For 2013, there are more new boards in shiny bright colors and crazy
patterns than you could ski in a season, even if you took just two laps on
each...there are over 800 skis, from powder and park skis, to race skis and
front side carvers, to exclusively ladies skis, to all mountain quiver
killers, AT backcountry skis and telemark skis. Rocker ( you know by now:
reverse camber) continues to crowd the market, now that manufacturers have
dialed in the perfect amount of dampening in the pliable tips and tails
while providing performance under foot. Skis are now rocker soft and supple
and easy to initiate in turns but responsive with gripping edges when firm
snow conditions warrant it.
Here are some of the best skis for the 2012-13 season and our Best Skis for 2014 (in our humble opinion):
Men’s All Mountain Skis (but strong ladies like these skis too)
Rossignol Experience 98 continues to be the real quiver killer, this mountain ski carves like a boss but the the slight rocker tip and tail fly through powder or spring slush. Rossi’s 88 offers a narrower Experience with less metal so it’s a bit lighter and quicker, but still crushes the competition. Happy to see Rossi, complete with Le Coq logo ( ok- Rooster), is back as a major contender after years of making sleeping roosters.
Volkl RTM series, or Ride the Mountain, are fully rockered with 84 under foot. This ski is like the popular Volkl AC50, only a bit wider and better off piste in deeper snow without giving up performance on hard pack.
Nordic, yes the boot maker, makes our top ski list for the first time - specifically the Nordica Five Arrow scored almost 10 points for frontside carving and speed. This is the flagship of Nordica's extensive line up this season, with dialed down versions in the Hell and Back all mountain series. For a free ride ski, the Nordica Patron is getting big props among side country skiers, perhaps these would pair well with a shot of tequila - given the name and the wild graffiti-style graphics with blue skulls and bullets.
Blizzard Bonafide is an all mountain version of the Magnum 8.7. This 98 waist ski in bright red with the grnarly bull on the tip is ready to rip. The Bonafide is a strong turner, with the right amount of rocker to plow through pow, crud and bumps. Blizzard is making some bullish skis.
Atomic’s Automatic is an amazing powder ski with a beefy 117 mm waist and fully rockered tip and tail. While it is not quite automatic as its name implies, powder skiers are giving this fatty an enthusiastic thumbs up. Some like it even better than the big seller Atomic Blog.
Best Women's skis for 2013
(Sorry guys, strong enough for a man, but made for us women)
Blizzard Viva 8 continues to impress the ladies, while keeping up with the men. The LBD of skis likes to be fast and furious but maintains her elegance and edge, especially under Eastern circumstance - groomed cruisers. While not entirely floaty in deep powder, this front side carver is perfect for groomers and a little dust on crust.
The HEAD MYA 6 likes to go fast but with finesse – you will feel confident as US Ski Team female on this pretty but precise ski. No wonder Julia Mancuso likes to free ski on these, Head’s patented flow ride (their rendition of rocker) system is smooth on hard snow and soft.
Rossignol Temptation is a great gals ski. It’s responsive and fun, but holds an edge on firm snow too. With 82mm width, it’s a front side ski, but floats well enough in softer deeper snow. Of course our lady tester, Heather Burke, preferred the performance of the Rossi 88, a man's ski, but the floral pattern of the Temptation is very tempting and highly recommended for a strong intermediate lady.
Volkl Aura is ideal for girls that like to be off trail, in the pow. This all mountain ski tapers with a wide tip and narrow tail, and it is constructed with a light wood core, so it won’t weigh you down like other big mountain boards. We must give a shout out to Kenja’s front side friends in the Essenza series – we love the Volkl Allura and Volkl Charisma for carving arcs on our way to après ski!
Blizzard Black Pearl, introduced in 2012, is a great width under foot for strong skiing women at 88mm, to conquer everything from pow to cord to crud with grace – hence the pearl necklace reference. The Black Pearl is bold and beautiful, best suited for softer conditions – but a great all around ski nonetheless. The graphic is old meets elegant, beautiful wood grain with fanciful blue lace.
This is just a sampling of the best skis on the market for the 2012-13 season. There are plenty more superb skis out there. Test drive some at the next on snow demo at your favorite ski resort, or ask your ski shop for an opportunity to try before you buy.