Cover photo by Shannon Corsi
Ski: Faction Prodigy 4.0 2021 (identical for 2022)
Length skied: 185cm
Actual Length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 183cm
Measured weight (each ski): 2192g/2209g
Sidecut: 22 meters (@185 cm)
Mount: -6cm from center (recommended is -9cm)
Binding: Tyrolia AAAtack 13
Days skied: 18
Reviewer height/weight: 5'5, 140lbs
Review Location(s): Jackson Hole Wyoming, Grand Targhee Wyoming
Conditions skied: pow, groomers, corn, slush.
[Editor's note: Our review was conducted on the 2022 Faction Prodigy 4.0, which is unchanged for 2023 except for graphics]
This year the prodigy 4.0 got an overhaul, it has gained a little bit of width as well as a different rocker profile from years past, but still remains as a wider option from Faction that has more camber and more taper than the skis in the Candide line. Faction describes the Prodigy 4.0 as “Provides float and a surfy feel in the pow. Built to be playful when jibbing yet solid when charging lines and stomping huge airs. You’ll love this ski if: You want something playful in all conditions; You like to slarve and slash; you like to occasionally land and ski backward; You are always on the hunt for pow.”
The main takeaway from this seems to be the emphasis on playfulness while still being stout enough to charge. Pretty similar to what they have said about this ski in previous years, and previously they seemed to do a pretty good job at blending those two traits together. Based on some of the stuff I have seen the Faction athletes do with these on their feet I have no doubt about the ability to send big airs.
The 4.0 features a semi-cap construction with a full sidewall to the contact points and then cap construction in the rockered tips and tails. The rocker lines are pretty average for a ski this wide, the splay isn't exceptionally high or low and the depth doesn't stand out as being very deep or shallow. What does stand out to me is the amount of camber these skis have, and also the fact that the cambered section is pretty stiff making it hard to flatten out. For a ski being billed as being ultra playful, this is not the camber profile I was expecting. The camber profile is Factions C3 profile, which is claimed to be the same across all of the Prodigy line except the 0.5, this camber also is featured on the Candide 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 as well.
Edge thickness is stated as 2.5x1.6 where 2.5mm is the height and 1.6mm is the width. This seems a little interesting to me but the taller edges should provide edges and sidewalls that are more resistant to compressing upwards when landing on rocks. My guess would be the reason for not going with a full 2.5x2.5 edge would be to save weight. The core is stated as poplar and no other materials are touted as being inside the prodigy, they do call for a 4.1 drill bit so there is at least metal through the binding mount plate, it is unknown as to whether that metal extends through to the tips or tails or is just for binding retention.
The flex pattern is a little less traditional than what I have seen of skis this wide. The tips are pretty soft. From the contact point forward is cap construction, and is also pretty soft, I’d say maybe a 6/10. Where the sidewall starts at the contact point the ski also gets significantly stiffer, it quickly goes from that medium-soft tip to a very stout 10/10 flex underfoot and through a portion of the tail. The tail is stiffer than the tip, I’m going to go with a 7-7.5/10. The ski hand flexes pretty stiffly on the floor with the tips noticeably softer than the rest of the ski, this should make for some accessible tips for nose butters while the center should provide a good platform for landing airs.
I did notice while mounting that the ski came extremely railed from the factory. This means that the edges were higher than the base. This isn't extremely uncommon and can be fixed by a stone grind and a full tune. Typically a railed ski will not want to turn easily and will feel very odd when running bases flat. This section is really just to warn people if they get this ski to check it for flatness, and also to state the fact that I never skied it on the stock tune.
Groomed trails (basic skiing performance):
With a 22-meter turn radius, the Prodigy needs a decent amount of speed to come alive on a groomer. Once up to speed the camber provides plenty of edge grip for my needs. I will add the disclaimer that where I live the groomers tend to never get super hard, and also for a ski this wide groomer performance isn’t one of my highest priorities. That said the 4.0 does perfectly fine ripping arcs at higher speeds.
I felt totally at home ripping steeps on these, usually, a twin-tipped ski isn’t the best for skiing steep terrain but with the stiff midsection of the ski and plenty of camber, these didn’t have any issue gripping into the snow on steeper terrain.
At 116mm wide this ski better float well, and as expected it floats very well. They don’t float quite as well as skis with less taper and wider tips, like the Vision 118, but perform about as good as one would expect from a ski this wide, the more notable takeaway is that despite being decently stiff they don’t sink to the bottom as I have experienced with some other skis of similar widths that are excessively stiff. This seemed to be helped by the softer tips being allowed to flex and plane up on top of the snow while the stiffer tails sunk in.
