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Ski Test 2011: Adventure All-Mountain

All-terrain skiing, moderate speeds, medium turns

By Test Editors IAN MARCH, RON BETTS, ANNE SLADE and IAIN MACMILLAN

Silver Star provided the perfect All-Mountain testing ground for Ski Canada in early March with just what these skis love: a wide range of snow, conditions and terrain. From packed-powder to firm-’n’-slick groomers, bumps, crud and powder in the trees, 51 models of skis did more runs over two days than most do in a year. Far and away, the largest category of skis sold today is All-Mountain and although Ski Canada breaks the colossal group into something more manageable—“Adventure” and “Expert”—the dividing line can be a bit blurry. Testers repeatedly commented that many skis in the Adventure group could easily have been tested with the Experts, for instance—a compliment to the overall quality of what manufacturers offered for us to test. But whether you’re from the East or West, if you’re still looking for that perfect, do-it-all ski for your one-ski quiver, it’s on these pages.

To match the expectations for this group, testing was not as fast or aggressive as in the high-performance Expert All-Mountain category. The same assessment of comfort in ungroomed snow was checked, with special attention to such things as how balanced they felt (sweet spot) and general good manners in less-than-perfect conditions. Testers want these skis to respond to every demand, and also be manageable and predictable. Waist 75-85. (Fall 2010 issue.)

length marked with † is length tested; prices marked with * include bindings

Average score based on average of all tester scores for the 8 categories of characteristics – initiation, edge grip, stability, agility, versatility, short radius, long radius and overall. Point system is 1 to 10.

ARMADA | ATOMIC | BLIZZARD |DYNASTAR| FISCHER | GOODE| HEAD | K2 | KASTLE |LIBERTY |MOMENT |NORDICA | PRIOR | ROSSIGNOL | SALOMON |VOLKL

ARMADA AR7

$740 sidecut: 120 87 110 radius:21.5 @ 181
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 161, 166, 171, 176, 181 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY, VERSATILITY
.. tested men only The AR7 excels in softer western conditions, where it seemingly eats up the crud, bumps and powder that get in its path. The solid feeling of this ski makes it perform in bumps, where its ability to absorb, more than its quickness, encourages you to let loose. Several testers praised the AR7’s ease from turn-to-turn and its ability to cruise—as long as the snow was soft. “Park and powder was the design in mind, but soft-snow groomers are lovely as well.”» ROSS COUTTS“This ski is very buoyant and pivots quickly underfoot. It’s a standout in bumps and soft snow. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.”» MARK STEIN“It’s quick to initiate and strong in the tail to finish. This ski is more comfortable in big turns off-piste.”» JOSH FOSTER

average score: 6.2

ARMADA ARW

$715 sidecut: 114 82 104 radius: 17. @ 161
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 161 † , 166
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only The ARW is a user-friendly ski with a lovely ease from turn-to-turn. It rolled on edge without hesitation, and once there, seemed to come to life, enjoying cut-up snow and bumps. Testers found this ski to be forgiving, responsive and fun, and were impressed with its versatility, feeling it a capable all-mountain ski for intermediates on up. “This ski has great flotation, and transitions seamlessly from crud and bumps to powder and long line carves. Ease of this model will advance the skills of many budding all-mountain skiers.” » JANET KUIJT “It’s great in bumps, and felt as if it could be a freestyle ski. On groomed I was super-happy with its power. It skied well switch, too.” » ROBYN BEAUDRY “It’s solid underfoot when kept in the fall line. This ski was forgiving in bumps and performed best at moderate speeds.” » CHRISTA CHAPMAN

average score: 6.3

ATOMIC NOMAD BLACKEYE TI

$999* sidecut:125 82 110 radius: 16 @ 174
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 167, 174 † , 181
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Groomers, bumps, crud—all seemed to love this ski. Our testers did, too, giving it the top overall marks in the category. The Blackeye was competent in short and long turns, with edge grip to boot. Off-piste this ski has float in deeper snow and crud, and is fun and responsive in the bumps. It’s a racy-feeling carver for the whole mountain. “Made me feel like a rock star. It skis well in all conditions and turn shapes. You can take it anywhere anytime. Level II and III instructors will enjoy it.” » BARTON LANE“Adventure and versatility, this ski has race-carving sensations, yet it manages crud and soft snow. You feel confident and can relax on it if lazy.” » MIKE WEISS“A ski that offers solid performance in all conditions with a smooth, rock-solid feel. It’s easy to operate yet responsive, with acceleration out of each turn.”» GEORGE TERWIEL

average score: 8.3

ATOMIC SEVENTH HEAVEN 76

$599* sidecut: 117 76 102 radius: 16 @ 164
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 157, 164 † , 171
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only Seventh Heaven transitioned from on-piste to off and back again with confi dence. On-piste it’s stable and strong, and likes to cruise, shorter turns come with some effort. Off-piste it turns easily in the crud and bumps with energy and zest. Edge grip is strong in all turn shapes. This versatile, competent and fun ski is well suited for a stronger intermediate right up to expert. “So very nice, easy and forgiving. It’s spicy on the bumps and saucy on groomed. An excellent choice for all-mountain fun.” » LAURALEE BOWIE“This ski will satisfy a strong skier and push an average skier in her abilities. It’s solid and stable, and strong enough that it responds to effort.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW“An energetic ski that is equally at home in bumps, crud and on-piste groomers. It’s stable at higher speeds, and agile enough to pop off short turns.” » ANNE TERWIEL

average score: 7.9


BLIZZARD MAGNUM 8.1 Ti I -MAX

$1,219* sidecut: 123 81 108 radius: 17 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 165, 172 † , 179
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only This is a solid, smooth, predictable carver with the heart of a race ski. It has superb edge grip and stability, and is responsive in both short and long turns. The racy feel and power made it dance through bumps and crud, giving the Magnum all-mountain capability. It responds best when pushed, so would be better suited to the more aggressive. “It’s predictable and stable on groomed and cut-up snow. It holds great in crud and transitioned easily in all conditions. No surprises—just a solid performer. The tip felt a little stiff in bumps.” » RON BETTS“This is a really stable ski with super-ride edge hold. It loves to be pushed and rewards with unreal energy out of the turn. Higher speeds and bigger turns are preferred. Great ride!” » HANK SHANNON“It’s easy to turn with extremely smooth initiation. It has good stability for longer turns.” » SAMUEL WÜRSCH

