Ski Test // November 3, 2016 // By


Cruisers Test 2017

FUN SKIING ON MOSTLY GROOMED RUNS

Think of this category of skis as your vehicle for a smooth Sunday drive. If a ski was tested that was too much for the category, we’ll let you know. Cruisers aren’t looking to weave through traffic, race around the track with the pros or explore much off-road. On these guys, you want to sit back and take in the scenery, cruise the corduroys and try new runs with friends. You mostly stick to groomed runs, but don’t want to be held back. And if it snowed five cm and the sun is out, you want some playtime, too. These boards are designed to be forgiving and fun, without sacrificing ski performance.

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by RYAN STUART in Fall 2016 issue

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

There’s no one ski that’s perfect for every skier. There’s not even one perfect ski in any one category. That’s why Ski Canada doesn’t bestow awards and declare “winners.” Instead, we break our ski reviews into categories and then for each ski, highlight what kind of skier each ski will appeal to best. To help you match yourself to those two variables, read the descriptions of the different ski categories: What kind of ski do you need? Check out our graphic: What kind of skier are YOU?

Next, check out the profiles of our Test Team and match yourself to ones most like you. Their favourite skis in each category are listed under their bios. Once you’ve done all that, also try out our app and online tool SkiFinder at skifinder.com to rank test skis based on your personal skiing characteristics. All test skis are scored using the following criteria: Edge Grip, Stability, Agility and Versatility. Read more: skicanadamag.com/test.

Take your best matches and head to your favourite ski shop. Since every ski has a unique feel and personality, try to demo the models you’re most interested in. Ultimately, it’s the best way to know which one is right for you

FIND SKIS using Ski Canada’s interactive ski test tool – SkiFinder. Also available as a free app from the iStore for iPhone & Google Play for Android.

* Length tested at Marmot Basin

ATOMIC VANTAGE X 80 CTI  *  men

$899

BEST FOR: Helping you improve

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate-advanced; medium weight; short-long turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  159, 166, 173*, 180

SIDECUT:   125.5/80/110

RADIUS:     15.2@173

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.0/10

A rare bird, the Vantage X 80 CTI could almost ski on autopilot. “Easy turn initiation and great edge control,” wrote Sean Kerrigan on his test card. But when our testers started pushing the ski, they didn’t find its limit. “Incredibly stable ski that combines cruise and lively. The stiff tail gives it pop when you want it,” said Jordan Kozak. The versatility extended to turn shape, too. Peter Eaton found “the entire ski length is the sweet spot. Equally adept at short and long turns. A solid all-rounder.” This would be a great ski to build skills from blue to black and beyond.

ATOMIC VANTAGE X 77 CTI W  *  women

$699

BEST FOR: Making the jump to expert terrain

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate-advanced; medium-heavy weight; short-long turns; power

LENGTHS:  142, 148, 154, 160*

SIDECUT:   120.5/77/100.5

RADIUS:     14.7@160

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.6/10

Atomic says the Vantage X line are all-mountain skis with a preference for the groomed. Our testers seconded that, scoring this ski high in every characteristic. “Playful and fun with varied turn shapes; goes from groomers to ungroomed without missing a beat,” wrote Heather Robilliard. Britta Gretzmacher called it a “superstar. It’s stable underfoot for speeding it up, and agile from tip to tail.” But the women also noted that it’s a little too lively and stiff for cruising intermediates or lighter skiers, and agreed it would be a great ski for improving intermediates looking to up their game to steeper terrain and higher speeds.

BLIZZARD QUATTRO 8.0 CA  *  men

$799

BEST FOR: A stable platform to cruise on hard snow

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; medium weight; short-long turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  156, 162, 168, 174*, 180

SIDECUT:   125/80/108

RADIUS:     16@174

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.2/10

Testers fell into two camps on this ski: those who thought it was best for intermediate, lightweight finesse skiers and those who thought it was for powerful and heavier advanced skiers. But despite the group indecision, almost everyone noted the ski’s incredible stability. “Plenty of support in broken snow and ample adhesion,” said George Andrew. Most also agreed it performed best at slower speeds, perfect given the category. While it could lay out long arcing turns, its quickness and agility in shorter ones caught Mike Dempsey’s attention: “Initiates a turn with a click of your big toe.”

