2023 K2 Mindbender 99Ti W Review
This wider all-mountain ski can cut through crud and carve up groomers
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 6.74/10
- Rank: #9
- Versatility: 6.33
- Crud Performance: 7.17
- Flotation: 7.33
- Playfulness: 6
- Responsiveness: 5.83
- Quickness: 7.67
- Hard-Snow Integrity: 5.67
- Stability at Speed: 5.67
- Forgiveness: 6.17
- Price: $900
- Lengths: 154, 160, 166, 172
- Dimensions: 134-99-120
- Radius: 15.4m (166cm)
- Weight: 1,750 g (170cm)
- Level: Intermediate to Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Quickness (#3), Crud Performance (#8)
- Cons: Hard Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed
If you’re wondering what happened to the Mindbender 99Ti Alliance—this is it (K2 dropped the “Alliance” in this year’s iteration in place of the “W”). In comparison to last year, this ski once again scored high in quickness, but lower in hard snow integrity and stability at speed than previous iterations.
These results are interesting, considering K2 tweaked the construction of the historically-playful Mindbender series with a new Y-shaped titanal structure in an effort to redistribute weight to make them more stable. Essentially, the titinal runs in a single strip from edge-to-edge towards the center of the ski, but splits into two prongs towards the tip. It continues in a single strip towards the tails, but narrows out.
Perhaps the effort to add stability with their new titinal construction was negated by the changes they made to the rocker: K2 deepened the rocker in the tail to help ease releasing out of a turn. The shape pretty much remained the same, besides slightly more tapering in the tips and tails.
Testers definitely felt the difference in the added rocker, appreciating how maneuverable the 99Ti W’s felt popping around the bumps. Across the board, testers agreed these sticks were better when slashing through softer snow or snaking through the glades and bumps. Two former U.S. Ski Team racers said the ski was less predictable on the hardpack than others in the category, and felt like it lost some power in comparison to the traditionally-structured titanal from previous seasons. “Groomed and hard snow integrity aren’t what they used to be on these, said one tester. “[It’s] more freeride and slarvy, less carving-oriented.”
The core of the 99Ti W (which has the same construction as its unisex counterpart, as do all of the women’s skis in the Mindbender line), consists of Aspen Veneer strips, which saves weight in comparison to Maple or Ash cores. The ski still trends on the heavier side next to the rest of the skis in the all-mountain wide women’s category though, but testers didn’t think it was too heavy or burly for beginner or intermediate skiers.
Our less-aggressive testers were surprised at how well the 99 Ti W transitioned out of turns and held up in the crud, which we can likely attribute to its deeper rocker in the tails. “This is a good ski for a beginner looking to level up and ski deeper snow and more variable terrain. It’s not too much ski to control,” said Ski editor in chief Sierra Shafer.
Overall, this ski would be a solid option for beginners to intermediates who ski more off-piste than on, and want to feel balanced in choppier snow. However, for the skier who’s more often on firmer snow and likes to carve arcing GS turns, we’d suggest opting for something damper like the Volkl Secret.
Kelly Klein is an associate gear editor specializing in skis and bikes. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.