The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

DPS Nina 99 Foundation Review

DPS Skis' attempt at a resort ski falls short.
DPS Skis 99 Foundation
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Price:  $799 List | $799.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stable at speed, pretty top sheets.
Cons:  Grabby, difficult to turn, unremarkable skis.
Manufacturer:   DPS
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 3, 2017
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54
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 5
  • Crud - 20% 5
  • Powder - 20% 5
  • Playfulness - 15% 4
  • Bumps - 5% 4

The Skinny

The Foundation was a new series from DPS for the 2016/17 season. The idea for the line was to create a versatile, all-mountain quiver ski at a cheaper price point than the Pure series. Initially, we were very excited about this but, unfortunately, we ended up pretty disappointed. We tested the Nina 99 Foundation and found it to be unremarkable and often disappointing in every one of our rating metrics, leaving it falling short of our expectations. It is somewhat stable at speed, but hard to turn and catchy, not inspiring confidence at speed or in the steeps. The un-DPS like tip shape likes to dive in the powder instead of float and makes for a ride in the backseat. Try again DPS.

Dimension Updates for the New Season
DPS changed the dimensions of the Nina 99 for the new season. Check out the details of this change below.


Our Analysis and Test Results

New Dimensions for 2017/18


The dimensions of last years version of this ski were 123-99-122. The new version measures in at 126-99-115. DPS says that the shovel rocker profile is refined, with the sidecut traveling farther up the shovel. This updated Chassis design is meant to place your boot in an optimal place, landing within both the flex profile and the sidecut for a powerful response and predictability. We have not tested this new shape, so everything in the following review is for the old version.

Hands-On Review of the 2016/17 Foundation Nina 99


Ultimately, this ski is unremarkable in every way. DPS's attempt at a lower price resort ski misses the mark and was our testers' least favorite ski of the bunch. A jack of all trades, master of none ski makes the Nina 99 Foundation disappointing and lifeless. Contrary to popular belief, DPS stands for DrakePowderworkS, not Deep Powder Snow — so at least this isn't false advertising.

The DPS Skis' Nina 99 Foundation is an unremarkable ski that took us for an unnerving ride.
The DPS Skis' Nina 99 Foundation is an unremarkable ski that took us for an unnerving ride.

Stability at Speed


The Ninas are relatively stable, and like many other skis we tested like the K2 FulLuvit and the Armada Victa, the tips start flopping once you get up to speeds and try to rail them on edge. They are in the middle of the group for this metric. Not particularly stable at speed, but not the floppiest of the bunch either. Just boring boards that we didn't really feel the desire to go very fast on. We love going fast on the Volkl Aura, the most stable of the bunch.

Carving Performance


Carving the Ninas was a challenge.
Carving the Ninas was a challenge.

With a middle of the pack turn radius of 18m, the Ninas were not particularly carvy and don't particularly like holding an edge. We were unnerved by the sensation of these skis on hard pack while trying to hold an edge. They feel almost as if they are edge-high (an experience that only generally happens on a very well-worn pair of skis, where the edges are higher — closer to the snow — than the bases).

When you were on one set of edges, they felt like they constantly wanted to pull you towards the opposing set, making it difficult to complete a full turn. "Sliding out" doesn't really describe the action; they wanted to grab and pull you towards another set of edges constantly. A bizarre and freaky sensation on piste. Our favorite carving skis are the Head Great Joy.

Powder Performance


The DPS Skis Nina 99 Foundation's tips tended to dive rather than float in the deep powder.
The DPS Skis Nina 99 Foundation's tips tended to dive rather than float in the deep powder.

We are super disappointed with the Nina's in the deep powder. They don't have the traditional DPS skis' tip shape with exaggerated rocker and the fat point of the tip moved back. Instead, they have very little rocker and the tips wanted to dive below the powder. We have to get in the back seat to keep the tips up in the deep. Granted that was after getting two feet of fresh light fluffy stuff, but not what we would have expected from DPS.

The Nina 99 performed better off piste and in soft snow than on the hard-pack.
The Nina 99 performed better off piste and in soft snow than on the hard-pack.

The Rossignol Soul 7 HD W have a unique tapered tip and tail shape and are fat in all the right places, making them ideal to float through the powder. The Ninas perform pretty well in soft snow that isn't deep and can butter turns relatively well. We prefer to butter turns on the Nordica Santa Ana or the Blizzard Samba.

Crud Performance


Again, the Ninas did not inspire confidence in this category. In the chop, we felt a similar sensation to that on the hard pack — the ski seemed to want to squirrel around in different directions. It doesn't want to plow through crud; it keeps trying to escape! For a contender that truly excelled in this category, we would recommend the Volkl Aura and Rossignol Soul 7 HD W.

The DPS Skis Nina 99 Foundation do not inspire confidence in the crud. They do not plow through it  instead they throw you around.
The DPS Skis Nina 99 Foundation do not inspire confidence in the crud. They do not plow through it, instead they throw you around.

Playfulness


The Nina is the lowest ski on the list for this metric. Boring boards. Grabby on hard snow, in a bad way, and not particularly pivoty in soft snow. Too dull to be enjoyed in the bumps either. The best thing about this ski is the topsheet — so pretty!

We liked the Nina 99 Foundation's in the air better than on the snow!
We liked the Nina 99 Foundation's in the air better than on the snow!

Bumps Skiing Performance


You probably get the theme at this point but we'll say it again. We are not impressed with how the Nina performed in the bumps either. They are catchy and hard to bring around in tight spaces. We prefer the Armada Victa and the Nordica Santa Ana in the bumps.

The Ninas were challenging to bring around without catching or getting thrown in the backseat in the bumps.
The Ninas were challenging to bring around without catching or getting thrown in the backseat in the bumps.

Best Application


Skiing blue runs on soft snow. These skis don't really excel in any area and we'd suggest looking at any other ski in the review over the Nina 99 Foundation.

Value


Retailing for $800, the Nina is the second most expensive ski in this review after the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W at $850. We would definitely drop the extra $50 for the Rossis or spend $50 less and get the all-around favorite the Volkl Aura.

Conclusion


The words lifeless, boring, unnerving, and disappointing came up in discussion when our testers were talking about this ski. We appreciate that DPS is trying to come in at a more attainable price and create a ski for the masses, but this is not it. If they had a bit more rocker, traditional DPS-style tip shape and a bit more spring in their step we would be more interested in skiing them.

You will not stand out from the crowd on this ski.
You will not stand out from the crowd on this ski.

Other Versions


Don't confuse these skis with the Nina 99 Pure, a completely different, carbon ski that looks like a lot more fun. DPS's Foundation Series has four women's skis and six men's skis in its lineup. The Wailer 99 is the closest men's model to our women's Nina 99.


Jessica Haist