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Ski: Faction Prodigy
Length skied: 178cm
Actual Tip-Tail Length (Straight Tape):175cm
Measured weight: 1,795g / 1803g
Mount: Recommended (briefly) then True Centre
Days skied: Around 40 on two pairs
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 140lbs
Review Location: Saas-Fee, Hemel Snow Centre
Conditions skied: Slush, Ice, Groomers, Rails, Jumps, Powder up to 1ft
The Prodigy is marketed as Faction's do-it-all, dare I say the dreaded word... intermediate, freeride ski. And as such, the Prodigy has seen very little interest on NS, with people instead frantically asking questions about, what is to all intents and purposes its bigger brother, the Candide 2.0. A ski which I reviewed in depth last year, and skied again this winter to check out the small changes. Indeed I never paid any attention to the Prodigy until Faction handed me a used pair to fill a gap between reviews/broken skis. I was quickly back to the Faction office asking after a second pair so I could keep riding them because they are that much fun. Depending on your usage they might well work as a playful all mountain jib ski for you.
The ski is designed to float well in powder and yet remain easy to ski as an everyday ski for its target market: intermediate to advanced holiday skiers, otherwise known as the people keeping the whole industry going. The result is plenty of rocker up front for float, slightly less in the tail for stability and a mid-soft/damp flex for easy carving all day long. Perfect for daily skiing, but also a great combo for the park, more on that later. At a traditional mount (recommended is 7.5cm back from true centre) it does its designated job. It's easy to ski, stable at the speeds a normal skier would be travelling, holds an edge and floats well when the snow does fall on your holiday. All the boxes ticked but not that interesting for you guys. But if you move the mount forward to true centre, a whole different beast emerges, and it's covered in butter.
That rocker up front and the softish flex means it's easy to get up on your noses, and because of the way the ski flexes it doesn't snap you back round. You can hold butters as long as you like and the nice wide nose keeps you super stable while you are holding them. I've skied/owned plenty of softer skis, the Blend, Elizabeth, EP Pro among them, but none of them were as easy to consistently butter as the Prodigy. The Blend is the currently available model and most people's noodle of choice, but I found the way it was stiffer underfoot and then stupidly soft in the tips, thus unpredictable and too easy to over-butter. The Prodigy is just as easy to get up into the butter as softer skis because the rocker is more pronounced (imagine a cross between the Blend and a Surface 3-stage rocker) but the more smooth, predictable flex keeps you there and makes it less easy to accidentally go over the bars. Manuals and legit tail butters (not margarines) are also a doddle.
Even at centre mount they still ski the rest of the mountain relatively well. The wide nose and generous nose rocker help the tip stay up in on deeper days and the 10mm narrower tail means the tail sinks happily enough allowing for a comfortable stance. The full length sidecut and fairly large (for a jibbing ski) radius isn't ideal for playing around at low speed, for how I ski I prefer a shorter sidecut, but they do carve nicely on piste. They basically feel like a wider version of a traditional, non-symmetrical park ski that's been centre mounted. You can feel that you aren't skiing where the ski is meant to be ridden, but it's a familiar, perhaps even nostalgic feeling.
They're also stable enough for most purposes, but they do chatter at high speed and if you lean too far into the tips while railing around you can definitely give yourself a shock. If that's something you're worried about, the big brother the Candide 2.0 is without question a better ski for you. The other slight downside of these is that I found them slightly uncomfortable skiing switch through chopped up or deeper snow, where I found the tails hooky. They were better than a park ski would be but definitely more uncomfortable than something with a little more tail rocker/some taper/a wider tail like the Candide 2.0s/Line SFBs I was used to.
In the park I found them tons of fun but that very much depends on your personal preference for buttery/damp vs stable/poppy. If you ski a lot of jumps for example, again the Candide 2.0 is going to be a better call as it has the stiffness required to support you on landings. But if you just want to play, these are a great toy. With relatively low camber, lots of rocker and a mid-soft flex, you have the recipe for a buttery, surface swap machine. Some of the close competitiors here are the Al Dente, the Shreditor and the Blend. Now I don't particularly like the Blend (at least the '12 macroblocklite core model I owned) for reasons already mentioned, but they do have one big advantage, the fat edge. Even the Shreditors have noticeably thicker edges than the Prodigy which suffers from one of the same shortcomings as the Al Dente: really thin edges. As a result durability in the park is not the skis' strong suit. On both pairs I've used in my 6 weeks or so of riding them, I've got 2-3 edge cracks per ski albeit skiing mostly rails and I'm missing a fair bit of edge (6cm or so) from one of the skis. One of the tails on another ski has a cracked core and is now super floppy. I've also had problems with the topsheets chipping and peeling to a degree I've not seen on any other ski. Every pair of Factions I've skied until these has had good build quality but these aren't as durable as the Candide 2.0. Out of 4 skis (2 pairs) I still have 2 usable skis after 6 weeks, which is far from the worst durability I've experienced (probably OG Volkl Wall or Atomic Infamous) but it isn't great.
Which puts me in a difficult position when it comes to concluding. I loved skiing these skis. They are one of my all time favourites for daily fun, and I'd love to recommend them to anyone who skis like I do. In terms of fun they are probably all time top 3. But I can't in good conscience say that if you ski a ton of rails or otherwise are hard on skis that you should buy these. Because as much fun as they are in the park they just don't seem to last well enough to be a ski you use a lot there. However, if you don't ride rails much but you ski all over the mountain, buttering, playing around and having fun at mortal speeds, then these should definitely be right near the top of your list. They are so much fun, I just wish I had an inexhaustible stash.