average score: 7.6

BLIZZARD VIVA MAGNUM 8.1 I -MAX

$1,099* sidecut: 123 81 108 radius: 16 @ 165
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 151, 158 † , 165
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS
.. tested by women only The Viva Magnum has superb edge grip and stability, and loves to rip both short and long turns on-piste. It’s powerful, agile with a race ski like in feel. It could easily handle crud, and “great in the bumps” was echoed by several testers. The women found this ski responds best to an aggressive skier. “This ski performed exceptionally well in cruddy bumps and made effortless short turns. Add speed and power and the ski arcs a beautiful long-radius turn. It’s great at these two ends of the spectrum, but has no pleasant, relaxed mid-range.” » ANNE TERWIEL “Wow! The ski was agile and playful without compromising stability. It’s light underfoot and loved the softer snow, but still performed well on the groomed.” » CHRISTA CHAPMAN“This is a full-bodied vivacious ski. It carves in bumps and groomed with ease and precision, depending on your speed skill.” » JANET KUIJT

average score: 8.0

DYNASTAR LEGEND SULTAN 85

$720 sidecut: 126 85 110 radius: 16 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 165, 172, 178 † , 184
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP
.. tested by men only The Legend Sultan 85 is a strong, powerful ski that seemed to get better as the conditions became choppier. Testers found it responsive in cut-up snow and bumps, and loved to let it run in longer turns in the crud. Its ability to absorb vibration helped give confi dence at speed and absorb moguls off-piste. Best suited to bigger or powerful all-mountain rippers. “This ski excelled in the cut-up and chop. It was very stable at speed and was comfortable in the bumps.” » MARK STEIN“The stiff tail helps with performance at the end of the turn, but makes the ski more at home in big turns.” » JOSH FOSTER“The ski requires a lot of effort to start the turn. It’s really stable in rough conditions and at speed. It prefers medium- to longer-radius turns at speed. “» HANK SHANNON

average score: 6.5

DYNASTAR EXCLUSIVE LEGEND EDEN

$899* sidecut: 126 85 110 radius: 16 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 158, 165, 172 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by women only Light yet powerful; solid yet quick— our testers suggested the Eden is a fast ripper that’s very versatile. On-piste, it has a GS-like feel, carving confi dent long arcs at speed. In bumps and crud, it seems to come into its own in shorter turns, becoming quick and esponsive as the snow deepens. Stronger skiers seemed to get the most out of this ski; it responded to a power rather than a finesse approach. “It skied really well in bumps, short turns and big turns. Lightness was the main feeling, yet it has a solid edge grip.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW“This ski was great on groomed. It loves to go fast. It will do short turns, but loves to go big. The ski could hold at high speed.” » KATE HOPLEY “It’s better at high speeds. The ski is forgiving and solid, and likes to be on edge. It’s easy to initiate, and has excellent edge hold.” » LAURALEE BOWIE

average score: 7.0

FISCHER WATEA 84

$999 sidecut: 126 84 112 radius: 18 @ 176
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 167, 176 † , 184
BEST IN: AGILITY
.. tested by men only While the Watea 84 is easy to initiate and has a light, agile feel, it also has the power, stability and edge grip to rip race-like turns on-piste. Testers consistently praised its combination of ease with performance as well as great versatility, showing fl oat with power and agility with stability. Strong intermediates can enjoy and grow with this ski, but it has the power to keep experts happy, too. “This is an excellent ski for a lighter aggressive skier on hardpack, bumps and crud. Bottom line: light and snappy with a soft progressive flex.” » GUY PAULSEN“It’s floaty and surfed well, and handled crud with ease. This is a great all-rounder that needs to be skied on the tip.”» KRISTIAN ARMSTRONG“Versatility is the name of the game and this ski performs it well. All turn shapes and terrain are recognized.” » ROSS COUTTS

average score: 7.5

FISCHER KOA 84

$935 sidecut: 126 84 112 radius: 16 @ 167
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 159 † , 167
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only The Koa 84 is a fun, versatile, all-mountain performer. It’s easy to initiate and has a light, agile feel, but also has the power and stability to perform powerful turns on-piste. Short turns were easy and quick, and long turns were confi dent and grippy. Its solid, quick, lively feel made it a blast in the bumps, and it cut through crud with confidence. “I loved this ski in the bumps— it’s light and responsive. The tail was a little stiff in short radius for my weight, but it loved big turns. “» ROBYN BEAUDRY“It made me feel bulletproof. It’s light, stable and forgiving in bumps, dynamic and lively in short turns, and holds an edge in long turns. The ski is super-stable, yet lively in all turn shapes, terrain and speed.”» WENDY ANDERSONThis ski inspires solid performance in bumps and crud, and transitions to high-speed carved turns. “» JANET KUIJT

average score: 7.7

GOODE PASH 80

$1,195 sidecut: 117 80 106 radius: 16 @ 168
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 168 † , 178 † , 188
BEST IN: INITIATION, AGILITY, STABILITY
tested by men & women If you like a ski with a light, easy feel, check out Goode’s Pash 80, an easy turner that enjoys snapping off short- to medium-radius turns at more modest speeds. This ski is lively with good edge grip, and its ease and confi dence make it well suited to an ntermediate looking to improve. It also absorbs crud and bumps, giving it off-piste capability. “Smooth like silk. It’s easy to initiate and turn. This is a light and spirited ski that feels great underfoot, with excellent edge grip in both soft snow and hardpack “ » LAURALEE BOWIE “It’s light, quick and agile with great grip. It could be a bit more stable in longer turns.” » KRISTIAN ARMSTRONG“This ski has a nice soft tip and it’s easy to initiate. It’s a little timid at speed but a very solid performer at moderate speeds, with great flex in bumps and crud.” » RON BETTS

average score: 5.9 men and 6.4 women

HEAD PEAK 78 FLR PRO

$950* sidecut: 124 78 110 radius: 14.5 @ 171
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 165, 171, 177 † , 183
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by men only The Peak 78 Pro entices its rider to turn up the volume and hope for a clear piste ahead. While capable off-piste in crud and bumps, on-piste at speed is where this ski is at its best. Its solid edge grip and stability give confidence, and it has great energy coming out of the turn. Several testers commented that this ski needed some speed to come to life. It’s best suited to a more power-oriented skier. “This ski is solid and stable, and unbelievable in carved turns. It’s a little tough to steer in short turns and off-piste.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT“It has a precise, responsive edge grip with great performance when you put the hammer down. Good versatility, but shines on the groomed.” » GEORGE TERWIEL“A solid-feeling, piste-oriented ski. It’s powerful, damp and stable, yet responsive and fun. It changes radius with ease and carves clean round arcs.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.9

