Gear Review: Liberty Variant 97 Skis
Summary: An award winning freeride powerhouse that excels in all-conditions and all-terrain. The Liberty Variant 97 is a reliable, high performance skiing machine that is at home in the resort and the backcountry.
Weight: 2200 grams / 4.85 lbs per ski
Turn Radius: 21.0 m in 179cm
Lengths: 172, 179, 186
The Liberty Variant 97 Ski is an award winning freeride powerhouse. This all-conditions, all-terrain, daily driver is a reliable, high performance skiing machine that excels in the resort and the backcountry.
Whether you’re heading for distance ski mountaineering missions or ripping around the friendly slopes of the ski area, the Liberty Variant 97 is a playful, confidence inspiring ski. It’s a ski designed for advanced skiers who are able to drive it, carve it, and smear it.
The Variant 97 does just about everything well. It’s an on-piste machine. It’s stable at high speeds. It holds a edge and carves unexpectedly well. It plays well in a wide variety of snow conditions. It’s lively, playful, and responsive. Turn initiation is smooth. It floats relatively well in powder. It’s just plain fun from the get-go. If you only have the budget for one ski, the Liberty Variant 97 is a great choice.
I like the design of the Liberty Variant 97. The ski is stiffer in the tail and softer toward the tip allowing for it to float in powder, cruise over crud, and manage breakable crusts. The ski’s profile has traditional camber underfoot, a relatively flat tail, and stealth rocker (the 2015 version is called Hammer rocker) in the tip. It would be nice if the tip was a bit wider so it would float in powder a bit more, but then again it’s a 97 under foot – not exactly a powder slayer.
I’m a fan of flat tails on my skis. The Liberty Variant 97 claims to have a flat tail, but it is not entirely flat. There is a bit of tail rise at the very end, which makes it hard to plunge the skis into the snow during transitions, but not a deal breaker.
The bamboo core makes for a lighter weight ski that only weighs 4.85 lbs per ski. I added the Dynafit Radical bindings to mine for a total weight of 5 lbs, 11 ozs per ski. It’s not the lightest backcountry setup available, but the ski performance makes up for the added weight. The ability to handle all conditions, the 97mm under foot, and the self-minding skin notch make it an ideal ski for all sorts of adventures.
A titanal sheet allows the ski to remain stable at high speed, keep its torsional rigidity, and dampen vibrations. It adds a hint of weight but is negligible when performance is a factor. And the Liberty Variant 97 performs well wherever you take it.
My Liberty Variant 97’s have skied Mount Shuksan, played in the Beartooths, cruised across the Quien Sabe Glacier, ripped up the Stoneman Couloir, and been to Chile multiple times. It’s my go-to ski for backcountry missions due to the length, shape, and design. I do wish it was a touch lighter. They’ve seen some rough conditions, yet they are one of the more durable setups that I have skied. I trust them to do what I want. The Liberty Variant 97 means business, but always performs flawlessly. They are bombproof. If I am going for a quick ski tour to find powder, I usually opt for my Dynastar Cham HM 107 setup.
I am 6’1″ and weigh 185. I opted for the 179 length and am very happy with that length for ski adventures. They ski true to length so don’t step up a size as you might with other skis with tip rise.
Liberty is a growing ski company based in Colorado. They build environmentally friendly, renewable, high quality skis. By using an assortment of cool designs, they have a high end product that is superior to most of their competitors.
Here are a few features of the Liberty Variant 97s:
- Bamboo Backbone – Environmentally friendly, playful, responsive, and durable. Bamboo rules.
- P-Tex 4000 – Fastest and hardest base available
- HRC 48 – Edges are more durable and longer lasting
- Skin Compatible – A notch in the tail and a friendly tip allow for easy, worry free skin attachments
- FRP – A material under the binding that increases ski-binding attachment strength
- BC Tail – Flat, stiff tail that is designed to boost your skiing
- Quadaxial Glass – A fiberglass weave that allows more versatility in flex patterns
Learn more about these features on Liberty’s Website.
The Liberty Variant 97 can handle anything you throw at it. If you’re worried that 97 under foot is too skinny for you, step up to the Liberty Variant 113. It’s the Variant 97’s big brother and it rips. It features equally cool top sheet graphics too!
If you haven’t tired a Liberty ski, do it this season. If you are looking for a fun all mountain quiver of designed for whatever the mountains throw at you, then purchase the Liberty Variant 97. When you’re on these skis your options are open and you’ll be grinning ear to ear.
Here are some additional images of the Liberty Variant 97 Ski: