The Categories Explained

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And now, even more! A total of seven Ski Canada categories were tested at Fernie this year, with new kid-on-the-block Slalom making a comeback. Also tested at Fernie were: On-Piste Cruisers and Easy Cruising for groomed slopes at a range of speed limits; Big Mountain for those who want to test variable terrain and conditions; Expert All-Mountain and Adventure All-Mountain to cover a range of conditions at different levels of skill; and although Fernie can rival any heli or cat op some days, our Powder skis were again shipped to the guides at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing for review.




Precise, high-performance skis for short to medium radius

Slalom skis are designed for precision, agility and edge grip, which is how the testers skied them. These skis are generally discipline-specific, with a strong following at competitive ski clubs in the east. They perform really well in situations where skidded turns are not an option. With sidecuts around 12-14 metres, these skis are at home on firm snow and like to be skied fast. They are generally found on the feet of skiers with solid skills. Waist 65-70. (Buyer’s Guide 2013)


All-terrain cruising, long and short turns

As well as checking agility and competence in soft snow, testers skied this category up to high cruising speeds for recreational skiers and assessed stability in long and short turns on the groomed. Testers pushed the limits in this category. They expect these skis to do everything and test them aggressively. Overall versatility in all kinds of conditions defined the best skis in this category. Waist 76-86. (Buyer’s Guide 2013)


All-terrain skiing, moderate speeds, medium turns

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 2012)


Like the name says—and beyond

This freeride category continues to test the limits. Twintips long ago evolved from the terrain park to the trees and off under the ropes. Big Mountain skis continue to be seen more and more all over the mountain—and age spectrum. Manoeuvrability and stability make them popular choices for tricky off-piste terrain as well as high-speed riding, taking air and landing switch. Playful cambers, binding positions and flex patterns make these skis the most difficult category to judge. Waist 90+. (Fall 2012)


High-performance GS-radius turns

Testers pushed the limits to find the best balance between raw edge hold and user-friendliness. These detuned GS cruisers were not tested in gates, but most skis in this category have a racing pedigree. Testers devoted special attention to such things as agility, power and edge grip, and Fernie offered plenty of variety in its terrain for the skis to demonstrate some versatility. The category is not expected to have a speed limit. Waist 68-78. (Fall 2012)


Mid-range performance in long and short turns

These skis are expected to offer excellent value, but also strong performance at intermediate to advanced speeds on groomed slopes. Appropriate criteria such as ease of initiation and stability were given a lot of attention in identifying the best skis in this category. This category represents for many skiers their first carving skis and skis that can grow with them as speed and skills increase. Waist 70-75. (December 2012.)


Fat boys, off-piste, heli- and cat-skiing

Big snow, soft snow—it doesn’t get any clearer than that. These skis hang in the shop windows of places like Rossland, Revelstoke and Fernie more than they actually make it to car roofs, but if you still have room in your quiver, the long, über-wide boards with modest sidecuts and soft, even flexes will give you some unforgettable flotation and easy turning in the deep stuff. Waist 90+. (December 2012.)

Ron Betts
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