HEAD GREAT ONE

$975* sidecut: 123 77 109 radius: 13 @ 165
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 159, 165, 171 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only While perhaps not as fl oaty and versatile as Wayne himself, certainly when it comes to longer, powerful GS turns, the Great One does not disappoint. As the speed picked up, it became more responsive, offering acceleration from turn-to-turn not unlike a race ski. Shorter turns did not come with ease, however in bumps it performed well. Best suited to a stronger skier who likes the feeling of wind in her hair. “Wonderfully stable ski. It loved to cruise at high speeds and arc sweet turns. A perfect ski for the aspiring power skier and an aggressive ex-racer.”» CHRISTA CHAPMAN“This ski responds well on a variety of terrain. It felt extremely stable, and was able to turn with ease.” » KATE HOPLEY“A big-girl ski that can take the additional speed and power a strong girl can give. It’s smooth at higher speeds in longer turns.”» ANNE TERWIEL

average score: 7.0

K2 A.M.P. RICTOR MX 12.0

$950* sidecut: 127 80 109 radius: 16 @ 174
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 167, 174 † , 181
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by men only The A.M.P. Rictor was at home on-piste as well as off. “I found myself going for air,” said one tester, and further suggested its responsiveness when combined with such ease made for a ski that’s playful and fun. On-piste the Rictor carves lovely, precise round arcs, and off-piste it excelled in bumps and crud. It’s well suited to intermediates right up to experts. “The ski had an automatic transmission. It shifted seamlessly from turn-to-turn and all conditions. Very user-friendly. “» MARK STEIN“I really like a ski that handles everything that gets thrown at it. This ski does that. It excelled in bumps and crud, and transitioned to groomed very well.” » RON BETTS“What a fun ski to tear around with on the mountain. It likes to do all turn shapes and speeds with ease. This is a versatile ski to take your performance to the next level. Great hold inspires confi dence.”» HANK SHANNON

average score: 7.4

K2 FREE LUV

$800* sidecut: 120 76 104 radius: 14 @ 163
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 142, 149, 156, 163 †
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
tested by women only Our testers enjoyed the Free Luv’s light, snappy, responsive personality offering easy and fun short and medium turns. Several testers found the ski’s speed limit as the turns lengthened. The playfulness of the Free Luv made it shine in bumps, making bump-skiing easy and smooth. The consensus is that this is a ski best suited to lighter, finesse-style skiers. “A light and lively ski that inspires quick turns in bumps and easy-speed cruising.” » JANET KUIJTAs a petite woman, I absolutely adore this ski. I love to balance out my day with turns that are big and small on terrain that is bumpy and groomed. This ski absolutely does it all with finesse. “» KATE HOPLEY“It’s easy to do quick turns and is ready and willing to do longer turns, but seemingly still keen to make shorter turns.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW

average score: 7.5

KÄSTLE FX84

$1,099 sidecut: 122 84 110 radius: 18 @ 176
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 168, 176 † , 184
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
tested by men only The FX 84 is a solid, powerful ski that will encourage a strong pilot to really let loose. It has the hint of a race ski on-piste—it’s responsive at speed and offers up big, solid arcs. Off-piste it power blasts through crud and its dampness absorbs the bumps, offering real all-mountain capability to a stronger skier. The FX 84 rewards effort and aggression with response, versatility and capability. “Wunder ski. It’s stable and predictable. The more I pushed, the more it told me to keep going. I really, really liked this ski. Well done! “» GUY PAULSEN“It had great performance on short and long turns on groomed, but was too stiff for me in the bumps. I loved it on the groomed. A stable but stiff ski. “» GEORGE TERWIEL“It’s really lively and quick off-piste and holds its own carving it up on the groomed.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT

average score: 7.6

KÄSTLE MX88

$1,199 sidecut: 128/88/113 radius: 20 @ 178
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 168, 178 † , 188
BEST IN: STABILITY
tested by women only The MX88 has a stable platform with a sturdy edge grip and seemingly no speed limit. It powers through whatever is in its path, including crud and bumps, absorbing well and feeling solid. Our lighter testers found this ski a challenge, but note that the women testers were on a 178-cm length. This is a powerful, fun, all-mountain tool for the stronger skier. “What a powerhouse ski! You can ski as fast as you want. I loved it in the bumps. I found it a little wide in short turns, but I could adjust with more time. Ripper!” » ROBYN BEAUDRY“What a ski! It was fun and stable at higher speeds, and prefers groomed to off-piste. It’s like magnets to the snow.” » LAURALEE BOWIE “Although this ski did great carving turns and powered through thick and heavy snow, I really loved it in the moguls. It had great energy in the bumps.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN

average score: 6.2

MOMENT TAHOE

US$700 sidecut: 127 96 118 radius: 21.1 @ 180
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 170, 180 † , 188
BEST IN: AGILITY, INITIATION
.. tested by men only The Tahoe comes into its own as the snow gets deeper. It initiates with ease and has a soft shovel. While on-piste, this ski cruises well at medium speeds, but when on the fresh, it becomes quick, responsive and highly manoeuvrable. The fl oat is there, too, for those deep days that really matter. Best for off-piste afi cionados who utilize the piste simply to access their stash. “Though it has a wide platform, good for flotation and broad balance, it’s surprisingly manoeuvrable. It can be directed easily for short, quick, tight turn areas. “» MIKE WEISS“This ski is awesome in soft snow and bumps. It’s very quick in moguls and has nice fl oat in softer snow.” » MARK STEIN“It’s easygoing and forgiving, yet has surprising stability at speed in cut-up snow. Finish the turn in the heel to get the power out of this ski. It has a strong preference for soft snow.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 5.3

MOMENT STILETTO

US$550 sidecut: 111 86 111 radius: 15.3 @ 156
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156 † , 166, 171
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
.. tested by women only Our testers unanimously agreed that the Stiletto is a ski best suited to softer snow. It’s lively and turny, making moguls and soft crud fun. On-piste it seemed better suited to intermediates, being very gentle to turn but lacking the stability or edge grip for any fast or solid carving. The consensus was that this is a fun off-piste ski well suited to powder, bumps, trees but also the park. “A light ski underfoot that turns nicely in soft snow, bumpy terrain and crud. On hardpacked groomed runs, larger turns with speed take effort and lacks stability. Good for the terrain park.” » KATE HOPLEYThis is a ski so light and lively I felt I should go to the park to find more features to play on. It’s a bit squirrelly carving on groomed.» JANET KUIJT An excellent ski for intermediate finesse skiers. It would benefit a lighter skier, and is very snappy. It’s hard to control at fast speeds.“» NINA GRETZMACHER

average score: 4.8

NORDICA HOT ROD TEMPEST

$999* sidecut: 127 80 111 radius: 15 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170 † , 178
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, AGILITY, SHORT RADIUS
.. tested by men only The Hot Rod Tempest is a light, snappy carving machine. Our testers loved its quick and responsive feel. Its ease and energy made it fun in the bumps, too, proving that this ski is as comfortable off-piste as it is on. Several testers suggested its light and easy feel was best suited to lighter skiers, both intermediates and experts alike. “This ski adapts automatically to all conditions, speeds and turn sizes. It’s a true all-mountain ski with the smoothest, roundest arc on the mountain.” » MARK STEIN“It’s light and agile—very responsive to a skier. A lighter skier will have fun on this. It makes bumps seem easy and carves nice round arcs. It’s not for the heavy power-oriented skier.” » IAN MARCH“Short-radius rockets! Extremely light feeling and easy to dance through the bumps. It was a blast in short-radius on groomed.” » DREW BRAGG

