DPS Lotus 117 Pagoda 2022-2023
650 S 500 W #259,
Salt Lake City, UT 84101 USA
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ for epic powder days where skiing groomers may be necessary to get lift service
9 for cut-up/skied-out powder where playful skimming across the top of the chop is fun and lively
7-8 for high speed charging due to light-weight for people who prefer a higher-mass ski underfoot
5 for pricing...$1,500 usd for a flat (no binding) ski causes many skiers to recoil.
First off, the staff at DPS headquarters in Utah, Sasso Vertical Sales in Canada and Selkirk-Tangiers Heli Tours in Revelstoke were super-helpful and heroic in getting us hooked up with a test pair of Lotus 117s on short notice. We had a 5-day trip to Revelstoke and Kicking Horse planned after the introduction of the new skis on-snow in February here in Vermont (where we got stoked on how this new ski performed), and Mike Cannon from DPS put us in contact with their Canadian Distributor, Jeff Perron at Sasso Vertical Sales. Jeff then put us in contact with Cory Beisel, Technical Operations Manager for Selkirk-Tangiers Heli Skiing where a pair of the L-117s were available for a short time. Eriks Suchovs, Dave Pehowich and Christine Hill of STHS helped us time our visit with their schedules for the new skis so we could get 3 days on them. After all the Covid shutdowns and restriction over the last 2 years, Selkirk-Tangiers Heli Tours was busy, busy, busy with all the pent-up demand for skiers wanting to get a heli ski experience in British Columbia, so we really appreciate the staff and their efforts to hook us up with test skis for a few days!
DPS skis was founded back in 2005 by Stephan Drake (since moved on from the company) and has been a pioneer in premium quality powder ski shaping, materials science and construction. The last few years have seen DPS branch out into new markets for all-mountain designs and back country models, tweaking the material layups, geometries, sidecuts and flex patterns each season to develop and sustain their cult-like following as a premium ski brand. DPS occupies the "premium ski at a premium price" position in the market, and constantly evolves their lineup to fill specific needs in their niches with high-performance skis generally acknowledged as super-fun and having a unique personality and lofty level of responsiveness and high-quality.
DPS Ecologically-Sensitive Initiatives:
DPS is one of the first ski manufacturers to adopt the polyurethane technology invented by CheckerSpot into its skis. CheckerSpot invented a manufacturing platform and processes at the molecular level to replace a majority of petroleum-derived structural oils with oils derived by algae to create different materials, including polyeurethane casts, composites and fabrics. These new DPS sidewalls displace 63% of the usual petroleum-based oils to create the urethane with renewable, algae-based oils, reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The algae-oil urethanes can be fine-tuned to produce the desired behavioral characteristics, and in this case, DPS is ramping up the necessary high-volume production tooling and processes to custom-produce the algae-based sidewalls for the Lotus 117 and other models. We don't know of any other ski companies taking this agressive adoption of new, ecologically progressive algae-based materials science other than WNDR Alpine (CheckerSpot's ski company created to showcase the technology for sports applications).
Other ecologically-oriented efforts by DPS to promote sustainability and reduced environmental impact include:
- Changed to compostable, 45 % bio-based, shrink wrap for ski packaging
- Recovering and recombining material scrap raw materials to reduce waste from manufacturing
- Developing Phantom base treatment to address wax residue and toxicity in the environment as well as wax waste from traditional application and scraping techniques.
- Actively measuring the entire company's emissions and waste footprint and taking efforts to reduce those impacts
- Increasing material and manufacturing processes to enhance ski life spans and durability
- Promoting the Women's Leadership Institute to promote women leaders in the outdoor industry
"The Pagoda Lotus 117 is the do-it-all powder ski for 2022, crafted for the advanced to expert skier who wants a ski that will hold up to his or her goals for the season. The DPS Pagoda construction is our most downhill performance-oriented layup, creating the perfect balance between an energetic turning platform and a confidence-inspiring dampness that always agrees to more speed. R+D efforts on the new Lotus 117 beget a construction that leans toward the lighter side of what most skiers expect for a performance-oriented ski, allowing you to mount hybrid touring bindings and use this ski in the backcountry at will."
