Volkl’s new Rise Beyond 96 Skis are ridiculously light yet they still ski like a boss. Slaying deep powder as if they were much fatter underfoot is built into their DNA and they can churn out long and short radius turns thanks to the three different turn radii incorporated along their length. Light, fun, and versatile—and now a Gear of the Year Award winner!
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
Volkl continues to add to their Rise touring ski line this season with the addition of the Rise Beyond 96 which is the successor to the Rise Beyond 98. The new Rise Beyond 96 Skis are, as Volkl puts it, a “Powder touring skis with a 3D radius sidecut for stunning downhill performance”. They will join the existing Rise Up 82 and Rise Above 88 skis, both of which are available in men’s and women’s versions. This newly expanded Rise line of skis joins Volkl’s tried and true BMT 90 and BMT 109 skis in their touring category and essentially replaced their short-lived VTA Touring skis. The Rise Beyond 96 Skis are a big leap forward over the previous Rise Beyond 98’s with a trimmer waist but with a more generous shovel and tail at 138/96/119mm versus the previous Rise Beyond’s 133/98/116. They new Rise Beyond 96 Skis also weigh 266g lighter for the 170cm length skis at just 2514g for the pair.
Volkl seems to have the proportions perfect for a touring ski and with the 3D radius sidecut it is at home in any conditions.
The Rise Beyond 96 Skis have a traditional touring profile with a combination of early rise tip rocker and camber underfoot. This allows it to tackle any kind of terrain from backcountry pow to resort-based groomers. The tails are fairly flat to accommodate kick turns on the uptick and taper early for better maneuverability. Although the Rise Beyond 96 is the widest ski (underfoot) in the line when compared to the 82 and 88mm widths, it’s still a performance-oriented touring ski given the fat shovel and relatively large sidecut. This allows the Rise Beyond 96 Skis to have a tighter turn radius which enables them to perform quicker and perform tighter radius turns which makes for snappy turn initiation and a funner ski overall.
The Rise Beyond 96 Skis incorporate three different turn radii along their length, which is what Volkl calls their 3D Radius Sidecut. This means the skis have a long radius at the tips and tails for big turns and high-speed carving with easy steering and maneuverability while exiting the turn easily. Underfoot in the centre of the skis, there is a shorter radius for easy turn initiation and lower speed carving. This means turn initiation is very easy and you can link up multiple short radius turns smoothly and effortlessly. Put these together and you have a ski that can easily switch from short to big turns and back again in a tight chute or down an open powder bowl. On the 170 length skis, this means the Rise Beyond 96 Skis incorporates these three turn radii together with 22m in the tips, 16m underfoot and a 20m turn radius in the tales.
Volkl has had success with their Tourlite Hybrid Woodcore and continues to use it in the Rise Beyond 96 Skis which provides a good stiffness to pop ratio. This construction consists of a combination of beech and poplar stringers to stiffen the lightweight paulownia core. Hand-picked poplar wood for its lightweight/stable characteristics is used next to the ski’s edges while in the centre of the ski you’ll find softer and lighter Paulownia wood which provides the ski with its flexibility. Under the binding mounts, beech wood is used as it provides the strength needed to adequately hold the binding screws. Running down the centre of the ski’s core is a CNC-milled Isocore which contributes to the liveliness and dynamic characteristics of the ski. All of this, in conjunction with the carbon tip shovel makes for a very light yet resilient construction that maximizes the stability and downhill performance.
Volkl has a new skin attachment design for their Rise touring skis which is a departure from the brand's SkinPin system found on their BMT and Mantra touring skis. While those skis have a physical hole in the tip of the skis to accommodate Volkl skins, the Rise skis use a more sublet depression or notch in the tips and tails. Volkl of course makes pre-cut skins for all the Rise skis and they use a standardized adjustable rubber tail strap and clip design. On the tips, these Volkl skis use an elastic snap hook so you can now strip your skins by pulling the tail or tip clips off the skis. They are of course glove-friendly and the Smart Skinclip attachment system on the skis is fully compatible with both Fibre Tech and Smart Glue skins.
Volkl is admittedly one of my favourite ski brands as they consistently deliver skis that perform as promised and the Rise Beyond 96 Skis are no exception. The new Rise Beyond 96 Skis are dedicated touring ski that replaced Volkl’s short-lived VTA skis. Having skied the VTA's for a day I can tell you that the Rise Beyond 96 Skis performs completely different. They are super fun and poppy with plenty of rebound from turn to turn and perform effortlessly in deep snow while also still carving surprisingly well on groomers—should you need to.
With easy turn initiation for both long and short radius turns and a reliable ride and confident feel under foot, the Volkl Rise Beyond 96 Skis are an amazingly versatile and manoeuvrable ski. While this is the ideal combination that most skiers are looking for, it’s rare to find them in such a lightweight set of planks. I give most of the credit for their skiing prowess to their 3D Radius Sidecut which gives the ski multiple turning radii for executing different types of turns while the Tourlite Hybrid wood core blend of poplar, beech, and paulownia wood is responsible for their lightweight. At just 2,514g or 5lbs 8.7oz for the 170cm length pair, the Rise Beyond 96 Skis are in the same weight category as the Blizzard Zero G 95 Skis and the new Rossignol Blackops Alpineer 96 Skis. Like both of these skis, the Rise Beyond 96 Skis share similar dimensions and also the same reliable edge hold on harder snow. My only disappointment with the Rise Beyond 96 Skis is that they don’t make a fatter version as they do for the Blizzard Zero G skis. For around here, I'd prefer something in the 100+ range (preferably 105cm) underfoot would be ideal for those deeper days.
Given that the Rise Beyond 96 Skis are only 98mm underfoot (yes, they are 2mm wider if you go up in length) they float impressively well with most of the credit going to their 138mm tips. The ski’s softer flex allows them further accommodate deep snow and while heavier skiers may find that they need to use more technique to keep them in check, my 175lb frame was well supported and rewarded with a smooth skiing experience that had no vibration in the tips even on harder snow.
In variable snow, they are a little less stable given their weight but are they are still able to plow through most softer obstacles (think broken pow) again thanks to their fat tips. I would have liked to size up on these skis to give them more stability in deep snow ( I was testing the 184cm length for my 6’1” height and 175lb weight). They are on the softer side and in really deep snow or challenging terrain the flex throws me off centre a touch, as I experienced when skiing wind slab and variable packed powder.
I am a big fan of the top sheet design on these skis and also the durability that it provides, my other favourite feature aside from how much fun they are for big touring days is the Smart Skinclip system. The custom cut Kohula climbing skis which are available in a 70% Mohair / 30% Nylon mix works seamlessly with the Rise Beyond 96 Skis and allow you to remove your skins from either the tip or tail which helps increase efficiency during transitions.
If you are looking for a dedicated touring ski that’s fun, responsive and performs well in most snow conditions then the Volkl Rise Beyond 96 is one you should definitely check out as it really impressed during my time testing it.
Full vertical sidewall, Tourlite Hybrid Woodcore of paulownia and poplar with beech wood underfoot and P-Tex 2100 bases
Price: $799.99CAN / $699.95US
Lengths: 156, 163, 170, 177, 184cm
Weight: 2514g / 5lbs 8.7oz (170cm length per pair)
Turn Radius: 22-16-20m (170 length)
|Powder Performance 2/2
Groomer Performance 1.5/2
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