REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Whitedot Ronde 96 168cm (2019-2020)
132-96-115 r=17m @ 168cm
Whitedot Skis Ltd
91-93 Green Lane,
Leeds, LS16 7EY, United Kingdom
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
698€ 524€ on sale)
All mountain touring with alpine bias
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
7+ Hardpack surfaces
8+ - Mixed surface conditions, chop low to moderate speeds
Powder - not tested
Whitedot Skis began to really get skis out of prototype mode and sold to the public in 2009. (We tested some of their first production candidate models back in 2009 in France.) The collaborative effort of several enthusiasts who wanted to build unique and effective skis in small batches using designs developed with pro freeriders at Chamonix and Verbier testing grounds. The guys at Whitedot believe in constantly evolving their designs and exploring the effectiveness of different materials, so their models often behave differently from year to year. Whitedot Skis are very popular in Europe for a reason...they seem to work for the conditions found in the Alps of France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
" All Mountain - All Day
Incorporating a balanced sidecut, traditional camber underfoot with a subtle rocker and resort friendly 19m turn radius. The Ronde 96 will inject a huge dose of fun into your piste runs due to an abundance of edge grip and stability afforded by the camber underfoot. It is versatile for the snowfalls and for when you need a single option to ride the powder in the morning and the bumps in the afternoon. Powerful and smooth, this is the one ski you will not want to put down at the end of the day.
- Website March 2020
Technical Ski Data:
Claimed weight: 1600 grams
Measured weight: 1550, 1527 grams
Flex = 8/10
1.2mm ISO 7200 sintered die cut base
168cm length = 132-96-115mm sidecut, 4mm camber, tip rocker, essentially flat tail, 17m radius, 1358mm effective edge
1.9mm steel, 360 degree edges
Screen printed ISO foil topsheet with two layers of lacquer
Poplar/ash laminate core with tri-axial fibreglass, bi-axial fiberglass at tip and tail, carbon fibre/kevlar stringers, dry weave binding retention plate & rubber foil dampening tape "Traditional Build"
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Salmon S-LAB MNC 10 Shift bindings
Salomon QST PRO 90 TR W boots
Green Ice Waxes / Salomon MTN Skins
The first impression you get when picking up the Ronde 96 is "Wow...these things are light." They have a traditional camber profile with a moderate tip rocker and nearly-flat tail profile. Tips and tails are on the moderate flex side, with a fairly solid midbody. Whitedot claims an 8/10 flex...We would say it's closer to a 6/10 at the tip and maybe 8/10 midbody and tail realistically. Hand flex shows a moderate level of dampening and rebound, perhaps right in the middle-of-the-road for all-around backcountry skis. Fit and finish were very good, although the factory tune was a bit dull for Eastern USA conditions and sharpened up with a quick pass of a stone. Really nice, notched aluminum tail insert for skin clips and durability. The Ronde 96 looks and feels like a all-day backcountry free-tour/freeride ski with a bias toward tour more than downhill freeride performance.
Hardpack snow & gnarly-hard, rugged eastern forest hardpack with some small bumps. Shallow fresh and days-old powder and settled-snowpack.
Whitedot's Ronde 96 feels like it's aimed at the add-day, all-terrain backcountry touring crowd who prefer lightweight uphill and sidehill performance more than hard-charging, earn-your-turns, raging backcountry downhill addicts. Whitedot has been refining their free-tour skis for several seasons now and the Ronde lineup starts with the narrowest, carveable offering with the Ronde 96. The Ronde 96 has a light and lively feel uphill, allowing quick ascents with agile navigation and response in switchbacks. The moderate sidecut means it behaves itself on sidehill traverses without wanting to pull left or right when pressured, preferring to move along its trajectory without any errant behaviors...exactly what you want in a backcountry touring ski. It has an energetic, eager and smooth feel without any hint of being heavy or dead like some beefier backcountry skis or feathery-light like some super-light backcountry skis. They ski pretty true-to-length with a flatter tail profile than the Altum series of skis from Whitedot.
