DPS Uschi 87 Alchemist ReviewAugust 31, 2018
- Holds well in GS turns
- Decent stability & good edge hold on groomers
- Playful & forgiving
- Lacks tip shape and engagement into an arc
- Lacks turn shape variability
- Feels light at speed
Made from a combo of carbon and bamboo, the Uschi 87 Alchemist is a playful, lightweight ski with reliable edge grip and a penchant for long radius turns. “This is a different feel for a DPS ski,” says one tester. “It’s playful and yet holds a good edge on the groomers.” Testers rated the Uschi 87 highest for Carving Pleasure and lowest for both Turn Shape Variability and Flotation. Stability and Edge-hold received middle-range scores. Testers found the ski very lightweight and hard to engage the tip—therefore hard to change up the turn shape or have reliability at speed.
Founded in 2005 by Patagonia ski ambassador, Stephan Drake, DPS set itself apart by making stiff yet lightweight prepreg carbon sandwich skis designed for storm chasers. All product and development happens in the Wasatch, the backyard of the Salt Lake City-based company. The Uschi 87 Alchemist is part of a redesigned category for DPS called Foundation, and the 87-mm-waisted ski is billed as an everyday resort ski with varying radii in the tip and tail, designed to ski aggressively at the top of the turn, but feel friendly and forgiving when the ski is off edge. Testers agreed with DPS’ statement—partially. “It holds well in GS turns, but short turns—not so much,” says one tester. “There’s an easy tail release, but the lightweight construction means less stability at speed,” says another tester.
The Uschi 87 Alchemist has a bamboo and poplar core along with unidirectional carbon (the carbon fibers run parallel, increasing strength but decreasing weight) and tri-axle fiberglass. The C2 chassis includes the lightweight construction along with Wide Profile edges, a forward mounting point, a flat tail and a high taper angle, designed to pull the ski into the turn. The turn radius is 17.5 m (at 171 cm). One tester questioned the ski’s end use: “It feels like no shape. Tip it up and it wants to run straight, which lowers its scores for Turn Shape Variability significantly.” Other testers scored the ski slightly higher for Turn Shape Variability because of its performance in long radius turns. “This ski is best suited for someone looking for long-turn stability on a semi-lightweight ski,” says on tester.
Though Turn Shape Variability is not the Uschi 87’s strong suit, the ski faired well in snow condition variability, where it melded DPS-style all mountain performance with frontside performance in terms of handling crud as well as hard pack conditions. The ability to butter and feather turns in a playful way helped increase off-piste performance, while the easy release of the flat tail and decent edge grip helped the ski carve GS turns well on the groomers. All testers gave the ski its lowest marks for Resort Float. “This is a narrow, playful ski,” says one tester.
Testers were challenged to find the ideal customer for the Uschi 87. “Hard to identify the audience here, but basically the ski is best for a skier looking for a playful, light, narrow ski,” says one tester. The ski had decent performance in bumps and crud, as well as the ability to pivot and butter turns when necessary, adding to the playfulness. Due to the shape or the carbon/bamboo construction, testers found the ski limited in some categories. “There’s not much terroir with this ski,” says one tester. “It’s hard to feel the snow underfoot.”
The Uschi 87 scored decent points for Stability, particularly in long radius turns (which aligns with the 17.5 m turn radius). The ski felt sturdy on the groomers, however, lost some stability at speed. “It’s a little light for going as fast as possible,” says one tester. Testers felt the ski’s weakness was in transitions from long to short turns, which was affected by a narrow sidecut. All in all, the ski had the most stability in the turn radius it was designed for. “This ski is ideal for someone looking for long-turn stability and a semi-lightweight ski,” says one tester.
“It’s playful and yet holds a good edge on the groomers,” says one tester of the Uschi 87. Testers rated the Uschi 87 highest for Carving Pleasure with Edge-hold receiving a middle-range score. Testers found the ski very lightweight and hard to engage the tip—therefore hard to change up the turn shape or have reliability at speed. However, the ski felt stable and reliable in long radius turns. During transitions to short radius turns, however, Edge-hold and Stability decreased.
All testers gave the ski its lowest marks for Resort Float. The tip (at 123 mm) didn’t seem particularly wide to increase flotation. “It feels like this ski has no shape and it’s hard to engage the tip in a turn or have it float on top of soft snow.” Indeed, the sidecut (123-87-106) is less voluptuous than other skis in the Frontside category. “This is a narrow, playful ski,” says one tester.
Testers gave their highest scores to the Uschi 87 Alchemist for Carving Pleasure, however it came with a caveat: “This ski favors big arcs,” says one tester. “It doesn’t transition well to short radius turns.” The ski offered adequate stability in a lightweight package when making turns around the estimated turn radius of 17.5 m, that is, long, GS type arcs. “It holds well in GS turns, but I can’t feel the snow underfoot that well,” says one tester.
Turn Shape Variability
Testers scored the Uschi 87 Alchemist its lowest scores for this category. Though the ski was easy to carve, it favored big arcs and didn’t transition smoothly to medium or short-radius turns. The tail released easily, allowing the ski to butter and feather turns, but testers varied in their comments about carving acumen, from “the tip will not engage,” to “holds a good edge on groomers.” DPS C2 Chassis includes varying radii in the tip and tail, but testers felt challenged to feel the benefit of the “aggressive” performance at the top of the turn and “friendly” performance when the ski is off edge.Continue Reading
Krista Crabtree- Skiing
Passionate about women’s ski camps and women-specific gear, Krista organizes women’s ski programs at Eldora and Vail, including her own camp called She Skis. A former editor at SKI Magazine, she currently runs the ski test for OnTheSnow.com.