Hands-on Gear Review

Dynastar Legend W 96 Review

A very capable ski in a variety of environments, but missing the energy of its predecessor, the Cham.
By: Renee McCormack ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 24, 2018
Price:  $650 List  |  $649.95 at REI
Pros:  Great in soft snow, tight turn radius, good in chop
Cons:  Lacks the finesse and liveliness of older Dynastars
Manufacturer:   Dynastar
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 7
  • Crud - 20% 8
  • Powder - 20% 7
  • Playfulness - 15% 7
  • Bumps - 5% 7
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Our Verdict

We had very high hopes for the Dynastar Legend W96, after falling completely head-over-heels for their precursors, the Chams, a few years ago. Sadly, they didn't provide the joy we felt while ripping on the originals, but the Legends are still a respectable ski. They thrive in powder, soft snow, crud and even bumps; when it comes to on-piste carving, edge hold, and stability, they fall somewhat short. They are no where near as sprightly and fun as the Chams, but maybe it's unfair to compare them to their older sister.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Dynastar Legends have so much going for them; it's just a shame they have to live in the shadow of such a favorite and thrilling ski, the Cham. If we hadn't found ourselves constantly comparing them, we almost certainly would have rated them higher.

Performance Comparison


We found the Legends to be a competent ski that can take ripping ladies all over the mountain.
We found the Legends to be a competent ski that can take ripping ladies all over the mountain.

Stability at Speed


The Legends fall towards the middle of the bunch in this category, with decent edge hold in the steeps, but some floppy tip fluttering on high-speed groomer turns as well as in the crud. While they perform better in this arena than the Icelantic Oracle 88s or the Volkl 90Eights, they don't feel quite as secure when put through their paces as the Blizzard Black Pearl 98s or the Rossignol Soul 7HD Ws.

The Legends held their own at speed  with minimal tip flapping and mostly good edge hold.
The Legends held their own at speed, with minimal tip flapping and mostly good edge hold.

Carving


The Legends have a 14m turn radius at the 171cm length, giving them quite the tight curvature regarding turn shape. They are, however, surprisingly happy to make big swooping pow turns, but back on the groomers, they can be convinced to make nearly a slalom-style arc when you bend them. Compared to the Elan Ripstick 94 W and the Rossis, they aren't as capable of leaving clean lines down the run and sometimes tend to make an unsolicited skid. With a heap of rocker at the front, leaving the skiable edge feeling shorter, some of our taller testers felt they might even enjoy the 178cm ski more.

We found that the Legends were fun to carve on  but occasionally skidded out. In addition  their turn radius felt not to be quite as tight as stated on the ski  at 14m.
We found that the Legends were fun to carve on, but occasionally skidded out. In addition, their turn radius felt not to be quite as tight as stated on the ski, at 14m.

Powder


The shape of these skis makes them a perfect powder machine, but again, a longer length than you might normally ski is recommended, especially if you're considering them to be a powder ski with benefits. The beautiful rockered spatula at the tips kept us tearing across the surface of the soft snow, feeling invincible. For an even more powder-oriented experience, try the Rossignols; for something more multipurpose that skis slightly better in the fresh, we like the Head Great Joys. The Legends did outperform the Atomic Vantage WMN 95 C and the 90eights in deep snow.

The Legends were total legends in the pow  but if you plan to ski a lot of it  go a size up to account for the big rocker on the fronts.
The Legends were total legends in the pow, but if you plan to ski a lot of it, go a size up to account for the big rocker on the fronts.

Crud


The Legends were legendary in the crud, zinging from slick glacial ice into wind-scoured sastrugi without hesitation and without bucking their rider. Even when driven through grabby breakable crust, the Legends were stiff enough to cut through and continue in the desired direction. Some testers did feel a bit of kickback from the saggy tips ricocheting through chunky conditions, but most were surprised by the self-assurance they felt in awkward snow. While they don't go out and massacre the crud like the Rossignols and the Volkl Auras do, they have significantly more audacity to blast through tough conditions than the Icelantics or the K2s FulLuvits.

We loved how secure we felt in the crud  not getting bucked around by varying terrain.
We loved how secure we felt in the crud, not getting bucked around by varying terrain.

Playfulness


This is the sphere in which we missed the old Dynastar Chams and their liveliness. The Legends were powerful, but not playful. We yearned for the Chams and their sprightly rebound, as well as their love of flight. The Legends would rather stick to the ground and plow through things, rather than hopping over them. For a strong ski which is also playful, have a look at the Head Great Joys. If you want something both lighter and more fun, the Oracles are a good choice. However, in the realm of stiffer skis, the Dynastars were more of a kick than the Auras or the Black Pearls.

The Legends can be coerced into airborne revelries  but they don't take flight naturally like the Chams did.
The Legends can be coerced into airborne revelries, but they don't take flight naturally like the Chams did.

Bumps


Very enjoyable and resourceful in the bumps, the Legends are happy to smear and pivot their way around moguls and trees alike. We loved their quickness to turn and lack of lag time between edges, despite their 96mm waist. They didn't have the lightness that the Icelantics did in mogul fields, but they did wend their way through bump lines with greater ease than the Atomics. Earlier, we recommended a longer length in this ski for those planning on mostly making fresh tracks on them; if you're expecting to take them to Mary Jane at Winter Park, however, stick to your normal ski length.

Because they love to make a short turn  the Dynastars did well in bumpy terrain.
Because they love to make a short turn, the Dynastars did well in bumpy terrain.

Best Applications


The Legends are a solid crud and powder ski which are also reasonably capable in other conditions. If you're a big mountain skier looking for something which functions well enough back on-piste, this could be the ski for you.

Value


With a price tag around $650, these skis fall in the middle of the pack concerning cost. Full vertical sidewalls bring strength and lasting durability to the ski. For something cheaper and nearly as adaptable, check out our Best Buy, the Oracle 88s.

Conclusion


The Legends are well rounded and capable, just like their predecessor, the Chams. However, we just didn't adore them like we did their older sister. They lack the pure energy and pizzazz that we felt in every moment on the Chams.

Other Versions and Accessories


The men's version is the Legend X96, which has a similar shape and construction, including a lightweight Paulownia Wood Core but also adds in a Titanal laminate.

Renee McCormack

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