BLIZZARD QUATTRO W 8.0 CA  *  women

$799

BEST FOR: Strong intermediates who like to carve all turn sizes

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; heavy weight; short-long turns; power

LENGTHS:  144, 150, 156, 162, 168*

SIDECUT:   124/80/107

RADIUS:     14.5@168

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.4/10

This is a stiffer ski best suited to heavier or more athletic and powerful skiers. Martina Osman thought “it had the potential to take a shy operator for a ride.” On the flip side that means it delivered wicked edge hold, stability and lots of life with a little more speed or dynamic turning. “This ski performs at any speed, but encourages the skier to challenge herself,” said Donie Blunden. On the feet of an advanced intermediate, the large sweet spot will make it easy to turn the ski from any position. “Transitions amazingly well between turns and switching up the turn shape,” concluded Wendy Anderson.

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FISCHER PRO MTN 80  *  men

$899

BEST FOR: Performance when you want it, cruising when you don’t

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate-advanced; light-medium weight; short turns; finesse

LENGTHS:  159, 166, 173*, 180

SIDECUT:   125/81/111

RADIUS:     16@173

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.5/10

Overall, the Pro MTN 80 scored higher in short turns, but the testers noticed it was great at long turns, too. “Slalom quickness with a longer-turning radius makes this ski a real winner,” wrote Ryan Petersen. While Sean Kerrigan said you can cruise away happily, but “put the gas pedal down and it performs superbly. Leave your mark on the groomers as this ski digs in deep, but it’s forgiving enough that you can enjoy the ride, as well.” A great choice for advanced skiers who don’t want to work for every turn, or a ski that can keep up with improving intermediates.

FISCHER KOA 80  *  women

$799

BEST FOR: Learning to carve

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; light weight; long turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  152, 159, 166*

SIDECUT:   124/79/109

RADIUS:     14@159

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 6.9/10

To move from snowplowing to carving, you want a ski that is forgiving, initiates turns easily, is stable at speed and has a consistent, soft flex. That’s a lot to think about—or you can just get the KOA 80. “Comfortable, predictable ride. This ski likes to take it slowly. It can handle some speed but prefers moderate speeds,” commented Wendy Anderson. While Britta Gretzmacher wrote, “Underfoot it gives you enough stability to try out some nice slow carving.” And Heather Robilliard called it a confidence-builder: “Very trustworthy and will take your skiing to the next level.”

HEAD STRONG INSTINCT Ti  *  men

$749

BEST FOR: Carving top to bottom, frontside to backside

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; medium weight; short-long turns; finesse

LENGTHS:  156, 163, 170*, 177

SIDECUT:   130/83/115

RADIUS:     14.2@170

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.0/10

With a softer tip and excellent edge grip, the Strong Instinct just wanted to carve. “This ski really likes to edge. Just start your turn and it wants to do the rest,” noted Mike Dempsey. Some of the testers found that this meant it took a little more effort to transition to the next turn, and that it wasn’t happy in skidded turns, so it likely wouldn’t suit intermediates (this category) still perfecting carves in all terrain. George Andrew liked this ski best short-turning on black runs: “You can slot in 10-metre power turns on a steep slope with little effort.”

HEAD ABSOLUTE JOY  *  women

$649

BEST FOR: Skiing on edge on groomers

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; medium-heavy weight; long turns; power

LENGTHS:  143, 148, 153, 158, 163*, 168

SIDECUT:   129/79/109

RADIUS:     13.5@163

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 6.6/10

Several testers thought this was a bit too much ski for this category, suggesting it would be better matched to performance carving. The Absolute Joy wanted to be on edge, carving down the fall line. Stiffer construction gave our lighter gals a hard time. “Feels way too heavy underfoot, but as a result it’s super-duper in bigger, faster turns,” wrote slim Gillian Browning. For strong intermediate and advanced skiers, it offered a powerful, versatile and stable ride on firm snow. “The strong edge loves to rip shallow turns or go straight. Stronger skiers will be rewarded with a dependable ride,” said Martina Osman.

