Expert Review: Salomon QST Blank Skis · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
The new Salomon QST Blank has become one of my favorite skis. Salomon has built a solid lineup with the QST series of skis, but the Blank model is a beefed-up version of the QST 106, made wider and stiffer with a more powerful core, more rocker, and more twin tip. If you’re interested in a ski that can handle big mountain terrain and is competition-ready, the QST Blank should be a top contender.
About the gear
- Model: 2022
- Size: 194 cm
- Height: 6’0
- Weight: 160 lb.
- Experience: 30 years
- When I bought these: December 2021
- Days tested: 20
- Mount position: recommended
- Boots: Roxa R3 130 Ti
- Boot Size: 27
- Bindings: Salomon STH2 16
- Where I’ve used it: Northern Utah, Montana, Idaho
- Terrain: Resorts–groomed runs, glades, cliffs, hike-to terrain, chutes, and steeps
How they perform
What I was looking for
The skis I prefer are usually twin-tipped, around 105-120 mm underfoot with a longer radius sidecut, stiff flex underfoot, and a little bit more flex as I go out. I prefer a ski with no speed limit, that can charge hard through any terrain, and doesn’t behave differently through variable conditions. I want a ski that can hold up to hard use, big drops off cliffs, and smear turns when I want, yet carve hard and straight-line when I need to.
Why I chose this gear
When the Northern Utah Salomon rep brought a new QST model to the local shop at the end of the 2021 ski season, my interest was piqued by the thick core, wide dimensions, and heft. I had not been a fan of the other skis in the QST lineup; I thought they were great skis, but they didn’t have a model that fits in the big mountain ski category like I prefer.
The new QST Blank filled that niche, though, and when I asked for a 190+ cm ski, I was even happier that they had one for me to test. I assumed the plain white graphic was a test top sheet and would be replaced in final production. I really enjoyed my day skiing on what I figured was a prototype, and asked if I could just keep them. I didn’t want to return the best big mountain ski Salomon has ever made. I was assured that I could get one early the next season when they came out, though.
I love the big mountain skis. I prefer skis over 190 cm that are stiff, wide, and capable of going fast through any kind of condition. I already own a Black Crows Anima and I wanted something similar. I also like the Rustler 11 from Blizzard, but I chose the QST Blank because it’s got slightly more of the twin tip shape that I’m used to.
What I love about them
- Speed: The QST Blank is comfortable going as fast as you can run them, and it doesn’t overflex when you need to hang on through the run out of a significant drop—it will keep you out of the backseat! Salomon finally fixed the problem with the QST lineup’s speed limit.
- Edge hold: The QST Blank has a strong flex and a bit of camber underfoot to give pop, but most importantly, the extra-thick core underfoot helps the ski track straight and hold a wide, high-speed turn through five types of snow conditions.
- Turns: The ski has a fair amount of rocker and a generous amount of taper in the tips and tails, so it’s nimble and easy to turn through tight terrain.
- Powder: At 112 mm underfoot, the QST Blank is an excellent choice for a powder ski. The taper in the tips and tails makes them plane effortlessly over soft snow and maintains predictable performance and consistent turns.
- Trees: By keeping the tips flexible and slightly tapered, the Blank is easy to throw sideways and responds quicker than other skis such as the Black Crows Anima, Blizzard Rustler 11, or Icelantic Nomad 115.
- Durability: I have put about 20 hard days on the QST Blank, and many of those days were in the spring and early winter when coverage was minimal and hazards plentiful. In one instance, a rock that ripped the core and edge of my friend’s skis barely put a dent in my new Blanks.
- Switch riding: The QST Blank has a longer, lower rise in the tips and tails and isn’t fully symmetrical, but it can still butter nicely and land switch. Higher speed switch turns are also fairly easy on this ski, even though the mounting position is rearward. This is a credit to Salomon’s engineering of the sidecut and flex, both of which are finely tuned for aggressive riding.
- Stability: The QST Blank is the most stable member of the QST family and responds to aggressive, high-speed freeriding better than the rest. The extra-thick construction underfoot and dampening material in the layup do incredible things to make a stable, smooth ride, even at mach loony.
- Other: How about that white top sheet and outrageous red/purple fade? Definitely the coolest graphics of the minimal aesthetic QST series of skis.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Groomers: If you want to ski groomers, get a skinnier ski. If you need to ski groomers to get you to the lift and back up to the big terrain, the QST Blank will do it.
- Moguls: The QST Blank is really heavy, really stiff, and also really wide. It will run through cut-up powder and beat-up off-piste runs with avalanche debris and refrozen crud. For actual moguls and freestyling, I’d look elsewhere.
- Park: Again, the QST Blank is a big mountain ski that has a stiff flex and wide platform. The Blank is difficult to engage and drive in the park without a lot of speed and energy. For big jumps and natural features like cliffs, the Blank is right at home and won’t let you down.
- Backcountry: There are a few extreme free-riders using tech bindings on the QST Blank, but given how stiff and heavy the ski is and also how fast you need to drive them in order to engage a turn, you’d be best bringing these in the backcountry on a snow machine.
- Weight: This is a heavy ski with robust construction. It’s got some heft, but that does lend itself to more stability at speeds.
Favorite moment with these skis
When I got my new skis mounted, I wanted my first run on them to be special. My favorite run at Powder Mountain is Hair Raiser. The top isn’t listed on the trail map, but it’s exceptionally steep compared to the rest of the resort. I usually make five turns through the whole thing with a big air at the runout. From the snowcat drop off at Lightning Ridge, you ski to a saddle where you remove your skis for a short scramble up to the Hair Raiser entrance.
On this approach, I hit a large rock. I tried to warn my friends behind me but my yell was unheeded and I heard their cursing as they made contact with the same rock. Unclicking from our gear to make the final hike to the drop-in, we examined our equipment’s damage. Mine were the only ones that wouldn’t require a base weld after that rock impact.
After scoping my line on Hair Raiser and clicking in, I had added confidence in these skis, but this was a sink or swim test for the QST Blank in the deep end. And deep it most certainly was. The North-facing leeward aspect was sheltered and filled in, and avalanche mitigation hadn’t knocked anything loose. My first two turns were over my head, and that could have spelled disaster if I didn’t know the line so well. I negotiated the hazards and made the last three wiggles through the choke point before hitting the apron at top speed.
The Blanks had me grinning ear to ear, hooting and hollering to the cat track for high fives and another lap.
Value for the money vs. other options
The QST Blank is made with extra materials compared to other skis, and as such, it is priced higher than other Salomon skis. However, the price is comparable to or less than what a lot of other big mountain skis go for. For the durability and high-quality construction and materials, the QST is really great price.
If you’re like me and want a ski that can point it through anything and hold up to seasons of hard use and abuse, the QST Blank will do it and do it well for a price that’s better than the competition. The visual style of the ski has an understated top and radical base for photo ops that will make it pop or render it nearly invisible, depending on your angle. Salomon really nailed it with this one, and I’m really happy I got a set of them in a 194, so I can ski like I want with a hard-charging setup.