REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Amplid Alter Ego 2016-2017
2016-2017 Amplid Alter Ego
130-95-120 r=12.2m@ 175cm
Amplid GmbH und Co. KG
Telefon: +49 8028 1713
Telefax: +49 321 2125213
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$690 usd retail
Frontside Resort Ski - all terrain (not carving-specific)
Amplid was founded in 2005 by Peter Bauer and Anian Thrainer to build better snowboards and skis. They are comitted to selling fewer, but better products that make skiers and riders happy, and their suppliers are all within 400km of their headquarters. Their designs are manufactured in Elan's high-tech facility in Slovenia, as well as some other facilities in Europe as dictated by the construction and design parameters of the specific models. They are consistently passionate about quality and performance over marketshare since they put their reputation on the line every time a customer spends a day on their products and will spread the word about Amplid.
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ for packed powder groomers less than warp 9
9 for mixed conditions crusing less than warp 9
8 for 3D and powder conditions with a "resort ski"
"Cast in the same shape as the Ego Trip Evolution, the Alter Ego sacrifices its lookalike's weight advantage for raw on-edge performance. Featured in the Alter Ego is an abundance of materials and technologies which together create the best resort ski that Amplid has ever built.Its 12m radius (at 175cm) pulls the ski onto an edge and then slingshots it into the next carve. This centrifugal feel is intensified by Amplid's Titanal Centriband Technology, a strip of Titanium alloy which runs along the whole length of the ski, above and below the core. Not only does Titanal supercharge the ski's flex and magnify the edge bite, it is also incredibly efficient at dampening vibrations caused by tracked conditions and refrozen corduroy. With added Basalt Suspension Strips the Alter Ego's edge is guaranteed to be always engaged and gripping hard. Its 95mm waist is wider than most of its contemporaries, but the Alter Ego really benefits from a performance boost in un-pisted snow. Cruise Camber not only feels wired and responsive like POP Camber, it's pretty handy in powder too. The flat tails make loading and unloading these animals at the gondola station that little bit more sophisticated. "
- website 2016
Last year we reviewed a touring/low-intensity oriented version (2014-2015 Amplid Ego Trip Revolution) of this shaping concept and came away super impressed with the elegant turn shaping and response to input Amplid designed in to chassis. While it was nearly effortless, fun and responsive, it lacked the structure to take athletic pressure at speed and it behaved like a touring ski with souped-up on-piste performance, lacking the grip on hardpack we had experienced in the similarly-shaped and uber-effective Amplid Rockwell we tested last year. Rich Ewbank and the rest of the crew at Amplid acknowledged they needed a model to fill the gap in this shaping family in the lineup and already had prototypes of the beefier, metal-infused Alter Ego finalized and ready for the 2015-2016 season.
We manged to get a really good selection of days on the Alter Ego both in Vermont to test hardpack and Eastern condition performance, and at Squaw Valley in California (where we got four feet of snow in two days!) to see how the 95mm-waisted ski handled deeper conditions. The Amplid Alter Ego defies traditional categories by spanning high performance over several surface types really, really well with minimal limitations only at the extremes of each snow environment. The more we skied it, the more often we grabbed it for tons of different conditions, and the more often it was included in the testing quiver each day we went out. Plenty of skis are great at on-piste carving, or traversing mixed snow types, or navigating powder surfaces in tight or open terrain, but few skis deliver big grins in all these conditions with as few reservations as often as the Alter Egos.
We mention the limitations at the "extremes" of each snow environment because the Alter Ego delivers some of the best auto-engagement turn shapes in the business with great feel and response underfoot with excellent vibration control, but in its current construction with a "strip" of metal above and below the core, (instead of full-sheets which would be heavier and change the feel of the design), enthusiastic, althletic or heavier skiers may find they want "more muscle" in the ski as they bring the speeds and pressures up to upper-level expert intensity when surfaces get really firm or when cutting across mixed snow surfaces at warp nine.
On packed powder, corduroy and hardpack, we found we really, really loved the turn behavior and grip throughout the ski's body when driving at expert level, often finding ourselves at higher and higher edge angles with our skis out farther and farther from our center of mass with big grins :-) until we called for race-ski grip and tracking performance on true boilerplate surfaces... and then we found the Alter Ego would reach its speed and pressure limits calmly. It never faltered unexpectedly, but told us we had reached its limit. For 95% of resort-side ripping and crusing, the Alter Ego was excellent and addicting...more than most skis we can think of. For race-like pressure and high-speed antics, we'd pick a race carver or race ski. If we had our wishes, we'd want an optional full-metal sheet version of this design for hard-core trench-digging, knowing we'd give up some of the more compliant low and mid-speed behavior in exchange for the higher-horsepower capabilities.
