19 March, 2012

DPS Wailer 99 Review

I've had the chance now to ski my DPS Wailer 99’s now in every snow condition imaginable. They've been put through the ringer skiing chest deep blower, icy chunder, spring slush, upside-down snow, breakable crust, dust on crust, and everything in between. The verdict?  It is the best all-around ski ever to be made, unbelievable for ski touring or ski mountaineering, and has become a standard tool in my ski quiver.  Light enough to pound elevation on under your own power, but powerful and stiff enough to push hard in big terrain, a ski for the discerning skier.
(Photo Above:  The 185cm DPS Wailer 99 Pure)
The ski design is based off the incredibly successful Wailer 112RP platform, with a few minor changes which dial in the narrower profile, and allow the ski to stand on its own against its bigger brother. Just like the 112, the Wailer 99 is slightly cambered underfoot, and rockered at the tip and tail with an 18m turning radius. For those still unfamiliar with rocker, I'll let Tobias, the BC/Yukon DPS rep, explain:  

“Laying the ski flat, rocker is the measured height between the widest part of the ski's nose (or tail) and the surface (the zero degree baseline). Early rise is the horizontal distance from the very tip (or tail) of the ski to the contact point where the ski meets the ground. Splay is the measured height from the tip (or tail) to the surface (baseline). The W99 and Wailer 112RPs have more splay than similar models, i.e., the tips peel farther apart, and they have a deep early rise combined with strong rocker. In short what most people call "rocker" is a 3-dimensional property. Also, both the W99 and the 112RP have a bulletnose design, which is where the nose is skinny at the top, then fattens out (like a bullet) and then gets skinnier again. This fattest section is where you measure rocker, and the combination of rocker, splay, and early rise with the bulletnose is what DPS calls Paddletech Geometry. It is Paddletech in the tip, combined with slight camber and a rockered tail with similar properties that creates a ski that can both carve and float. In many respects, the three-dimensional shaping of the shovel is more important to dancing through powder than the ski’s width. This is why the Wailer 99 floats surprisingly well in the deep—you can pressure the tip.”  

Yes, ski shaping is complex, but even understanding that the difference between a rockered ski and a traditional ski is like comparing straight skis to shaped skis, it's an obvious choice to go with a ski like this. So much so, that if you purchase a non-rockered ski, you're purchasing out-dated technology. Rocker allows the Wailer 99 to turn in insanely tight areas, pivoting around crux points, in various snow conditions without hooking up or diving under the snow. The same goes for pulling Super-G turns down big faces or launching into fast mini-golf style terrain.  The ski edges in hard, holds, and completes a turn in perfect style.
(Photo Above:  Wailer 112 Tail (front) Wailer 99 Tail (Behind))
One key difference between the Wailer 99 and the 112RP is the tail. The Wailer 99 boasts a stiffer, less rockered tail that really powers turns, and hooks ups as if you were smashing gates, but releases when you feel the time is right, as if it wasn't even there. Clearly DPS has a magician (Peter Turner) shaping its skis as no other ski in the world has both these wide spectrum characteristics existing on the same ski.

Black magic aside, the 99mm waist floats in powder, but grips remarkably well on steep icy terrain. Always a skinny-ski type of guy for the ultra-steep, I have to admit this ski will probably fit the bill for 99.9% of my ski mountaineering objectives, with the exception of verglass blue ice, on-belay nearly rappelling, anchor to anchor, 60 degree, barely-skiing skiing but that's not really skiing is it.  Why? I say it again—it skis EVERYTHING.

The setup I use with it is either a four buckle boot or my ultra light Dynafit Dy.N.A.. Both drive the ski with no issues. A rare thing to see in skis is both a stiff heavy boot and lighter boot both driving the same ski with great results. Most people who purchase skis either end up luckily matching their ski to their boot and enjoying the ski, or the odd time not matching the system properly, and ending up hating the ski as a result of poor gear compatibility. Ski gear reviews only complicate the matter, with incomplete information on the total system, but with this model it is a non-issue.

The skis weight is something that really allows the skier to excel in the mountains.  A heavier ski, such as everything else on the market, will weigh more.  Which means more effort, more weight to move with each stride and turn, and end up not being as playful on the way down.  Today, another great high quality snow day, was no different.  Within 3 hours, I had the chance to ski 5 beautiful ski laps in the backcountry, which most people pay thousands of dollars for using a helicopter, with enough time and energy to have a leisurely lunch and coffee before starting work.  Only my tiny race skis allow such speed and efficiency, but with nowhere near the downhill performance, which is why I love the 99.  I have the ability to perform uphill, but have zero sacrifice when it comes time for the best part, the downhill.