"Pagoda Construction: Allow your senses to merge with the zenith of carbon fiber ski tuning. Pagoda is an approach to engineering. It’s the product of over 15 years devoted to tuning carbon skis. As the centerpiece of the DPS ski collection, Pagoda sits comfortably between the Pagoda Piste and Pagoda Tour bookends. Defying classification, this vibrant construction performs extremely well in both resort and backcountry settings. Its unique horizontally layered core quiets unpleasant inconsistencies felt in less-thanperfect snow, while allowing the electricity of carbon to elevate the senses during the precious moments of soft snow euphoria. Enjoy the palpable sensations that can only be found when the mind and ski unite: experience Pagoda."
Technical Ski Data:
- Pagoda construction:
- Aspen/ash/paulownia wood core horizontally layered
- Textured polyamid topsheet
- Aluminum tail insert for skin clips
- Prepeg carbon laminates
- "Worldcup" race bases
- Rockwell 48 steel edges
- One-piece, full-wrap eco-friendly algae-oil based urethane sidewalls in partnership with CheckerSpot biotechnology (WNDR Alpine skis)
- Slightly rockered tip and tail, minor camber underfoot
- Each model specified as r=21m rocker=24.00% tail rocker=21.00%
- 191cm 2070 grams 141/117/127
- 185cm 1920 grams 140/117/126
- 179cm 1805 grams 139/117/125
- 171cm 1690 grams 138/117/124
DPS uses a higher carbon-content in their layups than most other manufacturers to achieve a highly resposive and energetic ski. The typical side effect of skis having high-carbon content in skis is they can feel "highly strung", nervous, hyper, over-reactive and transmit unwanted vibration frequencies to the skier. Many builders use damping fabrics, rubberized VDS components, dense epoxy infusions into the carbon fabrics or other techniques to "quiet" a highly carbonized ski layup. DPS gets around this problem by engineering their own proprietary prepeg carbon matrix which cannot be purchased off-the-shelf by other builders. As DPS describes it ..."There are unique prepreg layups for Pagoda and Pagoda tour, with different carbon and laminate angles for each. The beauty of the Pagoda and Pagoda Tour cores is that we are able to redistribute some of the damping laminate, removing it from the carbon matrix because the core is doing more of the job. This translates into an even more responsive ski that feels planted and smooth." DPS takes the time to tailor their laminate composition, distribution and core construction to achieve the feel and personality for each line of skis they design.
DPS Pagoda Construction
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Tyrolia Attack 13 adjustable demo alpine bindings
Salmomon S-Pro 100 Boots
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon Boots
Factory-applied Phantom glide treatment
The new orange-colored, blue-accented Lotus 117 has immediate rack and on-snow visual appeal and stands out as something different on-snow. First thing we noticed is the very light-weight feel and thin profile of the L-117. It feels like a touring ski, even with its mid-level "Pagoda" construction instead of DPS's even lighter "Pagoda Tour" layup ("Pagoda Piste" is more frontside-oriented at the other end of the scale from "Pagoda Tour" for 2022-2023). Tip and tail rocker profile and geometry is less pronounced than the RP 112, giving the Lotus 117 a longer footprint, longer effective edge and larger-radius for its length than the RP 112.
Flex is somewhat softish, but gradual and rounded with a nice rebound energy and damping impression upon hand-flexing. It feels lively and playful in hand. The geometry looks floaty and smooth without any radical shaping in the forebody, midbody or tail. The lack of radical rocker fore and aft gives the L-177 the look of a ski without any darty behaviors, but a smooth machine for surfing. Torsional integrity is better than you would imagine for a softish powder ski. Fit and finish were superb. Topsheet graphics were vibrant. Our test pair had previously been in service as demo skis, so there were very minor cuts and base scratches from previous skiers. As always, the Phantom base treatment was invisible and we left them "as-is" without any waxing.
