Testing skis so you don't have to.
- Mar 5, 2017
Sizes: 159, 167, 175, 183
Size tested: 175
Ron: (from last year) The new AX represents the new class of narrow all-mountain skis. It has a very unique build with softish, slightly rockered tips but is quite stiff torsionally. Moving down the ski, it is fairly stiff underfoot with thick sidewalls and ample camber. It features a more traditional tail (slightly rounded but flat-ended) that is slightly turned up with no rocker. It does what no other ski in this class can do. The tip becomes very stable when tipped on edge and pulls you into a turn like a true carving ski. The AX is eerily stable and quiet at speed, too. Taking it into softer snow like bumps and piled-up groomers, its softer tips absorb and rise up just enough. It just slices through push piles like the proverbial hot knife through butter. It can stand up to skis much wider with more rocker. I did find that the bindings may need to be moved forward just a touch. Overall this ski is fantastic! (I own it now.)
- Who is it for? Advanced intermediates and up who like the feel of a narrower ski for all-mountain conditions including boilerplate carving up to a few inches of fresh.
- Who is it not for? You would be surprised just how versatile this ski is! Those with aversions to four-digit prices just need to wait for a used pair -- but it will be worth the wait.
- Insider tip: Demo first to be sure of the mount point; the 175 skis like a 178.
UGASkiDawg: A Stöckli rocketship! The Laser AX is one of the finest skis I have ever put on my feet. I rode it at the SIA test two years ago and loved it then; I love it even more now. This is mostly because my tastes have evolved: I was previously looking for a strong one-ski quiver candidate, and the Kästle FX95 HP narrowly edged out the Stormrider 95. Now I’m looking to fill out a two-ski quiver, and this ski will be my narrower everyday ski along with a One Oh Something for the deeper days.
- Who is it for? People who like to have fun and spend money.
- Who is it not for? Beginner-level skiers and people who don’t like to pay top dollar.
- Insider tip: Raid the kids' college fund and/or your retirement accounts! Disclaimer: I make suggestions, you make decisions.
Sizes: 149, 156, 163, 170, 177
Size tested: 170
Ron: Although I read comparisons to the Stöckli Laser AX, the SC is a step up in performance and certainly less versatile. "SC" stands for "slalom carver," and that description befits the ski perfectly. The SC is ultra-precise and ultra-fun. Just think about engaging the tip, and you're on your way to G-pulling turns and a huge grin. Despite this, it isn't overly stiff or brutish and can be skied by anyone with skills. I wouldn't want this ski for anything else but digging trenches, but it's also happy making GS turns or just playing around seeing how close you can get your hip to the ground. Smooth, damp, and stable. Got the chops? Buy it.
- Who is it for? Racers or those with the technical skills worthy to ski it the way it begs to be skied.
- Who is it not for? If in doubt, the answer is not you.
- Insider tip: Do you want more carving and less versatility? SC. Do you want good carving and more versatility? AX.
Stöckli Laser SX
Sizes: 149, 156, 163, 170, 177, 184
Size tested: 177
Doug Briggs: Here we have another solid-performing Stöckli product. Turns on the Laser SX are smooth and easy, and you can vary their size to anything you want. There is a level of precision here that mortal skis just do not have.
- Who is it for? Skiers that demand performance from their skis.
- Who is it not for? The meek, but then again, thats why there is the AX
- Insider tip: Do you really need that second born either?
Stöckli Scale Beta
Sizes: 152, 162, 172, 182
Size tested: 162
Tricia: As with any Stöckli, the Beta Scale delivers the precision that you’d expect. What sets it apart is the sporty feeling you get whether you’re making medium- or long-radius turns. This is the ski that makes Stöckli accessible to the advancing skier.
- Who is it for? The skier who wants Stöckli precision without the demands of the Laser lineup.
- Who is it not for? The budget-minded.
- Insider tip: If you want little more kick in the butt, consider the Stöckli Laser SC.
Sizes: 155, 165, 175, 185
Size tested: 175
UGASkiDawg: I got on this ski at the behest of @Tricia, and I’m glad I did. (Of course, one almost always says that when the ski underfoot is from Stöckli.) It is a frontside-oriented all-conditions ski with that sublime Stöckli snow feel.
- Who is it for? Skiers looking for technically competent narrower one-ski quiver with a traditional shape.
- Who is it not for? People without lots of cash.
- Insider tip: Demo.
Stöckli Stormrider 88
Sizes: 168, 177, 186
Size tested: 177
Design: All New
Philpug: Stöckli went back to the drawing board after one model run of the recent Stormrider 88. This is unusual for a manufacturer, especially a premium builder that has less margin of error when building a ski (particularly in a financial sense). Stöckli decided that the lightweight balsa core was just not enough for a ski called "Stormrider," and in this category for sure.
