seems like a lot of ski. From what I felt, the SX has a bit burlier flex and isn't as fun: I would rather own a 175cm GS as a frontside fast carver than the SX. The SC is going to be a bit tighter radius but overall a very similar ski.
Brilliant reply! Thanks
 

Ben

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Hmmm, are you 100% sure on that? I skied the '17 SX in a 178cm, it wasn't a ski that should be anywhere near a run with other skiers on it. Full on freight train.
Hmmm, are you 100% sure on that? I skied the '17 SX in a 178cm, it wasn't a ski that should be anywhere near a run with other skiers on it. Full on freight train.
I'm not 100% sure but came across this
http://www.skinet.com/ski/gear/Stöckli-laser-sx-2017
They suggest that the sx ax and cx are metal free. I think the idea of the turtle shell top sheet is to give stiffness to the ski so as to replace the metal. Would be nice to confirm this. My thoughts were that it was a cheaper way of making a ski. I could be wrong though.

IF this is the case it might make an interesting editorial (@ Phil pug) - the 'budget Stöckli'
 

Ben

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Today I went ski testing but I didn't just go ski testing, I went testing Stöckli skis!
It was a beautiful sunny day in Italy, Dolomites and I went with my list of skis to test. The piste was perfectly groomed, artificial snow.
1st up - Laser gs 180. WOW incredibly grip, incredibly stable, long sweeping curves on rails with a silkyness that screamed quality.
The ski goes faster and faster and that's great until you realize that there are other people on the piste.
2nd up - Laser sx 175. This was not the fis model. It is a nice ski, very nice and probably more versatile than the gs 180 but what it made up in versatility it lacked something indescribable - it lacked that laser gs feel
3rd up - Laser sl 170. This is very nice and I felt that I was back on something which resembled the Stöckli quality I found before. A lovely ski - balanced in short turns with the ability to carve out longer turns with a similar stability to the laser gs 180.
4th up - Laser gs 175. This is my ski! It processes all the qualities of the 180 but without the inevitable accident that WILL happen on the 180 unless you're skiing first thing in the morning on empty pistes.
Ok, I'm 45 and that might have some baring on my choice but I've been skiing all my life, put in 50 - 60 days a season and I live in the Dolomites in winter.
As I sat on the lift for my final run I thought how incredible it was that Stöckli offers so many similar skis in length, each one with slightly different characteristics and each one suited perfectly to someone. If you're interested in buying a Stöckli, you owe it yourself and the brand to take time to find YOUR Stöckli because they really are something special.
 

Ben

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As an additional note - the sx and ax have a sheet of metal in them which has a snake like cut down the middle. This gives the ski some lateral flexibility at slow speeds but when the ski starts to bend the lateral movement goes. Translated to the ski, this allows it to be more approachable and skis well at low speeds. Once you crank up the volume the ski stiffens and you get that famous Stöckli quality at faster speeds.
 

KevinF

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Tried the 170cm Laser SC out at Stowe today. The north-east has recently had a thaw / refreeze, so conditions were ice (as in, ice), snowmaking whales, an inch or two of fresh, etc. Nothing that wasn't recently groomed as ungroomed terrain is insanely icy.

Me: 6'2", 170 pounds, level 8.5.

I was impressed with the stability of the SC. Tracked really nicely through the thin layer of randomness. Edge grip was awesome. Could either make steery turns or higher-edge angle carved turns at will; the latter is definitely much more fun on this ski. Rebound felt easily controllable, but "pop" out of a turn was easily available.

Natural turn radius of the ski seemed to be a short-to-medium radius turn, but changes were available. Too crowded to really open it up and test the speed limit.

Can't really add much to @dawgcatching 's review above. I wish I had some bumps to try it out on.
 

VON

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I've got a pair of Laser SC 177's with Salomon STH13 bindings mounted for a 28.5 boot that I'd be willing to sell. Skied 5 times.

I would say the Laser SC can lock into pretty much any turn shape at Mach 10. Very stable, very damp. Forgiving, but it's got loads of energy. I was apprehensive about using a ski with a sub-19 radius, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how comfortably this ski could be pushed into longer radius turns at SPEED. It's a fantastic ski and the first one I recommend to people who want a taste of the Stöckli race-DNA flavor. The Laser AX is also great in this regard, though is more relaxed and lower horsepower than the SC. No surprise it's such a popular teaching ski, and it's the first Stöckli I recommend to people who want a taste of Stöckli quality but who are slightly older / less athletic / less aggressive / less technical of a skier than the person I'd recommend the SC to. This is in no way saying that the Laser AX can't be driven hard. It can. It's just a little lower energy.

For what it's worth, I also have the Laser SX's and have decided to keep them as the only Stöckli in my quiver besides an end-of-season pickup of the Stormrider 88 (which will serve as my relaxed day ski). That being said, I wouldn't recommend the SX to most skiers. This ski requires power and precision. It's not a forgiving ski, but is an absolute scalpel and very rewarding if you can give it the input it needs. For reference, I'm 6'4" 185 lbs East coaster from a race background - so it works for me, but I sincerely believe the SX is too much ski for most people.
 
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