Ski: Deviation Ballistic
Length skied: 182 cm
Actual Length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 180.5
Measured weight (each ski): 1826g / 1820g
Shape: 125/ 99 / 122
Mount: -2 from Center
Binding: Pivot 14s
Days skied: 15
Reviewer height/weight: 5'8, 170lbs
Review Location(s): Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, White Pine Ski Area
Conditions skied: Ice, moguls, shallow pow, groomers, spring slush
[Editor’s Note: This review was conducted on a custom Deviation Ballistic, the ski is unchanged for 2019-20, except for the graphical offerings].
Deviation USA is a handcrafted ski and snowboard manufacturer based in Portland, Oregon. They've been keeping things mellow in terms of the jib side of things so far, but they're about to announce the addition of a well-known skier to their squad, who will be designing a pro model aimed directly at us. Each of their models comes with a standard layup and graphic, or the option to customize your own. Deviation built me a custom model of the Ballistic– an all-mountain jib ski. To keep things consistent for the review, I stuck to the standard layup in 182cm but with an alternate top sheet.
I tested these skis at my home mountain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, as well as White Pine Ski Area near Pinedale, Wyoming from December through April, it felt really beneficial to take these out several times each month as the snow conditions throughout the season changed and helped me to grasp just what this ski is capable of.
Coming in at 99mm underfoot, the Deviation Ballistic falls happily into the All-Mountain Freestyle category. The profile is camber underfoot with a mild taper and rocker in the tip and tail and nearly full symmetrical twin. The ski features their signature Progressive Flex Core utilizing ash, poplar, and purple heartwood, which extends into the sidewall and is said to increase durability.
Deviation’s skis come in 3 flexes, I went with the standard, which has a pretty traditional feel and one I would probably give a 7/10 stiffness [Editors' Note: Erica likes stiff skis, I would describe the Magnus 102 as 7.5/10 so that probably makes these about a 9 by most people's standards. - Twig]. Deviation dubs it the “All-Mountain jib ski that isn’t afraid of deep days”. I would definitely put it more in the All-Mountain category, and say that it dabbles as a jib ski, but it is significantly stiffer than other skis in its category such as the ON3P Magnus 102, Faction CT 2.0 or Faction Prodigy 2.0.
On top of stiffness customization, Deviation offers a wide variety of different top sheets and bases, and the ability to customize it with your own graphics, as well. Many of their top sheets also feature work from independent artists, in which Deviation returns a portion of sales back to the artist.
Upon receiving the skis, I immediately noticed how well constructed they looked. The purple heartwood sidewall appears incredibly durable and is said to lead to more strength, dampness, and edge hold in the ski. For their construction, I was surprised at how comparable in weight(1820g / 1826g) they are when compared to Faction CT 2.0s (1905g / 1911g) that I also rode this season.
The Ballistic is an awesome all-mountain ski. I felt really confident on the skis which I would attribute to the long length of camber underfoot which helps to drive the ski and maintain stability at higher speeds. Overall they carve really well and are a great option for ripping groomers. Earlier in the season, I made a note about them feeling like they skied short, which I suspected had to do with being mounted -2 from center, but after revisiting the skis in the spring on softer snow (even after skiing much longer skis), the length felt much better.
The light swing weight of the ski allowed me to turn quick and plow through moguls, but the skis aren’t quite as damp as I hoped they would be. On certain turns or when running into the side of a mogul, they feel a bit pingy and don’t absorb the terrain, which I find to be pretty common in new indie brands, and it tends to work itself out after a few iterations of the ski.
With mixed conditions on groomers, the ski is stable enough to power through the crud and I didn’t have any issues. However, riding off-piste through moguls with spring slush and heavier snow, it felt like because of the very mild rocker, the tips were getting held up in the snow, and it was quite difficult to drive the ski.
The Ballistics will crush whatever less dense snow you throw at them, including 6” of powder. Due to their mellow tip rocker and skinnier waist, they wouldn’t be my choice for a deeper day, but if you’re cruising through chopped up pow and the occasional deeper pocket, you won’t have any issues staying afloat. They actually turned out to be a great option for days with just a little new snow, especially when just trying to blast down the mountain. They get along well with so many different conditions that I wasn't worried about how they would hold up through the day in different snow.
I don’t ski a ton of park and by no means consider myself a ‘park skier’, but I did my best to give them a couple of dedicated days this spring lapping the park. I can best speak to their playfulness around the mountain. They’re pretty stiff with a minimal taper/rocker profile, and therefore aren’t as playful or buttery as something like the CT 2.0, but that’s not to say that they don’t have any pop at all. I would say they’re more similar in flex profile to the Faction Prodigy 2.0 but less rockered. I loved the stability and predictability of the ski whilst mobbing through stash parks and side hits over the mountain.
As I said earlier if you’re trying to spend more time in the park and have a jibbier style, I would suggest getting the lighter layup that the custom model offers. The Ballistic is much more like a traditional park ski than something that is pushing the ‘new wave’ style. It is solid and stable on jumps with a low swing weight and despite not being soft, it still pops off the lip really well. That being said, come springtime I was leaning more towards skis with more pop, and the Ballistic was a better option when I knew I was going to mobbing over the mountain and getting into steeper terrain, and maybe ending a few laps through the park.
While it takes certain companies time to get durability right, Deviation has it dialed. The bases, edges, sidewall, and top sheets are bomber, and I haven’t experienced any negative or unexpected wear and tear. Just as a reminder, I wasn't lapping rails and can't speak to their durability there, but
Photo: Katie Cooney for Visit Pinedale
The Ballistic is a perfect ski for the individual who needs a one-ski quiver and spends some time in the park and most of their time all over the mountain in harder snow conditions. They’re a bit too stiff and directional to be a pure park ski (unless you only hit big jumps), and a bit tame to be a dedicated big mountain ski, The Ballistic is a great in-between option for the person trying to do it all. As aforementioned, they're perfect for someone trying to shred steep inbounds terrain in the morning and park laps in the afternoon.
It's increasingly rare to find largely cambered, stiff 'twin tip' skis. The few that do still exist tend to be skinny comp skis so the Ballistic hits a market that has largely been forgotten. If you're missing more old school all-mountain skis then these could be right up your street.