The team here at jans.com has pretty similar taste when it comes to our daily-driver skis. We like the versatility of wide all-mountain sticks in the 100 mm underfoot range. Specifically, we find that models leaning more toward freeride specs tend to be the most fun. Rocker in the tips and tails gives these skis more maneuverability in tight terrain than a carving ski with more camber in the profile. Our favorite models have enough camber underfoot to confidently hold an edge and carve well on groomers.
There are two skis in this category that stood out for their construction and performance: the Atomic Bent 100 and the K2 Mindbender 99Ti. Let’s take a deeper dive into what makes these skis special and how to determine which is right for you.
Atomic and K2 took different approaches in the construction of their flagship freeride skis. The Bent series has a lighter construction without a titanal layer, but the choice of poplar for Atomic’s Light Woodcore gives this ski great damping and stability while keeping the weight down. On the other hand, K2 used a lighter, softer aspen wood for the Mindbender 99Ti, but that’s supplemented with a shaped metal layer for shock absorption and control.
Atomic’s HRZN Tech Tip & Tail give the Bent 100 a leg up in soft snow. The bases are beveled slightly like a boat hull in the shovels and tails to increase surface area by 10% without increasing ski width. This unique feature makes for intuitive, responsive turn initiation and effortless surfy float in powder.
The Titanal Y-Beam makes the Mindbender 99Ti more rigid in key areas to enhance performance. This titanal layer extends full width in the binding area and is concentrated in the center of the ski through the tail. Y-shaped prongs extend toward the tips and are set back slightly from the edges to increase shovel forgiveness and improve maneuverability. Thanks to the Y-Beam, the Mindbender 99Ti feels very stable at high speeds and in variable snow.
Shape & Profile
It’s pretty clear in the images above that these skis have similar shapes and profiles. The sidecut dimensions are very close—the Mindbender 99Ti has slightly wider shovels (134-99-120 mm, size 184 cm) compared to the Bent 100 (130.5-100-121 mm, size 188 cm). The Bent’s tips and tails are more rounded with more gradual taper compared to the Mindbender. The Mindbender has less tip and tail taper, which means more effective edge and better high-speed stability.
The profiles for both skis have rocker in the tips and tails with camber underfoot. Both have a gradual rise in the tip rocker with the Mindbender having slightly more curvature. The Bent has more splay in the tail, which helps for skiing switch. The Mindbender’s gradual rise in the tail rocker offers good balance between maneuverability and stability.
I know “stability” keeps coming up to describe the Mindbender 99Ti, so let’s explore that more. The titanal layer adds mass and provides a responsive, powerful ride quality. In tracked-out powder and other variable snow conditions, you can ride in the backseat blasting through the chop without having to worry about tip deflection or washing out the rear end. You can also carve fast turns with superb high-speed edge hold in variable snow.
The Bent 100 is one of the most intuitive skis that I’ve tested. Clicking in and making turns has the familiarity of being with an old friend. The combination of rocker and HRZN Tech bevel in the tail lets you slarve out the rear end with ease to butter and smear powder pillows. The taper, splay, and HRZN Tech in the shovel allow the Bent 100 to float in fresh snow like a wider powder ski. High-speed edge hold is still really solid—despite how easy it is to drift the front and rear ends.
Fortunately, I was able to test both skis under similar conditions and on the same terrain. Park City received three to four inches of fresh snow overnight, and by the time I arrived in the afternoon the powder was pretty tracked out. This gave some helpful insight into how these skis perform in variable terrain. My test circuit included runs with moguls as well as steep groomed sections where I could lay down trenches and explore the speed limit. I was even able to test float in my secret stash spots that were still untracked.
To test general maneuverability, I like to interrupt a turn pattern and slide both skis sideways 90 degrees while still maintaining forward motion and then rotate back to face forward again. Both skis excelled at this test and can turn on a dime with minimal effort. The results were close, but the Bent slides just a bit easier. I also like to perform an ollie test on a small side hit, which is a good indicator of a ski’s pop. Ollieing the Mindbender was especially impressive despite the additional weight—the stiffer flex delivers very responsive pop.
Advanced and expert skiers will have a blast on both of these. Each has a lively character and powerful performance—with the Bent leaning more toward lively and the Mindbender more toward powerful. Due to the similar shapes and profiles, they both have similar turn radii and maneuverability.
The addition of HRZN Tech in the Bent’s tips and tails makes it slightly easier to release the edges and smear tight turns quickly. Intermediate-level skiers will find the Bent 100 more approachable due to the lighter, more user-friendly construction. Park skiers will appreciate the aggressive tail splay, which enables the Bent to ride switch like a fully twin-tipped ski. It’s also the better performer in powder; so if you’re looking for a daily driver that can also serve as your go-to pow ski, then the Bent 100 may be your answer.
K2’s Titanal Y-Beam is an advanced construction feature that gives the Mindbender its responsive carving performance with a supremely damp and stable ride. Skiers with a more powerful and aggressive style will appreciate the heavier construction. If you already have a wider ski for powder days and you’re looking for an all-mountain ripper for between storms, then the Mindbender 99Ti is a great choice.
We’re proud to offer both the Atomic Bent 100 and K2 Mindbender 99Ti skis at jans.com. You’ll also find bindings and any other accessories you need before hitting the slopes. And if you’re in the Park City area and want to take them for a test drive, stop by our Park Ave. or Snowpark locations and ask about a demo.
By Chris Norwood, Editor, jans.com