Downsides?  Not many.  Again, just like the DPS Wailer 112 review I posted, the skis bases do require a bit more attention and waxing, but are incredibly fast when taken care of.

So, in conclusion, if you want the ultimate all-around ski this is it.  But if you don't believe me, get on a pair, and prepare to be blown away.  If this sounds like this ski is for you, get on them.  Either way, mount them, head to a rad mountain way out there, buckle your boots, and giver.  

48 comments:

  1. i picked up the Pure 112RPs largely based on your review. They're amazing. Looks like i need some 99s now.

    Thanks, Alex. I'll send you the bill.

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  2. Stoked Patrick, thanks! These really are a good compliment to the 112's, still go back and forth with both of mine.

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  3. Hi Alex,

    What size did you get in the w99? In the w112? When would you use one rather than the other? My understanding is that the 178 w99 has the same running length as the 184 112.

    Thanks, Tony

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  4. Tony,

    I have a 184cm in the 99, and a 190cm in the 112. I prefer using the 112 for my ski hard and fast pow days as they are great for airs, slash turns, and generally shredding any kind of terrain. I like to use my 99's when I have a big mission that's far, steep, or technical. Overall, it's really the snow conditions that dictate it, but both are really fun in pow and in variable conditions. After skiing the 184's, I think the 178's would definitely be too short for me, as length is no issue with skis such as the 99's or 112's. Hope that helps.

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  5. Hi alex,
    Thanks for following through with the review as promised. Would you hazard a guess as to how next year’s 190cm will feel relative to the 184cm? I have demoed the 184 and found them almost too easy or perhaps imprecise compared to a traditional flat tail coming out of a rounded carved turn on even snow. That would be my only quibble.

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  6. I think those 190's are going to feel a bit more stable at higher speeds, although I haven't noticed any nervousness in the 184 yet, and naturally feel more comfortable in bigger turns. That being said I think the fact that they are just so easy is really one thing I like about them, as I'm not overturning them, or overdriving them, so I can't say it's not hooking up or slashing out. Yeah, kind of a wishy washy answer, but I think the easiest way to look at it is that if you feel you want to go bigger, go bigger, as you won't pay a penalty with the sizing.

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  7. Hi Alex, what weight/height are you?

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  8. FWIW, i ski the 112 in a 168 with NTN tele bindings. i'm 5'6 140. It's enough ski, i would imagine, maybe until it gets way deeper than i have yet to see. I would like to try the 174, too, as high speed stability isn't rock solid in the 168 for me (though it's completely serviceable and safe once you learn the ski).

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  9. Tobias here. The 190 is, not surprisingly, a tad more stable at speed and a tad better on groomer ice if you're looking for a frontside ride. In short, it's what you'd expect. That said I ride the 190 W112RP and a 184 W99, as the W99 has longer running length, less rocker in the tail, and is a tad stiffer. If I was more of a frontside/onpiste skier seeking a rockered ski that can handle some bulletproof, and was a competent advanced to expert rider who has the weight and height, I'd probably go 190.

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  10. Mounting point?

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  11. I have mounted mine at midsole, and seems to be the choice for most other people.

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  12. Thanks for the reviews (and nice blog in general). Since the Escape Route carries the La Sportiva Hi5s, I would guess you've probably given them a spin. How would you compare them to the DPS W99s? I keep hearing good things about them, but have never seen a "serious" review. They seem to have a similar philosophy of design with a big tip rocker, flat tail and tourable weight. And definitely a more reasonable price point. Any personal opinions about their pros/cons compared to the W99s?

    [As an aside, I'm not sure why the carbon DPSs keep getting described as being extremely light - pretty much all of the companies making touring skis match or beat the carbon DPS weight in a similar waist width...]

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  13. I haven't skied the Hi-5's, the 99's and 112's have been too good to swap to anything else this year! I haven't heard anything conclusive, but my friend Trevor Hunt skis on them and has reviewed them, check out http://www.coaststeepskier.com/wphome/ for some more info. Just so stoked on my 99's sorry I don't have any more info, but I will say I prefer the light rocker in the tail over the flat tail (just my personal opinion).

