Expert Review: Head Kore 99 Skis · 2023
This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for one day in January of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I tested for one day in January of 2022.
The Head Kore 99 is a nimble, powerful ski whose on-piste performance far exceeded my expectation of what was possible for a very light 99mm all-mountain/freeride ski. The Kore 99 really could be a quiver-killer for a Western skier or a great pow ski for an Eastern skier, especially one who hunts snow in the trees.
About the gear
- Model: 2023 Head Kore 99
- Size: 184cm
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 210 lbs
- Experience: 45 years of skiing; teaching on and off for the last 23 years.
- When I tested these: Spring 2022
- Days tested: 1
- Mount position: On the line
- Boots: 2018 Tecnica Mach1 130 LVs
- Boot Size: 27.5
- Bindings: Head/Tyrolia Demo bindings
- Where I’ve used it: Powder Mountain, Utah
- Terrain: Groomers, moguls, and light off-piste/trees in early spring conditions that featured a mix of very firm refrozen snow and early corn snow.
How they perform
What I was looking for
I expected the Head Kore 99 to be light, versatile, and excellent for off-piste skiing. Going into the test, I wanted to see how well it lived up to its reputation as a ski that would be well-suited for carving turns.
Why I chose this gear
The 2023 Head Kore performs fantastically well for its weight as an on-piste carver and an all-mountain off-piste ski. Light enough to tour on, it would make a great 50/50 all-mountain/touring ski. But even at that weight, it has fantastic energy out of the turn when put on edge on groomers, and while it won’t be as damp as much heavier skis, it is a great choice for a Western all-mountain skier looking for an all-mountain ski that is equally at home on and off-piste.
What I love about it
- Speed: I did not think any ski this light could possibly be as stable at speed as the Kore 99s were. While not as damp as heavier skis featuring titanal in their cores (like the Blizzard Bonafide 97), the Head Kore 99s remained very stable during high-speed GS turns on hard-packed terrain.
- Edge hold: The Head Kore 99s featured impeccable edge-hold, even on firmer snow at high speeds.
- Turns: I could not believe how easy and fun it was to initiate and transition between turns, given the 99mm waist of the skis. The Kore 99s were quick, edge-to-edge, and easy to demonstrate fantastic energy from one turn into the next. Although light, the carbon in the ski gives the Kore 99s enough stiffness to provide lots of rebound energy when flexed.
- Groomers: I was amazed at how fun the Kore 99s were for carved turns on groomers. I expect a 99mm-waisted ski to be competent skiing groomed terrain, but the Kore 99s feel like a much narrower ski—in a very good way—when skiing on groomers. The Kore 99s were quick edge-to-edge and were lively in the transition from turn to turn.
- Powder: I did not get a chance to ski the Head Kore 99s in deeper snow, but with the rocker profile, lightness of the ski, and 99-mm width, I expect them to float comparable to, if not better than, other directional all-mountain skis. Playful skis with more rocker might float a little better at this width but would sacrifice the carving/front-side performance that makes this a versatile ski.
- Trees: Given the conditions on the day I tested these, I didn’t get to take them into any serious trees. However, given how well they hold an edge, their mid-fat width, how well they perform in the bumps (see below), and how incredibly nimble they are, I have no doubt that they would be a fantastic tree ski.
- Moguls: I had a blast skiing the Kore 99s in softening but challenging bumps. With their stiff tip and tail, these are not forgiving skis for aspiring bump skiers. But, advance to expert mogul skiers who like a stiff ski will love how light, nimble, and precise these skis are in the bumps.
- Backcountry: I did not get to ski these skis beyond the boundary ropes, but given how light they are (1840g per ski at 177cm), they would be a great candidate for skiers looking to put together a touring-capable setup with a ski that also slays in-bounds.
- Durability: I did not get to ski these long enough to gauge the durability. But, in response to previous negative experiences with the topsheet, Head has changed the Kore 99 by adding a more traditional, durable topsheet.
- Weight: At 1840g per ski, the Kore 99s felt amazingly light for a ski this composed and stiff. And I skied with a demo binding that added more weight than a flat-mounted binding or an alpine touring binding would.
- Stability: With stiff tips and tails, these are stable skis. The tips and tails are designed to slice through the snow with stability and ease. That said, they are very stable, but they are not particularly damp for a directional ski. Heavier skis like the Blizzard Bonafide 97 and the Volkl Mantra absorb more vibration.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Park: Directional and stiff, the Kore 99s are about as far as one can get in a ski this light from a park-oriented ski. Park skiers looking for a light touring-capable mid-fat have other options (like the Line Vision 98 or the Atomic Bent Chetler 100).
- Switch riding: As a ski intended to be used with a traditional mounting point, the Kore 99 would not be my first choice for extensive switch skiing. It has enough of a subtle tip rocker to make switch skiing totally feasible, as I found when I was tempted by the light swing weight to land small 180-degree jumps of side hits.
Favorite moment with this gear
I enjoyed every minute of testing these skis (except when it was time to pass them on), but my favorite moment came when I realized how much fun it was to ski these light but stable skis in firm bumps. They were utterly predictable when directed into the fall line but so quick and maneuverable that directional changes at the tops of bumps felt effortless.
Value for the money vs. other options
The word has not gotten out on these skis yet—and the ‘22s are available at a significant discount of around $450 per pair. That’s a fantastic price for a ski with a performance ceiling comparable to other advanced/expert skis. It also can pull double duty as a touring ski and is at a significant discount compared to competitors like the Atomic Maverick 95 TI, the Blizzard Bonafide 97, or the Volkl Mantra.
The Head Kore 99s are a fantastic choice for a Western skier looking for a mid-fat ski that can do double-duty as an inbounds ski and a touring ski, or just want a ski that is light enough to be easy to flick around in tight trees and bumps, without sacrificing directional precision. For East Coasters, this would be a great ski to bring in the trees when there’s soft snow around and to bring out West—but they might want to keep a narrower, damper ski on hand for days when the mountain has not seen fresh snow in a while.