Women's gear, up first
A love letter to a very expensive pair of skis
How much would you spend for bliss? Apparently, DPS thinks it should cost $1,299. That’s the price of the new Yvette A112, which solves a lot of the traditional shortcomings of wide-waisted powder skis. Not only is it light and maneuverable, but it’s also damp enough to charge through crud and chop. Really.
The Yvette A112 floats on clouds of snow worthy of its sky-high price tag. Designers long ago figured out how to make a ski surf, and with a generous 112 millimeters underfoot, the Yvette certainly does that. I’ve been testing the 158-centimeter length at Steamboat Resort and found that it effortlessly cruises near the surface of the snow.
That floaty quality also makes three inches of powder feel much deeper—which is always welcome, but especially this season, when scarce snowfall has resulted in a thinner than average base. Skiing the lift-assisted backcountry near my home resort, I’ve felt this ski skip safely over downed trees and stumps that were hidden (but hardly cushioned) by meager snow.
The Yvette is easy to turn and wonderfully maneuverable. That’s due to a combination of lightweight carbon construction and DPS’s hallmark shape, which combines a broad, rockered tip with sidecut underfoot (the Yvette’s turn radius is 15 to 18 meters). In dramatic terrain, like steep glades peppered with cliffs and boulders, I loved these skis’ willingness to redirect. They let me slide through a narrow, rock-pinched entrance to an enticing powder line, then quickly scrub speed to negotiate the thicket of trees below.
But being floaty and maneuverable wouldn’t necessarily be worth $1,300. Plenty of powder planks from various manufacturers can claim the same capabilities. What’s different about the Yvette A112 is how stable it feels in cut-up snow. Light, turny skis don’t always have the backbone to charge though crud. Instead, they get tossed, which can create a rough, confidence-jarring ride. To keep the lightweight maneuverability—while also adding in a damper feel that conquers chop—DPS developed a new carbon construction that it calls Alchemist. It’s used in the Yvette A112, as well as other skis in the DPS line.
DPS has been experimenting with carbon for more than ten years, having introduced prepreg carbon construction to the ski market in 2005. Whereas other ski companies typically mix carbon with other materials (like fiberglass), DPS used pure carbon and adapted construction techniques from the air and space industries to make skis that were lighter than most resort planks, yet torsionally stiff enough to hold an okay edge on firm snow. Still, even DPS’s carbon geeks admitted that their skis had an Achilles heel: They were too reactive. In anything but soft, untracked powder, carbon could feel unpleasantly jarring.
This year, though, the Alchemist construction, which still uses two layers of carbon sandwiched on an Aspen wood core, aims to change that. This formula feels noticeably damper, quelling carbon’s notorious vibrational tendencies and delivering a much smoother ride in variable snow. The company remains vague about exactly how designers worked their magic, saying only that DPS had developed “new proprietary damping materials and a revised flex pattern.” What I can say is that the result is really impressive. This is the first carbon ski I’ve tested that doesn’t feel like carbon. That’s a good thing.
It’s also worth mentioning that technically the Yvette A112 isn’t a women’s ski. It uses the exact same construction as the DPS Wailer A112 ($1,299), but the Yvette is offered in shorter lengths—and DPS uses a slightly different construction for each ski length it produces. There’s no “women’s” build, per se, but the 158-centimeter length is made a little differently than the 168-centimeter version, which isn’t identical to the 178-centimeter ski. The idea is to make sure the ski’s desired characteristics get expressed in every size. It’s a bit like how Pivot optimizes every size of every mountain bike it produces. That approach isn’t gender-specific, but size-specific—and every female athlete I know wants gear that fits.
The Yvette A112 is floaty, easy to turn, stable at speed, and trustworthy on those groomed runs you use when commuting between powder stashes. But it’s just as fun at the end of the day, when the powder’s been sliced and diced. This ski makes the whole day feel like a hoot, not just the first untracked run. Occasional skiers and reluctant powderhounds might not find that worth a $1,300 payout. But for women who’ve designed their lifestyles around chasing powder? The Yvette A112 repays the investment with huge grins, all day long.