At this point in the ski industry, we all know gimmicks as mere marketing tools rather than revolutionary designs. Which is what you might think when you first discover that the Ripstick 106 has—gasp!—an asymmetrical feature that dictates a specific left and right ski. We’ve seen this before and it has been given its various indictments: cuts the life of the skis in half; switching skis gives an unpredictable feel; why would I want to switch skis for a different feel in the first place?
Well, I’m here to tell you that Elan, after listening to all of these pieces of constructive feedback, managed to quell almost all of these issues with this type of technology. First, note that it isn’t exactly full tip-to-tail asymmetrical. The Amphibio technology has a designated left and right ski with the tips of the outside edges rockered and the inside edges cambered. When used as designated, this unique construction gives a more subtle yet very welcome feeling of familiarity, ease of use, and a bit less abruptness in the initiation of the turn for softer snow conditions.
(Before you ask, yes, I did try the skis on the wrong feet—do not judge me.)
The rest is all about the balance one wants out of a ski: stiffness with suppleness, dampening with quickness, and all of it comes together better than even the marketing words can say.
The Tubelight wood core takes the carbon factor a bit further by going from stringers to actual hollow tubes that run front to back along the sidecut to give more torsional rigidity with less weight. This is combined with a Vapor Tip technology—inserts in the tip and tail that reduce swing weight and vibration for an easier pivoting between turns. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work beautifully. The skis handled a sketchy traverse to the steep, chalky, no-fall Gullies off Big Sky’s Lone Peak with deft of ease, even with the low visibility and variable snow.
The Ripstick 106 provided an overly familiar ride that slightly pushed me but not to a point where I had to over-perform the ski, which is a refreshing nuance. The Ripstick 106 will work for any skier intermediate and up looking for that soft-snow daily driver that goes beyond the basic brand promises or gimmicks and actually displays and supports their abilities. —Wally Phillips