[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 18/19 Line Chronic, which is unchanged for 2019-20, except for the graphics].
Welcome back to Roofbox Reviews: Our no bullshit, in-depth ski reviews, by ski bums for ski bums. No sponsored athletes, no 'we took 3 runs at a ski test'. Brands send us the sticks and we spend a solid chunk of our own seasons shredding them. Then when, we feel we've spent enough time on a ski to judge it fully, we tell you what we honestly think about the pros and cons of the ski and who we think it will work for. It's a matter of pride for us that 'NS Tested' means something, that these reviews can't be bought and that we advise you as best as possible what you should be slinging in your roofbox.
Ski: Line Chronic
Length skied: 178
Actual length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 178.5cm
Measured weight (each ski): 1906/1945g
Mount: True center
Binding: Tyrolia Attack 13
Days skied: 10
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 145lbs
Review location(s): Saas-Fee, Zermatt
Conditions skied: Freshly groomed, icy days, chopped up pow, park, mellow tree skiing, open terrain.
For ‘18-19 there’s an all-new, completely redesigned Line Chronic. That’s a pretty big deal. The Chronic was first seen back in ‘04-05, and back then it was an 80mm waisted park ripper. You still see the odd pair on the slopes today and note them with the same fondness as you would a Salomon 1080 or an original Rossignol Scratch. And even though the name and shape have changed a bit over time, the Chronic, in one form or another, has been Line’s pre-eminent park ski ever since its creation. The new version, however, is a pretty big departure from the tried and tested formula. It now has an early taper, it’s wider and more shaped towards all-mountain performance. Line says that “with a slightly wider footprint, and a reimagined rocker and flex pattern, the Chronic takes on the whole mountain as well as the park. Jib, arc, and blast both in and out of the park.” But how does it perform in reality?
[Editor’s Note]: Shoutout to Snowpark Zermatt for making this review possible because somehow, despite sometimes marketing itself as a park destination, Saas-Fee still didn’t have a park with any rails in by mid-February.
The new Chronic shape is entirely different from any previous version. It now sports a 95mm waist, early taper, and generous camber running most of the length of the ski with very mellow, early rise tips/tails. Both the tip and tail splay are markedly low, and the tip/tail angle is as well. Weighted, the entire ski is very close to flat. It also has a short turn radius, at 16m. In fact, it’s sort of like a narrower, lower rocker/higher camber version of the new Bacon shape. Oh, and unlike older Line models (Blends for example), these come up a bit longer than measured, rather than 3-4 centimeters shorter.
The new Chronic is also softer than the previous version (softer than the ‘14 model that was the last I skied, at least – though more recent skis have hand flexed softer). It’s not soft like the Blend or an EDollo, but softer than the ARV 96 for sure. Using my arbitrary five-part flex scale, I’d call the flex 4.5-5-6.5-5-4.5, though the camber underfoot makes the midsection feel stiffer than that on snow. It's a nice smooth flex profile and I tend to prefer that over skis that are super soft in the extremes but crazy stuff underfoot, it feels more predictable. The ‘Tuff Top’ topsheets make the ski feel different in the hand but the basic construction of the ski is trademark Line. Maple macroblock core, thin tip, and capwall, with the sidewall being relatively full and extended fairly close to the contact point. Not much new there. So how do they ski?
Simply put, the new Chronic is a super fun all-mountain ski. The short turn radius and flex combine to make them very intuitive and easy to ski, and they handle hardpacked groomers amazingly well for what are, after all, fairly soft skis. In that regard, they actually reminded me of the Line Elizabeth, which had no right to be as good to carve on as it was. They did feel like they had a bit of a speed limit, in the sense that at high speed and in icy conditions they were a bit too soft to really lay into turns and to hold an edge. But they did as good a job as anything I’ve skied in the category regardless, and they ski decently even when detuned. The one instance in which they did feel a bit too jittery was on long carving turns. The radius of the Chronic simply doesn’t naturally lend itself to that type of skiing.
Before I rode these skis, I was expecting to be drawing comparisons to softer 95-100mm skis like the Blend and the EDollo but these are way more in the all-mountain category of performance than the ‘soft rockered park skis that can ski a bit of pow category’. In fact, I would say these are the best performing jib ski I’ve tried for mobbing round the resort on groomed snow. In my mind, they even surpass the K2 Poacher, thanks to being easier to ski at lower speeds and quicker in tight spaces. You can see a similarly solid all-mountain DNA to the Poacher in these, but these are very much a Line ski with all the things that make skis feel ‘Line-y’ (softer flex, shorter radius etc).
The low tip profile cuts nicely through soft snow when skiing straightforward stuff, but the soft, low shovels do seem to have a tendency to dive and they really don’t handle heavy cut up heavy snow well at all. They don’t seem to want to go sideways in the soft stuff either, possibly because of the amount of camber, so, unfortunately, despite being a better hard-snow performer than the Poacher and the ARVs, those skis definitely have these beat on deeper days. However, neither is anywhere nearly as fun to me for just cruising around having fun, which is what it feels like these were born to do.