On to the new ski. Thank you Stöckli for bringing back what I expect a Stormrider to be. Honestly, a premium ski doesn’t need to be for everyone, and the SR 88 has had its backbone returned and wants to charge again. There are plenty of skis for solid intermediates; the Stormrider needs to be earned, and the new one raises that bar up again.
- Who is it for? Skiers who want refinement but still want to charge when in the mood.
- Who is it not for? The new SR 88 will expose your weaknesses as a skier, so unless you are comfortable with that.
- Insider tip: For the "who is it not for" crowd, find yourself a 2017-18 model.
FairToMiddlin: For about four years now, Stöckli has been churning out a very refined, very easygoing SR 88. When it first came out, I thought it was one of those capable skis that nevertheless took it easy on you, not urging you to pour every ounce of oomph you have into each turn (unlike the potent Völkl RTM 86). If you can remember back another four or so years beyond that, the Stormrider name did not bring such easygoing thoughts to mind.
The rep in the tent hinted that Stöckli felt it had gone a bit too far, however, and sought to remedy that for 2019. What it ended up with was un-accessiblizing done right; the incoming SR 88 is stellar.
Compared to the current/outgoing SR 88, next year’s ski is more aggressive, responses to input are more immediate, there is more power in the ski underneath your feet. And yet it didn’t feel like there is an equal increase in its neediness. This is not a ski that will wear you down; you won’t be grunting like Monica Seles as you navigate through crud, bumps, or trees. Instead, almost anything feels possible: stuff it into unknown piles of snow with confidence, and make turn shapes bigger or smaller than its stated radius. So easy was the latter, I would have tried the next size up (if they had it). I bet it would have been a pleasure.
- Who is it for? Anyone will feel like a rockstar on this.
- Who is it not for? Non-rockstar-aspiring peeps.
UGASkiDawg: A one-ski-quiver candidate with enough but not too much tip rocker, the SR 88 skis more traditionally than, say, the Kästle FX series but still has that playful feel off piste. It was easy to drive in every condition that I could find but still able to rip on the groomers once you found the sweet spot.
- Who is it for? If you are looking for a narrower one-ski quiver for western conditions, this is your ski.
- Who is it not for? People who want a one-trick pony.
- Insider tip: Like all Stöcklis, this one deserves a demo even if you aren’t going to buy just so you’ll know what the hype is all about.
Ron: Stöckli made a surprisingly quick change to the 2019 Stormrider after some felt the 2018 version was too soft with the lightweight core. I can't say, as I didn't ski the old 88, but this version felt stable, solid damp, precise, and responsive with an even and predictable flex like all of the other Stormriders -- which is to say, it's a superb ski. I have to admit, I am addicted to the feel and performance of Stöcklis. I skied the 88 immediately after the 95 on the same run to experience the difference. Although the 88 is obviously 7 mm narrower, I can't say that it's monumentally quicker than the 95. It was quicker but not all that much quicker, and a bit more precise which makes me wonder if anyone really "needs" both the 88 and the 95. I own the Laser AX and the 95, and I would think you could own the Laser AX and the 88 (as long as you own the Laser AX, of course) as a top-tier all-mountain duo.
- Who is it for? This is another ski for those with skills and who can appreciate what goes into this ski and why it is priced where it is. Stöcklis are simply superb skis.
- Who is it not for? Those who are looking for "just a ski."
- Insider tip: Decide whether you need a 95 or an 88.
Stöckli Stormrider 95
Sizes: 157, 166, 175, 184
Size tested: 175
Design: New Construction
Doug Briggs: I really liked this ski as it is quite similar in style to my own 2018 K2 Pinnacle 88s. The width makes them a strong off-piste ski that can work the groomers with ease. In typical Stöckli fashion, they are sturdy, strong, and responsive.
- Who is it for? Me. Seriously, though, the SR 95 could easily be a one-ski quiver for someone who needs to deal with natural conditions and groomers.
- Who is it not for? Those with deep pockets and short arms.
- Insider tip: It is Stöckli on 95mm skis, need I say more?
Ron: Disclosure, I own this ski. The Stormrider is an uber-smooth, stable, and rather easy (relatively) ski that performs in a wide range of conditions. The tips are fairly soft, but the ski stiffens progressively until its stiff underfoot and then the flex tapers out to a moderate flex at the tail. There's a surprising amount of low splay rocker in the tips and the 184 doesnt ski as long as you think. It's eerily quiet and stable and has no speed limit that I could find. Despite this, it is happy at almost any turn shape and the slightly turned-up rockered tail can be released easily for good handling in bumps, trees, and steeps. It smooths out rough snow and crud superbly. On soft groomers it's an absolute joy to ski as its GS roots shine: bring it up on edge and go for a ride.