Our testing days had some gnarly hard-pack conditions in the woods (the kind that rattle your teeth), so the Ronde 96s were put to the test on the downhills where they felt a bit unsettled as speeds crept up on the rock-hard surfaces. The softish flex at the tip making it friendly to navigate uphill and sidehill terrain made it fairly effortless and agile on decents in good snow at low to moderate speeds, but revealed a speed limit on decents in rough, rock-hard surfaces where the skis felt unsettled and unhappy as speeds crept up. We outfitted out test skis with Salmon Shift bindings to maximize downhill power transmission and security in our AT setup, so the Ronde 96's were well suited for our Vermont backcountry conditions. When conditions get super hard and roughly textured, a heavier, higher-mass ski with significant vibration damping is the tool of choice, but a beast to go uphill with. The tradeoff for light and sporty uphill/sidehill performance can be a limited top-speed in crunchy, hardpack downhill performance, and Whitedot has chosen the give the Ronde the advantage in uphill/sidehill response and friendliness. Downhill, the Ronde 96s are quick and agile with a bit of rocker, traditional camber and a nearly flat tail providing nice and predictable security underfoot, and show a nicely rounded midbody-to-tail carving ability when called upon. Higher speeds begin to generate a slightly loose feel as the skis show their touring weight. Hard-charging or muscle-oriented skiers may overski the Ronde 96 in fast conditions. The Ronde 96s are an excellent choice for light-to-moderate weight skiers looking to get a balanced, all-terrain backcountry ski with a bias toward covering a lot of territory rather than maximizing their hard-charging downhill freeride line performance at high pressure/high-speed situations. Overall, the Ronde 96 hits the sweet spot in the backcountry free-tour market where people often want a ski with alpine-like downhill behaviors up to moderate speeds with lightweight, responsive and friendly uphill and sidehill performance.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Ronde 96 has a pretty light feel underfoot, so it behaves a bit loose and skittery on icy surfaces, even with its cambered profile and flat-ish tail. Given just a hint of dense-but-edgeable snow rather than boilerplate, the Ronde 96s set an edge with little effort and can carve a secure turn in tight situations quickly, which is nice. The industry has yet to find a way to give a light and somewhat stiffish ski calm behaviors on rough-icy conditions, but Whitedot has done a pretty good job with the Ronde 96.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The Ronde 96 does a pretty good imitation of a Swiss army knife in variable conditions and terrain, providing a near-traditional downhill/alpine ski behavior on the descent (although definitely lighter-feeling underfoot with a lower speed limit than purpose-built alpine skis), and an agile, sporty feel traversing terrain and heading uphill in mixed conditions. The super-light free-tour skis from some companies can get knocked around in mixed conditions (but really move you uphill with little effort), and the heavier, alpine-freeride oriented skis can lay down stable, secure tracks descending at speed in mixed conditions (but test your conditioning an endurance uphill), so the Whitedot Ronde 96 aims to give the backcountry skier something in-between: a ski with a super-friendly manner in 90% of the situations skiers will typically find outside the lift-served resorts. The Ronde 96 has the stability and tractability through mixed conditions most people crave without sacrificing huge ranges of performance at either end of the spectrum. Whitedot's design focuses on making the middle part of the spectrum wide and friendly, and it hits the mark.
We did not get true powder conditions to test the Ronde 96. Stay tuned for a followup report during the winter of 2020-2021 if the snow cooperates!
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The Ronde 96 initiates turns quickly with little effort and pulls itself through a turn without requring a high level of input from the skier. Just tip it on-edge and let the geometry shaping do the work and pressure the midbody through the tail to finish off the turn in a traditional alpine manner, or release it flat and start a new direction. The body of the Ronde 96 can take a fair amount of pressure before any hint of washout occurs, which is a nice trait in a freetour ski...more akin to an dedicated alpine ski. The somewhat stiffer tail likes to be pressured through the finish to complete a rounded turn, but mid-turn adjustments are quick and agile. Higher-speed turns can feel slightly loose underfoot on rock-hard, icy conditions, but backing off the speed reduces the looseness. Overall, the geometry is super predictable and friendly and you can adjust your turns easily in the backcountry, which makes people happy. The 168cm version has a 17m radius, so there is no radical feel to the turn behavior, and you can generate shorter or longer radius turns without protest underfoot.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
We mounted the Shift bindings on-the-mark as suggested by Whitedot.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A go-to friend you can call up anytime to go out and have fun when you don't know where you're going or what you'll run into.
Remarkably light feel, nimble and effortess to ski.
Prefers softer snow than rock-hard icy boilerplate
Not a high-speed machine.
Really nice, notched aluminum tail insert
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Perhaps a bit more dampening material to quiet the ski's feel on rough, icy hardpack
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
The Ronde 96 makes a great all-around backcountry free-tour ski in the mid-90mm waist class. Super easy to get along with, quick and sporty at a great price point.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Most skiers looking for a backcountry freetour ski will find the Ronde 96 super friendly and suitable for nearly all conditions you're likely to find except for the hardest, icy days. Heavyweight or aggressive muscle-skiers may overpower the Ronde 96. People looking for a high-speed, hard-charging ski will want to chose a more robust ski than the Ronde 96.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Check the Whitedot special sale webpages!
None found as of January 2021.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Several companies provide discounts or donations to support our ski testing program.
Your browser does not support iframes.