Featured Image: Erik Seo
Today’s women’s-specific planks are a far cry from the “pink it and shrink it” approach of yesteryear. When it comes to the offerings below, manufacturers utilize lighter wood types and composites and also strategically place various building materials throughout the ski in an effort to cater to the female anatomy—all translating to the best damn skiing of your life.
Boasting major upgrades compared to last year’s iteration, the Atris Birdie is designed to help you conquer variable conditions across big-mountain terrain. Most notably, Black Crows extended the sidecut of the ski, resulting in a 20 meter turn radius that lends itself to arcing long, swooping turns down steep lines. This new iteration of the Atris Birdie also benefits from greater rise in the tip and tail, enhancing its ability to float above deep powder. Camber underfoot and a lightweight poplar core bring about strong edge hold and also dampness and spring, respectively. Our testers took note, saying, “it’s rather satisfying when you’re hauling ass through deep pow, need to make a quick turn and can trust the ski to respond to even the subtlest of bodily movements.” Click here for a closer look.
Salomon’s QST Stella 106 excels in all conditions, all over the mountain. Our testers were blown away with this ski’s versatility first and foremost; whoops of joy came while testers were chest-deep in powder, weaving through tight trees or ripping down perfect corduroy. “They hold their own while charging through chunder yet are still plenty soft to get groovy with,” said one tester. Salomon employs a mid-weight, snappy poplar core along with carbon and flax to bring about a damp, responsive ski that doesn’t bog you down weight-wise. Combined with traditional camber underfoot and rocker in the tip and tail for optimal carving and maneuverability, respectively, this thing is equipped to conquer every inch of the mountain. Click here for a closer look.
The Santa Ana series was a huge hit with our testers last year, then Nordica redesigned the series with two sheets of Titanal and the test team nearly fainted with delight. Between the Titanal, Nordica utilizes a combination of poplar, balsa and beech wood for top-notch pop, weight savings and stiffness. A layer of prepreg carbon fiber also boosts this ski’s rigidity without bogging ‘er down. The result is a ski that can carve, jump and maneuver like a champion. “This ski makes you feel like a rockstar! The extra added sheet of metal in this year’s model stiffens the ski up just a bit, but it still holds true to a playful ski,” noted one thrilled tester. Another raved about its combo of stability and play, saying, “The metal doesn’t make it too heavy or stiff; it’s solid, but also playful.” Click here for a closer look.
Recognizing its 15-year anniversary in 2017-18, 4FRNT pays homage to its first-ever ski model, the MSP, releasing the ski in a new and improved format for both men and women. The women’s model, in particular, boasts a pleasurable blend of weight savings and stability. A poplar wood core sheds weight while providing dampness and spring, and a Titanal laminate gives the MSP W torsional strength for when you turn the speed dial up to 11. One tester said about the MSP W, “I love these skis. They handled whatever I threw at them like champs, ripping off kickers, down bumps, through crud and on groomers.” All other testers echoed these remarks and that positive response is reflected in the outstanding marks for carving, versatility, playfulness and stability. Click here for a closer look.
The ever-popular Sheeva hits shelves this year in not just one, but two separate models—the 10 and 11. Testers hail the narrower, snappier Sheeva 10 as a “strong, stable ski with amazing edge control,” and “a joy in all conditions.” Titanal in the tip and tail is largely to thank for the outstanding stability and torsional strength. Crazy amounts of carbon and fiberglass reinforcement complement a core of poplar, beech, balsa and paulownia, providing a happy mix of dampening, spring and weight savings. A versatile 102 mm waist and a short turn radius ensure this thing will stand up to all sorts of snow and all sorts of terrain—accordingly, the ski earned exceptionally high marks across the board. Click here for a closer look.