average score: 7.7

NORDICA INFINITE

$949* sidecut: 127 80 111 radius: 15 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170 † , 178
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, VERSATILITY, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Our women testers universally had fun on the Infi nite, enjoying its well-rounded, vibrant personality. A well-balanced ski with a large sweet spot, the Infi nite carved beautiful arcs in both short and long turns on-piste. It can handle lots of speed and aggression, but also loves to be fi nessed through the turn, responding to all types of skiers. “This ski possesses true all-mountain capability, making bumps and crud fun and easy. A strong, confident ski. An aggressive or finesse skier would love this ski because it can do anything. It loves big turns, but is also lively in short. A great bump ski.” » ROBYN BEAUDRY“What a smooth ride! I threw everything at this ski and loved every movement I made—the ski responded perfectly. It excelled on groomed but gave me everything I asked for in crud and bumps.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN

average score: 8.1

ROSSIGNOL S86 FREERIDE

$799 sidecut: 130 86.5 116 radius: 17.6 @ 186
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 162, 170, 178 † , 186
BEST IN: VERSATILITY, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only The S86 got our testers’ praise in every turn shape, speed and condition they could find, demonstrating the truly versatile nature of this ski. Its solid edge grip and carving ability gave confi dence on-piste, and its width and power gave float through powder and crud. All this versatility came with ease, energy and fun, encouraging its pilot to play with the mountain. “It’s like skiing on coil springs. Compress the arc of the turn then release. It has awesome energy coming out of the turn. It’s super in bumps and has good carving at moderate speed.” » DREW BRAGG“A great ski with multiple personalities—it can be carved, floated, steered, cruised and has good snow sense.” » MIKE WEISS“It’s quick in the bumps and solid on-piste. It’s forgiving enough for a good intermediate, with enough power to keep an expert happy.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.7

ROSSIGNOL S86W FREESKI

$799 sidecut: 130 86 116 radius: 14.3 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 162, 170 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only The S86W is a powerful ski that rewards effort and aggression with stability, great edge grip and all-mountain capability. There was consensus among our testers that it loves big, GS turns in the fall line. When the speed picked up, it seemed to come into its own, becoming responsive and quick edge-to-edge. This all-mountain cruiser also adapts well to all terrain, and our more athletic testers found it stable and responsive in the bumps. “An ideal ski for the true advanced all-mountain skier. It’s versatile, stable and quick from edge-to-edge, and was at its best in the fall line and skiing fast.”» CHRISTA CHAPMAN“It felt stable underfoot in all terrain. The ski performed better when I made larger-radius turns. However, I could get some nice short radius out of the ski with effort. It would take a stronger skier to feel good on this ski.” » KATE HOPLEY

average score: 6.9

SALOMON X-WING TORNADO Ti

$1,124* sidecut: 120 79 107 radius: 16.3 @ 173
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 159, 166, 173 † , 180
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
.. tested by men only Take the sporty quickness and energy of a slalom race ski, combine it with the dampness and float of a great bump and powder ski, and what have you got? The X-Wing Tornado Ti. Testers loved the sporty, lively and fun personality of this ski, finding it a versatile all-mountain player with great ability to rip the piste and rock through the bumps, powder and crud. Several testers commented that they could feel a race heritage in this ski. “Totally fun ski! It rolls onto edge effortlessly, has no speed limit and loves all turn shapes. It’s amazing in bumps and busts through crud with ease. A truly amazing all-mountain ski.” » HANK SHANNON“This ski is lively and fun— made me want to find more bumps and crud.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT “Quicksilver on snow! This ski is unbelievably quick. It jumped and jammed in the bumps and was cool like crazy on groomed.” » DREW BRAGG

average score: 8.0

SALOMON ORIGINS DIAMOND

$1,124* sidecut: 120 77 105 radius: 12.9 @ 159
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 145, 152, 159 † , 166, 173
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only The easygoing, forgiving feel of the Origins Diamond was the first thing our testers noticed as they pushed off for their run. As the speed built and the terrain steepened, it became evident that this ski had the goods to really rock and roll, with enough power for an aggressive expert. It skied effortlessly through bumps and crud, and on-piste it had great edge hold, seeming to be happiest in longer cruising turns. “Versatile with personality plus. It’s easy to tip on edge, and was good in the bumps A great ski for this category—very forgiving.” » LAURALEE BOWIE “It was great in the bumps, yet had good edge hold for longer-radius turns. The ski feels so smooth, with awesome flex and turn transition.” » NINA GRETZMACHER“The ski was quick to react in steeper bumps and crud. It was solid underfoot, felt confi dent in edge grip and was stable at higher speeds.” » KRISTIN WOHGLEMUTH

average score: 7.8

VÖLKL UNLIMITED AC 30

$1,100* sidecut: 124 80 107 radius: 18.4 @ 177
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170, 177 † , 184
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Great edge grip, stability and carving ability are the hallmarks of the AC 30. It has a smooth, predictable and powerful feel that gives confi dence and encourages the skier to take chances and let ’er rip leaving pure, clean arcs. While all this precision and power are great on-piste, the AC (All Conditions) 30 lives up to its name, blasting through crud and bumps, and having good fl oat when the conditions get deeper. This is a great all-mountain ski with power to spare. “The ski has great drive through all snow conditions. It pushes through cut-up snow like a 250 linebacker in a peewee football game. It has great control and versatility from long to short turns.” » RON BETTS“This is a solid, powerful ski that likes to rip. It has great edge grip and stability, yet is still fun in bumps and off-piste. Better suited to a strong pilot. Stay on top of it. Great fun.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.4

VÖLKL ATTIVA TIERRA

$1,050* sidecut: 129 78 99 radius: 14.8 @ 161
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 147, 154, 161 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only Our women testers really enjoyed their time on the Tierra, fi nding it a truly versatile, confi dent and user-friendly all-mountain player. At slower speeds, it’s gentle and easy to turn. At faster speeds, it’s strong, stable and responsive, inspiring confi dence with its powerful edge grip. When the snow is soft and uneven, the Tierra is quick and floaty, taking on the bumps and crud with ease. It’s well suited to a broad range of abilities looking for a fun ski that does it all. “Anything goes with this ski. It would make any skier feel like a superstar. Short turns, bumps, anything—this is a very versatile ski.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN“A ski perfectly suited to respond to a variety of speed, terrain and turns. It gives a smooth, sensational ride top-to-bottom.” » JANETKUIJT “It’s light and lively in all terrain, and solid and forgiving in bumps. It has dynamic rebound energy “ » WENDY ANDERSON

average score: 7.8

Ski Test 2011: Adventure All-Mountain

All-terrain skiing, moderate speeds, medium turns

By Test Editors IAN MARCH, RON BETTS, ANNE SLADE and IAIN MACMILLAN

Silver Star provided the perfect All-Mountain testing ground for Ski Canada in early March with just what these skis love: a wide range of snow, conditions and terrain. From packed-powder to firm-’n’-slick groomers, bumps, crud and powder in the trees, 51 models of skis did more runs over two days than most do in a year. Far and away, the largest category of skis sold today is All-Mountain and although Ski Canada breaks the colossal group into something more manageable—“Adventure” and “Expert”—the dividing line can be a bit blurry. Testers repeatedly commented that many skis in the Adventure group could easily have been tested with the Experts, for instance—a compliment to the overall quality of what manufacturers offered for us to test. But whether you’re from the East or West, if you’re still looking for that perfect, do-it-all ski for your one-ski quiver, it’s on these pages.

