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.
Here are some Top Picks to consider for Powder and New Snow Skis 2022
- Blizzard Rustler 11 – 114mm
- Elan Ripstick 106 – Regular or Black Edition
- K2 Mindbender (115c, 116c, 108)
- K2 Reckoner 112
- Volkl Blaze 106
- Nordica Enforcer 104 & 110mm
- Atomic Bent Chetler 120mm
- Atomic Backland 107 & 117mm
- Salomon QST Blank – 112mm
Did it snow this week? This can make ski selection a bit more perplexing and you may want more of an all mountain ski in the 95mm – 106mm category. This will give you the flexibility to venture off piste and rip up the groomers as well. There are a ton of great skis in this category, and selection may come down to a few key criteria including ski weight, skier weight, speed, bumps, and yes even which color ski you want. In general, and with the West in mind, consider skis with lighter weight and softer flex… Even the most stout and athletic skiers find a bit of forgiveness a big bonus enabling you to ski a bit faster and more reckless. If you’re a strong skier, stiff skies don’t necessarily enable you to carve a more perfect turn… even at high speeds. Great skies offer a very torsionally stiff ski under foot, with a round flex that lets you get away with starting or finishing your turn fully balanced, or even off balance.
Here are a few top picks for All Mountain Skis 2022
- Elan Ripstick 106 Black Edition or Regular
- Nordica Enforcer 100
- Salomon QST 98 and 106
- Volkl V-Werks 99mm
- Atomic Bent Chetler 100
- Blizzard Rustler 10
It’s a perfect Groomer Day / It hasn’t snowed in over a week?
Here is where you’ll want to focus on narrower skis, most likely in the 75mm – 95mm range. Personally I have selected the Salomon XDR 88 as it offers incredible carving ability and a softer round flex pattern for forgiveness. You can bash the moguls, rip the groomers, and crush the tight chutes. Like the All Mountain category you’ll have a wide array of great choices. Some skiers may want a stiffer ski in this category, depending on whether you want to hit the bumps or off piste when the sun is shinning. Stiffer skis will give you a sling shot type effect and will bound you out turn to turn like a fun roller coaster. You’ll probably want at least one sheet of metal regardless of how stiff you prefer. The downside of stiffer skis is the ability to make perfect turns regardless of where you stand on the ski. Stiff skis will “Punish” you for getting in the back seat – so just be prepared to take on that challenge if you tend to want to rip it hard, and push yourself to the limit.
Here are some Top Picks for Groomer Skies 2022
- Salomon Stance 90
- Blizzard Brhama 88
- Volkl Mantra M6 96mm
- Atomic Maverick 88
- Atomic Maven 86c
- Nordica Enforcer 88
- Rossignol Experience 86
Recommended Sources For In Depth Ski Reviews