K2 iKONIC 80  *  men

$799

BEST FOR: Softer snow, all-mountain cruising

SKIER TYPE: Strong intermediates on up; medium-heavy weight; short-long turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  156, 163, 170, 177*

SIDECUT:   121/80/109

RADIUS:     15.5@170

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 6.6/10

The epitome of a cruiser is how our testers described this ski. Diminutive Sean Kerrigan was the only one who struggled to get it to perform, so Bantamweight skiers may want to choose another K2. Otherwise this is a great ski for someone who’s happy to cruise around the mountain without having to think or work too hard. “Easy to put into a turn and steady at medium speeds. It can go from long to short turns with ease,” said Chris Senecal. Paul Schmidt found it “forgiving—it blows through any crud.” Mike Dempsey liked its versatility: “Go fast, it holds. Want to slide? You can do that, too. Great learning ski.”

K2 LUV STRUCK 80  *  women

$799

BEST FOR: Intermediates who look at the resort as a playground

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; light weight; short-long turns; cruise and finesse

LENGTHS:  149, 156, 163*, 170

SIDECUT:   121/80/109

RADIUS:     14@163

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.3/10

Two words were repeated over and over when it came to this ski: light and playful. Together they spell fun and ease. “Light, responsive, fun and saucy. I could cruise around on this ski all day, every day and not get tired. This ski does the work for you,” wrote Sandra Haziza. Nina Gretzmacher noted, “It’s easy to manoeuvre and control. On-piste, the ski has good edge grip.” Indeed, great tip-to-tail edging was another consistent comment. Kathy Broderick says the ski’s stable edging works to “build confidence for weighting the outside ski,” a key skill for beauty carves.

KÄSTLE FX85 HP  *  men

$1,099

BEST FOR: A strong Western skier looking for all-mountain performance

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; medium weight; long turns; power

LENGTHS:  157, 165, 173, 181*

SIDECUT:   119/85/108

RADIUS:     19@181

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.4/10

A pronounced early-rise tip—more common on off-piste skis than is typical of this category—gave this ski top marks in turn initiation and soft-snow performance. Yet, it can still rock on the groomers. “It felt like a GS ski for stability and edge grip, and was fun at high speeds, yet playful and easy to turn,” said Ryan Petersen. Strong skiers could convince it to make all turn shapes, but it naturally headed for longer turns and required a confident guide, wrote Sean Kerrigan: “It can have a mind of its own. Don’t let your guard down. But bring it up to speed and the fun factor increases.”

LINE TIGERSNAKE  *  men

$400

BEST FOR: Intermediates learning to carve in soft snow

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; light weight; short turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  157, 164, 171, 178*

SIDECUT:   113/88/109

RADIUS:     19.9@178

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 6.2/10

This Tigersnake won’t bite. Testers described it as “easygoing,” “flowing,” “cruise with the top down” and “predictable.” A soft-flexing tip allowed easy turn initiation and smooth transfers from turn-to-turn. “Like working with a butter knife smearing cream cheese. It turns on a dime but don’t depend on a solid edge,” commented George Andrew. Away from the double-diamonds, the Tigersnake held carves at slower speeds, but it tended to skid at high speed on icy-snow. A good choice for a newer skier advancing on intermediate terrain.

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MEIER CALAMITY JANE  *  women

$749

BEST FOR: Smearing soft-snow turns all over the mountain

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; heavy weight; long turns; power

LENGTHS:  149, 154, 159*, 164

SIDECUT:   128/78/104

RADIUS:     15@159

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 4.8/10

Most testers thought this ski was simply in the wrong category, noting its need for speed. “The ski only turns when you have enough speed. Not for easy cruising,” noted Britta Gretzmacher. Gillian Browning found its wider waist and stiffer tip unwieldy on easier terrain: “A chunky ski for a solid gal wanting to slice through crud and motor down without much turning.” Some preferred smearing over riding an edge. When Sandra Haziza deviated into the 10 cm of new snow, she found “it cuts through the bumps and crud with ease.”

NORDICA NRGY 85  *  men

$649

BEST FOR: Versatility that will encourage improvement

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; medium weight; short-long turns; finesse

LENGTHS:  161, 169, 177*, 185

SIDECUT:   121/85/105

RADIUS:     19.5@177

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.6/10

For quickly advancing intermediates, the do-it-all NRGY 85 will be your wingman. “This ski flows effortlessly from short- to long-radius turns. It’s super lively when put on edge, and is extremely capable in skidded and carved turns. It will encourage progression,” reckons Peter Eaton. Ryan Petersen agreed: “A beautiful all-mountain ski married with the forgiveness of an easy cruiser. Have fun with the family and then go open up the speed and be confident.” Wil Comrie added, “This is a strong performer that holds a great edge.”