For mixed snow surfaces, the Alter Ego was one of the most versatile, nimble, responsive and low-effort skis we have found in the 85-100mm categories. The Alter Ego is neither a crud-busting muscle car or a slithery noodle. It's a really well-balanced design with excellent grip and line holding ability through junk at various speeds, resists deflection with great control while maintaining super-nimble feel with pretty effortless direction changes in short and medium radius turn shapes with minimal effort and input from the pilot. We like that in a ski. As with extreme hardpack performance, the Alter Egos have a speed limit in gnarly mixed snow conditions...more due to our 175cm test length than the design and construction of the ski itself. If we had a 192cm version of the Alter Ego..not just their 185cm version...now we'd be talking a different story...(we hope Amplid is listening...;-)...
For deeper powder conditions, we were surprised how well this 175cm, 95mm-waisted "resort ski" performed in 3D snow. While any sane person with a powder ski in their collection would grab it when epic storms coat their favorite terrain with fluff, sometimes you can't get access to a specialized ski for specialized conditions, or you didn't budget travel expenses enough to bring every ski you wanted on a trip somewhere. The Alter Ego has a fairly large surface area in the forebody, thanks to the shaping gurus at Amplid. It floats remarkably well with a predictable rise and fall up an down in deep snow (like we said, we had four feet in two days in Squaw!) and an easy, predictable turning behavior without giving you a sinking feeling or darty feel underfoot. If you had to get stuck in a storm with Alter Egos, the only thing you might want is a longer pair.
Amplid wanted to take the Ego Trip Evolution model and deliver a more frontside-oriented, higher performance model in the Alter Ego design, and they really struck a balance between making the ski appeal to only experts or only intermediates looking to up their game with a high performance ski. The Alter Ego simply rips elegant turns into frontside terrain with an addicting automatic turn engagement without requiring the skier to put in an athletic performance, yet lets you play effortlessly in mixed surfaces or skied-out terrain with confidence and a fun personality. Experts will love this ski. Advancing intermediates will immediately feel confident on it and up their game considerably. If it snows overnight while you're at the resort and you don't have a pair of pure powder skis available, the Alter Egos are completely fun and capable of letting you rip by your buddies struggling with their typical frontside all-terrain skis or racecarvers in the deep stuff. It's rare you find a ski with this degree of fun and high-performance in so many kinds of terrain, limited only by the most high-intensity or high-speed situations a limited number of skiers might demand at most resports.
In short, the Amplid Alter Ego is a super crowd pleaser with few, if any drawbacks we can find for a "resort ski", and definitely a performance-leader in its category. It sets a standard for frontside skis similar to what we felt with the DPS Cassiar 85 and 95, and we don't give that opinion lightly. The feel is different from mainstream skis and the performance is superb. These are skis the larger companies should study carefully because they can steal their big-industry marketshare if skiers got a chance to try them.
Technical Ski Data:
Ski manufactured EU.
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Tyrolia PRD PowerRail 12 Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Green Ice waxes, cold and warm
The Amplid Alter Ego skis look baddass (several people in liftlines confirrmed this while we were out testing) with a semi-gloss, semi-matte black body with green lettering ... handsome and business-like. The skis have a very thin vertical profile...thinner than most, yet have a slight heft to them that feels solid...sort of like a cutting blade meant for serious work. Moderate flex throughout, perhaps a bit soft in the tip, fairly round, but solid midsection. Fairly large forebody surface area and squared-off tail. Torsionally strong, damp response. Excellent fit and finish. Factory base grind needed some improvement since we needed to grind the base-high condition down a bit...the factory was notified and is making corrections in the finishing process.
Eastern corduroy, packed powder and hardpack groomers, boilerplate, ungroomed packed powder with small bumps, shin-deep to hip-deep powder conditions, both smooth and bumpy. Chalky wind buff, fresh and old powder. Corny spring conditions..smooth and bumpy.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Amplid Alter Ego is an elegant and super-fun frontside carving tool with a bit less prowess than a dedicated race-carver on the hardest surfaces at race-like pressures, but has a much wider performance envelope and far less effort required to lay down tracks at high angles. The Alter Egos are one of those designs that automatically pulls the skier into the turn once you roll the forebody up and engage the edge shaping, finishing the turn with a smooth, elegant motion and pressure distrubution onto solid, squared tails.
