The stated goal of BallOfSpray ski reviews has been to describe more than to judge each ski. The reader is left decipher to the comments and decide if a ski might fit their skiing or not. The Denali is an unusual ski so this will be an unusual review. It may read as disjointed, disorganized, contradictory and schizophrenic so let’s clear the air: the Denali C65 is one of the best skis ever reviewed on BallOfSpray.
Traditionally skis are either described as fast or slow. Skis described as slow typically require more physical work and more technical skills to get wide but turn more dependably at the ball. Fast skis are less work and get wide more automatically but often require more skills and finesse at apex. World records have been set and pro events have been won on both fast and slow skis.
In the last few years, a few skis have blurred the lines by being both fast across the course and turning automatically at the ball. The Denali C65 resets the bar as far as what possible in terms of fast and slow. The C65 is as fast as any “fast ski” from the ball to the wakes, and it bleeds speed as quickly as any “slow ski” from the wakes the ball. This ski is the best example of the merging of these two paradigms. One of the results of these attributes is that the skier will rarely get slack at the ball.
When a skier is at their best, the C65 is as smooth as any ski reviewed previously. On a more normal day when a skier makes typical mistakes, the C65 allows the skier to throw caution to the wind, pull hard, and then crank turns to get a score.
The skier can ride this ski with neutral or forward weight distribution. The C65 is dependable to neither under or over turn. It seems to just take the right amount of angle. The ski requires minimal effort to arc in at apex. If a skier is overzealous and pushes, it is almost impossible to blow out the tail.
On side turns on the C65 are extremely dependable and are not technically demanding. Perhaps the most outstanding attribute of the on side turn is that it maintains speed even when the skier makes a panic turn.
Wakes to the Ball
The ski decelerates at a rapid rate providing the skier with a tight line all the way to the apex, and the confidence to turn hard if needed. With the settings used for this review, the ski created enough width and space. The settings can be tweaked to carry more speed and a wider path or to slow down faster. Finding the right settings is critical.
For the smoothest skiing, the skier should strive to keep their head level and inside shoulder high. Skiers who tend to lean into the course too much may experience radical turns.
Ball to the Wakes
The ski carries a surprising amount of speed back through the turn. The result is that the hookup is never harsh or punishing. The ski then creates substantial speed back to the wakes with minimal effort.
Tuning for the On side turn
Denali uses a unique fin block that allows for a different fin depth on each side of the fin. The result is much improved On Side.
Skiers who are not proficient measuring and adjusting fins and bindings should not consider this ski. If the settings are not right, the ski may feel insanely fast or insanely slow. The C65 may not work on a skier’s first few rides. The needed adjustments are unusual, but the team at Denali offers personalize counseling for each skier on the ski.
Some skiers may find that they need to adjust their weight distribution back slightly to keep the ski from seeking an edge at gate turn in. This was my one frustration for much of the review.
There are skis on the market that make it easy to ski at the same level every day no matter how the skier is feeling (focused or distracted - strong or weak). The C65 is radically forgiving when you are in sync with it, but when you are not, it becomes much less friendly
The C65 is not for every skier. The C65 is not for skier who is unwilling to spend a number of rides finding the right settings. For the skier who has the time to dial a ski in, the C65 is a new level of performance.
Of the 30 or so skis I have reviewed in the last 7 years there are only a few that I wish I could ride for a whole season, and the C65 is unquestionably one of those skis.
Final Note: The above review was based on the best known settings as of mid August 2017. The team at Denali continues to refine the settings. It would be fair to expect that the latest settings are superior to the ones used in this review.