REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Carpani F3 Master SL (2019-2020)
via della Casella, 5
40042 – Vidiciatico, Bologna
Tel & Fax +39 0534 53376
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
699 € list - custom specs at additional cost
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
8+ SL race for strong, heavy skiers
7 - Lighter skiers
The heavy stiffness with Activa and race plate limited the appropriateness of this ski to a small group.
Reducing the Activa or raceplate stack may make this strong ski more suitable for lighter skiers
The father of Blade skis and Guicarflex race plates is Filippo Carpani who started a new ski product line in 2008 called CARPANI. Legendary among race and race carve enthusiasts in Italy, Filippo's skis are painstakingly made by hand with raceroom technology and highest quality materials.
Besides race-ready SL, GS and specialty skis, Filippo has been making stunningly beautiful custom skis for clients who want racing technology wrapped in highly polished, exotic woods and metal accents. Filippo is one of the EU's legendary ski makers with a fanatical following.
"Finally the Slalom ski designed by the Masters for the Masters.
Being the skiing in slalom by the masters slightly different than the younger athletes born with short skis, we have after years of study developed a war machine..all for YOU. !!
At the first outing ... victory at the Serre Chevalier finals of the World Cup Master !!"
-website March 2020 via Google Translate
Technical Ski Data:
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Salomon X-Race 12 w/race plate (30mm +- rise)
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots.
Salomon X-Pro 130 boots.
Filippo's skis are superbly made and finished, and distinctive in their look and hand flex. Our test pair was outfitted with a full race plate stack supporting the Salomon X-Race 12 binding and Carpani's Activa bar mechanism applying pressure to the forebody of the ski. The pebbly texture topsheet is vibrantly printed and feels durable. Construction quality and finish work was excellent. The F3 Master feels stiff, definitely influenced by the 3cm of Activa + RacePlate + Race Binding stack. Torsionally rigid with a damp, heavy feel, these skis feel serious, strong and not for the light-hearted skier. The Carpani F3 Master gives you the impression these skis are intended for athletes who can drive a ski at speed.
Eastern hardpack, boilerplate and packed powder surfaces.
What if you over-stacked a serious race ski for civilian usage? As tested with the full race-stack of Activa motion control arm mechanism and tall race plate under the Salmon X-Race bindings, the Carpani F3 Master SL was a seriously strong, stiff, high-quality race ski ideally suited only to heavier, stronger racers. We had both 195 lb and 150 lb experts on these test skis in ideal carving conditions, and both found the ski needed very strong input to get it to engage and strong vigilance and athleticism to keep it powered through its arcs. Edge hold and line holding prowess was intense and secure across nasty, hard surfaces. You either need a powerful downforce effort to get the ski to flex into its arc from a running-flat state, or keep it in a constant fully-flexed state by rolling the skis intensely from edge-to-edge with very short (if any) transition time. Keep them flexed and bent firmly into the snow and they deliver a rail-like, intensely powerful grip. Release them into a run-flat state and you have to concentrate to get them back into their preferred degree of arc. Vibration dampening was so strong it felt as if we were isolated from communication with the surface. When outfitted with a full suite of Activa arm and dampened raceplate accessories, these are specialty tools for strong, intensely technical skiers at high speeds. We'd love to try these skis de-fanged by removing the raceplate and maybe the Activa arm system (or both). Minimally stacked, the F3 Masters might be more appealing to a wider audience looking for a hard-core race tool. It's fun to try a ski system set up for the strongest of skiers every now and then. It lets you know what type of world they live in compared to we mere mortals.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Carpani F3 Master SLs with the full stack of race plate and Activa arm mechanism are dead-quiet, stiff and serious on hardpack. Edge to edge agility was quick if the skier was focused and powerful. If you try to ski the F3 Master SL passively, it feel balky, somewhat resistant to bending into its apex and eager to straighten itself out when finishing a turn, despite the somewhat wide-ish tail and seemingly curvy sidecut geometry. If you punch the ski down authoritatively and get the forebody to flex against the Activa arm into the surface, the F3 bites with authority and forceful security, leading the arc into the stiffly reinforced midbody where pressure must be maintained and directed quickly to the heel zone to complete the turn. You can feel the Activa arm mechanism pressure the forebody into the surface of the snow and support an intense amount of pressure. We don't know anyone who might overpower this ski other than a Worldcup competitor. As mentioned earlier in this review, the F3 Masters seem to respond well to being in a constant state of fully bent, deeply engaged onto a hard surface where they deliver a railroad track-like feeling of being securely embedded onto the snow, no matter what the surface irregularities or densities. These are skis that want to be constantly engaged in their carving state, not ridden passively for a bit, flexed into a turn and then ridden to the next turn location. You need to keep these skis immersed on-edge into the surface (even if its only a few mm deep) and under constant pressure. The faster you go, the more you can enlist centrifugal force to generate the pressure you need. Vibrations don't exist with this setup, and it feels like there is an over-dampened loss of feel underfoot for the snow's density. This can be a life saver in rock-hard boilerplate conditions at high speeds, but in some situations, it can be difficult to feel the snow underfoot and know how much pressure to apply to maintain a consistent edge engagement across variable surface densities. Stabilty delivers top-shelf confidence without a hint of darty behavior or unpredictable redirection.
