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Atomic Automatic 109 - Teton Tested

Tester Lee Lyon, fully barreled in Japan on the new Atomic Automatic 109 earlier this December. Patrick Fux/ photo.

Check out the Atomic Automatic 109 at right here.

For the 2014-2015 season, Atomic has added two skinnier widths to their extremely successful Automatic line, with a 102 and a 109-width model joining their original 117-waisted, powder-specific model. They still have that Automatic shape you know and love–smeary, easy to ski, forgiving of mistakes, and floaty in powder–and now you can choose the size that fits your style and the conditions you ski in most often.

The 109 is the most versatile ski in the Automatic lineup. It's a great ski for any and all snow conditions barring heavy, deep powder, and it is light enough to be a good touring ski. It is fun and playful and can also carve, but it is not stiff enough for heavier skiers who like to go fast.

I tested the Atomic Automatic 109 in the 189 length in a wide variety of conditions over the course of 40 days at Nevados de Chillán in Chile and Las Leñas and Cordón del Plata in Argentina this summer. If you want to see more, here are trip reports of the Automatic 109 in action in Nevados de Chillan and Las Leñas (LINK TO TR), and the Cordon del Plata (LINK TO TR).

Quick Overview

MSRP: $600

Available Lengths: 175, 182, 189 cm (tested)

Turning Radius: 17.5, 18.5, and 19.5 m (respective to ski size)

Dimensions: 135-109-125

Weight: 2,100 grams per ski


If you've skied past iterations of the Automatic, you probably already know that Atomic may have discovered the perfect ski shape to crush in all conditions.The 109 has enough tip rocker, shovel, pintail, and overall V shape to float well in powder and enough overall rocker to smear and slide easily, but still enough camber under foot for decent edge hold on hard pack. With a 19.5m turn radius (for the 189), this ski can rail GS carves on groomers, too.


Flex? Yeah, it's flexing down there somewhere... Lee Lyon flex testing in Japan early this winter. Patrick Fux/ photo.

I would characterize the Automatic 109 has having a medium flex, but leaning towards the softer side. This could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your body size and skiing style. I weigh 150 pounds and ski fairly fast, and found the 109 to be a bit soft for my liking. When trying to make big, fast turns in firmer snow or on afternoon groomers, the ski really begins to flap wildly, to the point where it was difficult to maintain an edge.

On the other hand, if you have a more laid back style, the softer flex can be an advantage. You can easily flex the ski to change the size of your turn, they are very forgiving to any mistakes, and absorb bumps and changes in the snow well at slower speeds.


At 2100 grams a ski in the 189, the Automatic 109 could be a great touring ski. Mortiz Morlock photo.

At 2100 grams per ski in the 189, the Automatic 109 is a fairly light ski. I had them mounted with Atomic Trackers, so my setup was not super light overall. If you mounted these skis (especially in the 182 length) with a lighter tech binding, I think they would make a great touring setup. This may be one of the more interesting possibilities with the 109. It's a great size, weight and shape for an all-conditions, lightweight, backcountry ski.


Las Leñas' legendary sharks gave the Automatic's thin bases a beating. Moritz Morlock photo.

My greatest concern with the Automatic 109 was durability. The bases are fairly thin, and seem to get damaged easily. Granted, the Andes are a rocky, ski-destroying mountain range, and Las Leñas produces core shots like no other resort I've ever skied. That said, I probably put about 10 core shots in these skis in my 40 days on them this summer. On the bright side, even with all that wear and tear on the bases, the edges, sidewalls, and core are still in perfect condition. So those are solid, at least.


All powder but the deepest and heaviest bowed the the 109's solid float capabilities. Mortiz Morlock photo.

I was fortunate enough to ski the Automatic 109 in a wide variety of powder conditions: deep, shallow, heavy, light, and various levels of wind-affected. They floated and performed well for a ski that is 109 underfoot. However, the difference compared to the Automatic 117 is noticeable in deeper snow. If you plan on skiing powder more often than not, you should probably get the 117 (or the Bent Chetler, for that matter). The vast majority of the time, I was pleased with this ski's performance in powder. However, we did have a couple days in Las Leñas with heavy, waist-deep snow, where I struggled to keep the 109s afloat. Again, go wider if you plan on skiing conditions like that on a regular basis.


These skis can really rail on groomers. Their 19.5-meter turn radius and medium flex allows them to make easy GS-sized turns, and with a bit of forward pressure on the tips, you can flex them to the point where they’ll tighten up towards slalom turns. As long as you aren't going too fast and the groomers don't get too bumpy, they are a lot of fun. If things do get fast and bumpy, their softer flex and their shorter edge contact (due to the rockered tip and tail) make them tougher to control.


The 109 has a fun, versatile shape for variable snow conditions. As long as you're not going too fast, they move through crud well. They can make smooth, round turns with ease, and you can also release the tail quickly and go sideways in a pinch. However, they are a little soft, and have a little too much side cut for really charging fast in variable snow. They begin to feel a little hooky and unstable as the speed increases.

The bottom Line

Lee Lyon loving life on the 109 in Las Leñas. Moritz Morlock photo.

The Automatic 109 is a fun, versatile ski for almost all conditions. If you are smaller or don't ski too fast, this ski will be perfect. It is also quite light, and would make a great touring ski. The bases are not very durable, so I wouldn't recommend them to someone who is very hard on gear, the soft flex and medium-tight sidecut become overpowered at high speeds, and the smaller waist size gives us noticeably less float in heavy, deep snow than to the original Automatic 117. However, those who find themselves more in the crosshairs of the 109's favored conditions and ski style will love having the renowned Automatic feel and performance in a thinner, more versatile waist width.

Check out the Automatic 109 at evo by clicking here, and the rest of the Automatic line by clicking here. Happy Holidays and may your pow be deep and free of sharks!

From The Column: TGR Tested

About The Author

stash member llyon

Lee is a diehard ski bum who manages to split his year between Japan and Argentina while being based out of... Massachusetts.

Good article on the Auto 109. Stoked you liked the ski. I was surprised to hear you felt it didn’t handle high speeds well, but every skier is different I suppose. I’m 155lbs and ski it every day it isn’t fresh powder. I thought the ski rips even when charging fast, with lots of airs as well. Maybe not for a heavy skier, but a great everyday ripper stick.

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