To tell you a bit about which skier I am, in the early 90s, when I first started out in ski touring, offers on the market were very limited. So to have skis with good skiability, like most of the backcountry skiers at that time, I opted for slalom skis (Dynastar race with 70 mm underfoot for 1.95 m, mounted with Silvretta). Since these prehistoric times of backcountry skiing, the equipment has changed a lot. Now my everyday skis are 95 mm or 116 mm underfoot, and sometimes a light 88 mm underfoot for high mountains, steep slopes and very long tours.
Below, the U-89 in their natural environment, the Coast Mountains of Alaska.
Early winter last year, I was excited to receive some new tools, the ZAG U-89. I weigh 77 kg for 1.80 m, I hesitated between 184cm and the 176 cm and finally decided to go for the longest one in 183 cm for 1.33 kg. I mounted them with the light PLUM Oazo. For the ski boots, I use either Scarpa F1 or Scarpa Alien RS depending on the skiingI wanna do.
ZAG shapers created this light ski with an intermediate radius (20m radius for the 176 cm). It’s a lighter version of their famous Ubac 95. The 89 is intended for long outings. A good compromise between lightness and skiability. I have chosen these skis for the steep slope and a big summer expedition project in the high mountains of the Yukon. Before going to ski the big slopes at high altitude. I planned to ski them a lot, in order to be ready and to get the most of them once in the big slopes. In fact, I used them all winter and spring … a certain virus put our expedition on hold, but by chance didn’t affect the end of the ski season in the Yukon and Alaska.
Excited with these new skis, I couldn’t resist too long before taking them out. Bindings just mounted, I brought them to the ski hill for a test. On the hard cold groomed snow of the ski hill, no surprise, like most of the skis from ZAG, the first contact is easy. There is no problem finding your balance with your centre of gravity right on the middle of the skis. My first sensations, the grip is perfect for this hard to very hard groomed snow. When on steep pitches, I feel safe, no problem the grips is great with no vibrations.
In short radius turns, you can keep the rhythm and they’re easy to manoeuvre. When increasing the speed and the turn radius, stability is still good and the skis keep a good contact with the snow with no excessive vibrations. After a busy afternoon at the ski hill, my first impressions are good and I can’t wait to take my new toys to the real mountains.
This past season, I have done more than 20 trips with the Ubac 89. I dragged them on steep slopes, hard or corn spring snow and even deep powder. Daily, they impressed me by their abilities to cope with the terrain and the snow conditions. On the way up, no problem, the light weight will save your legs, perfect for the long days, especially if you have to carry them for long bootpack. When skinning up in deep snow, the ski tips work well to keep you afloat.
When the snow gets harder and the slope gets steeper, this is where they’re great, the grip is perfect and they’re easy to ride even on difficult side slopes. They allow you to have a lot of energy and to comfortably gain altitude.
- Safe and Reliable.
Downhill, I was very surprised. For narrow skis (especially for an American standard where everything below 100 mm is narrow), the skiability is really good and they’re quite playful. Steep skiing on variable snow, including hard snow, it’s very easy to initiate the turns. The moderate rocker probably helps a lot the U89 to keep a good contact with the snow, whether at the tips or at the tails. The skis are quite rigid, even in torsion, and the grip is perfect. They behave very well, transitioning from skidding to feathering is easy and there is no vibration. The tip does a great job absorbing the irregularities of the terrain and the tail always remain in contact with the snow.
Even though the skis are well alive and have a good rebound, the comfort and the very predictable comportment of this skis make me feel very confident, even in difficult snow.
- A zest of fun.
Once again, in quite deep powder, these skis really surprised me. Short radius turns, no problem, go back to the basics, a good flex, a good rebound, good maniability, it’s up to the skier to have the good rhythm to enjoy it to the fullest. While increasing the radius of the curves a bit and picking up speed, the amazing progressive Zag tip perfectly does its job again. The flotability is excellent for a ski of this width. Stability is also there and these skis are even playful. This is a really good surprise for this kind of ski, which I intended to use mainly for the steep skiing, its ability to play in the powder is very surprising.
- A versatile mountain ski.
Whether it’s for light weight and comfort for skinning up, or the safety feeling and efficiency on the most difficult conditions. For me, the Ubac 89 is The all mountain ski, the one that allows you to move safely to reach the summits, whatever the snow conditions are. Despite its light weight and narrow underfoot, the skiability is really good with a very good reactivity. Good tools to reach the highest peaks, they have become my best companions for long spring missions.
- The strengths:
Weight and versatility
- The weaknesses:
I didn’t find any
- Technical characteristics:
standard camber underfoot. Light progressive rocker at the tip, short rocker at the back.
2.54 kg per pair in 176 cm (123-89-108 mm) for a radius of 20 m.
Construction: Multiaxial carbon fibre/glass//Paulownia core//ABS straight edges//HR edges//Sintered sole//Phenol reinforcements
- For which skier is the U89 made for?
The U-89 is designed for downhill skiers who want to venture in the backcountry while keeping the same sensations and feeling than what they used to have while skiing on groomed hard snow. Also, demanding backcountry skiers who are looking for a versatile and efficient ski on hard snow will love it.
The U89 is highly inspired by the U95, we can say that it is its little brother with a bit less rocker and a tail a bit more directive.
With 2.5 kg a pair in 176cm, U-89 are light, it is very confortable for long ascents or technical climbs.
To have a light and reliable setting, for the binding, I mounted the PLUM Oazo.
While skiing, no problem , the U89 does the job whatever the snow quality.
Playful, you can speed up with confidence.
When it is steeper, on technical slopes and challenging snow conditions, the U89 is confortable and reliable.
Sure I will bring them for some new adventures this winter.