We tested the new Lotus 117 for three days at Revelstoke BC. The first day had remnants of the last storm, so we had fluffy, super-cold (-47C windchill!) powder conditions up to shin-deep in various spots at Revy until day two and day three where conditions got skied-out and were a mix of wind-scoured chalk-buff tundra, dense packed powder and groomers, bald, rock-hard wind-swept boilerplate and hardened styrofoam bumps in open bowls and tight trees. We had surfaces and conditions all over the map to get a good idea of how the L-117s would behave with two different testers.
The DPS Lotus 117 fills a niche between the more heavily rockered, shorter-radius RP-112 and the larger, more pure-powder focused Lotus 124. We've been big fans of the orginal Wailer-112 and the next-generation RP-112 skis with their energetic, highly versatile shaping to dance through powder and trees and yet handle groomers and cut up conditions back to the lifts. The 15 meter radius of the RP-112 delivers jack-rabbit quickness in the tight conditions or open terrain with a forgiving, well-rockered tip and tail to handle variations in terrain surfaces, and they definitely ski shorter than they measure. The Lotus 117 is a more elegant, subdued smoothy trading the somewhat darty turn behavior of the RP-112 for a longer-feeling, more subtle ride of 21 meter radius.
The Lotus 117 is a superbly versatile ski for its width, delivering a grip on hardpack more akin to a 105mm-waisted ski, yet able to float smoothly with great playfulness and easy transitions through skied-out snow and powder. In the DPS lineup of the sub-120mm powder ski, the RP-112 is the rowdier, more sporty younger-version, the Lotus 117 is the more refined, smoother-talking older brother or sister less likely to get pulled over for breaking the rules. Where the Lotus 117 shines is in powder conditions and skied-out powder at the resort where groomers and low-tide days are more common than epic powder days calling for the 124mm or larger specialty skis. The L-117 has a remarkably good grip on firm surfaces without requiring a super-concentrated effort, and its Pagoda construction provides a smoother, more damp ride than you expect for its light weight, which was impressive. Turn shapes are natural and unbiased in powder and packed snow, giving the Lotus 117 a very wide range of conditions where it's totally at home and friendly and can be skied neutrally. While the RP-112 feels energetic, almost rowdy underfoot...begging for action to go left-right, straight up..etc. like a scimitar-shaped sword...the L-117 is more like a longer-radius katana-shaped sword for longer, smoother strokes through snow.
The first runs in powder and cut-up powder with the Lotus 117 was instantly fun and intuitive with zero learning curve, and it felt like the skis disappeared beneath you as you navigated around the mountain in open terrain or tight trees. The shaping and camber profile plays perfectly in powder and the rider instantly understands how the ski works and how to make it do what you want with very little effort. Playfulness is very high, as is stability at a variety of speeds and conditions. The only situation where the L-117 felt uneasy was at speed on boilerplate or hardpack powder covered in crumbs of death cookies where the ski could never really get a grip on the surface. In these situations, (as with any ski on that kind of surface), the sensation was drifty and disconnected, and because of their relatively low mass (light weight), felt unstable and unsettled as if skittering on ball bearings. In these situations, a heftier ski with more weight feels more secure underfoot.
