REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Ogasaka TC-MK 172cm 2020-2021
Ogasaka Ski Co., Ltd.
653 Kurita, Nagano-shi, Nagano, 380-0921, Japan
Fast Ski Sports
437 Old Mammoth Rd #120
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Phone +1 760-934-4447
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$1269.99 usd (with SR585 plate - no binding)
Medium-radius frontside technical carving
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9 The Ogasaka TC-MK is a superb example of a versatile, narrow technical carver for technically excellent skiers
Ogasaka ski company started making skis in 1912...so as of 2020, it is a 109 years old and still making skis...perhaps the largest ski company in Japan...so they must be doing something right. Ogasaka is relatively unknown in North America, even if they make a full range of very modern, high-quality racing, technical carving, recreational and junior models (nearly 60 models by a count of their catalog in 2020).
The Ski Assocation of Japan (SAJ) hosts a technical competition series with intense regional and national championship rounds judging competitors on technical prowess and execution (not racing). This can include technical judgement of mogul, short-radius, long-radius and even off-piste ski techniques and apparently it is very serious and very prestigious in Japan. Ogasaka creates an entire series of "Technical Competition" (TC) skis in short, medium and long radius designs in various lengths for skiers participating in these competitions, and they have found a fanatical following not only for the Technical Championships, but for recreational, highly technical carving enthusiasts around Japan. We were lucky enough to get test skis of the TC-SK (short radius 11.8m), TC-MK (medium radius 18.1m) and TK-LK (long radius 24.2m) models.
For the best insider-details into the Japanese Technical Ski competitions:
What if you took today's SL and GS racing skis and defanged them a little to make them less demanding, less explosve, less tiring, easier to engage, slightly lighter, yet retained their narrow waist (less than 70mm), intense grip, powerful acceleration and carving geometry? You would get something unlike the explosive, high-tension "race carvers" for rowdy beer league antics, but refined, specialized carving instruments designed to etch carved turns into firm, groomed surfaces at high levels of precision and power. These are not all-mountain carvers with slightly rockered tips and/or tails weighing in at 75-95 mm underfoot, but dedicated instruments to execute carved turns from technical specialist on firm surfaces at speed.
"New sidecut brought further versatility to maximize the enjoyment of mountain cruising. This model offers pure allround-ability, ultimate maneuverability in short turn and off-piste, and outstanding stability under high-speed. TC-MK ignites skier’s enthusiasm all day long."
Technical Ski Data:
"NF Light Wood Core" rumored to be a blend of Chinese paulownia, Japanese wing nut, North American poplar, North Americanm Maple and Japanese beech depending on the model...exact core specs not available. Proprietary core curing techniques are used...some sources indicate cores are dried in a controlled environment for 3 years before assembly. AL7178 (aluminum alloy) sheet(s), Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (F.R.P) & F.R.P (ZTC) (zeolite templated carbon), Rubber Sheet
Base edge angle = 0.8°, side edge angle = 1.5°
Bindings, Boots & Wax Used:
Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo with Ogasaka SR585 11mm riser plate
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots
Lange RX 130 boots
Green Ice Waxes
Like the other Ogasaka ski models we tested, this pair was stunningly assembled, superbly finished, precisely race-tuned and given a nice base grind pattern and even waxed out of the box. These came premounted with the Ogasaka SR585 riser plate (11 mm) and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings. Hefty, but not heavy feeling, although it "feels" like a hardwood core carving tool. Rock-solid torsional flex and quietly damp and controlled rebound to hand flexing. Flex is softer than the full-on racing GS model, but still firm throughout the body from tip to tail, but nicely balanced demonstrating a rounded arc shape with no hinge points. Like the TC-SK short-radius model and TC-LK long-radius model, it feels and looks like the offspring of a combi GS-SL ski that dropped out of school to chase technical carving titles. It's definitely a ski intended for the business of etching lines into hardpack under high edge angles. Relatively undemanding to drive constantly into its high-performance zone and can be skied all day. Very subdued, business-like graphics with a touch of cool green accents on the topsheet and green sidewalls. Nicely textured topsheet looks like it would take nicks and cuts well and age well. These skis gave the impression of high quality craftsmanship and precision rarely found in other brands.
Eastern U.S. hardpacked artificial snow, packed powder corduroy, yellow boilerplate, cold granular sugar with death-cookie ice chunks, cold, skied-out early season granular on top of boilerplate.