The first thing you need to know about the all-new Elan Ripstick 102 W is that there is a specific left and right ski. This is due to Elan’s “Amphibio” profile, comprised of a cambered inside edge to grip the snow and provide stability and a rockered outer edge for greater maneuverability. Testers responded very well to this feature; one noted that she “felt in control and fluid at all times, even when blasting through chunder.” Another said, “This ski is like a Cadillac ride—so smooth, dependable and predictable in mixed snow and moguls.” Special composites in the tip and tail provide another nod to chatter-free skiing. Advanced and aspiring female skiers alike will appreciate taking this ski on challenging terrain, no matter the conditions. Click here for a closer look.
“The Maiden’s rocker profile is fun as sh#t!”; “She will be the ski for any lady making maiden voyages down techie lines and/or groomed goodness.”; “Playful ski that still holds its own in all different terrain.” The Maiden’s versatile, fun nature had our testers absolutely raving. They fell in love with the generous rocker profile—26 cm in the tip and 31 cm in the tail—and the touch of camber underfoot. Together, that makes the ski maneuverable, playful, stable and carve-able. A 101 mm waist width ups its versatility even further, rounding out a ski that can be a western daily driver or broken out on East Coast powder days. Tip o’ the proverbial cap to you, m’lady. Click here for a closer look.
One tester asserted quite appropriately, “If you want to go 108 MPH, the Völkl 100Eight is for you.” This beaut’ not only rips, it allows you to stay firmly in the driver’s seat while at speed. Völkl utilizes a raised central ridge that levels out on each side toward the edges in front of and behind the binding area; this reduces mass in the pivoting area of the ski, resulting in a pair of planks that are lightweight, agile and can turn on a dime. Carbon stringers lend further to stability while keeping weight savings in mind. A full rocker profile rounds out the package, allowing for optimal maneuverability across any and all snow conditions. Click here for a closer look.
DPS employs vibration-tuned, aerospace-grade carbon in its Alchemist line in an effort to provide you with the absolute smoothest, chatter-free ride possible. Plus-nine scores in the stability and carving categories for the Alchemist Zelda 106 say: Mission accomplished. “What a crazy smooth ride,” said one tester. “It’s playful yet strong… an absolute shredder.” A tapered sidecut also bolsters the smooth, non-catch nature of the ski. From mixed conditions on the frontside to longer days on the skin-track, the Zelda is both light enough and strong enough to make each and every day an A+. Click here for a closer look.
A 112 mm waist combined with full reverse camber allow these skis to float above the deep and easily maneuver down spicy lines—just like the ones skied by the inimitable Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson. The combination of lightweight paulownia and mid-weight poplar in the core make these babies strong enough to charge the steep and deep yet light enough to pivot and float like a butterfly. Our testers were adamant about not pigeonholing the Hoji W into any one ski category: “They may look like straight-up powder skis but they handle so much more. They’re more stable at speeds than you’d expect for a wide ski with full reverse camber, you can definitely get your hip down,” said one, while another confirmed, “Although this ski is ultra-playful and buttery it can hold an edge like a champ.”
The doctor’s orders are in: next time you call in “sick” on a powder day, make sure you take a healthy dose of Supertonic. Designed to suit the needs of advanced skiers looking to rip steep, exposed lines, this ski employs a hybrid balsa and flax wood core to save weight without sacrificing performance. Titanal reinforcements underfoot bolster stability so you can hold on strong no matter how burly your chosen line is. Camber underfoot further aids in the stability department while rockered tips and tails add nimbleness and deep snow prowess to the package. Testers took note of its varying skills, remarking that it, “floats above powder, charges through crud, is stable and playful.” No doubt, the Supertonic is the remedy for your big-mountain fever. Click here for a closer look.
Like its brother, the Enforcer 93, the Santa Ana 93 is celebrated for its hard-charging, rip-roaring prowess. Testers equate the ski to a “crazed hungry hippo,” intent to devour any and all conditions in its path. That powerful persona is traced in part to an upgrade in construction for ’17-18: Nordica beefed up the entire Santa Ana line by adding two sheets of metal to equation. Just like old times, though, the ski is built with a lightweight balsa core, making it easily maneuverable. “A blast and a half!” exclaimed one tester. “Poppy and carve-y, I could ride these all day, every day.” Another said, “It’s a fantastic ski that can charge over crud and can wiggle through bumps.” Click here for a closer look.