To match the expectations for this group, testing was not as fast or aggressive as in the high-performance Expert All-Mountain category. The same assessment of comfort in ungroomed snow was checked, with special attention to such things as how balanced they felt (sweet spot) and general good manners in less-than-perfect conditions. Testers want these skis to respond to every demand, and also be manageable and predictable. Waist 75-85. (Fall 2010 issue.)

length marked with † is length tested; prices marked with * include bindings

Average score based on average of all tester scores for the 8 categories of characteristics – initiation, edge grip, stability, agility, versatility, short radius, long radius and overall. Point system is 1 to 10.

ARMADA | ATOMIC | BLIZZARD |DYNASTAR| FISCHER | GOODE| HEAD | K2 | KASTLE |LIBERTY |MOMENT |NORDICA | PRIOR | ROSSIGNOL | SALOMON |VOLKL

ARMADA AR7

$740 sidecut: 120 87 110 radius:21.5 @ 181
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 161, 166, 171, 176, 181 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY, VERSATILITY
.. tested men only The AR7 excels in softer western conditions, where it seemingly eats up the crud, bumps and powder that get in its path. The solid feeling of this ski makes it perform in bumps, where its ability to absorb, more than its quickness, encourages you to let loose. Several testers praised the AR7’s ease from turn-to-turn and its ability to cruise—as long as the snow was soft. “Park and powder was the design in mind, but soft-snow groomers are lovely as well.”» ROSS COUTTS“This ski is very buoyant and pivots quickly underfoot. It’s a standout in bumps and soft snow. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.”» MARK STEIN“It’s quick to initiate and strong in the tail to finish. This ski is more comfortable in big turns off-piste.”» JOSH FOSTER

average score: 6.2

ARMADA ARW

$715 sidecut: 114 82 104 radius: 17. @ 161
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 161 † , 166
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only The ARW is a user-friendly ski with a lovely ease from turn-to-turn. It rolled on edge without hesitation, and once there, seemed to come to life, enjoying cut-up snow and bumps. Testers found this ski to be forgiving, responsive and fun, and were impressed with its versatility, feeling it a capable all-mountain ski for intermediates on up. “This ski has great flotation, and transitions seamlessly from crud and bumps to powder and long line carves. Ease of this model will advance the skills of many budding all-mountain skiers.” » JANET KUIJT “It’s great in bumps, and felt as if it could be a freestyle ski. On groomed I was super-happy with its power. It skied well switch, too.” » ROBYN BEAUDRY “It’s solid underfoot when kept in the fall line. This ski was forgiving in bumps and performed best at moderate speeds.” » CHRISTA CHAPMAN

average score: 6.3

ATOMIC NOMAD BLACKEYE TI

$999* sidecut:125 82 110 radius: 16 @ 174
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 167, 174 † , 181
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Groomers, bumps, crud—all seemed to love this ski. Our testers did, too, giving it the top overall marks in the category. The Blackeye was competent in short and long turns, with edge grip to boot. Off-piste this ski has float in deeper snow and crud, and is fun and responsive in the bumps. It’s a racy-feeling carver for the whole mountain. “Made me feel like a rock star. It skis well in all conditions and turn shapes. You can take it anywhere anytime. Level II and III instructors will enjoy it.” » BARTON LANE“Adventure and versatility, this ski has race-carving sensations, yet it manages crud and soft snow. You feel confident and can relax on it if lazy.” » MIKE WEISS“A ski that offers solid performance in all conditions with a smooth, rock-solid feel. It’s easy to operate yet responsive, with acceleration out of each turn.”» GEORGE TERWIEL

average score: 8.3

ATOMIC SEVENTH HEAVEN 76

$599* sidecut: 117 76 102 radius: 16 @ 164
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 157, 164 † , 171
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only Seventh Heaven transitioned from on-piste to off and back again with confi dence. On-piste it’s stable and strong, and likes to cruise, shorter turns come with some effort. Off-piste it turns easily in the crud and bumps with energy and zest. Edge grip is strong in all turn shapes. This versatile, competent and fun ski is well suited for a stronger intermediate right up to expert. “So very nice, easy and forgiving. It’s spicy on the bumps and saucy on groomed. An excellent choice for all-mountain fun.” » LAURALEE BOWIE“This ski will satisfy a strong skier and push an average skier in her abilities. It’s solid and stable, and strong enough that it responds to effort.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW“An energetic ski that is equally at home in bumps, crud and on-piste groomers. It’s stable at higher speeds, and agile enough to pop off short turns.” » ANNE TERWIEL

average score: 7.9


BLIZZARD MAGNUM 8.1 Ti I -MAX

$1,219* sidecut: 123 81 108 radius: 17 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 165, 172 † , 179
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only This is a solid, smooth, predictable carver with the heart of a race ski. It has superb edge grip and stability, and is responsive in both short and long turns. The racy feel and power made it dance through bumps and crud, giving the Magnum all-mountain capability. It responds best when pushed, so would be better suited to the more aggressive. “It’s predictable and stable on groomed and cut-up snow. It holds great in crud and transitioned easily in all conditions. No surprises—just a solid performer. The tip felt a little stiff in bumps.” » RON BETTS“This is a really stable ski with super-ride edge hold. It loves to be pushed and rewards with unreal energy out of the turn. Higher speeds and bigger turns are preferred. Great ride!” » HANK SHANNON“It’s easy to turn with extremely smooth initiation. It has good stability for longer turns.” » SAMUEL WÜRSCH

average score: 7.6

BLIZZARD VIVA MAGNUM 8.1 I -MAX

$1,099* sidecut: 123 81 108 radius: 16 @ 165
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 151, 158 † , 165
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS
.. tested by women only The Viva Magnum has superb edge grip and stability, and loves to rip both short and long turns on-piste. It’s powerful, agile with a race ski like in feel. It could easily handle crud, and “great in the bumps” was echoed by several testers. The women found this ski responds best to an aggressive skier. “This ski performed exceptionally well in cruddy bumps and made effortless short turns. Add speed and power and the ski arcs a beautiful long-radius turn. It’s great at these two ends of the spectrum, but has no pleasant, relaxed mid-range.” » ANNE TERWIEL “Wow! The ski was agile and playful without compromising stability. It’s light underfoot and loved the softer snow, but still performed well on the groomed.” » CHRISTA CHAPMAN“This is a full-bodied vivacious ski. It carves in bumps and groomed with ease and precision, depending on your speed skill.” » JANET KUIJT