Highest-quality, refined frontside race carver specialty technical tool for medium-to-long radius turns which can be used as all-day groomer zoomer for technical types or people who want security underfoot in firm conditions. Likes a bit of speed to get engagement, then sets an authoritative, but smooth and predictable griplock onto the surface, allowing a variety of turn radii, but really telegraphs its love of the 18 meter radius and well-pressured edge at speed. Once you get up to speed, the turn initiation goes from average to impressive, sending grippy set-in-the-snow signals from the forebody all the way underfoot and to the tail without any hint of being forcibly pulled across the hill into a tighter and tighter radius like some frontside race carvers.
It seems like it was born from a GS ski, but with a tightened radius and friendly slow-speed manners added-in, retaining a confidence-inspiring level of quiet command and control in mellow to intense carving situations. Superbly quiet and solid at speed without feeling over-dampened or dead. Zero vibration underfoot on boilerplate surfaces, yet grippy, secure and lively when pressured with a surprising amount of acceleration power if you load it up and release it. Nastar & Master's race types will love this ski to go from all-day, hip-dragging groomer etching to beer-leage gate-crashing that night when the lights come on. Has a refined, elegant feel and power-loving personality to it without any hint of race-inspired explosive rowdiness or overly demanding behavior. Quiet. Deadly. Effective and smooth as glass.
Technical frontside carving instructor types will love this ski if they want something in the 18 meter turn category. Like the Triun and other members of its own TC family, the TC-MK has a fast-running base right out of the box. Several testers commented on how well the bases ran before we put our own first coat of wax on them. Bringing this ski up to speed and setting it into its sweet-spot radius under pressure is like getting on the throttle of a freshly tuned sports car with sticky tires on a freshly-paved twisty-turny mountain road. Solid, smooth as glass and powerful....just waiting for more input from the pilot to pick up intensity and speed in an addictive mix to improve the driver's skills. No speed limit. This is one specialty item every skier should have in their quiver when the powder is gone and the hardpack is in excellent condition for studying centripetal and centrifugal forces at speed. We all love the soft and fluffy days, but the reality is there are lots of days when hardpack is all there is to play on, and you might as well get the right tool to get your etching done. Rock-solid, uber-carver with elegant manners and plenty of horsepower in a superbly constructed and finished package.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Ogasaka TC-MK's natural habitat (being 67mm underfoot) is hard snow, and that's where it reveals its true personality as a tool to execute a variety of medium-to-long radius carved turns with deft precision, solid confidence and high-performance acceleration. Vibration control is excellent across roughed-up, rutted or cat-tracked boilerplate surfaces, resulting in quiet, continual edge contact without feeling heavy or deadened. Feel for the surface conditions through the ski is excellent, even with the SR585 riser plate and Tyrolia FreeFlex 14 demo bindings mounted to our test pair, so you always know what the density and condition of snow underfoot is. You don't feel as if you are isolated from the snow, but instead you feel well-informed about the condition of the surface. While you can run the TC-MKs flat without feeling nervous or twitchy on firm snow, they are eager to be tipped on-edge and pressured, where they become laser-focused and pull their chassis across the hill intensely under increasing acceleration. Don't get into the back seat on the Ogasaka TC-MKs...you really don't want to be there because they have a surprisingly powerful acceleration out of the loaded turn and can take you for a long ride on an unwavavering, locked-in edge when you're not paying attention. This is precisely what makes them addicting. The 18 meter radius is its sweet spot, and can forcing tighter with a little effort without the ski protesting or fighting back..which is nice. The TC-MK can begin laser-like carving behaviors at lower angle and pressure levels than you might expect, and requires less management effort throughout the trajectory than the SK and LK models...but can feel a little loose at highest speeds if not piloted with attention. Dead-quiet vibration control without feeling too heavy..but it's no lightweight.. there is mass underfoot and it feels good. Ogasaka's TC-MK is an excellent example of what a state-of-the-art, high-performance, versatile medium-radius ski with narrow chassis can be when you don't want a full-on race-carver.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The TC-MK is suprisingly decent in mixed snow conditions...even with its 67mm waist. Sure, it may sink a bit under pressure, but proved to be agile, quick edge-to-edge with its directional changes, and absorbs surface anomolies pretty well for a race-like carving tool. It can bang away in the bumps fairly nicely as long as you don't go too deep into the flex of the ski and reach the stiffer part of its pattern. Mixed conditions are not the TC-MK's forte, but you won't hesitate to take them out on the hill after a couple inches of fresh snow has fallen and you want to rage around on some ungroomed slopes after arcing the morning corduroy.