Featured Image: Evan Williams
These versatile offerings are designed for speed-hungry skiers who demand performance in a variety of snow conditions, from perfectly groomed hardpack to the soft n’ choppy stuff left over a few days after the storm. If you enjoy making large, sweeping turns in bowls full of fresh snow; plowing through chunky-snow- filled couloirs; or airing cliffs into the white room, you can count on these skis to get the job done.
The middle child of the new KORE series is intended to be an everyday ski that keeps skiers on the hill longer; its light weight and effortless downhill performance helps shredders cut back on energy expenditure and thereby get the most out of their ski days. Testers took notice of the effortless riding style that’s afforded by the KORE 105, with one noting, “Incredibly light and playful. The ski dips into the turn and initiates so frickin’ easily.” A combination of featherweight Karuba wood; thin, strong and light Graphene; lightweight, stiff and damp Koroyd; and triaxial-woven carbon make up the recipe for this delicious KORE sandwich.
You’re probably glancing at that perfect score in the playfulness department— yeah? Well, don’t mistake this thing for a noodle. On the contrary, it’s highly adept in the carving department. Our testers’ primary comments about this ski almost always centered on its downhill performance, with one tester affirming The Metal “carves like a race ski on hardpack and groomers.” This balance of power and play is achieved in part by the implementation of Titanal strips on top of, and below, the maple wood core. The strips of metal don’t extend edge-to-edge nor into the tip and tail of the ski; the result is power, stability and dampening where most of the edge-to-snow contact occurs, without sacrificing swing weight in the tips and tails, lending to maneuverability and play factor. “It’s basically perfect,” said one tester.
Faction’s engineers worked hand in hand with Freeride World Tour athlete and professional ski guide, Sam Anthamatten, to produce the Prime 3.0—a lightweight, “tour-able” big-mountain board that’s a delight on the up and absolutely bomber on the down. One tester said about the Prime 3.0,“It’s a great everyday tool that shreds all conditions like a champ. Light, sturdy and playful all at once.” A balsa and flax core brings about that light character and provides dampening, while tip and tail rocker allow for crud-busting and powder surfing. A proprietary carbon lay-up supplies torsional stability without sacrificing weight and sandwich sidewall construction ensures optimal edge hold. Furthermore, a multi-dimension sidecut allows you to go full-bore on the open snow one minute and handle like a race car through the trees the next.
Built for the all-mountain charger who needs a reliable, everyday ski, Nordica’s Enforcer 100 utilizes carbon, two sheets of Titanal, lightweight balsa and heavier beech for a stable yet playful ride that our testers raved about. Rockered tips and camber underfoot provide a versatile ride-beastly on groomers and variable snow alike. “Party in the front, business in the back,” one tester noted. “Nice and stiff in the tail to charge hard, but soft enough in the nose for playful maneuvering in open moguls or tight trees.” In other words, skiers looking for one tool to crush the entire mountain, day-in and day-out, will be more than pleased with this continuously-esteemed model.
“Pivot-y. Smeary. Quick. Solid in bumps and excels in deeper snow and trees,” described one tester of the Beast 108, while another commented, “Held an edge on groomers really well, very quick edge-to-edge and also remarkably nimble in the trees.” Awarded a perfect 10 in the versatility category, you can see where those sentiments come from. Take it for a tour (one tester called it, “[his] favorite uphill ripper on downhill grades”), shred steeps in-bounds, trees, groomers, powder, crud… it can handle anything. With a waist width ranging from 106 to 109, depending on length, the Beast 108 can be relied upon for both powder days and bulletproof scenarios. Its rocker-flat-rocker profile gives it playfulness and maneuverability without loss of stability, and a dense ash wood paired with springy, mid-weight poplar further aids the strength-to-weight ratio.