Power and zing are moderate and controlled..there's no unexpected throw-you-in-the-back-seat behavior, just smooth, professional authority (it's the best way to describe it). Vibration control on hard surfaces is excellent, balancing feel underfoot with frequency dampening so you don't get buzzed or nervous contact under your boots, yet feel the surface details and get great feedback about the surface your traversing at any speed. The Alter Ego is not a racecarver, but an expert carver oriented toward all-terrain feel and grip in a variety of turn shapes at various speeds rather than boilerplate-only race turns at race-pace. Expert carvers will love the effortless turns and automatic pull into the arcs. Hardcore hip draggers and racer-types will find the ski a bit all-mountain-like compared to dedicated race-carver designs.
We found its packed snow behavior more addicting the more we skied it. Pushing it too hard on impermeable, icy surfaces results in some slight washout at high speeds and some chatter if the edge angles aren't set properly, but control is regained quickly and smoothly. The Alter Egos can be released from a carving arc easily and drifted to scrub speed with very little effort, and change arc radius mid-turn with a simple edge angle change, which is really useful. This is a 95mm-waisted frontside carving tool with all-terrain capabilities, not a one-trick racecarver.
Frontside skis often show one of two personality traits when they get into cut-up, skied-out terrain or mixed snow conditions with junk, buff, crust and variable density snowpacks. One is a slightly balky, stiff-feeling and purely directional feel like driving a GS ski through crappy conditions...effective and secure, but not much fun and definitely a bit of work. The other is a loose and playful feel, but prone to deflection and being thrown around by junk in the snowpack and cut-up surface textures....a bit unstable, but less work than a dedicated crud-cutter battleship. The Alter Egos find a really nice balance between the two extremes to give the pilot an essentially effortless ride with plenty of nimble, direction-changing capabilities without burning all your muscle fuel, while providing a stable, confident directional integrity.
We were continually impressed by how many typical mixed resort conditions the Alter Egos gave a great ride through. Because of our 175cm test size, there was an upper speed limit through roughed-out materials before we felt the platform was a bit short, but the slight early rise tip and tail shaping with full camber underfoot always gave predictable and controlled handling underfoot with a nimble agility needed to get your feet where they had to go on-demand. These is a really nice ski in mixed conditions unless you want a powerful freight train or surfy noodle.
Amplid's Alter Egos work remarkably well in bumpy terrain, thanks to their agility and pop in the chassis, with the only drawback being the surface area of the forebody which can try to bring your ski across a bump face if your angle is off a bit. Hit them square and there is no problem, but the shaping that gives these skis their turning prowess on groomers can affect the bump behavior a little if you get lazy. The squared tails suprisingly cause no hangups unless the bumps are really tight, but in any terrain with moderately-sized bumps, the ride is fun and predictable with good pop off the bumps and trough-riding silkiness when needed. The forebody shaping proved very useful in banging through bumpy terrain where the troughs are filled with fresh snow, resulting in a smooth, fun ride with tons of control and confidence.
We know the Alter Egos are only 95mm underfoot and 175cm length, but when we got a chance to take them to Squaw Valley in California USA this Spring, we were treated to an epic late-season dumping of four feet in two days, we put them through a serious powder test and came away impressed. When you acknowledge the platform underfoot is narrower and shorter than a "real" powder ski, and adjust your expectations accordingly, you focus on how the ski behaves in three-dimensional snow with a healthy skepticism.
The Alter Ego design works surprisingly well in powder..even though it is cambered and has a small surface area. What works really well is the proportion of its shaping in deep snow. The relatively large surface area in the forebody gives a nicely predictable planing rise in powder (the faster you go the better it works), and the tails sink nicely (if you like "sinker tails" in powder) to give you a great ride with minimal effort. While you don't get a real smeared turn like a fully rockered powder ski, the Alter Egos let you bank your turns, adjust your depth up and down and never get too darty under the surface, even with their 12.5 meter radius specification. We let a 15 year-old advancing intermediate skier enjoy them at Squaw during our testing and he jumped right on them and immediately went anywhere he wanted to go without a learning curve...even during the storm...and that's a good thing to say about a ski. We had powder skis available at Squaw during our test, but if we only had the Amplid Alter Egos, we would have been perfectly happy...except we would have wanted a 192cm version!
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A well-rounded, well-trained multi-event horse that can do dressage, cross-country, barrel-race, trail ride and jump really, really well, but hesitates at only the most extreme, and rarely-encountered examples of any one discipline.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing, other than offer a "pro" version with full-width titanal metal sheets instead of "centriband strips", and perhaps a 192cm version for hard-core enthusiasts who like this shape and want to up the speed limit by 30%.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
This is one of the best all-around resort skis we have tried in years, with a huge performance envelope and great handling traits in a handsome package.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Really try to demo this ski in different lengths depending on your most visited terrain. You may want to upsize a bit.
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