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The TC-MK is a little slow (but not balky) to initiate turns at slow speeds. As soon as you hit the magic combination of speed and edge angle, they sink a laser-like bite into the surface along their length and ask you to deliver attention to the job at hand, and that is to deliver pressure into the body of the ski and hold it into a deliberate and increasingly accelerating carve without hesitation. If you ski them lazy and only complete some of steps of the carving sequence, the Ogasakas feel fine...but they really come alive when actively pressed into carving procedures over and over and over. Ski them with deliberate concentration, execution and dedication to the task of laying various arcs into the surface. The security and confidence throughout the sequence is impressive and achievable for intermediate to high-level technical skiers, and this is a ski to take you to the next level of mastering carving technique. Like its SK and LK siblings, the finish of a turn on the TC-MKs can be surprisingly powerful if you load them up and release the tension built up in the belly of your arc. If you get in the back seat on these skis and drop your guard after loading them into an intense arc, you might end up in the weeds. These are technical, precise carving tools meant to execute their craft at moderate speeds, and they initiate, transition and finish their turns with accuracy without feeling "racy".
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
Factory-specified mount with the SR585 plate and FreeFlex 14 bindings was right on the money.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A precision jewler's tool intended to etch beautiful arcs into the surface they're applied to.
Notable Tester Comments:
I spent quite a good amount of time on these and really like them. They struck me as a more traditional Carver from about eight or so years ago (I think the Blossom/VISTs) - Super smooth and predictable very round tern shape. Could be pushed hard and jammed into a short swing or better turned with finesse and ease. This 172cm length worked quite well for myself (5'9") and I felt that I could ski new-school Carver style or I could ski old-school bumper and heel pusher without being penalized. They felt like they were true to size and were very enjoyable- they did not have the grip on the firm snow that the SL-GS racers have but they were more playful and easier in soft bumps and in the woods.
This is probably a good ski for the ski instructor looking to improve upon their certification level going to a level two. Of all the Ogasaka models we reviewed, this one would be the one I would anticipate would have the most commercial success.
Footnotes, all of the skis were tested with the Lange RX 130 low-volume boot, additionally the carvers were skied with the Lange (DIN) and a DeBello Lupo HD with grip walk soles.
Great variety of turn shapes available, but they love their 18 meter radius at moderate speeds.
Quicker than you might imagine.
Don't get in the back seat...they can generate some high-level snap out of a loaded turn.
Surprisingly friendly in mixed surfaces or moderately soft bump conditions.
Wider performance envelope than the SK (short radius) or LK (long radius) TC technical carver models
Stunning quality and tune right out of the box.
Makes you want to get more and more technical with your carving technique until all the flaws disappear.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
This is a highly precise, approachable technical carving ski to bring anyone's game up a few notches without intimidation. Truly a specialty item and fantastically satisfying on those perfect hardpack groomer days when you only leave little cuts a few millimeters into the surface.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Technically nerdy carving afficiados who want to test and refine their skills will love the TC-MK.
Ex-racers who still want the grip and intensity of hard-carving of their race skis but don't need the intense demands and higher top speed of a race ski all day long will eat these up like the other TC models.
Beer league racers who don't want to drive a pure racing GS ski will fine a home with the TC-MK if they like 18 meter radius turns.
Advanced intermediates who want to take the next stage of development into real carving may find this is the tool to take them to the promised land of etching textbook arcs into the groomers on-demand.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
This is a specialized groomer carving tool of highest quality and precision which can be skied by mere mortals without intimidation or high levels of effort, yet can deliver impressively high levels of performance excellence at professional levels. If you want an all-mountain ski, look elsewhere.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Left-to-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK, Triun SL, Triun GS, E-Turn 8.6
From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-LK, TC-MK, TC-SK
From Left-To-Right: Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK
Ogasaka TC-SK, TC-MK, TC-LK tail shapes
Ogasaka TC-MK sidewall and SR585 riser plate
Ogasaka TC-MK tail detail
Ogasaka TC-MK tail detail
Ogasaka TC-MK tip detail
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