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

Dynastar Cham 2.0 97 Review

A great all-mountain ski that is fun and user-friendly.
Dynastar Cham 2.0 97 NEW
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Price:  $700 List
Pros:  User-friendly, quick edge to edge, fun shape
Cons:  Some chatter
Manufacturer:   Dynastar
By Andrew Pierce ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 21, 2017
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74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Carving - 20% 7
  • Crud - 20% 7
  • Powder - 20% 8
  • Playfulness - 15% 7
  • Bumps - 5% 7

The Skinny

The Cham 2.0 97 is Discontinued as of 2017
Well, they've done it again. The 2016 model of the Dynastar Cham 2.0 97 is unchanged from last years' design, and given the ski's performance, we're pretty happy about that. We like to call this a true "plug-and-play" ski, meaning that you can plug this ski into any snow condition and then play all day. This ski's interesting shape, a large shovel complete with rocker and a pin-tail, make this ski incredibly competent in any snow condition. While other skis may outperform the Cham 2.0 97 in one or two areas (see the Volkl Mantra on its carving ability), this ski is consistently fun and easy to handle throughout our testing metrics and deserves a closer look by anyone interested in a quiver killing all-mountain ski.

Our Analysis and Test Results

This is a ski that could be considered a true one-ski quiver. Anyone on these skis should feel confident in skiing bell to bell in all the conditions that the mountains can throw at you. From the six inches of fresh pow delivered by Mother Nature at first chair, to the firm chalky steeps of that Hollywood line, everybody in the lodge is watching you shred, and all the groomers in between, this ski will make you feel like a pro.

The Cham 2.0 97 goes nearly blow for blow in terms of all mountain ability with the Volkl Mantra, our Editors' Choice winner, but offers a narrower waist and a bit of camber underfoot, which makes it slightly more user-friendly. It can also be found at a cheaper price, which helps this ski earn our "Best Buy" award, though it is not the cheapest pair of skis in our fleet.

2016/2017 Dynastar Cham 97 2.0. 184cm.
2016/2017 Dynastar Cham 97 2.0. 184cm.

Stability at Speed


Although the Cham 2.0 is lacking the metal laminate that was found in previous versions of Dynastar's Cham line as well as its main all-mountain competitor Volkl Mantra, that doesn't seem to limit its ability to keep up with your need for speed. These skis are capable of holding an edge in almost any terrain and don't mind being pushed to their speed limit.


Although most reviewers found the Cham 97 2.0 to be fun at high speeds, a bit of floppiness in the huge rockered shovel left some hard chargers wishing for a slightly burlier ski with some metal in it (See the Volkl Mantra or K2 iKonic 84 ti). That being said, consistency in the edge hold and a bit of camber under foot allows the majority of skiers to rail high-speed GS turns with confidence while cruising wide open groomers.

The Chams feel surprisingly stable at high speeds.
The Chams feel surprisingly stable at high speeds.

Carving Performance


These skis want to turn! They are incredibly easy to set on edge, similarly to the K2 iKonic 84 ti, and once there, the shape of the turn is nothing short of "arc-tistic." The wide tip helps you settle into a deep carve, while the tapered tail allows you to exit smoothly, as well as control the shape and size of your turn in all conditions but the most hateful.


They are right at home making fast, long turns, like the Volkl Mantra or Armada Invictus 99 ti, but really shine with short radius turns, due in part to their 17m turn radius. Short, poppy turns can be had all day long once the skier gets a feel for the shape of the ski. Carving on these skies can best be described as fun and easy. One of our reviewers even said, "I can't stop turning! It's too good!"

Chams doing what they feel like they were born to do...carve.
Chams doing what they feel like they were born to do...carve.

Crud


This ski's unique shape (IE the gigantic plow complete with rocker and a slightly rockered pintail) contributes greatly to its ability to bust through many different variations of crud. It handled chopped up pow, soft avalanche debris, sun-baked slush, sticky spring groomers, and almost any other type of crud you could define, like charm. But like other skis without any metal, like the Head Venturi 95 or the Salomon QST 99, the Cham's struggled a bit in this category.


