The EP Stiletto was manufactured from the late 1980s into the early 1990s and was one of the most dominate skis of its era.
The ski weighs in at about 3 times the weight of a modern top of the line ski. The materials used to build the Stiletto are far inferior to those used to build all but the cheapest skis today. Even the technology to create the mold for the ski was ridiculously archaic by current standards. The test ski has some shape inconsistencies in the tunnel that may have been manufacturing errors or perhaps the mold was just imperfect.
With all of the technological advances in the last 30 years, the question is - “How does the Stiletto compare to modern skis?” In a straight-up test trying to run balls or just carve turns the new skis are clearly better. I would expect to run 4 to 6 balls more on a modern ski than on the Stiletto. That is not to say that the Stiletto does not have some very good attributes.
The ski is surprisingly fast to accelerate and it glides as fast as most modern skis. The ski rolls side to side a bit more freely than I would prefer but not more than I can adjust to.
Off Side Turns
The Off Side turns are perhaps the best thing about the Stiletto. Especially at a hard pass when things start going wrong, the finish of the off side turn is as good as any modern ski. If the skier is patient the ski will flow back under the line and make a beeline for the other side of the lake.
When trying to run early and smooth the ski is a little more challenging because it rolls out so freely. As a right foot forward skier, I struggled to keep my shoulders level and mass over the ski going into one ball at my hardest pass.
On Side Turns
The one thing about the ski that I could not get to work on par with a modern ski is the on side turns. I tried moving the fin forward, backward, shallower, deeper, and longer. Perhaps with time, a solution could be found but the on side is for me the only real problem with the ski.
The last few weeks skiing on the Stiletto have been a lot of fun and a nice change but I would never expect to ski at the same level on a 30 year old ski as I would on a modern ski.
The question has been asked more than once: If the Stiletto was remade with modern materials would it be as good as modern skis? Most likely it would not. The ski shape has some design elements that were way ahead of their time and others that were not up to modern standards.
This summer I spend a few weeks playing with the Feature Boards Side Cutter & Obstacler skis. At first glance, both of the skis look like trick skis but it is not that simple. These skis are durable enough to be used on the ramps and rails found in cable parks. To achieve this level of durability Feature Boards builds them with a poly base, wood cores, and ABS plastic sidewalls. I did not hit any rails or ramps during the review but I would be comfortable abusing these skis a lot more than a conventional trick ski.
The Side Cutter is a high performance trick ski that especially shines for wake spins, flips and ski lines. Pop off the wake is noticeably good.
The C75 is the third ski from Denali and is the first ski from Denali that is legitimately user-friendly enough for the mainstream tournament water skier. The C75 looks strange with its low rocker tip, unique asymmetrical fin, and extreme tunnel shape. The ski rides in the water as unusually as it looks.
The attributes of this ski are a clear departure from any other ski in the sport. The C75 is stable in most ways except that it provides significantly more tail slide than expected. This may sound, bad but the result is angle.
Off Side Turns
Off Side turns on the C75 are the most distinctive attribute of the ski. Ridden casually with reasonably centered weight distribution, the tip of the ski pulls back to the centerline and the turns are smooth and flowing.
When the skier increases their aggression the ski shows its uniqueness. The ski flows out to apex calmly and then when pushed the tail slides around very quickly to establish an unexpected amount of angle. With any other ski this amount of tail slide would end in a fall but the C75 stays in the water and heads back to the wakes. This radical finish to the Off Side turn may scare skiers until they realize that the tail is not going to blow out. The feel is unusual, but the result is consistent angle leaving the ball.
On Side Turns
On side turn are practically foolproof. The tail of the ski slides significantly at the apex of on side but it is not nearly as noticeable as it is at off side. This tailslide is likely a major contributor to the consistency of the on side turn.
Ball to the wakes
Because of the aggressive turns, the voyage from the ball to the wakes can be a little frantic. If the skier can moderate their lean intensity and or temper their angle leaving the ball, things will calm down. Either way, the ski makes speed quickly and holds direction.
