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Parlor Cardinal 100 Traditional Camber185cn 2016-2017

Parlor Cardinal 100 185cm
(Traditional Camber)

136-100-126 r=21.6m @ 185cm

“Frontside bird of prey with a strong constitution that begs to be driven hard”….   “Must. Go. Faster… Must. Press. Harder...”

Parlor Cardinal 100 (left) and Parlor Mountain Jay (right)


This review was originally written for an early season article in Vermont Ski + Ride Magazine which required us to conduct a very short testing period in November and December of 2016 before full winter conditions set into Vermont.  While we prefer to conduct a multi-week test in lots of real-world snow conditions and terrain, we were lucky to get time on these skis and reveal our observations for everyone.  Consider this review to be a "quickie" review....not as thorough as we normall like, but definitely useful to get an idea how the ski behaves in early-season conditions.

Manufacturer’s Description:

“The Cardinal is the foundation of the Parlor quiver. A more centered stance and traditional all-mountain sidecut allow this ski to make powerful turns of varying size across the fall line. Moderate width in the waist combined with our signature full reverse camber provide soft snow versatility without sacrificing grip on ice and loose granular. This ski will rip on hardpack without feeling grabby in soft snow.

A quiver-of-one for just about any location, arc early morning groomer laps then head off in search of your secret stash without skipping a beat.

The Cardinal is available in both 100 and 90 millimeter widths. Both models can be built with either full reverse camber or traditional camber. This means more options to help you dial in your perfect pair of Cardinals. Choose either full reverse camber for a slightly looser, soft-snow-friendly feel or traditional camber for a little more grip on firm snow.” - Website 2016

Manufacturer Info:

Parlor builds each ski to the customer’s specifications. These are not off-the-shelf models.

Parlor Skis
175  Wlliam F. Mcclellan Hwy
East Boston, MA 02128
(617) 918-7308

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

$950 usd (2016)  ...depending on options selected
100% Satisfaction Money-Back Policy
(“We guarantee our fits 100%. If you are not satisfied with your skis, send them back. We will rebuild them or send you a refund and ski them ourselves.”)

Usage Class:

Resort All-Mountain

Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")

9+ for boilerplate. Rock Solid.
9+ for packed powder groomers...Rock solid at all speeds above warp 2 (Slower speeds slightly sluggish).
8+ for mixed conditions...strong, powerful tracking personality, very little deflection. Prefers an athletic & vigilant pilot rather than a sightseer.
Powder conditions unavailable for testing by press time


The traditionally cambered Cardinal 100 is a rock-solid frontside weapon for athletic skiers who want a chassis to take whatever pressure the pilot can deliver and never fold up, wash-out, give-way or falter.  Fresh snow is completely do-able on the Cardinals, as long as you are prepared to drive them actively since they are not a passive ski for lazy-bones skiers.  If you want more a more loose, less-serious personality, simply order the reverse-camber option. That’s the beauty of a custom ski builder geared-up to deliver different flavors of the same recipe.  The wood sidewalls help deliver a tenacious edge grip and quick response along the ski’s entire length with quiet authority and the powerfully-charged core layup stores copious amounts of energy for racer-chasers to preload and accelerate out of turns with excitement.  The cambered Cardinal handles much faster than its 100mm waist size would lead you to believe, yet gives you sufficient surface area to play in fresh snow much more successful than a race-carver or 90mm width ski.  Parlor may have created a new category with the cambered Cardinal 100: The “All Mountain Race Ski”.

Technical Ski Data:

Aspen/Maple core
Maple sidewalls
Triaxial fiberglass
Carbon fiber
Custom build – Medium flex

Bindings,  Boots, Wax & Tune Used:

Tyrolia AAAtack Alpine Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Green Ice waxes, cold and warm
Skied as-is out of the box – waxing only.

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Excellent fit and finish. Strong flex with smooth arc profile, no hinge points. Torsionally solid with energetic rebound. Vivid, sharp photographic graphic quality. Glossy top finish.

Test Conditions:

Eastern corduroy, man-made dry packed powder, shallow powder (6 inches max), Spring-like corn and refrozen man-made hardpack boilerplate in places.