One thing I have to stress is that in my opinion, some of Stöckli's suggested mount points are too far back. Yes, you can adjust to them, but I have found that moving them forward even 5 mm can make a significant difference in the responsiveness and maneuverability of the ski. This was echoed by my local ski shop, which suggested trying them forward after their own testing experiences.
- Who is it for? Advanced intermediates and up with skills or serious about building their skills.
- Who is it not for? It is still most happy off piste or in bumps and trees, so don't buy it just for the front side.
- Insider tip: Demo first and have the tech cheat you forward +1, or two clicks on the demo bindings, for added quickness and tip engagement.
SBrown: (from last year) I can’t compare the SR 95 to any previous generations, but apparently it has been stiffened up a bit over the previous version, and the carbon tip inserts removed. Still, I found the tip to be supple in moguls; groomers at speed were silky smooth. Just wow. This length was just fine for me on groomed, but I'm not sure what off piste would be like.
- Who is it for? Whoever, the performance range seems to be vast.
- Who is it not for? All of us on a budget.
- Insider tip: Can’t decide if I like the little tartan graphics or not.
UGASkiDawg: (from last year) I loved the previous version of this ski in the 183, so I was excited to get out on the new version. I definitely would have preferred the 183 but all they had was the 175. Still, this thing is money. Like all Stöcklis I have been on, it just executes what is asked of it with no fuss. An all-mountain scalpel that is user friendly without any loss of power or precision, the SR95 has that supple feel that connects you to the mountain. Every time I get on it, I start rethinking my decision to buy the Kästle FX95HP; this is the only ski to ever come close to doing that. I could have this ski as the holy grail of the one-ski quiver and be perfectly happy in all conditions.
- Who is it for? Anyone who loves skiing!
- Who is it not for? People who don’t like paying a premium for a premium ski.
- Insider tip: Size up!
WomenStöckli Laser MX
Sizes: 144, 150, 156, 162
Size tested: 156
Design: All New
Tricia: The first thought that came to mind when I was getting set up on this ski was, “That seems short for me.” But I have to tell you, the minute I started skiing it, all I could think was, "OMG, this ski was meant for me!" At 65 mm underfoot, the precision and smoothness is unmatched for any other ski I had the fortune of skiing this season. I sincerely didn’t want to give this ski back to the rep. In fact, I took it out at Copper, Mammoth, and Snowbasin just because I could!
- Who is it for? A woman looking for a premium, precise carving ski.
- Who is it not for? Budget-minded skiers and off-piste explorers.
- Insider tip: Don’t be afraid to go a little shorter.
SkiNurse: I don't think there are enough adjectives to describe this ski. Smooth and responsive. It seems to predict what you want to do next. Slow turns, it wants to cruise. High speed? More, please.
- Who is it for? Anyone who wants a pure ski
- Who is it not for? No one. Sell your children to buy this.
AmyPJ: Holy moly, what a friendly little sports car! I was really nervous to ski these, because they just LOOK like a supercharged race ski. Well, they are in a way, but they are also a barrel o’ fun and really easy to ski! If Santa or some elves brought me a pair, I’d be a happy lady. They are just so easy to turn, and smooth like nothing I’ve ever skied on. SUPER confidence-inspiring! I want a pair!
- Who is it for? You, me, and everyone else. Someone who desires the feel of a premium carving ski, and has the budget to purchase said premium carving ski.
- Who is it not for? A powder snob who only skis on powder days.
Stöckli Stormrider Motion 85
Sizes: 153, 161, 168
Size tested: 168
Design: New Construction
Tricia: This new rendition of the Stöckli Stormrider Motion 85 is a winner in my book. While the previous version of this ski was super fun and amazingly smooth, this version has all of that but with a slightly new shape to make turn initiation a little easier. There isn't much else to say except Stöckli smoothness always prevails.
- Who is it for? A woman skier looking for an all-mountain ski with a premium feel from first chair to last call.
- Who is it not for? It isn't budget-friendly unless you can find a killer end-of-season sale.
- Insider tip: Enjoy!
AmyPJ: Color me another Stöckli fan. These felt a little slow edge to edge at first, but DUH, I’d just skied a 65mm sports car (aka the Stöckli Laser MX mentioned previously). Once I relaxed on these and let them cruise, I really liked them. Smooth and easy to turn, with a serious yet relaxed side to them. I’d love to ski these back to back with my Black Pearls, which are more playful yet not as smooth.
- Who is it for? An intermediate to advanced skier who wants a ski that is friendly, smooth, and crud-busting.
- Who is it not for? Those on a budget.