Having read very little about Renoun’s VibeStop technology prior to my first turns (I tend to test skis without looking at the company’s marketing; see this video for more on how we test skis), I assumed the skis would perform as well on the groomer as a heavier ski like the Salomon Stance 88. I was initially disappointed that I didn’t immediately feel as comfortable at high speeds on the Earhart 88. But the more I skied the Earhart 88, the more I enjoyed them, and the more comfortable I felt at speed (and consequently, the better the ski performed).
The Earhart 88 can feel a little soft and chattery if you aren’t really driving and pushing it (and taking advantage of the VibeStop construction). I only noticed this when I was traversing between the top of one lift and the bottom of another one. Basically, it was the start of my ski day, my boots were unbuckled, and I was not paying attention to my turns. With this type of skiing, I could feel the tips chatter, but once I started to make real turns and weight the ski properly, the Earhart 88 felt notably more stable (and responsive and quick). For beginner or intermediate skiers who are still working on their technique, you might experience more chatter at the tips than a heavier ski, but once you start weighting the downhill ski, you should notice a difference in performance.
When initiating turns and making turns in general, I’d call the Earhart 88 responsive and intuitive. Short- and large-radius turns are easy and fun and I particularly enjoy the ski at the beginning of the season when my legs aren’t quite ski-ready. The Earhart 88’s low swing weight allows me to stay on the slopes longer since I’m not needing to really muscle it around to make turns.
While the Earhart 88 is capable of short- and large-radius turns, I’d say it excels when making turns on the shorter side of things. It can pop you out of a turn if you put some energy into the ski, but relative to the Nordica Santa Ana 88, you have to put more force into each turn on the Earhart 88 to get a response. I do love how much energy the Santa Ana 88 provides, but sometimes it’s too much and can throw me into the backseat. The Earhart 88 has a more subtle / subdued rebound and very rarely did the ski kick me into the backseat at the end of a turn. On the other end of the spectrum, the Earhart 88 does feel more energetic when completing a turn than the Head Kore 91 and DPS Pagoda 90.
I didn’t initially trust the Earhart 88 at speed on non-fresh corduroy (e.g., scraped-off groomer with golf-ball-sized debris) as much as the Kore 93, Stance 94, Nordica Santa Ana 88, but in general, they’re still quite respectable in terms of stability and dampness. The Earhart 88 wouldn’t be my top pick if high-speed stability was a top priority, but rather, it handles higher speeds and rougher snow really well for how light and maneuverable it feels.
Compared to one of my benchmarks skis in this class, the Blizzard Black Pearl 88, the Earhart 88 makes it easier to initiate quick carved or skidded turns, but I find the more traditional shape (i.e., longer effective edge) of the Black Pearl 88 more confidence-inspiring when ripping groomers. The Black Pearl 88 offers more edge hold and doesn’t chatter quite as much at higher speeds, while the Earhart 88 feels quicker and a little more playful.
Moguls, Trees, Tight Terrain
I really started to appreciate the Earhart 88 when I took it off piste; it’s designed and marketed as an all-mountain ski and I don’t think this claim is misleading. The Earhart 88 is quick, nimble, and it’s exceptionally easy to get the tails of the skis around. In early season conditions when runs resemble half-buried Christmas tree farms, the overall maneuverability of the Earhart 88 was very noticeable and very much appreciated.