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  14. How do those races work for a ski like that? (i'm assuming just fine). Are they substantial enough to ski the same way as the guides?

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  15. They haven't been a problem at all, as a matter of fact they've been my favourite so far. They've held up to everything, even beating a track into melt-freeze crust on ACMG exams. However, they won't last forever, and the guys at Plum have told us they are race only. If you worried about durability and longevity grab a pair of guides.

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  16. For a guy who's 15 weighs about 135 and is 5foot7 what size do you recommend?

    Also, what bindings do you recommend?

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  17. I'd probably go for the 176cm, and put a Dynafit, Plum or any Tech style binding on them. Hope that helps!

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  19. Thanks for your reviews of the DPS Wailer 99/112. I'm thinking about buying one of those, and would really appreciate some input... My present ski is a quite old Salomon Crossmax Pilot 10.0, 65 mm width. Have been riding some Bandit 80:s too. I like to hit it rather hard driving groomers: speeding and carving to get that kick out of the turn. Going off piste my technique has been developing quite much the latest years, especially when I drove the Bandit 80:s...finally some control. My weight is around 80 kg, and I'm 180cm long. Say I want a ski for 60/40 piste/offpiste, which one of these two would you recommend and what length? I'm also thinking about putting on a tech-binding...I've seen that you've recommended Plum Guide, still going for that in my case? Is the ordinary Plum Guide the same as the Look Alti 12?
    Peace
    /Markus

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  20. Hi Alex, thanks for the wailer reviews. After agonizing over the 99's vs. the 112's I ended up pickup a pair at the escape route the other day. I'm now in the process of trying to decide on bindings. I nearly only tour, and do a fair bit of ski mountaineering/steep skiing. I've been wondering about the radical st's vs. the speed radicals but haven't been able to track down anyone who has been using the speed radicals. Thoughts between these two and the plum guides? Is the extra cost justified for the plums? If I were to go with the speed radicals, is the toe plate recommended?
    Thanks for your time!
    Cheers,
    Jon

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  21. Hey Jon,

    To be honest I think the Speed Radical is one of the best bindings on the market right now, as most bindings are just going heavier. It will ski, perform, and last just as long as the Radical ST's but will drop your weight down significantly. They seem like they would be perfect for you, and the price is cheaper than the Plum's as well! I would just ski them stock, don't worry about an adjustable toe plate. Shred on!

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  22. Hey Alex,
    Thanks a lot for taking the time to write. The comments and blog are appreciated. Have a good season!
    Cheers,
    Jon

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  23. Hi Alex,

    A few questions for you: I am looking at buying a pair of 99 Pures in 176 length, I am 5'9" 160, wondering what you thought about that size for me. It will be primarily a backcountry ski, but also a little bit of lift riding as well. Same as you I will be using a TLT and a four boot with these. The other question I had was regarding you using the PLUM race binders. I have a race set up with the PLUM race bindings and really like them. Just not sure how they would hold up in everyday use with this much more leverage of a bigger ski. Already after two seasons of minimal racing and a fair amount of training the heel pieces have play in them. I would probably be looking at replacing the polymer body every other season or sooner. How are yours holding up? Thanks for any info.

    Cheers,
    Brandon

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  24. Hey Brandon,

    As for sizing the 176 would work, but as an all-arounder the 184's might be a better ski as it will float more. I've been using my race setup on them, but know that if you choose to go that way they may wear out a bit faster, so something like the Dynafit Speed Superlite may be a good choice for just a touch more beef to it. All my bindings have held up really well, and am not replacing anything right now, but I suspect it's probably a case by case basis. Thanks for the questions.

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  25. Hey Alex,

    Thanks for the reply. So after a little Internet research I found a site where a guy claims he came into your shop (the escape route), and was shown a box of broken Plum guide heel pieces. He goes on to say that the failures were in the plastic housing and that there were at least 20 heel pieces returned. So, do you know if there is any validity to this statement, and if so do you know what Plum's stance has been? Sorry to get a little off topic, but I am thinking of getting the guide for my newly purchased Wailers. This report was confusing to me as I have a friend that has two seasons on his guides with no issues and loves them. Thanks for any info.

    Cheers,
    Brandon

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  26. Hey Brandon,

    I'm no longer working at the Escape Route as I guide full-time now, but there could have been a box. Like every product anything can break, I've seen some Plums break, but I've also seen everything else out there break. I have no idea about numbers, but Escape Route knows their stuff, you should ask Plum. Still on mine and they're holding strong for 3 season now. Sorry that's not too much help.

