REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Ogasaka TC-SK 160cm 2020-2021
Ogasaka Ski Co., Ltd.
653 Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan
Fast Ski Sports
437 Old Mammoth Rd #120
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Phone +1 760-934-4447
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$1249.99 usd (with SR585 plate - no binding)
Short-radius frontside technical carving
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ To have this kind of non-race, serious short-radius carver in the quiver for those ideal hardpack days would be awesome. Include it in your list for Santa.
Ogasaka ski company started making skis in 1912...so as of 2020, it is a 109 years old and still making skis...perhaps the largest ski company in Japan...so they must be doing something right. Ogasaka is relatively unknown in North America, even if they make a full range of very modern, high-quality racing, technical carving, recreational and junior models (nearly 60 models by a count of their catalog in 2020).
The Ski Assocation of Japan (SAJ) hosts a technical competition series with intense regional and national championship rounds judging competitors on technical prowess and execution (not racing). This can include technical judgement of mogul, short-radius, long-radius and even off-piste ski techniques and apparently it is very serious and very prestigious in Japan. Ogasaka creates an entire series of "Technical Competition" (TC) skis in short, medium and long radius designs in various lengths for skiers participating in these competitions, and they have found a fanatical following not only for the Technical Championships, but for recreational, highly technical carving enthusiasts around Japan. We were lucky enough to get test skis of the TC-SK (short radius 11.8m), TC-MK (medium radius 18.1m) and TK-LK (long radius 24.2m) models.
For the best insider-details into the Japanese Technical Ski competitions:
What if you took today's SL and GS racing skis and defanged them a little to make them less demanding, less explosve, less tiring, easier to engage, slightly lighter, yet retained their narrow waist (less than 70mm), intense grip, powerful acceleration and carving geometry? You would get something unlike the explosive, high-tension "race carvers" for rowdy beer league antics, but refined, specialized carving instruments designed to etch carved turns into firm, groomed surfaces at high levels of precision and power. These are not all-mountain carvers with slightly rockered tips and/or tails weighing in at 75-95 mm underfoot, but dedicated narrow instruments to execute carved turns from technical specialist on firm surfaces at speed.
"Technical Competition Short turn model. Advanced ski tip deflection ensures quick turn initiation and powerful acceleration at the turn end, while increased ski stiffness brought additional on-piste stability and off-piste adaptability.
This pair provides outstanding adaptation to various turn shapes from short turn to long turn."
Technical Ski Data:
"NF Light Wood Core" rumored to be a blend of Chinese paulownia, Japanese wing nut, North American poplar, North Americanm Maple and Japanese beech depending on the model...exact core specs not available. Proprietary core curing techniques are used...some sources indicate cores are dried in a controlled environment for 3 years before assembly. AL7178 (aluminum alloy) sheet(s), Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (F.R.P) & F.R.P (ZTC) (zeolite templated carbon), Rubber Sheet
Base edge angle = 0.55°, side edge angle = 2.5°
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo with Ogasaka SR585 11mm riser plate
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots
Lange RX 130 boots
Green Ice Waxes
Like the other Ogasaka ski models we tested, this pair was stunningly assembled, superbly finished, precisely race-tuned and given a nice base grind pattern and even waxed out of the box. These came premounted with the Ogasaka SR585 riser plate (11 mm) and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings. Hefty, but not heavy feeling, although it "feels" like a hardwood core carving tool. Rock-solid torsional flex and snappy, but damp and controlled rebound to hand flexing. Flex is softer than the full-on racing SL model, but still firm throughout the body from tip to tail...with a bit of softer flex in the shovel area, but nicely balanced. Feels and looks like the offspring of a racing SL ski that dropped out of school to chase technical carving titles. It's definitely a ski intended for the business of etching lines into hardpack under high edge angles, but not scary-stiff or likely to beat you up and send you looking for a different pair of skis at lunch time. Very subdued, business-like graphics with a touch of cool red accents on the topsheet and the racing-red sidewalls. Nicely textured topsheet looks like it would take nicks and cuts well and age well. These skis gave the impression of high quality craftsmanship and precision rarely found in other brands.
