When you go to Jans on Park Ave or at the Snow Park Lodge to shop skis, there’s a good chance that the person you’ll talk to has first-hand experience with the model you’re interested in. As the ski writer for Jans, I get to test the skis on our wall also, and it’s really helpful to compare notes with the sales team. They usually have good insight on a ski’s design, any changes made from previous years, and what type of skier is a good fit.
Pretty early in the season, one of the guys asked if I’d skied the Kastle MX83 yet. He was beaming a wide grin. Six inches of fresh snow was sitting on the mountain, all I could think about was taking the widest ski possible to go test, and this guy starts telling me about an 83mm underfoot frontside ski.
“I have a friend who works as an instructor, and he skis the MX83 every day,” he said, laughing somewhat, aware that this seemed a bit absurd. “It’s funny,” he admitted. “He’ll ski anything on them: off-piste, pow, switch—and on a front-side ski. He swears by them.”
When I took out the MX83 to test, the same sales associate was there and was still excited about them. He and a few of the other Jans guys had ordered pairs for themselves and were having a blast. I double-checked that 182cm was the longest option and was quickly reassured that they ski full-length, and I shouldn’t have a problem.
Indeed, he was right. I’m a taller guy and prefer the stability of longer skis, but this was not an issue at all on the MX83. I felt just as stable locked in a high-speed arc as I do on skis that are 10cm longer. And, this ski has superb short-turn performance, which is usually sacrificed with longer sticks.
For me, the major distinction on whether a ski falls in the carving or all-mountain category is how it rides flat on the bases. Carving skis are designed to have the edges engaged, and they can feel a bit unsteady when riding flat on the bases. Not the case for the MX83—while it was definitely built for carving performance, you can still ski flat on the bases with solid control.
I knew going into the test that this was a special ski. Looking at the specs, I had some idea what to expect. The sandwich construction features two sheets of fiberglass and two sheets of titanal with a wood core made of poplar and beech stringers. The two woods are combined in the middle to form a dense and rigid inner core, and softer poplar wood on the outside edges helps soften turn initiation and release. These are the construction elements you find on a high-end carving ski, but there’s an emphasis on all-mountain capability.
Kastle’s Hollowtech 3.0 features a carbon-reinforced window cutout on the ski shovels. This innovative feature reduces weight and helps to soften the front end to make the MX83 more capable in different terrain and more approachable for skiers that don’t necessarily have a racing background. Turn initiation is more precise, and I couldn’t detect that the Hollowtech detracted from high-speed stability or performance in any way.
The MX83 navigates the moguls well thanks to the precise turn initiation and softer construction around the edges. This opens up your terrain choices considerably over a frontside ski that can only carve groomers. And carving the MX83 is fantastic with an effective edge running almost the entire ski length.
On the chairlift between laps I was thinking about that instructor skiing backwards leading a bunch of kids in a lesson and I could totally see how this would be the perfect instructor ski. When you’re wrangling a class in the lift line, a shorter ski lets you move around easily. Instructors have to sidestep uphill constantly to help students, so a lighter ski really helps save the legs. And when you get a chance to take a few laps to yourself, you want something that’s fun to ski; and the MX83 really delivers on that.
When you see a bearded mountain man in a flannel shirt working in a ski shop, you may expect him to be fired up about the latest big-mountain powder sticks or maybe some technical backcountry skis. You should never judge a book by its cover—nor a ski from its spec sheet. That’s all the more reason to test different models when you’re ski shopping. If you’re in Park City, come check out our ski test program. We have test skis in different sizes for all the skis on our wall, so you can try before you buy.
By Chris Norwood, Ecommerce Manager, jans.com