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  27. Hi Alex. Great work on your reviews, I'm currently stalking a pair of DPS skis and have been referencing both your Wailer112 and Wailer99 entries a lot. I recently spent some time chatting with DPS directly and went into the conversation wanting the w99s. I live and ski in northern VT and do 70% skiing in bounds but looking to explore more into the backountry. Im 6-1 and 185 but prefer a shorter ski for the tight new england woods. DPS recommended i go with a 178 w112 but I'm still thinking more about the w99s because more often than not I won't be in blower powder out here. Also planning a trip to Tuckerman's for next year and feel like I'd want more edge control there. Just curiou as to your take on a) model and b) legnth. Thanks for all your great work!

    Jon

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  28. Hey Jon,

    DPS is right to say 178 w112, in regards to powder skiing, and since you want a shorter ski. The way I look at it, is a shorter ski needs to be fatter to float, whereas a short narrower ski will sink and not prove as fun. For what you're skiing, it sounds like you're trying to find backcountry spots, not icy groomers. On the flip side the 99 is better for edge control, and is a good choice for versatility in not so deep situation, but I use my 112's way more than my 99's and they're fine on the odd icy section. Lots of people in the east on both skis, and all very happy. Hope that helps!

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  29. Thanks Alex, that's very helpful. One last question is a binding recommendation for the w112 based on my 70/30 inbounds/out of bounds tastes. I know there is a whole world of highly technical binding information out there and i'm just starting to skim the surface. Would appreciate any tips you might have, and thank you again.

    Jon

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  30. Hey Jon,

    As for bindings, I would go for two pairs of bindings, using the Quiver Killer System. 1 Pair of Dynafits for Backcountry days, and 1 Pair of Alpine Bindings for inbounds days. You get the best of both worlds and don't beat your Dynafits up on moguls inbounds. The QK system has worked very well for friends of mine, and I do have a good amount of confidence in them. Hope that helps!

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  31. Hello again Alex. My Wailer 112s are on the way and now im immersing myself in reading about bindings. Wondering your opinion if I was going to get just one set to start out (QK sounds awesome, may save that for the future).
    It seems like a tech setup might not be the way to go for me since a) ill still be riding 70+% inbounds b) my out of bounds will be more like sidecountry as opposed to epic tours and c) im over 180 pounds and want to ski aggressively. I did read about the G3 Oynx being a more aggressive tech binding that has high marks for safety (releasing), but overall it feels like a Marker setup or the Salomon Guardian 16 might be more appropriate for me right now. Just curious as to your take, and I really appreciate the feedback. Thanks!

    Jon

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  32. Hey Jon,

    Congrats, new skis! As for bindings, the Onyx is on the bottom of my list for ski touring bindings, but Marker's have been proven strong and reliable in the inbounds and out of bounds. The down side to a non-tech setup like the markers is that they walk poorly and are very heavy. However, if you're not going far they are great. Haven't heard any feedback on the Guardian, but probably in the same boat. I'd go marker, hope that helps.

    Alex

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  33. Hey Alex,

    I just stumbled across your site, btw great reviews and info. I have a chance to get my hands on a pair of Wailer 112s. I've been dreaming about them but my concern is the length. I'm 5'7 on a good day and weigh 160lbs. The pair being offered is 178cm which I'm worried is a bit long as I'd personally prefer the 168's. My racing skis are currently 165's. What are your thoughts? Will I be ok with the extra length. I generally ski inbounds hoping to use the wailer's as my powder ski.
    Thanks
    Jeff

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  34. Hey Jeff,

    Don't worry about length, they'll be perfect. The Wailer 112's ski short but are stable like a long ski. You'll love them, and they may even turn as easily as your race skis. Enjoy!

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  35. Alex,

    Thanks for the incredibly fast response!!! I got the same answer from a fellow wailer owner and he said the same. Really appreciate your insight. Thanks again for the help, keep up the great work with the site. Can't wait to try these bad boys out. Now if it only was January instead of late April.

