2023 Elan Ripstick 102 W Review
A quick whip for all-mountain adventures in tight terrain
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 7.21/10
- Rank: #7
- Versatility: 7
- Crud Performance: 7.43
- Flotation: 7.57
- Playfulness: 7
- Responsiveness: 7.43
- Quickness: 7.14
- Hard-Snow Integrity: 6
- Stability at Speed: 6.57
- Forgiveness: 7
- Price: $900
- Lengths: 154, 162, 170, 178
- Dimensions: 143-102-120
- Radius: 15 (154cm)
- Weight: 1,750 g (170cm)
- Level: Intermediate to Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Crud Performance (#5), Responsiveness (#6)
- Cons: Hard Snow Integrity (#5), Stability at Speed (#9)
There’s a reason Glen Plake is the face of Elan—the nimble energy he brings to those steezy bump runs he’s known for is matched by a ski like the Ripstick 102 W. This ski, along with a majority of Elan’s all-mountain skis, features an Amphibio profile, where the inside edge of each ski is cambered with rocker applied to the outside edges. Elan claims this makes for easier turn initiation and better edge grip than traditionally-shaped skis with rocker. We can’t say for sure if it’s the Amphibio profile, but testers definitely felt that Elan magic during shorter radius turns on the Ripstick 102 W. A particular strongpoint that testers kept coming back to is this ski’s agility in tight spaces. “It’s a fun, easy ski that likes to play off the beaten path,” said tester Tracy Gibbons, head hardgoods buyer for a ski shop in Washington. “I would 100 percent ski this on tight, techy terrain because it’s so nimble,” added tester and Outside gear editor, Ariella Gintzler.
The Ripsticks are a notoriously stiff ski, and with no internal changes to the 102 W, the 2023 iteration is no different. It trends on the lighter side at 1,750 grams for the 170cm pair, which definitely added to the ease in which testers were able to make quick turns. Carbon is the star of the show in the Ripstick’s construction—specifically Elan’s Carbon Line technology, which has carbon reinforcements on the inside edge of the ski, adding stability and power to turns. It also features carbon rods for added stability without all of the heft. All this carbon helps to keep the ski light, but also tends to be inflexible.
Last year, this same ski received very high marks in Stability at Speed and Hard-Snow Integrity, but those marks faltered this year. That’s probably due to the fact that we were testing the Ripsticks in some of the firmest and iciest conditions out there this season, and the unforgiving hardpack at Sun Valley really put this ski to the test. Overall, it performed much better in softer conditions where chatter is less of a problem—which most of our testers reported on the Ripstick 102 W first thing in the morning.
“This is a perfect ski for someone who likes to make short radius carvy turns and doesn’t care as much about railing GS turns at high speed,” said Gintzler, who likes to ski from the center of a ski with a less aggressive style. “I felt like I was getting bucked around when I tried to make super wide turns on the chunky hardpack.”
Another tester said that the “lightweight maneuverable tip gets bounced around a bit in the heavier and wetter snow conditions.” Keeping these notes in mind, we’d recommend this ski for a region where the snow tends to be dry and soft, like the mountain west. It’s perfect for searching for leftover crud off-piste and avoiding top-speed GS turns first thing on icy mornings. Once the snow softens up a bit, those controlled GS turns are truly a pleasure on this ski.
At the end of the day, the Ripstick 102 W is a solid option for the intermediate and advanced skier who mostly rides soft and consistent snow, or the expert looking to make quick turns in techy terrain when the conditions are less than ideal.
Kelly Klein is an associate gear editor specializing in skis and bikes. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.