average score: 8.0

DYNASTAR LEGEND SULTAN 85

$720 sidecut: 126 85 110 radius: 16 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 165, 172, 178 † , 184
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP
.. tested by men only The Legend Sultan 85 is a strong, powerful ski that seemed to get better as the conditions became choppier. Testers found it responsive in cut-up snow and bumps, and loved to let it run in longer turns in the crud. Its ability to absorb vibration helped give confi dence at speed and absorb moguls off-piste. Best suited to bigger or powerful all-mountain rippers. “This ski excelled in the cut-up and chop. It was very stable at speed and was comfortable in the bumps.” » MARK STEIN“The stiff tail helps with performance at the end of the turn, but makes the ski more at home in big turns.” » JOSH FOSTER“The ski requires a lot of effort to start the turn. It’s really stable in rough conditions and at speed. It prefers medium- to longer-radius turns at speed. “» HANK SHANNON

average score: 6.5

DYNASTAR EXCLUSIVE LEGEND EDEN

$899* sidecut: 126 85 110 radius: 16 @ 172
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 158, 165, 172 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by women only Light yet powerful; solid yet quick— our testers suggested the Eden is a fast ripper that’s very versatile. On-piste, it has a GS-like feel, carving confi dent long arcs at speed. In bumps and crud, it seems to come into its own in shorter turns, becoming quick and esponsive as the snow deepens. Stronger skiers seemed to get the most out of this ski; it responded to a power rather than a finesse approach. “It skied really well in bumps, short turns and big turns. Lightness was the main feeling, yet it has a solid edge grip.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW“This ski was great on groomed. It loves to go fast. It will do short turns, but loves to go big. The ski could hold at high speed.” » KATE HOPLEY “It’s better at high speeds. The ski is forgiving and solid, and likes to be on edge. It’s easy to initiate, and has excellent edge hold.” » LAURALEE BOWIE

average score: 7.0

FISCHER WATEA 84

$999 sidecut: 126 84 112 radius: 18 @ 176
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 167, 176 † , 184
BEST IN: AGILITY
.. tested by men only While the Watea 84 is easy to initiate and has a light, agile feel, it also has the power, stability and edge grip to rip race-like turns on-piste. Testers consistently praised its combination of ease with performance as well as great versatility, showing fl oat with power and agility with stability. Strong intermediates can enjoy and grow with this ski, but it has the power to keep experts happy, too. “This is an excellent ski for a lighter aggressive skier on hardpack, bumps and crud. Bottom line: light and snappy with a soft progressive flex.” » GUY PAULSEN“It’s floaty and surfed well, and handled crud with ease. This is a great all-rounder that needs to be skied on the tip.”» KRISTIAN ARMSTRONG“Versatility is the name of the game and this ski performs it well. All turn shapes and terrain are recognized.” » ROSS COUTTS

average score: 7.5

FISCHER KOA 84

$935 sidecut: 126 84 112 radius: 16 @ 167
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 159 † , 167
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only The Koa 84 is a fun, versatile, all-mountain performer. It’s easy to initiate and has a light, agile feel, but also has the power and stability to perform powerful turns on-piste. Short turns were easy and quick, and long turns were confi dent and grippy. Its solid, quick, lively feel made it a blast in the bumps, and it cut through crud with confidence. “I loved this ski in the bumps— it’s light and responsive. The tail was a little stiff in short radius for my weight, but it loved big turns. “» ROBYN BEAUDRY“It made me feel bulletproof. It’s light, stable and forgiving in bumps, dynamic and lively in short turns, and holds an edge in long turns. The ski is super-stable, yet lively in all turn shapes, terrain and speed.”» WENDY ANDERSONThis ski inspires solid performance in bumps and crud, and transitions to high-speed carved turns. “» JANET KUIJT

average score: 7.7

GOODE PASH 80

$1,195 sidecut: 117 80 106 radius: 16 @ 168
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 168 † , 178 † , 188
BEST IN: INITIATION, AGILITY, STABILITY
tested by men & women If you like a ski with a light, easy feel, check out Goode’s Pash 80, an easy turner that enjoys snapping off short- to medium-radius turns at more modest speeds. This ski is lively with good edge grip, and its ease and confi dence make it well suited to an ntermediate looking to improve. It also absorbs crud and bumps, giving it off-piste capability. “Smooth like silk. It’s easy to initiate and turn. This is a light and spirited ski that feels great underfoot, with excellent edge grip in both soft snow and hardpack “ » LAURALEE BOWIE “It’s light, quick and agile with great grip. It could be a bit more stable in longer turns.” » KRISTIAN ARMSTRONG“This ski has a nice soft tip and it’s easy to initiate. It’s a little timid at speed but a very solid performer at moderate speeds, with great flex in bumps and crud.” » RON BETTS

average score: 5.9 men and 6.4 women

HEAD PEAK 78 FLR PRO

$950* sidecut: 124 78 110 radius: 14.5 @ 171
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 165, 171, 177 † , 183
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by men only The Peak 78 Pro entices its rider to turn up the volume and hope for a clear piste ahead. While capable off-piste in crud and bumps, on-piste at speed is where this ski is at its best. Its solid edge grip and stability give confidence, and it has great energy coming out of the turn. Several testers commented that this ski needed some speed to come to life. It’s best suited to a more power-oriented skier. “This ski is solid and stable, and unbelievable in carved turns. It’s a little tough to steer in short turns and off-piste.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT“It has a precise, responsive edge grip with great performance when you put the hammer down. Good versatility, but shines on the groomed.” » GEORGE TERWIEL“A solid-feeling, piste-oriented ski. It’s powerful, damp and stable, yet responsive and fun. It changes radius with ease and carves clean round arcs.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.9