Look, it's the Matterhorn. Photo: James Coates
If there’s one characteristic that defines the new Chronic, it’s POP. Because of the insane pop these things generate, courtesy of the generous camber and large flat surface area in the tips and tails, they are loads of fun for jibbing the whole mountain too. They will launch you off rollers and allow you to pop up and over most things in your path. In the air, they feel light, despite being on the longer side of what I’d ride, and the fairly long cambered length/minimal rocker provides good stability on landings too. That makes them, in my opinion, a decent jump ski. Although, the super low rise makes them fairly prone to hooking when taking off switch if you spin a touch early.
And those low profile tips cause issues in other aspects of park skiing too. When landing in tight transitions, or even in cut up snow, I found these had a real issue with the noses/tails digging in and sending you flying in whichever direction you’re riding, more so landing switch. The camber and taper lines combine to give you a ski that feels more or less like a full camber ski when ripping around, but that also comes with the same disadvantages. When you don’t fully rotate a trick the edges like to catch rather than letting you swerve it out. In general, these are more precise feeling than surfy, despite the soft flex. On rails, they are fun for spinning, but on 5050s (two feet) and surface swaps, they don’t feel particularly comfortable, precisely because they have quite a lot of camber. The lightweight feel makes ‘quick’ tricks like sniper and knuckle taps seem easier than many skis, though not quite as easy as the Honey Badgers, which feel like they aren’t even there.
Yet, despite not being the surfiest of skis the Chronics are still pretty fun to butter on, because the flex has that perfect resistance level, at my weight at least, where they are easy to engage the butter but you can’t really overpower them unless you throw it stupidly hard. It’s actually one of the best compromises between buttery-ness and stability that I’ve tried. They aren’t a bad park ski, they just aren’t a particularly natural ski for the jibby, surfy style. They do just fine on traditional technical tricks but to me, it seems they have been designed primarily to ski all-mountain, with park as secondary priority.
Line sometimes take a bashing on Newschoolers for their durability but in general, I have found their higher end park skis (Chronic/Blend) to be just as durable as comparable skis from most brands. I had no issues to speak of with these over the ten days I skied them. I didn't get to ski a ton of rails on them, just a few days in Zermatt, so I wouldn't expect there to be any damage, and there wasn't. They look pretty much new in fact.
The one durability issue I had with the Blends when I tested them was top sheet chipping exposing the core. The new Tuff Top (a new, textured topsheet Line are using on all their park skis) has totally transformed that. I’d say they have held up better than any topsheet I’ve tried (though the new Faction top sheets also seem pretty good) so I think the days of horribly chipped up Lines are gone. Line use a 2.2mm x 2.5mm edge and a 1.7mm base which is significantly larger than most brands. The 2.2mm measure is across the base, which generally is the less important dimension in my experience. The 2.5mm height matches ON3P and others, and so while it’s a slightly thinner edge than the 2.5x2.5, it still holds up well in my experience at least.
The new Chronic is a stark departure from the previous model. To me, it’s an all-mountain ski, not a park ski, first and foremost. For that reason, they might not be for everyone, but I still really enjoyed them on jumps and for buttering around. Primarily they are designed for going skiing, making lots of turns and having a blast. They have so much energy, and feel so quick and fun that you can’t help but have a blast just ripping around on them… Skiing ‘more funner’ if you will.
If you’re the guy who only wants to ski straight and fast, or solely hit the park, then maybe these aren’t for you. If jibbing, swerving and trying to find tight transitions is your priority, then, there are definitely better skis for that too, because that is not where these excel. They are however perfect for the skier who likes to go out and shred around the resort while occasionally dabbling in the park. I also think the new Chronic would make an amazing east coast do-it-all ski and it’d be a great playful resort ski to add to your quiver no matter where you are. To me, they seem like they are really designed for the upcoming 'return of the turn' along with skis like the Sakana, but without going full directional.
I actually struggle to know which skis to compare them too. They are far more versatile than the current Blend, which to me at least is just too soft for daily resort use. They are softer than both the ARV 96 and Poacher, but for me, they handle most normal resort conditions at least as well, if not better, while being more playful and energetic. They ski how I've always imagined the HG Stingers (RIP) would ski, softish but energetic and tailor made for doing all things East Coast. To me, the closest relation I've actually tried is actually the Sir Francis Bacon. If you thinned down the Bacon and tweaked it more towards groomer performance, then the Chronic is pretty much what you’d get. I think a lot of people are going to really love skiing these, because I certainly did. They might not fit my style all that well for daily use but they had a really unique character and I’m looking forward to taking them out again when the season kicks off. They also feel like something truly new and different to what is already out there. Line have never been afraid to try new things and the new Chronic is another bold move. Personally I think that, if you can divorce yourself from the preconception of the Chronic as premium park ski, the risky move has paid off.
Have you skied the new Chronic? If so, add your review to our new gear guide. If you have any questions about these skis then feel free to hit me in the comments and I'll do my best.
Find out what I'm reviewing in real time: @twig_spens
Next up from me: The Faction Prodigy 1.0
- Merchant Sale Price Retail Price
- Jibij.com $479.95 Line Chronic Skis
- Jibij.com $285.95 Line Chronic Skis
- Jibij.com $249.95 Line Chronic Skis
- Jibij.com $499.95 LINE Chronic Ski
- The Peak Ski and Sports $499.95 Line Chronic Ski (13939)
Shop For Line Chronic
- Merchant Sale Price Retail Price
- PRFO Sports $329.99 Line Men's Chronic Ski - 185 cm