Blizzard capitalizes on the success of its Sheeva brand by expanding the line to include two separate skis. The wider, deeper-snow-oriented Sheeva 11 boasts a 112 mm waist, which is ideal for gliding above powder with ease and also stable and sturdy for days when firm or variable snow prevails. According to our testers the ski wants to “go fast and straight and is very stable at speed.” This is due in part to a layer of Titanal underfoot. Testers also celebrated its playful undertones. Layer upon layer of carbon and fiberglass reinforcement, coupled with a poplar-beech-balsa-paulownia core, ensures dampness and spring while keeping weight savings at the forefront. The committed skiers will surely cry, “Hail, Sheeva!” Click here for a closer look.
14. K2 FulLUVit 95
Our testers were over the Moon for K2’s FulLUVit 95, providing comments like, “holds an edge like a charm,” “damp ‘AF’ with a surfy, playful feel,” and “super fun for a variety of conditions.” The latter comment is indicative of its top-notch versatility—the ski’s strong suit. Rockered tips and tails and a wide shovel allow it to excel in soft snow conditions while camber underfoot, a metal laminate and 14 meter turn radius make it a dream for quick, powerful edging. Aspen underfoot and paulownia in the tips and tails provide a balance of weight savings, dampness and spring. K2 also builds this ski with heavier materials placed along the ski’s perimeter, yielding a comfortable swing weight. Click here for a closer look.
15. Head Great Joy
Graphene is the secret ingredient that makes HEAD’s Great Joy tremendously lightweight and powerful at the same time. This ultra-light, ultra-strong material is strategically placed throughout the ski along with Koroyd and carbon to improve rebound and stability without sacrificing weight. One tester “loved the lightness and balance of the skis” and “felt confident putting them on edge and holding that edge through variable snow.” Another noted that “they are very springy and when you’re ready to move to a new edge they’re already a step ahead of you.” This responsiveness is due in part to the ski’s tight turn radius and a women’s specific, low camber profile. Great Joy, indeed. Click here for a closer look.
Fischer’s My Ranger 98 is designed with hard-charging resort skiing and off-piste adventures in mind. Fischer’s Aeroshape technology cuts out unnecessary material to reduce weight and results in a smooth, cambered shape, making turn initiation easy as cutting into warm apple pie. A network of carbon fibers inside of the ski lend even further to stability and carving prowess. “Very stable underfoot on all sorts of terrain,” said one tester. Others celebrated its quick edge-to-edge performance, noting it “lays down tight tree turns masterfully.” A rockered shape enhances playfulness and float, rounding out the award-winning package. Click for a closer look.
17. Prior Harmony
The word, “charger” appeared frequently in testers’ reviews of this ski, and that’s no surprise: Whistler, BC-based Prior manufactured this model to aid you in your big-mountain endeavors. A rigid maple wood core provides more power than a Ronda Rousey roundhouse kick. The Harmony is also built with quadraxial fiberglass and two carbon stringers that dampen the ski and provide torsional rigidity without sacrificing weight. An early rise tip, camber underfoot and a squared-off, rockered tail ensures edge hold, turn initiation and floating prowess are on-point, while a shallow sidecut gives you that coveted stability for when your skiing and the mountain strike a perfect chord together. Click here for a closer look.
18. Sego Up Pro 92
Boost your game with Sego’s UP Pro 92, designed by pro skier Lynsey Dyer. The fruit of Dyer’s labor is a burly ski that caters to strong skiers and is adept at rocking all over the mountain. “So damn strong and poppy, yet plenty playful,” said one tester. “Really fun for shredding corn, bumps, hard pack and everything in between.” Built with a directional rocker profile and a camber zone underfoot, the UP Pro offers easy turn initiation, quick-turning maneuverability and high-speed stability. Dart between the trees, slice up the frontside, harvest corn-snow or take ‘em in the park—they’ll surely stand up to all of your adventures. Click here for a closer look.