HEAD GREAT ONE

$975* sidecut: 123 77 109 radius: 13 @ 165
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 159, 165, 171 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only While perhaps not as fl oaty and versatile as Wayne himself, certainly when it comes to longer, powerful GS turns, the Great One does not disappoint. As the speed picked up, it became more responsive, offering acceleration from turn-to-turn not unlike a race ski. Shorter turns did not come with ease, however in bumps it performed well. Best suited to a stronger skier who likes the feeling of wind in her hair. “Wonderfully stable ski. It loved to cruise at high speeds and arc sweet turns. A perfect ski for the aspiring power skier and an aggressive ex-racer.”» CHRISTA CHAPMAN“This ski responds well on a variety of terrain. It felt extremely stable, and was able to turn with ease.” » KATE HOPLEY“A big-girl ski that can take the additional speed and power a strong girl can give. It’s smooth at higher speeds in longer turns.”» ANNE TERWIEL

average score: 7.0

K2 A.M.P. RICTOR MX 12.0

$950* sidecut: 127 80 109 radius: 16 @ 174
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 167, 174 † , 181
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY
.. tested by men only The A.M.P. Rictor was at home on-piste as well as off. “I found myself going for air,” said one tester, and further suggested its responsiveness when combined with such ease made for a ski that’s playful and fun. On-piste the Rictor carves lovely, precise round arcs, and off-piste it excelled in bumps and crud. It’s well suited to intermediates right up to experts. “The ski had an automatic transmission. It shifted seamlessly from turn-to-turn and all conditions. Very user-friendly. “» MARK STEIN“I really like a ski that handles everything that gets thrown at it. This ski does that. It excelled in bumps and crud, and transitioned to groomed very well.” » RON BETTS“What a fun ski to tear around with on the mountain. It likes to do all turn shapes and speeds with ease. This is a versatile ski to take your performance to the next level. Great hold inspires confi dence.”» HANK SHANNON

average score: 7.4

K2 FREE LUV

$800* sidecut: 120 76 104 radius: 14 @ 163
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 142, 149, 156, 163 †
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
tested by women only Our testers enjoyed the Free Luv’s light, snappy, responsive personality offering easy and fun short and medium turns. Several testers found the ski’s speed limit as the turns lengthened. The playfulness of the Free Luv made it shine in bumps, making bump-skiing easy and smooth. The consensus is that this is a ski best suited to lighter, finesse-style skiers. “A light and lively ski that inspires quick turns in bumps and easy-speed cruising.” » JANET KUIJTAs a petite woman, I absolutely adore this ski. I love to balance out my day with turns that are big and small on terrain that is bumpy and groomed. This ski absolutely does it all with finesse. “» KATE HOPLEY“It’s easy to do quick turns and is ready and willing to do longer turns, but seemingly still keen to make shorter turns.” » MICHELLE OSTAFEW

average score: 7.5

KÄSTLE FX84

$1,099 sidecut: 122 84 110 radius: 18 @ 176
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 160, 168, 176 † , 184
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
tested by men only The FX 84 is a solid, powerful ski that will encourage a strong pilot to really let loose. It has the hint of a race ski on-piste—it’s responsive at speed and offers up big, solid arcs. Off-piste it power blasts through crud and its dampness absorbs the bumps, offering real all-mountain capability to a stronger skier. The FX 84 rewards effort and aggression with response, versatility and capability. “Wunder ski. It’s stable and predictable. The more I pushed, the more it told me to keep going. I really, really liked this ski. Well done! “» GUY PAULSEN“It had great performance on short and long turns on groomed, but was too stiff for me in the bumps. I loved it on the groomed. A stable but stiff ski. “» GEORGE TERWIEL“It’s really lively and quick off-piste and holds its own carving it up on the groomed.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT

average score: 7.6

KÄSTLE MX88

$1,199 sidecut: 128/88/113 radius: 20 @ 178
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 168, 178 † , 188
BEST IN: STABILITY
tested by women only The MX88 has a stable platform with a sturdy edge grip and seemingly no speed limit. It powers through whatever is in its path, including crud and bumps, absorbing well and feeling solid. Our lighter testers found this ski a challenge, but note that the women testers were on a 178-cm length. This is a powerful, fun, all-mountain tool for the stronger skier. “What a powerhouse ski! You can ski as fast as you want. I loved it in the bumps. I found it a little wide in short turns, but I could adjust with more time. Ripper!” » ROBYN BEAUDRY“What a ski! It was fun and stable at higher speeds, and prefers groomed to off-piste. It’s like magnets to the snow.” » LAURALEE BOWIE “Although this ski did great carving turns and powered through thick and heavy snow, I really loved it in the moguls. It had great energy in the bumps.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN

average score: 6.2

MOMENT TAHOE

US$700 sidecut: 127 96 118 radius: 21.1 @ 180
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 170, 180 † , 188
BEST IN: AGILITY, INITIATION
.. tested by men only The Tahoe comes into its own as the snow gets deeper. It initiates with ease and has a soft shovel. While on-piste, this ski cruises well at medium speeds, but when on the fresh, it becomes quick, responsive and highly manoeuvrable. The fl oat is there, too, for those deep days that really matter. Best for off-piste afi cionados who utilize the piste simply to access their stash. “Though it has a wide platform, good for flotation and broad balance, it’s surprisingly manoeuvrable. It can be directed easily for short, quick, tight turn areas. “» MIKE WEISS“This ski is awesome in soft snow and bumps. It’s very quick in moguls and has nice fl oat in softer snow.” » MARK STEIN“It’s easygoing and forgiving, yet has surprising stability at speed in cut-up snow. Finish the turn in the heel to get the power out of this ski. It has a strong preference for soft snow.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 5.3

MOMENT STILETTO

US$550 sidecut: 111 86 111 radius: 15.3 @ 156
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156 † , 166, 171
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
.. tested by women only Our testers unanimously agreed that the Stiletto is a ski best suited to softer snow. It’s lively and turny, making moguls and soft crud fun. On-piste it seemed better suited to intermediates, being very gentle to turn but lacking the stability or edge grip for any fast or solid carving. The consensus was that this is a fun off-piste ski well suited to powder, bumps, trees but also the park. “A light ski underfoot that turns nicely in soft snow, bumpy terrain and crud. On hardpacked groomed runs, larger turns with speed take effort and lacks stability. Good for the terrain park.” » KATE HOPLEYThis is a ski so light and lively I felt I should go to the park to find more features to play on. It’s a bit squirrelly carving on groomed.» JANET KUIJT An excellent ski for intermediate finesse skiers. It would benefit a lighter skier, and is very snappy. It’s hard to control at fast speeds.“» NINA GRETZMACHER

average score: 4.8

NORDICA HOT ROD TEMPEST

$999* sidecut: 127 80 111 radius: 15 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170 † , 178
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, AGILITY, SHORT RADIUS
.. tested by men only The Hot Rod Tempest is a light, snappy carving machine. Our testers loved its quick and responsive feel. Its ease and energy made it fun in the bumps, too, proving that this ski is as comfortable off-piste as it is on. Several testers suggested its light and easy feel was best suited to lighter skiers, both intermediates and experts alike. “This ski adapts automatically to all conditions, speeds and turn sizes. It’s a true all-mountain ski with the smoothest, roundest arc on the mountain.” » MARK STEIN“It’s light and agile—very responsive to a skier. A lighter skier will have fun on this. It makes bumps seem easy and carves nice round arcs. It’s not for the heavy power-oriented skier.” » IAN MARCH“Short-radius rockets! Extremely light feeling and easy to dance through the bumps. It was a blast in short-radius on groomed.” » DREW BRAGG

