The 24 best women’s skis of 2018-2019

The 24 best women’s skis of 2018-2019

Featured Image: Bruno Long

General Characteristics:

– Don’t just the follow the “pink it and shrink it” strategy of year’s past
– Catered toward the female anatomy
– Constructed with lighter woods and composites
– Strategically placed materials help shed weight

1. Völkl Secret

The all-new Secret is a frontside ripper with all-mountain attitude. Sitting at 92-mm underfoot, the Secret is constructed with Völkl’s new Titanal Frame design, where the metal sections are placed along the edges of the ski’s tip and tail, with an added carbon inlay in the tip. The result: notably lighter weight with the same dampening as a full sheet of metal would provide, all without compromising playfulness and responsiveness. Sarina Scott called the ski “stable as can be, and so dang easy to lay over,” while Casey Jillson described it as a “ripping all-mountain ski that’s strong on groomers and off-piste with tenacious edge grip.”

2. Nordica Santa Ana 93

Built for aggressive skiers, the Nordica Santa Ana 93 is the solution for any shredder seeking to lay trenches across the frontside but isn’t afraid to venture off-piste. The Santa Ana 93 comes back unchanged this year, utilizing two sheets of metal surrounding a lightweight balsa core, which collectively provide increased stability while maintaining maneuverability. “Hot and dangerous, these skis rip,” exclaimed Anna Tedesco. “Great for carving and throwing down on edge, quick in bumps and floats over choppy snow. Playful yet stiff enough with good control. I would ski this on all terrain,” said Maddie Jimerson. For an advanced skier seeking a strong ski, the Santa Ana 93 is the ticket to glory.

3. Elan Ripstick 94W

“A great tool for when you want to leave all the fellas in your wake,” said tester Jenny Harris. Designed with Amphibio technology, meaning the inside edge of each ski is cambered to increase grip while the outer edge is rockered for smooth transitioning, these planks have a specific right and left foot, and are fine-tuned for all-mountain domination. Shedding weight with a super light yet sturdy carbon insert in the tip, the Ripstick 94W stays true to form, even at high speed. “This ski reacted to my every muscle flex with grace,” Harris added. “I hope you’re ready to go fast,” said Anna Tedesco.

4. DPS Alchemist Uschi 94

Trust the word of our testers: the all-new DPS Alchemist Uschi 94 is designed for going fast and laying trenches on-piste. “These really push you out of turns (in the best way) and are responsive to all inputs,” noted tester Anna Tedesco about the Alchemist Uschi 94. “Nice lightweight ski, incredibly responsive,” added Casey Jillson. “Just the right amount of softness and stability. You can play on the tips and tails and still reach high speeds,” said Sarina Scott. Slight tip and tail rocker helps facilitate easy turn entry and nimbleness in crud, moguls and trees, while the Alchemist Series’ vibration-tuned aerospace-grade carbon makes this ski notably damper and smoother than previous carbon-centric designs.

5. HEAD Great Joy

It’s all in the name with this offering from HEAD. The Great Joy is constructed with a material called Graphene, which is ultralight and ultra strong, in combination with a lightweight wood core to maintain stability and responsiveness without sacrificing weight. Greta Muxworthy couldn’t hold back her excitement about the Great Joy, “This ski continues to be my all-time favorite women’s ski.” Jenny Harris tested it “in a steep couloir and on a full-speed groomer with great response.” This ski’s tight turning radius and all-mountain focused rocker profile make it a literal great joy to ski, no matter the ability of the skier.

6. Liberty Genesis 96

Liberty is revamping its entire ski collection heading into the 2019 season. The redesigned Genesis 96 features an updated early-rise tip with camber underfoot. Those design elements work in tandem with Liberty’s X-Core carbon construction—a combination of bamboo, poplar, paulownia and carbon fiber—ensuring this ski stays playful while maintaining a steady platform in varying terrain. At 96 mm underfoot, the Genesis is prepackaged for all-mountain exploration, from your favorite groomer to the few inches of fresh snow leftover in the trees. “Versatility is where this ski shines,” noted Anna Tedesco. “It blasts through crud and arcs beautiful turns, alike.”

7. Salomon Lumen 99

A more svelte version of its sister ski, the QST Stella 106, the Lumen 99 is equally adept at all-mountain, all-condition supremacy. This is owed in large part to Salomon’s use of a carbon fiber and flax layer that keeps this ski ultra-strong and powerful without added bulk. The Lumen 99 will illuminate the way across variable terrain with a damp, smooth, straightforward and friendly style. For that reason, it’s a true “crowd pleaser,” as described by Jenny Harris. “A straightforward and friendly ski with a beautiful shape. Two thumbs up from me.”