    Jeff

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  36. Hi Alex
    I just got a pair of the wailer 99s and I am planning on mounting 2 sets of bindings (dynafit for backcountry and markers for resort/slackcountry use) with binding inserts. Do you have any recommendations as to where to mount the bindings so the inserts don't overlap?
    Thanks,
    Gabriel

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  37. Looking at the 2014 99s. 6'3" 225 lbs. Advanced intermediate; assuming 190s but not sure about bindings for a big dude like me.

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  38. Hey Guys,

    Sorry for the late reply, teaching avalanche courses! Gabriel, mounting with binding inserts is generally pretty straight forward, however it is important to note that all holes should be marked before drilled so that they are well balanced. Most bindings should only have to be moved 7mm at the most. So don't worry, as long as things are planned and not drilled too quickly.

    Anonymous, the 190cm's sound great. I would go for a Dynafit Radical FT binding for touring as they are tried, tested, and true with little issue. They will easily handily the weight, and you can beat them up pretty hard these days!

    Hope that helps, let me know if there is anything else!

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  39. Hi Alex,
    I am stuck and need a push... 70/30 on piste but looking to do more slackcountry stuff... i recently discovered a thing called powder(southern michigan boy)... I am 6ft 240lb advanced skier. I skied the 112 178 & 184 at Big Sky last year and really enjoyed it... this year I moved to Munich Germany and am thinking the 99 might be better for Euro Snow & resorts... I tried the 99 184 and liked it but was thinking maybe the 192 would be better for the on piste stuff I do... thoughts? there are no 192 demos readily available here so I am leery to pull the trigger on the 192... and thinking Look Pivot 14 Bindings
    Thanks!

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  40. Hey,

    Well the 99 is a great choice, but so is the 112. I would lean more for the 99 for the area your in. 192cm is definitely the best bet. Because of the rocker, they ski really short. I have the 184cm 99, it's fantastic, but I do find it slightly short and the 192cm would be that extra boost I want in deep deep snow. Don't worry too much for bindings, bindings always go on every ski, just think about is that binding good for in bounds skiing or backcountry? For the time you ski out of bounds something like a Duke or Guardian might give you some leeway to skin. Have a great season.

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    Replies
    1. Sold 99 192 it is! Thank Alex!

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  41. Hey Alex -

    Similar question as others above, but hoping to get your quick thoughts on the W99 length. 6'2" 195lbs - will be almost exclusively backcountry...mostly PNW volcanoes and multi day tours. 192 seems maybe a bit long in the steeps and then 99 feels a bit narrow in the deep. also considering the hauscaran's and cham 107HMs. I also have a pair of W112s hybrids w/ guardians and love them...but heavy set up. thanks!!

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  42. Pardon my tardy response, I'm still up in the backcountry guiding, and have had spotty internet or big touring days. First as a touring setup, always go with a Pure, I find they ski better but the biggest advantage is weight. I would recommend a 192 for you, as they are quite nimble, and the shorter version feels short in the deep. That being said, if you wanted to go shorter I would think it would be a good spring or big mission ski. The 112's are my daily driver, and ski everything, but when I know I'm going to be on ice I switch to the 99's. Hope that helps!

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  43. So long story... but I got the pure 192 w99s and am wondering if I should keep them or sell them and get a shorter pair. I have jjs now with Rad ft and mobe boots and skinny movement iki skis with speed Rad and f1 boots. Wondering which bindings and to mount up if I keep em and if the f1s would push that ski for spring peaks here in Co. I am 200 lbs and 5'10" and a strong skiier that likes going fast yet lives for tree skiing... Help...

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  44. So long story... but I got the pure 192 w99s and am wondering if I should keep them or sell them and get a shorter pair. I have jjs now with Rad ft and mobe boots and skinny movement iki skis with speed Rad and f1 boots. Wondering which bindings and to mount up if I keep em and if the f1s would push that ski for spring peaks here in Co. I am 200 lbs and 5'10" and a strong skiier that likes going fast yet lives for tree skiing... Help...

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  45. Hi Alex, I got pair of the 176 Nina 99's on the advice of the rep, I usually ski a 168. I'm 5'3" and 125 lb. I've read an on-line review from a woman a bit smaller, - 5'2" and 120 lb., but younger and probably stronger, who recommends the shorter length and mounting 1 or 2 cm forward. Any opinions?

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  46. Hi Alex, Just wondering about your height and weight re your advice about ski length. I'm only 5'4" (165cm) and weigh 70kgs (154lbs) and worried that the wailer 99 pure 3 @ 184 may be a bit too long for me. Your thoughts please.

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