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Some demo feedback from an intermediate skier + Faction Dictator 3.0x


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My sis-in-law demoed a few skis this past weekend at Mammoth, on greens and easy blues. She's a low intermediate, 5'6" and ~150 lbs. She just started skiing recently, but is progressing fast (history of ice skating/roller blading). She is staying parallel through her turns, mostly getting on her edges, and slowly picking up more speed (although she declares she hates speed). She tried out the Rossignol Stargazer (of course), Black Pearl 97, Atomic Maven 93c and Nordica Santa Ana 93 Unlimited. Her favorite was by far the Stargazers. Second was the Mavens, third the BP 97, and she hated the SA Unlimited with a fiery passion (shop guy recommended it since she liked the Stargazers - bad choice).

Notable quotes:

Stargazers: "They feel like an extension of my feet. I don't have to think about them at all, they just do what I want them to do. They don't shake when I start going fast - I got up to 34 mph on them and it was fun!" <- this from a woman who is terrified of speed (mph determined by ikon app).

BP 97: "They feel like giant floppy clown shoes." I told her to practice forward stance if she started feeling out of control or unstable, and that helped a lot. She really liked how stable they felt at speed when she kept forward. But at her level, these were probably too wide, too stiff, and too directional. We had wanted her to try the Sheeva 9 or BP 88, but they were unavailable/out.

Atomic Maven 93c: "They're so pretty!" She really wanted to love these because of the design. She's a graphic designer, so topsheet is important to her lol. But they weren't as stable as the Stargazers and felt like they shook more when she started picking up speed. Not as confidence-inspiring.

Nordica Santa Ana 93 Unlimited: "I HATE THESE! They shake so much and I feel like I have no control! I have to work so much harder to slow down and make them stop! My legs hurt!" Of note, these are a touring ski and are meant to be lightweight, with all the drawbacks that entails. We wanted her to demo the SA 93 or 88, but they were out, so the shop guy recommended these with the thought that they'd be similarly light and maneuverable as the Stargazers. Not so. He also handed her a smaller length than I think she should've had - the 158 instead of the 165. She'd been demoing on low 160s and was comfortable with that, so the shorter length + lighter weight was probably just a really terrible combo for her.

In the end, she bought the Stargazers. The shop had run out of inventory, so she got the demo pair for an extra 15% off. Sidenote - it looks like Rossignol has renamed the Stargazer to the Rallybird 94 for 2023.

I also tried out my new Faction Dictator 3.0x this weekend (length 164 cm, mounted 1.5 cm in front of the line - which is actually the recommended mount point). Me: 5'1", 110 lbs, advanced skier. If the 2.0s feel like a pretty thoroughbred just asking to show you their legs, the 3.0s feel like a charging warhorse that you have to yank on the reins to stop. But they reward you with stability... so much stability. We haven't had new snow in ages, so I skied them mostly on groomers with a couple exploratory forays into some very scraped off hardpack moguls and refrozen icy crud in the trees.

On groomers - you will never notice how roughed up they get. Go as fast as you want/can safely handle, these things don't have a speed limit and don't want to stop. I was actually shocked at how well I could carve a 106 wide ski on scraped off icy groomers - they hold an edge really well and there was no shakiness/chatter whatsoever.

Moguls - I am not a strong mogul skier and these are not a mogul ski. They have really strong tails, they want to point down the fall line, and they don't like being told no. And the moguls were hard and scraped. I survived.

Trees - these were awful off-piste conditions with the refrozen icy crud rattling my teeth. Still, the skis held an edge. But I was not confident enough to ski on this condition for very long.

Overall I'm still getting to know them, but so far I like them a lot even though they scare me haha. I think if you're advanced-expert with good technique and a love of speed, and you love a good challenge, they could make a great all mountain-wide ski. I'm really looking forward to getting them into some soft snow conditions, as I think that's where they'll really shine.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I feel like I should update this review now that I've had a bit more time on the Dictator 3.0x (soon to be renamed the Dancer 3.0x, which imho is a ridiculous name for this ski).

This is not a do-everything ski. It is not a one ski quiver, or even the wide ski in a two-ski quiver. This ski is a niche tool. It is GREAT for blasting down wide open trails at high speed. They love long turns, and will treat you very well if you give them that. Boy are they fun, it feels like flying. But the moment you try to cut speed or tighten it up, they will fight you. They have very strong opinions on what you should be doing, and they are not shy about letting you know. I tried skiing these things slow on green and easy blue groomers with family, and it was bloody miserable. I found myself thinking almost any ski would be easier to use than these, at that speed. I tried practicing some slalom type turns just to mix it up on the easier runs, and they absolutely hated it, I had to work really hard to force that shorter turn shape and they felt like bloody planks on my feet. They are a VERY stiff ski, so at slower speeds I just could not access any rebound or energy from then. If you are in-between sizes, definitely consider sizing down. They have a very long effective edge, and the shorter length will increase their (limited) versatility. Maybe a better skier can get shorter turns out of them more easily, but I found them really tiring at slow speeds and in tight turns.

These skis are also really interesting, because although they feel very stable at speed, they are not damp. You feel almost every bump you hit, so they require you to have good form and maintain proper foot pressure. If you're bombing it but then startle and get backseated, or lose foot pressure, GG.

Prior to skiing these, I would've considered "stable" and "damp" to be almost synonymous. But these made me think about these terms in a new way. For stability - these are very stable at high speeds as they will hold their line supremely well through chop (*as long as you stay on them in good form!). But dampness - suspension, muting out the bumps and variations in snow - I'd say they have a middling degree of dampness - more than a ski with no metal in it, but definitely less than you'd expect from a ski with two sheets of metal. For comparison, I was skiing the Liberty Genesis 101 in length 158 for two days prior to a day back on the Dictator 3.0x in length 164. The Dictator was more stable at speed (which I attribute in large part to the extra ~5 inches of effective edge), but the Genesis was more damp at similar speeds. This surprised me no end, as I had intended the Genesis to be my tree and bump ski, but they carved and ripped the groomers too.

So to sum it up, buyer beware, beginners and intermediates need not apply. These skis are best for advanced-expert, hard charging, aggressive skiers who like feeling the ground under their feet. For a better idea of what this ski is capable of, I recommend checking out Elisabeth Gerritzen absolutely ripping them on the Freeride World Tour (and winning), or Sam Anthamatten doing insane lines on 5000-6000 meter peaks in Faction's ski movies.
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