Expert Review: 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C W Skis [with Video]Published on 09/15/2023 · 14 min readSkiing Experts Charlotte H. and Sara Beeken tested the 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C skis in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories.
Curated Skiing Experts Charlotte H. and Sara Beeken got their hands on the 2024 K2 Mindbender 96C Women's Skis this spring. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every skier is different; if you have any questions about the Mindbender 96C or need recommendations on which ski would be best for you, reach out to a Skiing Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does K2 claim about this ski? [Charlotte] This is an intermediate to expert, all-mountain ski.
[Sara] The brand claims that this is an intermediate all the way up to expert, all-mountain ski.
What is your overall impression of the ski? [Charlotte] I love these skis so much. I don't think there's a situation or an area on any mountain that I could get myself into in which I wouldn't feel totally comfortable and confident on these skis and I wouldn't have a good time on them as well.
[Sara] My overall impression of these skis was fantastic. I had so much fun on these. My daily driver is a Mindbender 99Ti, and I found that the difference between a titanal ski and this carbon and flax ski was pretty minimal in terms of stability at speed. But, we save a lot of weight by going with carbon and flax instead of the titanal.
How does the shape of the ski affect the way it rides? [Charlotte] These have a really wide tip, so being that they're 96 underfoot and they've got quite a shovel up here, it makes them more versatile for when you have a couple fresh inches of snow. The additional rocker plus this shovel means that they're going to feel floatier and surfier than some other skis that have a similar waist width.
[Sara] These skis have all-mountain rocker, so the tips have quite a bit of rocker in them and there's also a good amount of rocker in the tail that's going to help you with maneuvering in tight spaces like trees. And, it's also going to help you initiate your turns.
What is the flex like? [Charlotte] I want to tell you a little bit about the Mindbender lineup in general. There are two types of constructions that you can have inside of those Mindbender skis. The first is the Ti, which has a titanal Y-beam that runs through it. Second is the lighter weight, but still pretty stable alternative that has a C at the end of it, which stands for carbon. K2 has integrated a carbon spectral braid into the core of all of their C skis. In the areas in the ski in which you would like for it to be a little softer, a little less stiff, they open up that carbon weave, which gives you a little more playfulness and wash-out feeling where you can play and smear. And, as you get to flex patterns in the ski where you would want more stiffness, they make that weave more condensed which makes it a little bit harder to flex into.
I feel this flex most notably when I'm moving through the trees because I want to be able to power into my turn to make my ski turn. But, then I don't want my tails to hold on to that initial curve that I put into them. I want them to be able to slide out so I can get ready to move around that next tree right in front of me.
[Sara] These are a pretty medium flexing ski, but they do have carbon in them, so they hold up really well at speed.
How does the ski turn? [Charlotte] These skis turn really nicely. When I want to really engage in a true carve, they're able to hold that carve for me no matter if it's a shorter, medium, or a longer radius carve. But then when I'm looking to just slash, play, and smear my turns, they do that really well, too. There's really no type of turn that I try to engage these skis in which I don't feel awesome.
[Sara] I felt like skiing this was very intuitive. I didn't have any problems trying to get the ski to do what I wanted. It turns very easily.
What is the edge hold like? [Charlotte] The edge hold on the Mindbender 96C is really strong. They aren't the most burly of skis, but they still ski as if they have a stronger construction. They don't struggle to hold an edge no matter what type of terrain you're taking them on.
[Sara] I skied these several different days in various conditions and haven't had a problem with edge hold at all. It's been holding up really well even on those firm snow days.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the skis? [Charlotte] Because this ski is lighter and more nimble compared to the other skis in the Mindbender line, there is a little bit of underfoot chatter when you're skiing really fast and on harder packed snow. But, to be fair, I ski at pretty high speeds and I take them through really hard packed conditions, and they hold up totally fine.
[Sara] K2 has added flax to a lot of their carbon skis this year, and this one is no different. It's got an extra added level of dampness because of that flax, and I could absolutely feel it. The risk you run by getting a carbon ski is that it's not going to be as damp as some of the titanal skis. But, if you are someone who wants that lightweight ski but not sacrificing on any dampness or power, this is an awesome way to go.
