The Cham 2.0 97 is back for winter 2016/17 and has not changed a bit — and we're glad because we think this ski is great! This was many of our testers' favorite ski and wowed us with its tight turn radius, stability on piste, and powder performance. We think this is an incredibly versatile ski, and although it has been pushed down the ranks this year by some other top-performing products we still love this ski. It really Cham-wowed us when we took it into the soft snow and powder, making poppy, floaty tight turns.
Dynastar Cham 2.0 97 - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive! Heavy, not quite as smooth as a GriGri
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cham 2.0 is the new and improved model from Dynastar and everyone is excited about it. It feels light and nimble on your feet and is incredibly easy to ski. Some of our testers liked it on groomed runs, and all of them loved it in powder. It is fun and snappy as you bounce in and out of the deep as well as maneuverable when you get into tight trees in search of untracked powder.
Stability at Speed
For a ski with such a rockered tip, the Cham feels quite stable at speed on groomers as well as in steep and varied terrain. They are much more damp than the Fischer Ranger Women's 98, probably due to their full sidewall construction. Their tips will still get to flopping if you get up to mach speeds, but this is to be expected with any ski that has as much tip rocker as these. They feel stable underfoot and do not have a tendency to chatter out when making turns on steeps at high speeds. We feel confident and comfortable at speeds on hard pack on the Cham 2.0, they absorb and move silently through all the terrain we tested them on. The Volkl Aura is an even harder charging ski than the Cham and is the most stable of all the skis we tested. If you are looking for a softer ski to butter your way down the mountain check out the Armada Victa.
We were surprised at the Cham's tight, 13-meter turn radius, and so we were not surprised to find out that this was our ski instructor tester's favorite model. If you love carving tight, shapely turns you will be pleasantly surprised at what the Cham can do. This is the ski with the smallest turn radius in this review, followed by the K2 FulLuvit 95 at 14M and then the Head Great Joy, a ski that our ski instructor tester did not want to let go of at the end of our review.
Our testers whose inclination is towards skis with larger turn radiuses like the Volkl's 21.5m, found that the Chams took some getting used to when skiing on piste. The tips felt strangely grabby, but what we didn't realize was that it was the ski telling us it wanted to turn sooner than we did. Eventually we worked it out. These skis have stable edge hold and like to carve in and power out of the turns. They like to stay on edge when you ask, but can also release with ease. The Cham feels easy to turn and skis on the shorter side of its length. They zip and zag on a dime. Our testers loved one-ski carving them on groomers and feeling the edge engage and whip back and forth. We had fun with the Cham's snappy edge-to-edge quickness when skiing the corduroy.
Such responsiveness is rare in this "all-mountain" genre, and very much appreciated. The Rossignol Soul 7 is very responsive and a great carving ski as well. Despite the Cham's 97mm width underfoot, they feel so much smaller when you want them to, on hard pack and groomers. Their sidecut is beautiful and a much needed attribute, to a truly ALL-mountain ski.
We were lucky enough to have a number of early season powder days on Mammoth Mountain and the Cham made our smiles even bigger on these special days. We liked skiing these Dynastars in the powder, although this year the award for powder performance goes to the fat, curvy Rossignol Soul 7 Women's. Dynastar has coined the Cham's unique shape as the "Powder Profile" and we think it works. It has great tip rocker and slight tail rocker for extra float and the tip has a tapered shape with the wide point in the shovel moved back to help it cut through and stay above the deepest of snow, similar to the K2 FulLUVit 95. We bet the Cham 97's big sister, the Cham 2.0 107, would be the ultimate powder ski, but as far as a more all-mountain focused ski the Cham 97 comes out on top.
Our testers had a lot of fun in perfect, consolidated powder on the Cham. This ski is nimble and springy, hopping through the deep and has great float. We also appreciated the Cham's tight turn radius when we ventured into the trees in search of fresh tracks when the rest of the mountain had gotten tracked. One of our testers said she felt like a superhero in the trees on the Cham 2.0 97. We think these skis exceed over the FulLUVit and the DPS Nina 99 Foundation in this terrain.
