Picking a great ski or quiver of skis can be fun as there are so many great skis to choose from. Much like ski boots, there is no “Best Ski On the Market” but rather the best ski or ski quiver for each person. That said, each year there are a handful of stand out skies with broad appeal and “best of class” to focus your attention.
When possible it’s often a great idea to demo some skies and determine if they’re the best for your ski style. However, this often isn’t very practical as it’s difficult to ski 2-3 skies per category before selecting. You can always sell your mistakes on eBay if you don’t mind going through the hassle of reselling.
The best way to approach buying a pair of skis is to ask yourself some basic questions about what you want your skis to do for you? Are you looking to carve perfect turns on groomed runs? Do you want 1 pair of skies to handle groomers, moguls, off piste, powder – or do you want specialty skies for each snow condition.
Personally I keep 2-3 skies in my quiver and approach my selections by “did it snow last night”, “did it snow this week”, or “is it a perfect groomer day”?
Did it snow last night? Here is where you want a ski that’s at least 100mm under foot, and more likely 105 – 118mm wide. Even if it only snowed 4-5 inches over night, and you want to venture past the groomers, you’ll benefit from enhanced flotation of a wide ski – especially if you’re skiing the West. I have varied my width and have found that wider is generally better when it snowed last night, even just a few inches. If you’re seeking the back bowls, you’ll find a wider ski to smooth out the terrain, and keep you floating over the chunky snow below. I’m on the K2 Pinnacle 118 and found that this is an exceptional big mountain ski for open bowls following any sort of snowfall (for my ski style of GS ripper turns). I mistakenly felt that I should only take a 118mm out if it snowed 12″ or more, but found that even a few inches of snow on the 118 made the day. I am stoked to have my new Blizzard Rustler 11’s ready to be mounted and skied for 2023!
Best Dedicated Powder Skis 2022 – 2023
When skiing powder, for most skiers a wide ski with a surfy feel makes for a Hero! I tend to recommend lighter weight, softer flexing skis as they’re easy to handle, and provide for great deep powder performance. Some prefer the heavy metal with 2 sheets of full metal jacket… but I find these to be tiresome, and more challenging to elicit the performance I enjoy. Very few skiers really get the most out of 2 sheets of metal, and they know who they are.
My #1 Pick and personal choice is the Blizzard Rustler 11
The Blizzard Rustler 11 has a great combination of soft round flex, wide surfy feel, 1 sheet only of titanium for stability and edge control. Super easy to access massive power, control and bomber shape. This is everything you want for those big powder days – often a choice for Heli Skiing.
Blizzard Rustler 11 – 114 mm
Elan Ripstick 116 mm – Regular or Black Edition
Fischer Ranger 116 Updated this season
Atomic Bent Chetler – 120 mm
Atomic Backland 117 mm
Salomon QST Blank – 112 mm
Best All Mountain – Soft Snow Oriented Skis 2022 – 2023
This is a category of skis that are great for “the day after” or when you have a storm cycle that drops 3-6″ of snow each day for a few days… but never quite fills in to be the knee to waist deep / snorkel deep snow day. These are the skis you grab when you’re headed out on that big trip to the Canadian Rockies, Colorado, Tahoe, etc. You need a “one ski quiver” that takes on the powder, groomers, and potentially some harder snow. You’ll see we’re sticking with 100 mm – 106 mm as that sweet spot of float and groomer carving ability.
My #1 Pick and personal choice is the Fischer Ranger 102
The Fischer Ranger 102 also has 1 partial sheet of titanium, softer round flex, and great overall shape to take on just about any condition you can throw at it. The new and updated ski takes all the good stuff of the previous generation, but makes it feel lighter under foot, softer and more forgiving. (we all need a little forgiveness from time to time) I live the new color as well, not a big fan of bright pink…
Fischer Ranger 102 mm – New this year – Top Pick
Elan Ripstick 106 mm – Regular or Black Edition
Atomic Bent 100 mm
Salomon QST 106 mm
Volkl Blaze 106 mm
Rossignol Sender 104ti
Best All Mountain – Firmer Snow Conditions / Groomer Focused Skis 2022 – 2023
In this category we focus on the 88 – 97 mm width as you’ll get much better edge grip and edge to edge transfer. These are the skis you want for wind buffed, groomed, bumps, skied out chutes, etc. Note that I stated “firmer” conditions, not boiler plate ice conditions. My blog is more “West Coast” / Softer snow, big mountains – this is what I mean by “firmer”.
My #1 Pick is the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
Normally I would choose a ski with some metal in this category, but somehow Elan has managed to build a superior ski without the use of metal. Grip it and rip it! The name is so appropriate for this ski, as it’s a true all mountain ripper! So easy to ski, especially if you get the regular edition – any athletic intermediate through bomber expert will love that you can carve, skid, smear, bump it, slash it, bend it and send it…
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
Atomic Bent 90
Rossignol Experience 86ti
Atomic Maverick 88
Atomic Maven 86c
Salomon QST 92
Blizzard Brhama 88
The Perfect 3 Ski Quiver 2022 -2023 – Ski Critics Editor’s Choice
Blizzard Rustler 11 – 114 mm – Snowed a lot Last Night / Heliski
Fischer Ranger 102 mm – Snowed recently / snowed a little last night
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition – Hasn’t snowed for a few days
Recommended resources for more information or purchase