How does it feel in terms of speed? [Charlotte] Stability at speed is not a problem for these skis whatsoever as long as you're making turns. These skis are really geared for someone who wants to be playful all over the mountain, who wants to be moving down a mogul field at high speeds, who wants to be cruising through trees, and who wants to be carving on a groomer. If you're straight lining the mountain or making really wide open turns at high, high speeds, you're going to notice a little bit of chatter, which is just the nature of the beast, of lightening the core of a ski like this. But, if you're turning and you're moving fast, you won't notice much chatter on these skis.
[Sara] As a former racer who skis pretty fast most of the time, I found that 95% of the time this ski was holding up just as well as my Mindbender 99Ti.
How is its energy/acceleration? [Charlotte] Maintaining energy and acceleration through turns is one of the things that the carbon version of the skis in the Mindbender lineup do best because we've shed some weight and some metal. They feel pretty energetic and poppy, as you're moving through your turns. They also have a good amount of camber underfoot, which is going to move you from one turn into the next pretty intuitively.
[Sara] I felt a fantastic balance of acceleration, energy, and also stability on the ski. It gives you enough pop to keep you having fun, but it's also going to be nice and damp for when you're hitting cruddy conditions.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop? [Charlotte] They are not the most poppy of skis. A ski that's just straight wood in its core might feel a little more poppy and playful than this ski. But, this is a really nice alternative to a heavier metal ski if you're looking to become more playful.
I actually ended up getting the wider version of this ski because that was what I was intending to do - become more playful. I was moving from race skis to full metal skis into something that was supposed to be lighter and let me take more risks on the mountain. This ski, in the wider version, did it really well. And then when I had the chance to test out the 96, it did it just as well as my 106s.
[Sara] This ski is a fantastic middle ground in a lot of ways. The pop is really fun, but it's not overly dramatic. It's stable on uneven terrain, and it's lightweight and maneuverable.
Is it good for skiing switch? [Charlotte] In terms of riding switch, this wouldn't be a number one ski for me. It has partial twin tips on its tails, but they don't lift that high. So, if you're looking to spend significant time riding switch, I would go for something that has more lift in its tails and is a true twin. They do the job, but not all day.
[Sara] The amount of tail rocker on this means that you could ski switch, but it's definitely not going to be my first choice if you're somebody who's wanting to spend some time in the park and do a little bit of freestyle skiing.
How is the ski with jumps? [Charlotte] These skis are really fun to take off the jumps. They're not the most energetic, but that just means that you're going to be able to jump off, have a little extra lift with reduced weight while still feeling really confident and stable, and not like you're just shooting out of a cannon.
[Sara] I love the ski on jumps. It's light enough that you can maneuver it around and pop into the air really easily. But, it's also going to give you a really stable landing, and if you land a little bit back seat, it's not going to throw you off.
Can it handle the park and what features is it best for/should avoid? [Charlotte] I don't see any reason that you can't dabble in the park on these skis. They do really well on a box type of element. If you have a longer ski, I think they could do jumps pretty stabley, too. In terms of holding up on rails. I'd be a little hesitant to be skiing rails all day on the Mindbenders.
[Sara] There's nothing saying you can't take this in the park, but it's not a park ski. If you're looking for something that's going to spend more than maybe 10% of your day in the terrain park, look for something different, like the K2 Reckoners.
How is it in powder? [Charlotte] The 96C really hits the sweet spot in a medium to wide, all-mountain ski. They're going to be really nice for someone that's on the East Coast and is looking forward to those days when they get a couple of fresh inches but is primarily skiing hard packed snow. If you were skiing bigger dumps week to week out West, I would look at the wider version of these skis. But in terms of holding its own in powder, the wider shovel and the lifted tips are going to help them feel a little floatier even though they are just 96 underfoot.