Eastern U.S. hardpacked artificial snow, packed powder corduroy, yellow boilerplate, cold granular sugar with death-cookie ice chunks, cold, skied-out early season granular on top of boilerplate.
The Ogasaka TC-SK is a compliant-to-hard-carving street fighter of a ski capable of intensely precise carving behaviors and surprisingly powerful and lightning-quick (but not darty) edge changes not only in short-radius, SL-like turns, but at larger-radius arcs as well up to its speed limit. Superbly quiet on-snow without feeling dead or overly damp, it instills confidence and has a deep reservoir of energy and power on-tap, but can be skied in a near-leisurely manner if desired. You can jam down on it to produce j-like directional changes, or apply gradual and increasingly intense C-shaped edge angles and pressure to generate a variety of carved etchings into the snow at a variety of speeds and radii with a professional delivery and laser-like grip onto the snow surface. This is the real deal and feels refined in its purpose and personality. Wider performance envelope than a dedicated SL racing ski, but capable of gripping intensely with exciting acceleration nearly like a race ski without all the effort and mandatory attention to keep control. Advanced intermediates may even like this ski because it is friendly, not overly-demanding, super secure underfoot on groomers and could introduce them to the art of carved turns with instant gratication when the carve is executed properly. The TC-SK is a brilliant ski designed to deliver superb grip and high-performance technical acuity for short-radius carving afficianados who don't need a full-on "race carver" or "race ski". Addicting...but not for softish snowpack since it is so narrow.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Ogasaka TC-SK's natural habitat (being 67mm underfoot) is hard snow, and that's where it reveals its true personality as a tool to execute a variety of short-to-medium radius carved turns with deft precision, eager confidence and high-performance acceleration. Vibration control is excellent across roughed-up, rutted or cat-tracked boilerplate surfaces, resulting in quiet, continual edge contact without feeling heavy or deadened. Feel for the surface conditions through the ski is excellent, even with the SR585 riser plate and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings mounted to our test pair, so you always know what the density and condition of snow underfoot is. You don't feel as if you are isolated from the snow, but instead you feel well-informed about the condition of the surface. While you can run the TC-SKs flat without feeling nervous or twitchy on firm snow, they are eager to be tipped on-edge and pressured, where they come alive and pull their chassis across the hill quickly. This eager directional change can put a lazy skier into the back seat or cross under you, but you really don't want to be there because the TC-SKs have a surprisingly enthusiastic acceleration out of the loaded turn and can take you for a quick ride when you're not paying attention. This is precisely what makes them addicting. The big difference between the TC-SK and its pure racing SL sibling is the TC-SK does not demand to be stood-on with authority to get the direction change and rock-solid grip in a carve in an on-off switch manner. You can dial-in the degree of arc and bite intensity by adjusting your edge angle and pressure levels in a wider range than the pure SL race model. While the SL race model has a much higher power and speed/pressure intensity tolerance at speed than the TC-SK, the TC-SK can begin laser-like carving behaviors at lower angle and pressure levels and requires less management effort throughout the trajectory. More fun than work, yet deadly serious when needed. Some beer league racers might choose the TC-SK over the SL race model if they are lighter weight or less prone to working out 5 days a week in the gym. Ogasaka's TC-SK is an excellent example of what a state-of-the-art short-radius carver can be.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The TC-SK was surprisingly fun and effective in somewhat cut-up packed powder conditions since the somewhat wide, rounded shovels produced some forebody flotation, and the addictingly agile feel and zippy acceleration made dancing through the uneven surfaces really fun...almost giddy. Ogasaka's description of the TC-SK includes "..off-piste adaptability", which we were skeptical of given this is a slalom carver with 67mm waist, but lo-and-behold, these technical carvers were a hoot to bang in and out of the patches of scraped-off snow, then into the piles of soft packed powder and transitioning sections of in-between plow-wash snow surfaces. This makes them a perfectly viable option for a narrow, resort frontside ski where surfaces are not always buffed smooth and featureless. Deflection is minimal, substituted by eager directional changes without any hint of darty behavior. Again..don't get in the back seat, or you'll find yourself trying to catch up to the rapid rocketships underfoot. "Zippy-Grippy" and "Energetic" were the words that came to mind most often in mixed surface conditions.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The TC-SK is eager to initiate a turn as soon as you tip it over from run-flat to shallow edging angles. The higher the intitiation angle, the stronger the pull and urge to tighten its radius across the fall line. You can go from run-flat to high-intensity J-turn angles instantly if needed, and the TC-SK bites-in, powers-up, launches in the new direction and wants you to do it again and again. The nice feature of the TC-SK is its variable radius capability. Some SL race-carvers want to execute the abrupt, intense directional change almost exclusively, while the TC-SK is authoritative at shallow-radius arcs or longer-radius arcs throughout the intiation, apex and finishing stages without complaint. You never feel like your "forcing" the TC-SK to do anything....it simply executes what you want as you want it, making it a versatile instrument. You can feed it slowly into an ever-tightening radius until you explode out of the apex on your heels, or hold a confident, deliberate etch into the snow starting long and finishing tightly, or starting tight and gradually lengthening the finish off the center of the ski underfoot. Technical-types will want to refine their skills and technique given such a tool. You may have friends who will say... "No.. I want to make just one more run and get this right...just one more...I'll meet you in the bar after...go ahead and order one for me...I'll be right there..."