All our testers agree, these skis handle the crud like a Cham(p)! They are stable enough to bust through the heavy crud and maneuverable enough to turn when you ask them to in any conditions. The fat shovel helps you plow through heavy snow and the flat tail shape helps you bring them around and power forward without getting caught up. It is not nearly as floppy and prone to deflection as the Fischer Ranger 98 - Women's; instead it's a stronger, tougher ski that moves through chunky stuff with grace. Again, they're not as incredible as the Volkl Aura in these conditions (which move like a Mac truck in any kind of snow), but they're still above average, scoring an 8 out of 10 in this metric.
These skis were great fun to wiggle through any kind of soft chopped up snow, and with a little more power and a wider, aggressive stance they handle any snow conditions you want to tackle, from breakable crust to frozen bumps and elephant snot. We enjoyed skiing the Blizzard Samba's in cruddy conditions as well.
These skis were described as "super fun" by all of our testers at one point or another. The combination of their edge-to-edge quickness, maneuverability, and great float make them one of the most playful and fun skis we tested. "Easy to Turn," "Responsive," "Nimble," and "fun fun fun" were also descriptions written down by our testers.
That said, one of our testers thought they didn't seem as forgiving as the K2 FulLUVit 95's and didn't absorb landings off of little airs and bums the way she would have hoped, but she forgives them because she had so much fun schnoodling around in the powder and bumps with them. This is a ski that you can reach for no matter what the conditions, and it will adapt as the weather and surface changes thoroughout the day.
Bumps Skiing Performance
Our testers agree that for a ski not designed specifically for bumps, the Chams handled themselves well in that terrain. The tighter turn radius helps them feel fast and agile in moguls and the amount of rocker in the tip is perfect for keeping them from diving down too far. They did not launch us off the bumps like the overly springy Fischer Ranger 98, instead helping us absorb what came next. The rocker also decreases the effective edge of the ski, making it easier to turn. We enjoyed the K2 FulLUVit and the Armada Victa's in the bumps as well.
The Cham 2.0 97 truly is the one-ski quiver. It is responsive and stable enough to carve up the groomers all day, and it skis like a dream in powder. For the charging, advanced skier this would be a great choice if you just want the one ski to rule them all. We would say the Cham is best 60 percent off-piste and 40 percent on-piste. If you are mostly into skiing groomed runs but want to add a ski to your quiver that you can reach for when things get deep and cruddy, this would be a great addition that wouldn't feel quite as foreign as a straight up powder ski.
Retailing at $700, the Cham is right in the middle of top of the pack for its price tag and now that this is its second year on the market, the price is a bit more reasonable. It scores at the top of the pack and is worth every penny. This ski seems to be extremely durable. It has reinforced tips with a cool metal jaws pattern and full sidewall construction, making it very burly. We have not noticed any top sheet or base damage and don't anticipate any for a long time. We also like the cool new graphics!
This contender definitely stood out of the pack during our testing. It is one of the easiest skis to ski and feels comfortable and light under our feet right away — although it may take some time to get used to if you're not used to such a tight turn radius. If you want to be skiing big lines in Alaska, it might not be the ski for you, but if you like making more than two turns per pitch, or skiing tight trees, these things will help you rip! They excel in fluffy powder conditions and will have you hooting and hollering from joy when you and your 500 best friends are ripping it up on a powder day.
Our more expert level skiers feel the 172 length is a bit on the short side and would size up for more charging ability and even greater float in powder.
Although this ski can handle everything on the mountain, it is in Dynastar's "Freeride" line. The Cham 2.0 Women's comes in 87mm, 97mm, and 107mm widths. Dynastar also carries a Men's Cham 2.0 line in 97mm, 107mm, 117m as well as a Cham 2.0 Pro Xpress model that is 90mm underfoot.
Dynastar also makes the Dynastar Mythic — which is the carbon lightweight, backcountry specific version of the Cham 2.0 97.
— Jessica Haist and Renee McCormack