Wakes to the ball
The C75 is stable both side to side and tip to tail. What this means is that the ski provides a stable platform to stand on as the ski casts out to the ball line. The ski consistently achieves width and space without requiring special skills or strength.
Quirks & Notes
Throughout the test period, I rode the C75 with the same settings.
The bulk of this review was written describing how the ski performs at/or near my personal limit. If the review was re-written describing my opening passes it would include terms like “Dependable, Flowing, Arcing & Calm”. The C75 is likely as suited for 28 off as it is for 39 off and beyond.
The C75 is radical but in all the right ways.
When the skier gets to their hardest pass and instinct replaces logic is when the C75 shines the brightest. Somehow the ski just stays with you and gets you farther down the lake than expected.
Best ski ever? There is no such thing but the Denali C75 is unquestionably on my very short list of favorite skis of all time.
The Connelly GT-R is the only current high-end ski that has been continuously evolved for more than a decade. The GT-R is the direct descendant of the Connelly F1 that was Jamie Beauchesne’s masterpiece more than 15 years ago. Since then the design has been gradually improved with multiple materials upgrades as well as tweaks to the tunnel and sidewall profile. Through it all the ski maintains the original DNA.
In all aspects discussed below the GT-R works best when the skier does less. The ski does not want you to lean and pull harder than needed. The ski wants you to tell it when to turn but not push it to turn. The ski wants you to stand in the middle of it and let it do the work.
In many ways, the GT-R requires less technical skills than other top of the line skis and it is less likely to punish the skier for small mistakes.
Is it a fast ski or a slow ski? That depends on how you set the fin and bindings. My preferred settings for the GT-R resulted in a ski that is not crazy fast but was not a lot of work and consistently cast out wide of the ball.
Off Side Turns
Skiers with understated upper body moments and centered weight distribution will find the Off Side turns to be reliable and stable. The tip of the GT-R pulls to the inside of the radius aggressively without a feeling that tail of the ski is sliding. It is more of a carving than a sliding turn. The result is a very secure turn ending with lots of angle.
If the skier is centered on the ski from the wakes to the ball On Side turns are absolutely dependable. The ski flows out and then carves a tight turn at the ball.
If the skier lets their weight distribution move back or attempts to force the On Side turn by pushing on the tail the ski is likely to carve a slow turn. When this happens the GT-R will not turn sharp but it will maintain enough water speed to allow the skier to recover from his / her error.
Ball to the wakes
From the ball to the wakes the skier’s weight distribution is again critical. With an adequate stacked position, the skier will achieve ample speed with minimal effort.
Wakes to the ball
The GT-R is loose in terms of roll stability. What this means is that if a skier moves to the inside early or too quickly after edge change they will find themselves leaned in more than expected approaching the ball. Correcting for this does not mean a monumental change in technique but may require a few rides to adjust. (Just keep your shoulders level and chin up).
Older skis from the F1 lineage required the skier to maintain as much line tension as possible from the second wake to the ball in order to achieve width. That is no longer the case with the GT-R. It is recommended that you have as much line tension as possible but your width at the ball does not heavily depend on it.
During the review, I did not do extensive experimentation with settings because the settings Martin Bartalsky provided worked so well. The GT-R can be set up a number of ways but settings on this ski can be finicky.
My final settings for the 67" GT-R 29 3/8 - 2.478 - 6.910 - .772
At 183 +/- lbs I rode both the 67” and 68” GT-R. Most of the rides for this review were on the 67” but I ran into 39 off in practice on both skis. If I started the review over I would likely start with the 68”. I consider the GT-R to be slightly small for its advertised size.
There are review skis I am happy to get my bindings off of and there are skis that I would like to ski more on. The Connelly GT-R is a ski that I would like to keep skiing on. If your style is calm and centered the GT-R is a ski you must try.