Editor's Note: We updated this review for the K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance on March 6, 2022, with a hot-take on whether or not we would recommend this ski to a friend, and if not, which skis we would suggest instead.
K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance prefers to make a medium radius turn and adequately handles on-piste skiing. It's not ideal on very firm, East Coast-style snow but does feel more stable at speed (on a softer surface) than many of its predecessors. It doesn't have the rebound or carving prowess of some other skis in our review, but it did feel surprisingly light and easy to get airborne.
Stability at Speed
To increase the torsional stiffness while maintaining consistent flex along the length of the ski, K2 added in a "Titanal Y-Beam." The Mindbender 98Ti does feel as though K2 has infused the ski with a noticeably greater level of dampness, allowing for better edge-hold and significantly less flapping at higher speeds. The testers from our group, who are taller and heavier, observed that this ski felt particularly solid underneath them. However, the Mindbender wasn't infallible on the firmest snow and tended to slip out when we most wanted their commitment to the edge.
While the specs read that the Mindbender 98Ti has a turning radius of 16 meters at the 175-centimeter length, we found that its "sweet spot" in terms of turn shape was less discernible. The Mindbender 98Ti is happy going straight or making a medium radius turn, and it's light enough that it can be coerced into a short turn when necessary. It isn't built for carving but will succumb if driven precisely. Some of our less experienced testers did find it difficult to stay on top of this ski; they found they needed to be moving almost violently forward at the start of the turn, or else the outside ski would sneak away from them.
This ski seems born to soar through the powder. Every time we checked, the sparkly polka-dotted tips were either on the surface already or on their way back to it. Not that we had to check often. After the first few deep powder turns, we trusted this ski inherently. The Mindbender 98Ti kept us afloat most of the time, and even in the moments where it submerged, we were confident that the ski's strength could build a platform of snow off of which to porpoise its way back to the surface. While the Mindbender 98Ti feels slightly bunglesome in the tightest trees and bumps, it found its groove in the powder. It is highly reliable in fresh snow conditions and comes highly recommended to anyone who is either just learning to handle deeper snow or seasoned powder hounds.
The Mindbender 98Ti performs well in moderate, softer crud. One tester commented that it didn't slice through the chop exactly but plowed its way past the chunks. Overall, we found that it manages to offer a fairly smooth ride over bumpy terrain. Unlike some K2 skis of the past, which were a bit too floppy to maintain course in variable snow, the Mindbender 98Ti is much stronger and more stable; it's more suited to hard and fast charging through rough conditions.
This ski feels lighter on your feet than in your hands, and enjoys being in the air. We had fun going over little rock drops and feeling buoyant while knowing that our landing would feel stable and secure. What is not present with the Mindbender 98Ti is much feeling of rebound, so if you love the feeling of the ski springing back at the end of a turn, you'll need to look elsewhere.
The Mindbender 98Ti is a little wide and unwieldy in a mogul field, though its lightweight nature helps counteract this feature and makes it just okay for a run or two of bump skiing. We would not highly recommend this ski for anyone who likes to take a bump lap or two every day, though; it's just not nimble enough.
Should You Buy the Mindbender 98Ti Alliance?
The K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance is a decent performer in most metrics, making it a fair-to-middling ski offered at a fair price. For those skiers who are just getting their powder legs underneath them, the Mindbender 98Ti should boost your confidence in fresh and chopped-up powder. This ski is also a great option for larger skiers looking for something stable and a reliable ride on everything but an icy hardpack.
What Other Women's All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
For East Coast skiers or those who regularly cut up early-morning groomers, you will be happier with a ski that can hold an edge, like the Blizzard Black Pearl 88. If you seek stability but still want a bit of excitement in your life, the Faction Dictator 2.0X is a much more lively all-mountain option. For the particularly playful among us, the Elan Ripstick 94 W is a nice stiff option for expert skiers, and the Black Crows Captis Birdie is softer and more approachable at the intermediate level. You cannot go wrong with the award-winning Nordica Santa Ana 98 for superior performance at a similar price point.
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