average score: 7.7

NORDICA INFINITE

$949* sidecut: 127 80 111 radius: 15 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170 † , 178
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, VERSATILITY, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Our women testers universally had fun on the Infi nite, enjoying its well-rounded, vibrant personality. A well-balanced ski with a large sweet spot, the Infi nite carved beautiful arcs in both short and long turns on-piste. It can handle lots of speed and aggression, but also loves to be fi nessed through the turn, responding to all types of skiers. “This ski possesses true all-mountain capability, making bumps and crud fun and easy. A strong, confident ski. An aggressive or finesse skier would love this ski because it can do anything. It loves big turns, but is also lively in short. A great bump ski.” » ROBYN BEAUDRY“What a smooth ride! I threw everything at this ski and loved every movement I made—the ski responded perfectly. It excelled on groomed but gave me everything I asked for in crud and bumps.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN

average score: 8.1

ROSSIGNOL S86 FREERIDE

$799 sidecut: 130 86.5 116 radius: 17.6 @ 186
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 162, 170, 178 † , 186
BEST IN: VERSATILITY, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only The S86 got our testers’ praise in every turn shape, speed and condition they could find, demonstrating the truly versatile nature of this ski. Its solid edge grip and carving ability gave confi dence on-piste, and its width and power gave float through powder and crud. All this versatility came with ease, energy and fun, encouraging its pilot to play with the mountain. “It’s like skiing on coil springs. Compress the arc of the turn then release. It has awesome energy coming out of the turn. It’s super in bumps and has good carving at moderate speed.” » DREW BRAGG“A great ski with multiple personalities—it can be carved, floated, steered, cruised and has good snow sense.” » MIKE WEISS“It’s quick in the bumps and solid on-piste. It’s forgiving enough for a good intermediate, with enough power to keep an expert happy.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.7

ROSSIGNOL S86W FREESKI

$799 sidecut: 130 86 116 radius: 14.3 @ 170
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 162, 170 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY
.. tested by women only The S86W is a powerful ski that rewards effort and aggression with stability, great edge grip and all-mountain capability. There was consensus among our testers that it loves big, GS turns in the fall line. When the speed picked up, it seemed to come into its own, becoming responsive and quick edge-to-edge. This all-mountain cruiser also adapts well to all terrain, and our more athletic testers found it stable and responsive in the bumps. “An ideal ski for the true advanced all-mountain skier. It’s versatile, stable and quick from edge-to-edge, and was at its best in the fall line and skiing fast.”» CHRISTA CHAPMAN“It felt stable underfoot in all terrain. The ski performed better when I made larger-radius turns. However, I could get some nice short radius out of the ski with effort. It would take a stronger skier to feel good on this ski.” » KATE HOPLEY

average score: 6.9

SALOMON X-WING TORNADO Ti

$1,124* sidecut: 120 79 107 radius: 16.3 @ 173
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 159, 166, 173 † , 180
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY
.. tested by men only Take the sporty quickness and energy of a slalom race ski, combine it with the dampness and float of a great bump and powder ski, and what have you got? The X-Wing Tornado Ti. Testers loved the sporty, lively and fun personality of this ski, finding it a versatile all-mountain player with great ability to rip the piste and rock through the bumps, powder and crud. Several testers commented that they could feel a race heritage in this ski. “Totally fun ski! It rolls onto edge effortlessly, has no speed limit and loves all turn shapes. It’s amazing in bumps and busts through crud with ease. A truly amazing all-mountain ski.” » HANK SHANNON“This ski is lively and fun— made me want to find more bumps and crud.” » ROBIN BAYCROFT “Quicksilver on snow! This ski is unbelievably quick. It jumped and jammed in the bumps and was cool like crazy on groomed.” » DREW BRAGG

average score: 8.0

SALOMON ORIGINS DIAMOND

$1,124* sidecut: 120 77 105 radius: 12.9 @ 159
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 145, 152, 159 † , 166, 173
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only The easygoing, forgiving feel of the Origins Diamond was the first thing our testers noticed as they pushed off for their run. As the speed built and the terrain steepened, it became evident that this ski had the goods to really rock and roll, with enough power for an aggressive expert. It skied effortlessly through bumps and crud, and on-piste it had great edge hold, seeming to be happiest in longer cruising turns. “Versatile with personality plus. It’s easy to tip on edge, and was good in the bumps A great ski for this category—very forgiving.” » LAURALEE BOWIE “It was great in the bumps, yet had good edge hold for longer-radius turns. The ski feels so smooth, with awesome flex and turn transition.” » NINA GRETZMACHER“The ski was quick to react in steeper bumps and crud. It was solid underfoot, felt confi dent in edge grip and was stable at higher speeds.” » KRISTIN WOHGLEMUTH

average score: 7.8

VÖLKL UNLIMITED AC 30

$1,100* sidecut: 124 80 107 radius: 18.4 @ 177
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170, 177 † , 184
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, LONG RADIUS
.. tested by men only Great edge grip, stability and carving ability are the hallmarks of the AC 30. It has a smooth, predictable and powerful feel that gives confi dence and encourages the skier to take chances and let ’er rip leaving pure, clean arcs. While all this precision and power are great on-piste, the AC (All Conditions) 30 lives up to its name, blasting through crud and bumps, and having good fl oat when the conditions get deeper. This is a great all-mountain ski with power to spare. “The ski has great drive through all snow conditions. It pushes through cut-up snow like a 250 linebacker in a peewee football game. It has great control and versatility from long to short turns.” » RON BETTS“This is a solid, powerful ski that likes to rip. It has great edge grip and stability, yet is still fun in bumps and off-piste. Better suited to a strong pilot. Stay on top of it. Great fun.” » IAN MARCH

average score: 7.4

VÖLKL ATTIVA TIERRA

$1,050* sidecut: 129 78 99 radius: 14.8 @ 161
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 147, 154, 161 †
BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP
.. tested by women only Our women testers really enjoyed their time on the Tierra, fi nding it a truly versatile, confi dent and user-friendly all-mountain player. At slower speeds, it’s gentle and easy to turn. At faster speeds, it’s strong, stable and responsive, inspiring confi dence with its powerful edge grip. When the snow is soft and uneven, the Tierra is quick and floaty, taking on the bumps and crud with ease. It’s well suited to a broad range of abilities looking for a fun ski that does it all. “Anything goes with this ski. It would make any skier feel like a superstar. Short turns, bumps, anything—this is a very versatile ski.” » JULIE MARKUSSEN“A ski perfectly suited to respond to a variety of speed, terrain and turns. It gives a smooth, sensational ride top-to-bottom.” » JANETKUIJT “It’s light and lively in all terrain, and solid and forgiving in bumps. It has dynamic rebound energy “ » WENDY ANDERSON

average score: 7.8

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