Earlier this month DPS Skis announced their latest addition to the coveted Wailer category, the Wailer 106. This ski now joins the uber-popular Wailer 112RP2 and the more modestly dimensioned Wailer 99 as an option for skiers looking for a middle ground between powder performance and frontside fulfilment. To coincide with the Wailer 106's debut, DPS have also introduced their new construction category for 2016/17, called Foundation. Over the last week I tested the Wailer 106 in both the Pure3 and Foundation constructions (both in 185cm length), and while these two skis have identical shape, they turned out be two very different animals on the slopes.
One word to describe the Wailer 106 on groomers? Fun.
Test conditions/ski specs
Ski boot: Lange RS 130
Location: Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Snow conditions: chalk, firm, boot-deep powder, off-piste chop
Terrain: groomers, moguls, steeps, couloirs
Ski dimensions: 135/106/124, 18m radius (185cm length)
Ski lengths: 168cm, 178cm, 185cm, 191cm
A top sheet to match every bluebird day with the Wailer 106 Pure3
Wailer 106 Pure3 - Hold on to 'yer butts
My first experience was hopping on the Pure3s, mounted with the Atomic Warden binding on a day of mostly firm snow conditions. Shouldering the skis from the car park, the reduced weight of the carbon construction- even with DIN 13 alpine binding attached - was noticeable. Clicking in and sliding down to the next chairlift instantly felt like the ski wanted to be on edge, more so than a lot of other skis I've tried in the 105 - 110mm underfoot range.
With the sun out, cold temps and firm snow on the ground, I put the Wailer 106 Pure3s through its carving paces with some GS turns down the blue groomers on Blackcomb. With the high level of torsional stiffness of the Pure3 build, the skis felt incredibly responsive from edge to edge while remaining stable at higher speeds. While it can't match the performance of a World Cup GS ski (or otherwise metal-damped skinny carver), this was probably the most fun I've ever had on the groomers on a ski wider than 100mm.
Light, yet sturdy and powerful. Wailer 106 Pure3.
With a more subtle rocker profile than the Wailer 112RP2, I felt the need to be much more over the front of the Wailer 106 for high speed turn initiation. This ski wasn't messing around - relaxing my stance at all would result in me feeling like I was chasing the ski downhill in the back seat. This is not a ski for the feint of heart or the low to intermediate ability level. An aggressive skier with refined skills and reasonably stiff boots should feel right at home, however.
Up in the alpine, the Wailer 106 Pure3 found its home in semi-soft and chalky snow. Hop turning down the steeps felt almost effortless with the incredibly low swing weight. Transitioning between chopped up powder and soft moguls required quite a bit of work from the legs given the snappy response of the Pure3 build. The only place I felt overwhelmed by this ski was in firm, mid-mountain moguls. The lack of dampening and said snappy reaction of this ski had me clamouring for control at times, but as someone who rarely spends a lot of time in moguls anymore (at least when they are frozen solid), I would confidently choose this ski as daily resort driver. Just remember to keep the pressure forward on the shovel to keep flicking those turns.
Wailer F 106 performed well in powder but favours mixed conditions
Wailer 106 Foundation - Formidable value
Having reluctantly handed back the Pure3s, it was time to sample the DPS Wailer 106 in the new construction for 2016/14 - Foundation. This completely redesigned build will replace the Hybrid series as a more competitively priced alternative to the Pures, while claiming to be more powerful, stable and damp than Hybrid.
Affixed with Marker Griffon 13 demo binding, the Wailer F 106 are in a similar weight class to its metal/fibreglass competitors, so predictably the agility of the ski felt somewhat diminished compared to the Pure3. The carbon snappiness that delivered such energy from edge to edge in the Pure3 wasn't there either, but with a positive trade off. This ski felt significantly more damp than any of the Hybrid skis I've tried over the years (note I have not skied the metal-sheeted Wailer 105 HybridT2). That meant those solid mid-mountain moguls were less of an obstacle, though the side cut of the ski still favours smoother terrain or softer snow.
The flex profile of the Wailer F 106 is quite soft in the shovel - especially compared to its Pure3 sibling - yet reasonably stiff in the tail. While they didn't feel as responsive on the groomers, the Foundations were able to absorb subtle bumps in the terrain more effectively than the Pures and still had that incredibly fun Wailer 106 shape.
When skiing in the boot-deep powder, the Wailer F 106 floated with relative ease, but with much deeper snow than this and I would prefer to be on my old Wailer 112RPs. Having said that, the versatility of the 106s and the fun I had in more solid snow conditions, in my view trumped the powder performance. And I still had more fun on the groomers than I'd had on any ski in a long time. For a resort-specific ski that needs to handle all types of conditions, the Wailer F 106 would be both a wise and an affordable ski for the seasoned local or weekend warrior.
You get what you pay for
If money was no object, the Wailer 106 Pure3 provides the most playful yet sturdy plank in the DPS lineup for chairlift hot laps. Mind, you should have the ability and confidence to drive the ski, for an intermediate the ski would feel a bit overwhelming.
The Wailer F 106 is competitively priced at $849 CDN, as opposed to $1349 CDN for the Pure 3 model. While it sacrifices the carbon laminate benefits of increased stiffness, reaction and lifespan, the increased dampness makes Foundation more forgiving and is accessible to wider range of skier abilities.