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Dynastar

When Laurent Boix-Vives acquired the distressed fledgling brand Dynastar, he already had Rossignol in his portfolio. Thus was born a sibling rivalry that persists to this day, with the elder trying to establish an untouchable record and the younger always looking for a way to upstage the first-born. While we can’t say for certain that the Cham series Dynastar launched in 2013 was a conscious effort to outperform Rossi’s successful S7 model, it’s a plausible assertion. Dynastar’s powder skis had always been beefier than whatever Rossi had in play; consider the Jeremy Nobis signature Dynastars versus Rossignol’s Bandit XXX, for example.

Heavily rockered, the S7 skied shorter than it measured and without any metal in it was kind of a noodle.  Retaining the idea of the shorter effective platform, Dynastar gave the Cham a stiff front rocker that was segregated from the main structure of the ski by moving the widest contact point well down the ski.  Then they tucked the last several cm’s of tail in so they also wouldn’t interfere with turn radius. Finally, they turned up the torsional rigidity so the ski could handle higher speeds.  The result was a whole line of S7’s on steroids, christened the Chamonix series in honor of the resort just down the road from Sallanches, where Dynastars are still made.

With an appetite for hugging the fall line, the Cham 97 and Cham 107 developed a strong – literally and figuratively – following in their debut season, but they came across as a bit too aggressive for the weekend warrior.  Overlooked in the excitement over the powerful Cham series headliners were their metal-free doppelgangers, the High Mountain versions meant for true alpinists.  The Cham High Mountain 107 in particular is a better choice if you ski less than 50 days a season and mean to use it primarily as your powder ski.  By “better,” we mean you won’t have to work as hard, which is the main rationale for skis this wide in the first place. 

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2016 Addendum

We’ve been saying since their inception that Dynastar’s flagship Cham models behave better without metal laminates than with, and given the construction found in the Cham 2.0 series, Dynastar seems to agree.

Cham 2.0 addresses another critique we had about the first series, that the pitch of their front rocker was too radical, creating a break in the ski’s connection with the snow, particularly on hard snow that doesn’t rise to meet the shovel as powder does. The front rocker line has now been smoothed out and a dab of rocker has been added to Dynastar’s signature pintail rearbody. The effect is a more even sensation of snow contact, which should appeal to a broader range of expert skiers without alienating the brand’s core customers.

The Cham performance profile hasn’t changed with generation 2.0: the five-point sidecut with camber underfoot creates skis with a penchant for tight turns trapped inside big bodies with the float and smear properties of a fat ski. Everything about the 3-model (97, 107, 117) collection begs, “Please! Take us off-trail!”

When corn or corduroy is more likely to be the terrain du jour, Dynastar has thoughtfully overhauled their Speed family of race skis. The brand’s race reputation was built on torsionally stiff, power-hungry skis, but the major changes for 2016 create skis that are lighter and able to twist slightly and selectively along their length to improve edge contact.

Among the tweaks for 2016, the new FIS-compliant Omeglass Pro and street legal Course Pro use lightweight Paulownia in their slightly rockered tips. More significantly, a series of slits machined into the forebody dubbed “Lateral Flex” tunes the torsional rigidity so the ski follows terrain more fluidly. 

Dynastar will woo the women’s market with two new series. The Cham W 2.0 97 and 107 capitalize on the reduced weight and mellower front rocker of the 2.0 design to make these off-trail chargers easier to ride. Women who spend more time on-trail have two new options, the Glory 89 and Glory 84.  While they echo the positioning and performance of the returning Powertrack 89 and 84 men’s models, they are women-specific and made in their own molds. Stance and mounting position are adapted to the sidecut and baseline to optimize performance for a woman’s lower center of gravity.

Overall, Dynastar’s 2016 collection is slimmer (redundant models are gone), trimmer (ditto many metal laminates) and lighter (more Paulownia). Taking weight reduction construction to an extreme, Dynastar has built an ultralight version of the Cham 2.0 97 out of carbon for its Touring collection. Weighing in at a mere 2800g per pair, the Mythic marries two major trends: super-light backcountry skis and versatile off-piste footprints.

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In-depth reviews of 11 models—with key performance ratings ( ? ) and genre model comparisons ( ? ) —are in our member section

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new for 2016Cham 2.0 107

rocker

Power:  A

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  137/107/122
Radius:  18m @ 183cm
Lengths:  165,174,183,189
Weight:  2000g @ 183cm
MSRP:  $800

 

cham 2.0 107

Our test panel has always been partial to the High Mountain, metal-less version of the original Cham 107.  For 2016, Dynastar has eliminated the metal option all together and with Cham 2.0 has re-formulated the forebody to make the rocker line less extreme, changes we heartily endorse. 

The abrupt curvature of Cham 1.0 made the tip feel disengaged from the business of turning, but the more consistent baseline of Cham 2.0 brings the total ski into harmony. “The subtle changes Dynastar made are really noticeable,” wrote Greg from Footloose.  “It carves or skids with a consistent, stable feel; strong, without being a tank.”

Indeed the trick in this genre is creating a tool that feels easy and maneuverable despite being 107mm underfoot.  This is the Cham 2.0 107’s strong suit, for its lightweight construction, tapered tip and tucked-in tail allow the new 107 to ski shorter and consequently with greater agility than most Big Mountain skis.

“Smooth as a Caribbean current,” coos The Boot Doctors’ Bob. “It blends the characteristics of performance better than other big skis. It also finishes a turn much better than the earlier version,” is the good doctor’s diagnosis.

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Cham 2.0 117

rocker

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  147/117/127
Radius:  22m @ 190cm
Lengths:  180,190
Weight:  2250g @ 190cm
MSRP:  $850

This review is based on 2014 test results; the ski is unchanged.

 

cham 2.0 117

Dynastar takes justifiable pride in producing one of the highest testosterone production powder skis on the planet, but even they had to admit the Cham 127 took aggro over the edge. They’ve dialed things back a bit with the Cham 2.0 117, but don’t think for une seconde that the French have suddenly lost their sack. 

The Cham 2.0 117 was the first in the Cham series to undergo the 2.0 operation that lessens the severity of the front rocker so the whole ski connects with the snow.  It’s a significant tweak that improves both the user-friendliness and power quotient of the Cham 2.0 117.

When they cut the waist of the Cham 127 by 1cm, Dynastar gave the tail an even more savage trim, with the net result that the original’s 22m radius remains intact in the trimmer Cham 2.0 117.  This means the 117, while quicker to the edge, is also quicker off it, so it’s never going to wander too far off the fall line unless you throw it sideways, a move it’s always up for.  In all, the Cham 2.0 117 exhibits a near perfect balance between Power and Finesse properties. 

Scored on 1.00 to 10.00 scale:

early to edge
continuous, accurate carve
rebound/turn finish
stable and accurate at speed
short-radius turns
low speed turns
drift and scrub
off-piste performance
forgiveness/ease
finesse vs. power balance
race
technical ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
frontside ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain east ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain west ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
big mountain ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
powder