As equiped, these are serious skis for hard-driving, heavy or strong athletes. Others may want to decrease the stack of rubber and plastic plates sitting between your boots and the top of this ski.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
We found the Carpani F3 Masters crank through some "off race course" frontside terrain pretty well if you keep the power on. There is zero deflection and they are unphased by soft piles of snow or variable density snow conditions. They are stiff, so you feel every bump and undulation on the snow, but the rock-solid security and limitless power on-tap delivers a confidence-inspiring ride with intense edge angles possible if you drive the ski into its happy zone of deeply flexed edge engagement. Don't expect to ski these all day like that unless you are a physical fitness addict with lots of energy reserves.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
Turn intiation is difficult unless you really punch this ski DOWN into the surface with authority, or are completing an old intensely-powered turn with a high-edge angle setup onto the new edges with deliberate and strong pressure. Getting the ski to engage by running it flat and simply rolling it on-edge won't generate the pull across the hill you might want. You have to work to get what you want, and when it engages, you can deliver as much power into the ski as you want and it will keep on gripping more and more intensely until you release it. If you get your feet coordinated into a water-like flow of on-edge...off-edge along the entire fully-flexed ski while under pressure the entire time in each direction, you can get a rarely felt sequence of carving intensities you knew where out there somewhere, but had a hard time achieving. The F3 Masters want to be kept under intense pressure at their apex. The long stack of plates underfoot makes the midbody rigid, so you don't get much flex in the middle of the ski, relying instead upon the stiff forebody and short tail to do the flexing part of your turn sequence. The geometry at 118-69-103 is a bit different than the Head WC Rebel SL at 114-66-100, but both have a tail only 34mm wider than their waists, but the tail of the Carpani F3 Master feels more burly to finish.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
This ski feels like someone put you in a Formula 1 race car and then told you to parallel park it on a Manhattan sidestreet.
Notable Tester Comments:
When I was in Canada several weeks back with my wife who won the Women's FIS Masters SL event, I was telling my friends from Europe I was there to test the Carpani F3 Master SLs and their eyes got real big and they said all "good luck". They surprised me because some of the best skiers in the world were telling me these were going to take me for a ride.
I found out they were absolutely correct. I took the skis out for several days and my overall impression was that they were just as described, hard to navigate through a course and quite difficult to maneuver. Initially I took them out on a groomer bluebird day and they were a little bit more compliant as the tip would hook up into some of the groom and the ripples would pull the ski across the hill slightly. I found a shovel to be incredibly stiff and hard to bend. The middle part of the ski had a very significant dead spot and the tail was rather prominently stiff and unyielding. Over the course of three days I played around with moving the bindings to see if I could modify the stance and the characteristics. Largely the ski was quite a beast and wanted to straight line down the mountain.
This is not to say that this is a bad scary ski, it just needs to find the right pilot. I think the ideal contenter is that would be someone who was approximately 300 pounds and like the idea of a slalom ski but wanted to ski out of the course. I found this ski quite difficult to maneuver through gates and when I put it through some cones at my kids race, it was almost impossible to finish the turns. But when I took it out and free ski it in a straight line kind a pivot fashion the stiffness that was challenging to carve and toss them up the hill made the ski very successful at deflecting crude and not getting tossed around.
If you are a lightweight skier who has any ambitions of actually racing with this ski, I would just not give it a second chance- The large plate combined with the motion reduction arm is just too much. These are beefy like the old-school bombers!!!
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Maybe remove the race plate or Activa arm system to see if the ski becomes more compliant.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
This is a ski for strong, pro-level skiers who have the power to drive it into its operating zone.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
As equiped with its full complement of raceplates, this is a ski for hard-driving, strong athletes. Period.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Be prepared to own a hard core race ski for hard core racers, and think twice if you think you want a tall raceplate.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
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