The Faction Dictator all mountain skis are a range designed, as the name suggests, to dominate and control everything they touch

This season the ski manufacturers who brought us Candide Thovex’s signature series want to turn the whole mountain into a freeride playground with a fresh batch of Dictator models, new and improved for 2019. Staff writer Sophie Mead set out to tame the mountain and put them to the test. 

Handling

The Dictators are designed for ‘seasoned freeriders’ and I will hold my hands up now and admit that I am more at home on the piste. That said, they are an all mountain ski and I put them through their paces both on and off the friendly groomers. The biggest change for me personally was riding a directional ski, as I have previously been accustomed to twin tips. From the outset, it was clear that this would make a huge difference to my skiing as the flat tails allowed me to really carve into my turns and made the skis feel extremely responsive to any weight change. They were absolutely fantastic for charging the piste and picked up speed quickly whilst allowing me to make little changes and speed checks with the smallest movements. The shape of the ski allowed me to zip across the piste and it thrived on rapid turns as well as big long curving arcs .

Terrain

The skis were used initially to cruise the slopes of Avoriaz in bluebird conditions and they ate up the piste with no problem. They were smooth to traverse in flatter areas of sticky snow and glided easily over areas of fresh powder, with lightning fast responsiveness helping my confidence grow as an off-piste amateur. On day two I was faced with more challenging conditions where heavy snow affected speed and visibility. I found the Dictators useful in this environment because they are easily manoeuvrable in choppy areas where snow has piled up on the piste. In whiteout conditions, it is essential to have maximum control since the piste can throw up mounds and drops which are unexpected, and the Dictators sliced through crud and around moguls with no problem. In off piste areas with lots of trees, it pays to have a quick, zippy ski to dodge them without difficulty. The Dictators are designed to be just as at home in steep couloirs and gulleys as on the piste and I only explored a few areas of their expertise, but they passed every test with flying colours. 

 

Technical 

The Dictator features dual titanal layers, a fusion lite core and dual radius sidecut, but what does that mean? The fusion lite core refers to the blend of poplar and paulownia, two of the lightest hardwoods available. Using lighter woods enhances responsiveness and rebound - this ski has flex that pushes back! The core is sandwiched between two sheets of metal which have isotropic qualities, meaning they are strong in all directions for maximum stability all over the mountain. The rocker in the tip and surf zone technology mean that when fresh snow falls, you choose your own speed limit through the powder as this ski thrives in the soft stuff. A nod to the growing popularity of ski touring and the ski’s freeride capabilities, it comes equipped with a skin clip and is light enough to take touring. The skis get progressively wider underfoot through the series, ranging from 85-115. The 1.0X and 2.0X measure 85 and 95 respectively. 

Design

The lineup features six vibrant designs with small images of historical dictators on each. 1.0 is Chavez, 2.0 is Caesar, 3.0 is Escobar and 4.0 is Wilhelm. The 1.0X and 2.0X are influential females Cleopatra and Margaret Thatcher (referred to only as the Iron Lady). I rode the 2.0X, complete with an image of the lady who tolerated no nonsense and ruled with an iron fist. Every character is a controversial force of nature in their own right, and that personality translates through to the skis which can truly dominate the piste. The story of the Dictators comes from Tony who is a co-founder of Faction. He was part an après ski band in Verbier called the Dictators and inspired these skis which, with two full plates of metal, are fast and not for beginners. Faction wanted a title that suited this style of skiing and construction and the name adds a little tongue-in-cheek to the image of the series.

The vibrant design won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, since not all skiers want to make a bright and political statement on the mountain. However, the images of each dictator appear tiny on the centre of the ski between the binding fixtures so they aren’t in your face, and little quotes run along the ski edges. From 'there can only be one king' to 'I will not be triumphed over,' these are a fun and creative touch designed to inspire the rider. I’m not a massive fan of hot pink, but I was able to see past that because the ski enhanced my ability hugely. Don't judge a ski by its cover. 

"We hope that it is obvious that we do not condone the actions of these dictators or any dictator and we believe in Peace and Harmony for all skiers (and humans) on the earth and beyond" - Faction

These skis are great for pushing your limits because they allow you to effortlessly accelerate and explore in the knowledge that your wish is their command. I would say that Faction’s description of ‘agile yet hard-charging’ is absolutely accurate and recommend the Dictators to anyone looking for a playful ski which will demolish anything in front of it and really test the boundaries of your ability and speed.

Faction says that the Dictators contain all the ingredients to leave you feeling amped in any conditions, and that is without a doubt an accurate description of these bomb-proof adventurous chargers. I’ll take two please, thanks.

Looking for more information on skis? You'll find comprehensive descriptions of all the latest models in our Ski Test 2019 section.