The Salomon Q-103 Stella is a solid powder ski for big mountain women skiers, but it can also handle the groomers and hard pack well. Like the Salomon Q-96 Lumen, the Stella didn’t necessarily blow us away in any one category, but rather performed well in almost any condition and any terrain. It would make a fantastic every day ski in the west, and for that reasons landed on our favorites list for 2015.
Conditions: Soft Chop, Knee Deep, Freshly Groomed, Hard Pack, Icy steeps
Bindings: Salomon Z12
On the Snow Feel: The Salomon Q-103 Stella is a pretty stable ski with the ability to turn and maneuver when you want to. Although Salomon considers it a powder ski, it’s not nearly as playful as a fully rockered ski like the 4 FRNT Hoji W. I really like to have ski that can be playful at times, but is solid and stable most of the time. That is what the Salomon Q-103 Stella offers.
Powder: Salomon calls this ski a powder ski, but we wouldn’t classify it as a true powder ski. At 103mm underfoot, the Salomon Q-103 Stella actually has some pretty decent float, but it also has a lot of traditional camber underfoot. This camber is great on the groomers (more on that in a bit), but it also keeps the Stella from being playful and surfy in the deeper snow. I wouldn’t call the Stella a powder specific ski, but rather an all-mountain wide ski with a good amount of float in the deeper snow. If you’re going to be using this ski specifically for deep days, you may end up disappointed, but if you ski the entire mountain and only occasionally ski this in deep snow the Salomon Q-103 Stella will likely meet or exceed your expectations.
Turn Initiation and Carving: Although Salomon classifies this as a powder ski it’s more of an all-mountain wide ski that can float well in the powder, but also performs well on the groomers. Like the Salomon Q-96 Lumen, the Stella didn’t necessarily blow us away on the groomers, but at 103mm underfoot it’s actually quite capable of making some fun turns. The Salomon Q-103 Stella doesn’t feel as light and nimble as the Lumen, but it’s still not a heavy ski. The light-weight and rocker profile help to keep the ski maneuverable and easy to swing. The Salomon Q-103 Stella does take a bit of work to get them on edge, but they engaged smoothly and predictably. Once on edge the Salomon Q-103 Stella was responsive and quick, but it just lacked a bit of snap and power that we like in frontside skis. It was happy making long radius turns, and the stiff (flatter) tail helped keep things stable. It was fun to let them run straight. Although the tail felt pretty locked in while making longer radius turns, we could break free and shorten up our turns. It’s a strong carver for a wide waisted ski, but it just lacks a bit of that fun, lively, snap we’ve gotten in other more front-side oriented all-mountain skis.
Speed: The Salomon Q-103 Stella performed pretty well at speed. It’s a bit wider than the lumen, and seems to smooth out the ride just a bit more. The ski likes to make sweeping wide radius turns at speed. The light honeycomb tip helps to keep things from chattering, while the flatter tail adds stability. It still feels a bit light weight and there are times we had to pull back the throttle, but overall the Salomon Q-103 Stella really handled speed well.
Uneven Terrain: The Salomon Q-103 Stella isn’t going to blast through the chop like a heavy more powerful ski, but it can handle the variable terrain pretty well. In the soft shallow chop the Stella does a great job of keeping the tips up and even with a more neutral stance it was easy to maneuver around the piles of snow. As things get deeper the Salomon Q-103 Stella, like the Lumen, was a bit more work. The deep piles of snow would make the ski a little less predictable, and we’d have to stay a bit more aggressive and ready to maneuver around anything we needed to.
Edge Hold: This was the one area we found the Salomon Q-103 Stella to come up just a bit short. It has a decent amount of traditional camber underfoot, as well as a relatively flat tail. This made them decent on moderately firm snow so long as it wasn’t too steep. Once things got steep and icy the Stella would skid out a bit too often.
Flex: The Salomon Q-103 Stella has a moderate flex with a bit softer flex in the tip.
Switch: The Salomon Q-103 Stella isn’t great at riding switch.
The Salomon Q-103 Stella is a versatile wide waisted all-mountain ski that is suited to those who like to rip a little harder. It wasn’t great in any one area of the mountain, but solid in just about any condition. It’s not as surfy or playful as some dedicated powder skis, but it has a decent amount of float for the deep days. It was surprisingly capable on the groomers as well, but it doesn’t have the same powerful and energetic rebound as other more front-side oriented skis. It was happiest making longer radius turns at speed, so long as the snow wasn’t too firm. It does take a bit more effort to drive the ski in the deeper snow, especially as things get roughed up. Overall the Salomon Q-103 Stella is a fantastic option for chargers who like to roam the entire mountain.