[Sara] I've had a lot of luck with taking K2 Mindbenders in that 90 range into powder. They're not a powder ski because they're a little bit narrower. But, because of all that tip rocker, I found them to be really maneuverable in six inches to a foot of powder.
How is it in uneven terrain and chunder? [Charlotte] There's nothing these skis can't do, and that includes uneven terrain, chunder, and chunkier snow. They're going to be totally fine.
[Sara] I really like the addition of flax because it's giving you a lot of extra dampness when you're in uneven conditions, and it makes you feel really stable and like the skis are there for you.
How is it skiing in the trees? How is its maneuverability? [Charlotte] I love these skis because of tree riding in particular. They're super nimble and super maneuverable, which means that I can hop in and out of my turns and not feel uncertain that the skis won't turn with me.
[Sara] I love these in the trees. I felt like I could pop around and really stay in control. If I needed to throw on the brakes because I was about to hit a tree, they could do that. But, they were also holding up well in icy conditions in the trees, which isn't something that a lot of skis can do.
What terrain is this ski good for? [Charlotte] I love these skis for everywhere on the mountain. If you're getting into a run and looking to warm your legs up with some carving turns, they carve beautifully. They make really true calves and they flow from one turn to the next. Then, if you're looking to hop into a bump trail, take some trees down, or really just let the skis run, there are no wrong choices when you're on the Mindbenders.
[Sara] These are great for almost anything. If you're looking for a one ski quiver that's not going to be the heaviest ski out there, but is also a pretty advanced ski for charging down the mountain, this is a really, really awesome option.
What terrain should skiers avoid with it? [Charlotte] These skis do a great job at ripping the whole mountain. If you're looking to be moving at really high speeds, 50+ miles an hour, you're going to notice that they're not quite as damp in the tips as some other skis. In which case, you might want to go with something with more stable and secure metal in its core. Otherwise, ski them everywhere.
[Sara] There's very little terrain I would not take the ski into. But, if you're looking for a park ski, this isn't a park ski.
Who would you recommend these skis to? [Charlotte] These skis are really awesome for a wide variety of skiers. They're really great for the expert skier that knows how to drive their skis and wants a little bit of playfulness and pop as they're heading down the mountain. But, they also do really nicely for the intermediate skier that's gaining confidence and wants their next pair of skis to be lasting them for a long time as they continue to grow.
[Sara] I'm really glad they added this 96C because there was kind of a gap in the Mindbender line up before. We have the 90C, which is going to be kind of more of a front-side oriented ski, and then there's the 99Ti, which jumps into a harder charging, all-mountain ski. So, this fills a gap in that line that's going to be so accessible for a huge range of people: all the way from somebody who's a more aggressive intermediate up to an expert level skier that wants something a little more playful or lightweight, but that still can charge the whole mountain.
Who should avoid these skis, there are better options out there for them? [Charlotte] Beginner skiers, I would recommend looking at a little bit of a lighter or more narrow version like the Mindbender 85. It skis similarly, but with reduced weight and no metal in their core, which actually makes them feel a little poppier.
[Sara] If you're a beginner skier, there are several other skis, including the Mindbender 85, that would be a great starting point for you. Then, eventually you could progress into something like this that's going to give you a little bit more stability at speed and more energy.
If you could pack these skis for anywhere in the world, where would you take them? [Charlotte] I want to send these to every single friend I have that lives on the East Coast. These are the perfect ski if you're looking to bounce around the whole mountain and have a great day doing it. They also are a leg saver, so if you want stability in your skis but don't want all that extra weight, these are going to keep you feeling fresh if you're skiing day after day after day.
And, if you're out West and you want a daily driver that's not necessarily a powder ski so that you're getting a little more edge to edge quickness, this is the ski for you. Then, you can also look at the 106 or the 115 carbons for your deeper days.
[Sara] I would pack them in my car for a cross-country road trip because I would take them literally everywhere.
Skis work differently for different types of skiers. If you are wondering whether the Mindbender 96C is the right ski for you, chat with Charlotte, Sara, or any other Skiing Experts here on Curated, and they’ll put together free, personalized ski recommendations on the best skis for your needs.