Back for the 2015/2016 season, The Liberty Variant 97 is a versatile all-mountain carver. It’s great on the frontside groomers, but with a versatile shape and construction, it’s able to handle the variable terrain.
Liberty Variant 97 On Mountain Video Ski Review
Conditions: Soft Chop, Roughed Up Groomers, Soft Groomers
Boots: Rossignol Alias Sensor 120
Bindings: Tyrolia AAAttack 13
On the Snow Feel/Personality: The Liberty Variant 97 is even more stable than the 87, and is still smooth and predictable. It does offer a little bit more versatility, and even seems slightly more easy going.
Powder: The Liberty Variant 97 is still very much frontside oriented, and not necessarily equipped for deep snow. It does have a respectable 97mm waist, but it just doesn’t have a freeride shape or feel. Sure it will plane relatively well with the Hammer Rocker profile, but it has a stiff flex, aggressive sidecut, and relatively flat tail that are better suited to smooth groomers than deep snow. However, this ski can still be really fun on days when you might only receive a few inches on top of freshly groomed runs. This is also the type of terrain the 97 is better suited to than the 87.
Turn Initiation and Carving: The Hammer Rocker profile and multi-radius tip enable the Liberty Variant 97 to enter and exit turns smooth and predictably. It was responsive at slower speeds, and never felt like a chore to maneuver. On edge the Liberty Variant 97 is stable and solid, with edge hold that feels really good. The slightly raised tail feels powerful and predictable when exiting a turn, but when combined with the multi-radius tip it’s easy to break them free and vary turn shape, or pivot sideways and scrub speed. The ski otherwise felt pretty locked in, and I found them happiest running fast medium to wide radius turns. The skis feel powerful, and they do take a bit of work to bend. The bamboo and poplar core is lively and energetic, but I never felt like the skis threw me from edge to edge. Instead edge to edge transitions felt smooth and fluid. I knew what the ski was going to do with each turn, and although it might not have been the most exciting, hold on for life kind of ride, it was still fun knowing that the ski would respond and turn when you wanted it to.
Speed: The predictable and smooth ride of the Liberty Variant 97 is also what makes them so fun at speed. I never felt thrown off guard on the groomers, smooth or not. The titanal layer helps to increase torsional rigidity and gives the ski a damp and stable feel. The Hammer Rocker profile offers just enough tip rise to smooth out bumpy terrain, and the stiff flex keeps it all from bouncing or chattering when maching groomers. The tail provides powerful support and keeps you locked into the turn when on edge. This gives you even more confidence to charge hard. This was a fun ski to ski fast on groomers, and with the versatility to take you off piste, it could be really fun on other parts of the mountain as well.
Uneven Terrain: The Liberty Variant 97 is much more versatile than the skinnier 87. It still has the hammer rocker profile, titanal metal layer, stiff flex, and multi-radius tip, but with a 97mm waist it just offers a bit more float and is better able to smooth out rough terrain. I still found the ski happiest on smooth groomers, but as things got roughed up, I didn’t feel like I had to slow down or change my riding style. The shovels do a good job smoothing out the terrain, and the stiff flex allowed me to confidently transition from edge to edge without getting bounced around or deflected. It felt smooth carving through soft piles of chop, and it had the edge hold and dampness to tackle hard crud. It’s not a ski that blasts through everything in its way, but a capable carver on variable and roughed up terrain. It’s not a tank, but more like a luxury sports car with good performance and a smooth and comfortable ride.
Edge Hold: I didn’t ski the Liberty Variant 97 on anything too hard or firm, but feel that it would do pretty well in most snow conditions. It has a significant amount of camber underfoot, a stiff torsional flex, and relatively flat tail that helps the ski hold on edge.