DPS has hit a sweet spot with the Lotus 117 for skiers who want a longer-radius, less turny and rockered "busy" feel than the RP-112, yet want more versatility and multi-condition suitablity than the powder-only Lotus 124. Hard-charging, strong or heavy types with speed addictions may find the Lotus 117 a bit less ski than they want and could overski it...making the Koala 118 with Foundation layup the damper, stronger, more suitable ski for those skiers. The choice of using the "standard" Pagoda construction in the L-117 geometry is spot-on with a great balance between energetic responsiveness and damped smoothness. Using the Pagoda "Tour" or Pagoda "Piste" construction would have sent the Lotus 117 to either end of the spectrum for its shaping, making it less versatile. The Lotus 117 is a crowd pleaser and has a remarkably wide range of usage situations with great performance and friendly personality. Anyone could ski it and instantly enjoy it's ride and personality with a grin. It's a premium ski at a premium price, but very well designed and executed.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
We got a really good couple of days on a variety of hard surfaces with the Lotus 117s. Snow ranged from deliciously smooth, quiet, dry packed powder to dense, squeeky styrofoam-like hardpack to tightly-packed gypsum drywall surfaces to cue-ball, rock-hard bulletproof polished boilerplate in open terrain and tight trees. The Lotus 117 has an impressive ability to get a bite underfoot on hard surfaces and hold it through a carve once you get the chassis up on edge and apply pressure to get it to arc into the surface in front and behind your boot...just remember this is a 117mm powder ski..adjust your expectations accordingly. The geometry is predictable and telegraphs the degree of grip you have (or don't have) nicely, while the Pagoda layup delivers a nice balance between energy to start and finish the turn and vibration control to create a secure and confident hold at speed without feeling like you're riding an unhappy hornet's nest underfoot. We don't expect to a lot of grippy behavior from a 117mm powder ski, but were surprised with the hard snow carving and grip delivered by the Lotus 117, especially on packed powder where if you got the ski to dig into the surface at least sidewall-deep, it was a really fun, intuitive turning tool with elegant turn shapes and quiet behavior, even at speeds between 40 and 50 mph. You could get the occasional slippery-feeling on boilerplate if you don't set up your turns just right, but the damping quality of the Pagoda layup kept the ski fairly quiet and controlled, even with higher-speed powerslides on cue-ball surfaces. For a powder-specific ski model, the DPS Lotus 117 delivers a really respectable and fairly impressive hard snow performance to make most skiers feel totally confident when things get firm underfoot.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The Lotus 117 runs really smooth, playfully and confidently through mixed snow conditions. There is zero learning curve and you basicially ski the L-117s in a neutral stance for instant results without any effort. Even though they are fairly light weight (1690g/171cm, 1805/179cm, 1920/185cm, 2070/191cm), the Lotus 117 remains very quiet and controlled traversing wacked-out surfaces, prefering to puddle-skip across the top of the surfaces rather than plow through them. Deflection is minimal (even for a light ski) and under-surface irregularities are handled smoothly and without disrupting your trajectory. The Lotus 117 is definitely biased toward the playful side of the spectrum rather than to the freight train "charger" side. Only at high speeds across really choppy snow do you encounter a bit of flap up front, but never enough to mention. Directional changes are instantly on-demand, with a surprising degree of radii adjustments on-tap with very little effort. This is what sold us on the Lotus's design in mixed conditions. Energy level is high with this ski, but always smooth and never nervous, making the L-177 a hoot to ski, and it extracts very little toll upon the skier, making all-day antics easy without burning out the pilot by lunchtime. Choosing between the RP-112 and the L-117 in mixed conditions would be a hard toss-up to decide. The loose-and-smeary, yet quick-turning rockered feel of the RP-112 is addicting in mixed conditions, while the L-117's smooth, playful, more elegant and subdued, slightly more "directional" ride with easy directional changes also has undeniable appeal. Overall, we really liked the feel of the Lotus 117 in mixed snow, with the only reservation being the hard-charging, freeride-type skiers may find they want something more substantial underfoot like a Koala 118. That's why DPS makes both...to suit different skiers.
