Expert Review: DPS Pagoda 94 C2 Skis · 2023Published on 03/16/2023 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
Cog Railway, Mt. Washington, NH. All photos courtesy of Adam St. Ours
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
The DPS Pagoda 94 C2 is a do-it-all ski for every condition one can find in and out of the resort. Featuring DPS’s Pagoda core with two species of wood, as well as their renown dual carbon layer, and utilizing the C2 chassis built for attacking the fall line with speed and power, the Pagoda 94 C2 is a strong ski that’s smooth and supple. It attacks groomers and devours crud and chop with aplomb.
About the skis I own
- Model: 2023 DPS Pagoda 94 C2 skis
- Size: 185cm
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 230lbs
- Experience: 35+ years of skiing
- When I bought these: November 2022
- Days tested: 25
- Mount position: Recommended
- Boots: 2023 Tecnica Cochise 130
- Boot Size: 27.5
- Bindings: 2021 Look Pivot 15 GW with CAST Freetour upgrade
- Where I’ve used it: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Colorado
- Terrain: Groomers, moguls, deep powder, trees, high alpine bowls, backcountry
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for a ski with the utmost versatility. I tend to constantly seek out new terrain while skiing, and I’m rarely on the same run twice. While I prefer soft, ungroomed snow, the reality of skiing in the East is that many of my days are spent on groomers of varying quality. I generally prefer big, long turns and building lots of speed, but I also like to get myself into tight spots—whether it’s tree runs in New England or tight chutes or couloirs when I travel out West. So, I need a ski that is comfortable making a variety of turn shapes while being stable at high speeds, no matter what the snow conditions are.
Why I chose this gear
I have always skied stiff metal skis in the past, and I wanted something with the same performance on trail, but more nimble in soft snow. While weight wasn’t a main concern of mine, the fact that these skis were about 10% lighter than most similar skis, despite being slightly bigger, definitely appealed to me. Other models that I considered were the Volkl Kendo, Blizzard Brahma 88, Nordica Enforcer 94, and Salomon Stance 96.
What I love about them
- Speed: This ski loves to go fast. If I want to straightline something, it is predictable at high speeds and doesn’t unexpectedly pull me into turns. DPS markets the C2 design as “Directional. Fall line.” My experience is definitely in line with that claim.
- Stability: Stability is one of the attributes where the Pagoda C2 shines brightest. They are predictable in almost any condition, without feeling dead or muting out all sensation from the snow. This great goldilocks ski is confidence inspiring while still providing feedback and awareness of snow conditions underfoot.
- Edge hold: Edge hold is more than adequate for a mid-width freeride ski. In what will be a recurring theme for this ski, it doesn’t feature the most edge hold performance in the category—ultra-stiff skis with two layers of metal in the core will always beat it in that regard. However, it’s well above average and more than enough for most people in most situations.
- Turns: Super versatile and smooth. The Pagoda construction flows exceptionally well. It’s hard to describe, but turns are buttery smooth. It doesn’t take a lot of skier input to turn the ski, but at the same time, I feel in complete control and don’t have to fight to do what I want.
- Groomers: On groomers, this ski is good to very good, but not the best in class. It will carve confidently and be stable at high speeds and in chop. But let’s be honest, one doesn’t have to buy a DPS ski just to stay on groomers. If one mostly views groomers as a way to get back to the lift, but one wants a ski that can still be pushed hard and inspires confidence, then the Pagoda 94 C2 is right up that alley.
- Powder: My first time on these skis was in three feet of powder during the historic lake-effect snow in Buffalo, NY. The resort wasn’t open yet, so we hiked for turns and had the place to ourselves—untracked snow all day long. These skis performed admirably well, especially considering their width. Would a wider ski, something 110+mm, have floated better on top of the deep snow? Of course, that’s just physics. But for a ski in the mid-90s, I didn’t feel like the tips were diving or getting caught under the snow, and the ski turned well even in the deepest of snow. Overall I was very impressed with how they performed, and I have no reservations about taking them to the resort on a powder day.
- Durability: If I’m being honest, I am not easy on my skis. I subscribe to the “skis are tools, not jewels” mentality. While I don’t intentionally try to beat them up, I have no problem going down marginal terrain and conditions if it’s open (and sometimes if it’s not open, but don’t tell the ski patrol). In this regard, DPS has proven to be as high quality as its reputation warrants. In what has been a historically low snow year in the Northeast, I only have a few cosmetic scratches on my bases despite hitting many rocks.
- Weight: The skis are middle-of-the-road in their category. They’re heavier than most playful freestyle and hybrid-backcountry skis and lighter than most metal-laminate chargers.
- Switch riding: I don’t ride switch often, but given the shape and profile of these skis, I see no reason why they wouldn’t be as capable as any other similar all-mountain freeride ski.
- Park: I don’t ski in the terrain park, and these are certainly not purpose-built park skis, but I have taken them off some small cliffs. They provide a solid, stable landing, and the tails are supportive without being punished if I land in the backseat.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Trees: I spend a lot of time in the trees, and the Pagoda 94 C2 does a great job for its type of ski. The C2 chassis has less taper at the tip of the ski. That means that the widest point of the tip is further towards the front of the ski than the RP construction—which gives the Pagoda C2 a longer effective edge (i.e., more grip on the snow). Overall, it is fairly middle-of-the-road in the world of all-mountain skiing. Again, I’m speaking to the ski's versatility, but it prefers to be up on edge when turning versus breaking out of a carve and pivoting or smearing the tails of the ski.
- Moguls: This is a similar story to the trees. It’s not the most nimble ski on the market or that DPS makes (again, their RP construction is better at short turns), but if one commits to skiing the fall line and gets some speed, the ski is quick from side to side and easy to navigate tight spots.
- Backcountry: The Pagoda 94 C2 is not a dedicated backcountry ski, and it’s not even intended as a hybrid 50/50 ski to take equally in and out of the resort. However, if one wants a ski that one can push hard in the resort and occasionally take in the backcountry with the same confidence that one has in the resort, then it warrants some consideration.
Favorite moment with this gear
Definitely taking my son to Colorado and skiing the Expert-Only back bowls with him. Their versatility showed as we got a mixed bag, from big, hard moguls to scraped-off trails to windblown powder—sometimes all in the same run. At no point did I feel like the skis were unable to confidently handle the conditions, and I was able to focus on my son, and enjoy him gaining confidence at big-mountain skiing.
Value for the money vs. other options
Yes, DPS skis are among the most expensive skis on the market. There is no getting around that, and it needs to be acknowledged from the get-go. There are many similar skis (such as the Volkl Mantra, Nordica Enforcer, or Blizzard Bonafide) that feature two layers of metal and are stiffer and more powerful; and there are many skis (Salomon QST, Black Crows Camox, Icelantic Nomad) that are more playful, more energetic, and are quicker in turns. What one gets for the cost of a DPS Pagoda is a supreme all-mountain ski that’s handmade in Salt Lake City, UT, and is the best of both worlds; strong and nimble. The price is justified because one can be confident that these skis will not only handle any terrain or condition, but handle it well. DPS skis have such a loyal following because nothing else is as silky smooth feeling on snow.
For those who want high performance on any mountain and in any snow condition, with little to no compromises, then the DPS Pagoda 94 C2 should be on the short list.** **They are smooth and stable, while also being nimble, and have a high top-end without being overly demanding.