Hardpack and Boilerplate:

The cambered Cardinal 100 grips like a race-carver on hardpack, minus the rapid lateral movement found in typical race-carver designs since it has a 100mm midsection delivering a 21.6 meter radius.  This means zero-twitch, zero nervousness and solid grip throughout its arc on hard surfaces, thanks to very good vibration control which doesn’t detract from responsiveness.  Parlor’s cambered Cardinal 100 delivers one of the most serious hardpack edge grip personalities of any ski this size made anywhere.  You want to maintain pressure in your arc since the flex and shaping of the Cardinal will automatically straighten-out your trajectory for the next turn if you relax your attention too much.  It loves to be driven more than ridden passively, and it has an addicting affinity for firm groomers.

Mixed Conditions:

The Cardinal 100 has the surface area and shaping to cruise through mixed snow conditions with authority and essentially zero deflection.  It’s nearly immune to being disrupted by changing material densities along its trajectory and loves to be driven through its line to the next direction change.  The stout chassis can transmit some energy back to the pilot, but the power on tap and integrity of direction means you really don’t care.  The better shape you’re in, the more you get out of the ski.  There are probably very few snow conditions and terrain types the cambered Cardinal 100 doesn’t show authoritative control in.  Stable, energetic, high-integrity line holding and terrain-mastering traits are abundant in the Cardinal.  The high-performance can come at a price, and if you make a mistake, the Cardinal will let you know, but it’s the kind of ski that makes you want to up your game.  Wimpy, casual skiers need not apply for a cambered Cardinal...get the reverse-camber version instead, but be aware you may loose the level of addictingly grippy authority in the process.

Bumps and Powder:

We didn’t get a chance to take the Cardinals into serious bumps since it was too early in the season to find snow deep enough to support big bump formation, but we did get into bumps a little less than knee-high, both tightly spaced and widely spaced, and the relatively stout flex of the Cardinals (even though this pair is a “medium” flex according to Parlor) made bumps a high-energy adventure.  You need to stay on your game and expect some feedback and some resistance.  These are not floppy bump-noodles, but a strong ski with lots of energy when flexed and released.  The 136mm shovel means there is plenty of surface area to manage when you direct the tips into bumps, so be on your line and centered to take the pushback and enjoy the pop coming out of the flex.  Cardinals can be rock-solid in the bumps, and if you get off-rythm, it’s not the ski’s fault.  Take them seriously.

Analogies: ("This ski is like...")

An all-mountain street racer with serious power and handling if you drive it with authority.  Just cruising around with it almost seems like a waste.  Both hands on the wheel for best results. Tighten your driving shoes and sit up straight….you’ll be glad you did.  Don’t expect a cushy ride.

Vermont Beverage Most Like This Ski:

Alchemist Brewing Crusher Double IPA – Strongly flavored, solid backbone, high octane with a deep profile to stand up to anything.

Things We Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing. The ability to customize flex and camber profile is all you need.

Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":

The Cardinal 100 in traditional camber layup is a rock-solid, high-performance all-mountain racer for athletic enthusiasts who want a ski that won’t give-out when the pressure is on.  Super durable, superbly built and customizable.

Advice To People Considering This Ski:

Seriously demo the cambered and reverse-cambered versions and consider the flex (soft, medium, stiff) you really want, then plunk down your hard-earned money. You might be surprised how well the 100mm waist version really turns...don’t judge it until you try it.

Who and What Are These Good For?

Athletically-inclined performance enthusiasts or people who like a secure grip under the entire length of their frontside ski.  Heavier or stronger skiers, along with technically-inclined skiers will love the personality of the cambered Cardinal 100s.  Lightweight or weaker skiers should consider a softer flex and possibly the reverse-camber version depending on their preferences and terrain habits.



Parlor Cardinal 100 (left) and Parlor Mountain Jay (right)

Parlor Cardinal 100 (left) and Parlor Mountain Jay (right)

Parlor Cardinal 100 maple hardwood sidewalls

Parlor Cardinal 100 full-wrap edge


Parlor Cardinal 100 maple hardwood sidewall showing topsheet and edge mating


By: e.edelstein  Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2016 2:54:50 PM
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