Stephan Drake and the DPS crew have been tinkering with a lineup of relatively narrow (for DPS), frontside skis for several seasons now, intent on capturing some market share for resort-oriented, frontside skiers to widen DPS's appeal beyond exotic powder skis which launched the company years ago. Recognizing the expensive, high-performance carbon prepeg constructions were a barrier to entry into this frontside resort market, Peter Turner ( DPS's innovative engineering guru ) and Stephan Drake decided on a "Foundation Series" construction utilzing bamboo, poplar and fiberglass to create a series of skis retailing around $799 usd instead of the $1,299+ priced "Alchemist" line. This "Foundation Series" skis would be less reactive and demanding than their premium carbon models, and have a much more accessible pricepoint for skiers across a wider spectrum, including intermediates and advanced recreational skiers who wanted the DPS designs, but could not justify spending more than $1,200 for the carbon-infused high-end models craved by DPS's rabid, more hard-core expert followers.
DPS Cassiar Foundation 82 (L) and Cassiar Foundation 87 (R)
We skied the original Foundation Series last season, and found them to be a bit too compliant and insufficient to satisfy athletic skiers or skiers who frequent harder, Eastern-like surfaces, although DPS's goal of making them very light underfoot was met very well. The revamped Foundation models for 2018-2019 have stepped their performance up a notch and are much more appealing to the wide audience DPS is targeting. We tried the SL-like 82mm Cassiar Foundation 82, and the more all-mountain width Cassiar Foundation 87 for nearly an entire season in Vermont, subjecting them to powder, bumps, hardpack, cruddy and mamky conditions, groomers and good old-fashioned Eastern boilerplate conditions.
We found DPS's shaping and camber profiles are indeed elegantly designed and produce skis with silky turn behaviors, quick edge-to-edge response with little effort and very lightweight feel underfoot. These skis work really well in packed power and moderately hardpack conditions, but were a bit lacking in hardpack grip behaviors and composure under high-pressure situations. These are elegant turning instruments which perform best on their preferred goomed, packed-powder surfaces, similar to way fine fountain pens mated to the right kind of cotton-content writing paper produce elegant results. They're great if the surface is suitable, but tend to skip a bit if you apply them to the wrong kind of medium in the wrong way. DPS's quality and production finish is superb, and the Foundation series is very light and very well built. Watch DPS in the coming seasons as they refine their designs and constructions for the frontside of your local resort. They will probably develop a cult following on the groomers like they have in the powder-filled big-mountain and backcountry terrain.
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