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
Factory-specified mount with the SR585 plate and FreeFlex 14 bindings was right on the money.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A custom-made surgical instrument for carving afficiandos the arc-addicted.
Notable Tester Comments:
Brian Finch and Kerri Finch:
(Kerri is a recent multi-time winner of FIS globes for international masters SL competitions around the World)
Ker’s take first, usually I have to bribe her to come off of her Head 158 SL RD Racers. She took the TC-SKs out first thing in the morning and actually had a lot of fun with them. She felt that they were quite easy to turn and we’re not very demanding. Interestingly... when it was time to swap skis...she initially refused (that says something).
I felt this ski was undersized at 165cm for myself at 5'8" and 155 lbs. The amount of taper in the shovel to the waist was too excessive and I kept skipping into my turns. If they were my skis I would probably detuning the hell out of the shovels to avoid this, but I didn’t want to take the gummy to a set of test skis.
I also took the TC-SKs out again over the weekend with all the soft snow and surprisingly they were nimble and quite a bit of fun once things got really chopped up and heavy. What stood out was that these actually made me ski a little bit better in the soft stuff.
Footnotes, all of the skis were tested with the Lange RX 130 low-volume boot, additionally the carvers were skied with the Lange (DIN) and a DeBello Lupo HD with grip walk soles.
Slightly curvier, less-demanding, smoother, more civilized SL carver than Triun SL race.
Silky turn initiation and dial-in-your-intensity midbody-tail finish varying from smooth-and-easy linked carving to jackrabbit J-turns.
More tolerance to drifting than Triun SL. Compliant tip flex and geometry better in somewhat softer conditions and some 3D snow.
Very quiet, damp but zippy, planted feel.
Craves to sit in its radius under pressure all day long, but can be skied in relaxed mode.
Less abrupt start and finish behaviors than some more "race-oriented SL race carvers" like the Blizzard FIREBIRD SRC or Head Rebel E-SL.
Likes to sink it teeth into firm surfaces and in a flex and etch tracks smoothly.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing....maybe make the forebody less curvaceous to mellow out turn intiation.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
If you crave short-radius carving capabilities of the highest level without going into race-ski or race-carver territory, this is the answer.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Technically nerdy carving afficiados who want to test and refine their skills will love the TC-SK.
Ex-racers who still want the grip and intensity of hard-carving of their race skis but don't need the intense demands of a race ski all day long will eat these up.
Beer league racers who don't want to drive a pure racing SL ski will fine a home with the TC-SK.
Advanced intermediates who want to take the next stage of development into real carving will adapt to the TC-SK nicely without feeling abused or out-gunned.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
This is a dedicated, speciality ski for technically proficient skiers intent on carving firm, groomed surfaces...the harder the better. If you want an all-mountain ski, look elsewhere.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Left-to-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK, Triun SL, Triun GS, E-Turn 8.6
From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-LK, TC-MK, TC-SK
From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK
Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK tail shapes
Ogasaka TC-SK midsection profile
Ogasaka TC-SK tip protector detail
Ogasaka TC-SK tail detail
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