That being said, when you come upon a surface that has been refrozen after a clear night under the stars, you might be wishing the Cham 97 2.0 had a bit more beef to it, like the Volkl Mantra. Some skiers found this ski to be a bit "floppy" in the tip and deflected a bit when trying to bust through frozen chicken heads, but then again, there are very few skis that perform well in those conditions, and in terms of all-mountain crud-busting, the Cham still performs well.

Showing off the Cham's crud busting abilities.
Showing off the Cham's crud busting abilities.

Powder


In the powder, the Cham 97 2.0's shape shines once again. This ski was tested in many different powder conditions; from 18" of blower Utah-esque pow to 6 inches of our standard Sierra Cement. The Cham's large shovel immediately thrusts the ski towards the surface (a la the Head Venturi), and the tapered tail allows you to release out of a turn and bounce into the next. The tapered tail acts similarly to the rockered tail of the Head Venturi 95. It performs just as well on an open pow-field as it does a few hours later when you're forced to cross others' tracks.


The only time the Cham 97 2.0 had us wishing for more float was after the deepest fluffy dumps of cold snow. No other ski we tested, not even the wide and playful Atomic Vantage 100 cti, performed as well in the powder. If you live in an area that consistently gets plenty of light snow, you may want to consider a wider version of the Cham (IE 107 or 117) for a true powder ski. That being said, the 97 waist lends itself to a typical "all mountain" powder day; slashing freshies in the morning, seeking your favorite stash in the afternoon, and ripping groomers down to the chair.

The Chams (discontinued) doing their thing in the soft stuff found at Kirkwood!
The Chams (discontinued) doing their thing in the soft stuff found at Kirkwood!

Playfulness


A ski such as this is not often described as "playful", but the Cham has a few unique characteristics that brought it's playfulness metric score to a respectable 7 out of 10, which is only one point below the super playful Head Venturi 95 (8/10).


The ski's low swing weight and turny nature allow this ski to be more playful than one would guess. The "pop" found between turns also contributed to the higher than expected score in this category. Skiers found the Cham to be to be somewhere in between the Head Venturi (a truly playful ski) and the K2 iKonic 84 ti (not so playful) in this category.

Don't let the Cham's (discontinued) excellent on-piste ability limit your exploration of the all-mountain terrain park!
Don't let the Cham's (discontinued) excellent on-piste ability limit your exploration of the all-mountain terrain park!

Bumps


Once again, the ability and ease of turning this ski on a dime lends itself to being a crowd favorite in the Bumps category. The Volkl Mantra score a 7/10 as well, but its turny nature can be attributed to its full rocker profile.


This ski was continuously tested on one of the most iconic bump lines in the Tahoe region (IE The Face/Gunbarrel at Heavenly) in every type of bump you can imagine (frozen, soft, slush, pow-covered, etc.), and overall they were a blast. Once again, in firmer conditions, these skis were tossed around a bit like the Nordica Enforcer 93, but only in the least ideal mogul skiing conditions imaginable.

Best Application


The Cham 97 2.0 has actually earned its name as a true "all-mountain" ski, and therefore the best application for them is the entire mountain! It handles a wide variety of terrain and conditions well, and could be your go-to ski on the days when you know the mountain is going to throw everything is has at you.

Value


This ski has been given our "Best Buy" award for 2017. It is definitely not the cheapest ski on the market, or even in our line of skis reviewed in the men's all-mountain category, but the excellent performance of this ski is well worth the price tag, and skiers should not be hesitant in snatching up a pair (or three) of these.

Conclusion


Don't let the slightly odd shape of the Dynastar Cham 97 dissuade you from giving them a try. As soon as you click into them, you are in the driver's seat and in for the ride of your life. This ski wants you to be in control, and it will make you feel like the pro you've always dreamed of being. Don't hesitate to get your own pair, because word on the street is that Dynastar might be discontinuing the Cham line after this year. Buy them up!

Everyone will be chasing you down to try out your Dynastar Cham 97 2.0s!
Everyone will be chasing you down to try out your Dynastar Cham 97 2.0s!


Andrew Pierce