Mixed conditions (Crud/Slush/Ice):
In soft chop the Prodigy 4.0 absolutely rips, I felt like a superhero and couldn’t find the speed limit on these. They like to be skied with a pretty centered stance so that you stay on top of the stiffer center section of the ski. When I got it going fast enough it just skipped across the top of the softer bumps and did a great job blasting through the ones that were a little too tall to go over.
In firmer chop, think soft chop that got sun all day on the south-facing slopes and then refroze when the sun went away, I found that I would have liked more damping in the ski. It seemed to me that despite the ski being mid-weight by today's standards compared to all the lightweight skis coming onto the market, the weight of this ski is mostly in the center and not in the tips and tails. This led to tip flap and chatter that I wasn't expecting at this weight. That’s not to say it was horribly unstable, but just that I’ve used skis that weighed a few hundred grams less per ski that had better suspension and less flappable tips.
Faction really pushed the playfulness of this ski, and I will say they were the only kind of right in doing so. The tips are soft and accessible which makes nose butters pretty easy, I found I got a lot of pop when I loaded them up, these might be one of the easiest skis I’ve used to do pow butter 3’s on. The swing weight is also quite low, which as noted above seems to be from having a lot of the weight centered on the ski, which while it makes the tips chatter on firmer snow, helps while trying to spin off jumps. So while this ski does have some playful attributes, at slow speeds they feel like they aren’t very loose and playful. I think this is mostly due to a large amount of camber which makes it hard to wash your turns out. Combining that with the stiff center of the ski and long sidecut and the Prodigies become slightly unwieldy at slower speeds.
Faction skis don’t have the best reputation for durability. I’ve been told they switched factories and the durability should be on the ups. I will say that in the past the Prodigy line has tended to be more durable than the Candide line. I have hit quite a few rocks on these this early season, one of them putting a 4-5 inch core shot underfoot and at the edge of one ski. As of now, that core shot hasn’t caused any sort of delam, I will keep an eye on it and update the review if it develops into an issue, but for now, they seem to be durable enough.
Prodigy 4.0 vs. Vision 118:
The Vision has less taper, wider tips, and weighs significantly less than the Prodigy does. Despite the weight differences, I found the Vision to provide a more damp ride, it seemed to absorb vibrations and have reduced tip chatter when compared to the prodigy. The wider tips also floated a little better in deep snow. The Prodigy gets the upper hand as speeds increase, it has a higher speed limit and tends to handle better the faster you are going.
Prodigy 4.0 vs. Libtech UFO 115:
Again the Prodigy loses out to playfulness and pure float when compared to the UFO 115 but gains high-speed stability and the ability to blast through chop better. The UFO is significantly lighter, has basically no camber, and is softer throughout the entirety of the ski, I found this ski super playful but could still rip on groomers, it just didn’t have the weight and stiff flex that the Prodigy does so the speed limit was reached sooner.
Prodigy 4.0 vs. Nordica Enforcer 110:
This is an interesting one, the recommended mounting points are similar, but I mounted both of these around the same place at -6cm from center. These skis are both similar playfulness, they’ll do butters and slash when you make them but aren’t exactly loose and surfy types of skis. The Enforcer is much more intuitive on a groomer and carves the best out of any wide ski I’ve used personally, where it loses to the Factions are at higher speeds and when the conditions get choppier. These two skis weigh about the same but the longer turn radius and slightly more damp ride of the Factions make the Prodigy 4.0 better suited to high-speed skiing while the Enforcer 110 is more suited to someone who prioritizes on-piste performance of their wide skis.
Conclusion (Who is this ski for and who isn’t it for):
I’ll start with the questions I am left with this ski. Faction describes this ski as being some sort of playful pow weapon, when I read the description I think of something that will be comparable to a Bent Chetler 120. But then I see the specs, a 9cm behind center recommended mount point is ridiculous for a ski being pushed as playful, where I mounted them at -6cm is about as far rearward as I would go, I would think that would be the recommended line and that there would be a freestyle line 2-3cm forward of that. The second question I am left with was why this ski has so much camber, I think its playfulness would increase significantly with half the amount or even less than that, and it would sacrifice very little in terms of stability.
Now onto the goods, I think this ski would be an awesome storm day ski at most resorts on the west coast for someone who likes to ski fast through chop, and then also hunt out big lines, but doesn’t like the feel of a flat-tailed ski and wants to be able to land or take off switch on occasion. I would personally choose this ski on days that I go to Jackson Hole and want to have the ability to ski any of the large lines in the backcountry if conditions permit but also ski some of the more playful terrain. Basically, a skier who loves high-speed skiing but wants to still be able to ski switch a little and also do some nose butters will enjoy this ski. Skiers who keep the speeds lower and like to skid and wash their turns or ski in tight places frequently will not enjoy the Prodigy as much.