NORDICA SENTRA S 5 EVO  *  women

$ 849

BEST FOR: Moving from blues to blacks

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; light-medium weight; short-long turns; cruise

LENGTHS:  144, 150, 156*, 162, 168

SIDECUT:   124/76/104

RADIUS:     13@156

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.7/10

One of the top-scoring skis in this category, the Sentra was exactly what our testers expect a frontside cruising ski to be, with the performance to take it into harder terrain. “Little beauty. A confidence builder and so very predictable. It holds a beautiful edge yet is so easy to pivot and slide when you need to,” said Heather Robilliard. In addition it skied all turn shapes equally well, with Nina Gretzmacher writing, “It’s smooth underfoot and easy to initiate. The ski is versatile and likes to cruise.” Erin Reade found it a little jittery at higher speeds, but overall she was still a big fan.

SALOMON X-DRIVE 8.3  *  men

$799

BEST FOR: Versatile groomer ski

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; light-heavy weight; short-long turns; power

LENGTHS:  155, 162, 169, 176*, 183

SIDECUT:   130/83/113

RADIUS:     15.2@176

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 8.3/10

Why do thee love me? It’s sometimes hard to put into words and that was the case for this ski. Several testers claimed adoration, one even proposed marriage, but none could verbalize what made it so great. Some of the less blinded figured it was its seemingly incompatible skills. “Easy, stable yet full of life when you release it out of a turn,” said Ryan Petersen. George Andrew, a high-end ski instructor and 100+-day skier, credited its versatility in all turn shapes and speeds: “It can be laid on edge and brought around with authority. I would own a pair in a minute!”

SALOMON MYRIAD  * women

$499

BEST FOR: Mostly on-piste, all-mountain ski

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate-advanced; light-heavy weight; short-long turns; power

LENGTHS:  153, 161, 169*

SIDECUT:   126/85/111

RADIUS:     16.4@169

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 4.0/10

The tune on the Myriad kept our female testers from giving it a proper test. This ski is the most groomer-oriented of Salomon’s new QST line of all-mountain planks with varying on-piste skills. Combining a wood core with a carbon and flax topsheet to add stiffness and smooth flexing, the Myriad should both hold an edge and suck up the bumps. Lightening the tip and tail reduces swingweight. Add rocker and this ski should be easy to turn and floaty in soft snow.

VÖLKL RTM 81  *  men

$1,149

BEST FOR: A step down from a race carver

SKIER TYPE: Advanced; heavy weight; short-long turns; finesse-power

LENGTHS:  156, 163, 170, 177*, 182

SIDECUT:   128/81/109

RADIUS:     17.9@177

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 9.3/10

Beyond this category, “This is a ski for carvers,” wrote Mike Dempsey succinctly. It will take an advanced skill set to tame the energy contained in this ski. Great marks for experts but likely too much ski for an intermediate. If you have the technique though, expect a ski that will feed off your energy level. “Out for a Sunday cruise or want to speed up your day, this ski makes both enjoyable,” said Sean Kerrigan. Chris Senecal sounded like a happy papa: “This ski is as smooth as a baby’s bum, aggressive when needed. Worth whatever it costs.”

VÖLKL YUMI  *  women

$699

BEST FOR: Students of the perfect turn

SKIER TYPE: Intermediate; light weight; short-long turns; finesse

LENGTHS:  147, 154, 161*, 168

SIDECUT:   125/83/103

RADIUS:     17.1@161

OVERALL AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8/10

Lighter skis make skiing less work and more fun. Evidence: the Yumi. Erin Reade was impressed by its weight and performance: “This ski is light; almost feels like you have nothing on your feet. It’s surprisingly powerful, and good at various speeds.” The weight did not equate to a trade-off, though. “Strong and stable, this ski can confidently take you down the most chattering blue,” found Sandra Haziza. It was smooth gliding through big turns, energetic in short turns and held a carve effortlessly. Testers thought this would be a great ski for those who are always working to improve their technique.

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