DPS's experience shaping powder skis is famous for a reason. Their powder skis work great in powder. Period. The Lotus 117 has a somewhat conservative looking, yet super-functional geometry for powder skiing. The Lotus 117 feels totally at home in powder. We didn't get any snow depth more than shin-deep, but we got a good idea of how the ski behaves in its element in open terrain and tight trees. The Lotus 117 is very balanced and seems to have an equilibrium to its feel and behavior in powder to let beginners or experts enjoy floating in fluff with longer, driftier arcs in open snowfields or shorter turns in treelines where the snow has sifted in to provide a three-dimensional experience. You can drift the L-117 and smear with very little effort, yet change your directions quickly in tighter terrain on-demand. Adjusting your depth to skim the top, or dig down the get material to bank against comes easily for the new 117, making them really fun. Responsiveness is always energetic and light-feeling, never planky or demanding, definitely putting the L-117 into the playful side of the spectrum. You find yourself riding more and more deeply into the sides of the runs to poach small pockets of powder as you see them, just to get the feel of the Lotus planing smoothly again. They are that fun. As soon as you get into powder, it feels like they're home...and that's what a lot of people want in their powder ski. We did not get a chance to ride these skis in heavy, damp and deep conditions, so our experience is limited to fluffy, dry powder conditions.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
On firm snow, the Lotus 117 instantly responds to a tip of the chassis over to get the edge engaged, pulling itself into a nice arc with the application of just a bit of pressure, making initiation a low-calorie affair. No need to fight to get its attention and start a turn. This initiation behavior is easy across the spectrum of surfaces from firm to fluff...making it very predictable and consistent. The apex of your turns can be mellow or energetic, depending on the degree to which you load the ski up with minor or major flex, so versatilty is a big plus in this department. The Lotus is happy doing both, and everything in-between. You can release a turn into a drift intuitively with no surprises or quirky behaviors. To finish your turns, you can take advantage of the sidecut and follow the elegant turn shape build into the geometry with midbody and tail pressure, or quickly flatten the ski out and cancel the turn to smear it out and ride flat or drift to the next change of direction. Again, the versatile nature of the Lotus 117 was impressive. Heavyweight, hard-charging skiers may find they overpower this ski with agressive turn activity, when in fact, relaxing your pressure on the Lotus and letting it ride naturally gives a better result unless you need a super charge-y turn with intense pressure all the time...which should lead you to the stronger, more free-ride oriented Koala models.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
We played with the mount position using the Tyrolia Attack 13 Demo bindings, but found ourselves coming back to the recommended mark each time for best behavior.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A playful best friend with all-day appeal.
Notable Tester Comments:
Felt like they wanted to play all day.
Came alive and in their element when taken into powder.
Remarkable packed-powder carving ability for a 117mm ski.
Disappeared underfoot and stayed that way.
Lots of confidence, lots of fun.
Comments from Piper Ankner-Edelstein (age 19):
Gentle through the turns, not super snappy but very smooth
Easy to handle, great through the woods and softer bumps despite not being aggressive in the turns, with a just a little commitment from you and these skis will go where you want them to.
A really stable platform, not easily pushed around by rough or choppy snow, but also not overly tethered or grounded, very playful and bouncy
Most at home in the soft snow, but skis narrower (almost like citadel 106) - definitely a confidence builder in the right conditions (fresh or settled pow)
Stable at speed as well, only chattery when the surface gets hard or grainy
Not built for the groomers, these skis are designed to slarve not carve
Left to their own devices they’ll easily find the fall line and path of least resistance.
Minimal learning curve once you stop trying to force them on edge and let them do the work.
Really versatile where there is at least 2-3 inches of powder for them to surf over, and don't demand major changes in your ski style as you transition through different types of terrain: bumps, trees, steeps, and bowls (solid all-mountain powder ski)
- Super smooth and playful with energy and no nervousness
- Elegant feel. Elegant turns.
- Energetic and smooth.
- Refined, not rowdy.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Great example of a powder ski with security underfoot on the groomers. Light feel without nervousness. Smooth and addictingly fun and versatile.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Everyone from beginner powder skiers to experienced experts will like this ski.
Heavyweight, hard-charging freeride-type skiers will want to look at a heavier, stronger ski like the Koala 118
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Buy them true-to-size, they ski as long as they measure due to mild rocker tip and tail.
None found as of March 10, 2022.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
DPS Lotus 117 Tip Profile
DPS Lotus 117 Tail Profile
DPS Lotus 117 Camber Profile