Named after a popular couloir in the Whistler, BC backcountry, the Husume can be leaned on as a mid-fat ski that can handle in-and-out-of-bounds objectives. A flat tail, camber underfoot, stiff maple wood core, quadraxial woven fiberglass and two carbon stringers help this ski excel on edge and in bulletproof, variable conditions. Gradual nose rocker allows it to dance swiftly across the entire mountain, pivoting and maneuvering its way through the lines of your dreams. One tester praised its easy ski-ability, noting, “Really fun in the crud and very easy to move around… I found that it goes edge-to-edge quite a bit faster than other skis in the category.”
Positioned in the middle of the new three-ski Uptrack Series, the Col is meant to crush a wide variety of conditions, from hardpack to powder and everything in between. A combination of tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot makes it nimble in the trees and deeper snow, while also stable enough to handle chop suey and bulletproof conditions. To further enhance the hardpack experience, 4FRNT added neoprene synthetic rubber into the tips to dampen the ski and prevent chatter. One tester confirmed, “it handled everything I came across. It floats well above pow, navigates the chunky stuff like a true Captain and is fun to goof around with on side hits and bumps. No flop at all, which I love on variable days.”
Slice, chop and destroy the mountain like a butcher with the Cleaver 102, a ski that produced a whole lot of comments like this at the Ski Test: “Handled bumps, steeps and a little bit of deep like a boss. Carves super hard on the hardpack, too.” This ski is relatively narrow with Sego’s Directional Moustache Rocker (early rise tip, camber underfoot and a flat tail) allowing it to rip the hardpack with its eyes closed, yet it’s categorized as a big-mountain ripper and our testers found out why on Snowbird’s most extreme terrain. A Titanal-reinforced poplar wood core makes for a lightweight, ultra-damp and strong construction, allowing you to lay the hammer down no matter the conditions.
You’ll be aptly liberated with a pair of Liberty Origin 106’s under your feet. This ski earned praise for its playfulness, pop and float— making it ideal for the shredder who loves to jump off of damn near everything in sight. Testers summed up this playfulness with descriptors like “snappy,” “high- energy” and “floaty.” Camber underfoot and rockered tips and tails lend to this performance. And like every ski Liberty makes, this one contains a bamboo core that offers a pleasurable blend of stability and liveliness. That bamboo is complemented by poplar to make it a bit more forgiving, and the use of 10-mm carbon stringers cuts down on overall weight while providing a bit of torsional strength.
The K2 Pinnacle 105 boasts unwavering versatility and stability — it’ll hold up well through unexpected twists and turns and also provide reliability for everyday cruising. Its construction employs stable fir wood on the outside of the ski and an aerospace-grade composite in the middle to keep the swing weight light. A sheet of metal runs along the perimeter of the core, bolstering strength without adding weight down the gut. To top it off, rockered tips, camber underfoot and a practical width profile allow for slay-age all day, ‘err day. “Skis the chunder, moguls, groomers and anything in between like an absolute master,” confirmed one enthused tester.
Those looking for speed and stability will unquestionably love Kästle’s BMX 105. Testers compared it to a race-inspired freeride ski, attributing its prowess primarily to low camber underfoot and a combination of stiff fir and beech wood in the core. “Loves to charge,” said one tester. “Brought back memories of the race days.” Another said, “Plows crud like a champion.” Tip rocker helps boost the BMX 105’s maneuverability and prowess in soft snow, making it ideal for crushing all conditions. And, the tips are thinned-out, thanks to Kästle’s “Hollowtech,” which cuts down on overall weight and improves dampening. All of this results in a smooth, dependable and enjoyable ride no matter how fast you can possibly let ‘em run.
Previously known as Line’s Sick Day 102, this FREESKIER-favorite hits shelves in ’17-18 with a beefier waist for easier transitions from the frontside to the back. “Caliente, en fuego! There is tons of energy packed into every turn you take. Very surfy and impressively light on your feet, yet freaking rip-able,” said one tester about the ski. “This thing can go into any snow condition at any speed… Super responsive, holds an edge very well,” said another. This medium-to-rigid-flex ski boasts a five-dimension radius—she’ll turn on a dime when called upon and hold steady at speed. An aspen core balances light weight with dampening and spring. It’s also softer in the tips for float and turn initiation and stiff in the tails for control at speed.
“An absolute beauty through variable snow conditions and super stable carving at speed,” said one tester about the 100Eight, which garners its third straight Editors’ Pick. Another tester agreed, saying, “it carved masterfully like a butcher and ate up chalky pow in the trees like a champ.” New to the ski this season is 3D.Glass—multiple folded glass layers placed in the binding area, above and behind the sidewall, bringing about increased torsional rigidity and also greater rebound. Beyond that, a mix of ash and poplar wood in the core provides spring and dampness while keeping weight down. Carbon stringers up the torsional strength even further and full sidewalls yield optimal power transmission. Slight taper, full rocker and Völkl’s 3D.Ridge (a raised, central ridge) add nimbleness and play to your day.
The Patroller is a rocket ship meant for the most aggressive skiers out there—the ones who aren’t afraid to prepare their ships for ludicrous speed. It garnered a perfect 10 in the carving category thanks to a traditional camber profile and layers of Titanal and biaxial-woven carbon fiber that sandwiches its stiff, rigid maple wood core. Our testers were smitten with these skis’ need for speed. “Turn initiation is super easy, you can lay it over until your hip hits the ground. As much torque as you feel comfortable with, it’ll perform,” noted one, while another said, “Incredible stability, they promote extreme confidence. These skis can friggin’ crank one, bud!”
“Go, go Power Rangers,” should undoubtedly be this ski’s theme song because there’s no word that better describes it than powerful. A sturdy yet responsive beech-poplar wood core, sandwich sidewall construction, titanium inserts and carbon fiber in the tips work in beautiful harmony to provide incredible stability and edge hold. But the Ranger’s other attractive quality is its lightweight nature. While the aforementioned carbon sheds bulk, Fischer also mills the wood core in an offset pattern, for a weight reduction while maintaining its stiff flex pattern. “Power ski for power hour,” described one tester. “Straight line through crud, send a floaty air, land confidently and keep ripping.”
This slayer is designed with all- mountain, all-the-time shredding in mind. Emphasis on the shred. “The name of this ski is no joke,” said one tester. “One of the best mid-width carving skis I’ve been on. It has the perfect balance of a charger with a nice amount of play. Great for any conditions: groomers, crud and surfy pow.” Lending to that versatility is a cambered inside edge for stellar edge grip and a rockered outside edge for smeary good times and nimbleness. (This means you have a designated left and right ski.) The integration of two carbon tubes running the length of the ski translates to torsional strength and weight savings all at once. Furthermore, special composite inserts in the tip and tail cut down on vibration.
The middle child of the QST line comes back unchanged for 2017-18, and our testers were perfectly fine with that. Its full sandwich sidewall construction provides impeccable edge hold and Salomon’s use of a carbon fiber/flax layer and a Titanal insert underfoot make ‘em even more stiff and stable. “Everyone raves about the QST so they didn’t need to change anything about them,” commented one tester. “They’re super sturdy and hold an edge so well… landing with these things off cliffs is so smooth.” While stiff, the ski’s rockered, tapered tip and tail ensure optimal float in soft snow and incredible maneuverability. Koroyd inserts (lightweight copolymer tubes with shock-absorbing properties) are also implemented in the tip and tail to cut chatter on hardpack.
“Bomber.” “Wild like a mustang in the chunder.” “Blasts like a missile.” “Stiff and sturdy in any type of snow.” “Incredible on edge.” You get the idea? The always-popular Cochise returns with some upgrades in the form of new molds and materials. Inside of the ski you’ll find poplar wood for a balance of weight and spring, along with beech wood for rockin’ torsional strength. Two layers of titanium, sandwich sidewall construction and a flat tail further up the rail-ability factor. A rocker- camber-rocker profile and carbon inserts in the tip and tail help to eliminate chatter and add playfulness to the mix. Blizzard completed its most extensive prototyping process to date to bring about this year’s line of skis… skis built specifically for you: the committed freeskier.