8. Faction Dictator 2.0x

Don’t let the bright pink topsheet of Faction’s Dictator 2.0x fool you; these stiff, directional skis are designed to plow through variable terrain and snow with the utmost ease, rocketing you down the mountain at Mach speed and in complete control. Made with a paulownia and poplar wood core for a mix of weight savings and energetic character, the Dictator 2.0x is further strengthened by strips of Titanal that run the length of the ski and full sidewalls for maximum stability when laying trenches. Oh, and don’t count these skis out when it comes to playfulness—they scored highest in this category—due to “surf zones” toward the tip and tail that provide a smooth ride in all conditions.

9. Atomic Vantage 97 C W

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up these redesigned skis from Atomic is the Vantage series’ construction, called Prolite. Atomic begins with the slimmest possible chassis, leaving the area in front of and behind the bindings with only a titanium mesh for coverage, which provides weight savings without any stability loss. Jenny Harris said, in response to this design, “I was skeptical with the holes in the middle, but they were solid at Mach speed and in moguls. A great choice for many ski gals!” Maddie Jimerson added, “Fast and charges! Has lots of power and can lay down serious edge.” Click into these carbon-reinforced offerings and conquer the entire mountain.

10. Faction Prodigy 2.0x

Harboring one of the most well-rounded athlete teams in the industry, Faction constructs skis in their likeness—and its Prodigy 2.0x epitomizes this craftsmanship. This directional ski utilizes a poppy yet rigid poplar and beech wood core, reinforced by flax stringers that run the length of the ski for a combo attack of freestyle playfulness and hard-charging capability. Notably surfy, boasting plentiful tip and tail rocker, the Prodigy 2.0x is as playful as it is competent, “ripping like a champion at high speeds,” according to tester Anna Tedesco. Complemented by a beautiful topsheet, these twigs are sure to turn heads whether you’re in the lift line or stomping huge airs under the chair.

1. HEAD Wild Joy

Is there any phrase more symbolic of the exuberance we derive from the act of sliding down mountains than “wild joy”? Turns out this ski boasts more than just a killer name. Our testers wouldn’t stop gushing about the Wild Joy’s all-terrain capabilities. “Can really pump the turns or ride it smooth and mellow,” said tester Mo Mitchell. “This ski gets straight to the point… fast, stable and stiff,” added Casey Jillson. “Fun ski, reactive and easy to use.” There’s no learning curve here: just click right in and enjoy the Graphene, Koroyd and carbon-fiber layered construction, manufactured to provide a ski stiff and powerful enough to rip with confidence and light enough to allow you to do so all day long.

2. Icelantic Maiden 91

An all-new waist width for Icelantic’s Maiden series, the Maiden 91 employs the same tried-and-true design elements as its big sister, the Maiden 101, just in a skinnier package. Icelantic employs its Fly-Weight wood core, made with pacific albus wood sandwiched between layers of fiberglass, to dampen the ride. The Maiden 91 boasts tip and tail rocker that’ll have you charging on- and off-piste at your leisure, yet its low swing weight enhances spins and trickery attempts. Sarina Scott said it best: “Shabba dabba ding dong, these things are a blast. So solid for 91 underfoot it blows ’mah damn mind. Carves, jibs, ducks, dives and dips. An all-around fun maker.”

1. Salomon QST 106

Salomon’s QST Stella 106 is a true quiver killer, excelling all over the mountain, in every condition imaginable. After skiing fresh powder, hardpack and the frontside, our testers wouldn’t stop talking about this ski’s versatility, matched by a stable, responsive feel underfoot. “These are some rippers,” commented tester Meg Olenick. “Responsive and steady all at once,” added Jenny Harris. Salomon employs a 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 for optimal carving and rocker in the tip and tail for increased maneuverability, the Stella 106 is truly equipped to let you ski however, whenever, wherever.

2. Nordica Santa Ana 100

A FREESKIER Buyer’s Guide regular, Nordica’s Santa Ana 100 returns with a redesigned core in 2019—all while maintaining the hard-charging attitude that had our testers grinning in delight. This year, the Santa Ana’s do-it-all poplar, beech and balsa wood core is sandwiched between two sheets of Titanal metal, delivering exceptional stability and responsiveness. A layer of prepreg carbon fiber also boosts rigidity without adding weight. Alex Golden used adjectives like “smooth, stable, silky, reactive and poppy,” to describe this updated offering from Nordica. Her testing sister Maddy Jimerson called it a “hero ski. It’s fun in all conditions, rips on groomers, charges on hardpack and provides surfy goodness in powder.”

3. Völkl 100Eight W

Völkl’s German engineers offer one of the most stable yet lightweight skis on the market with the 100Eight W. “After clicking into these skis, all I could say to myself was ‘Holy light!’” noted Madeline Dunn. “But don’t let the feather weight fool you, these skis rip. If you accidentally send it into a mogul field, no worries, the responsiveness of the ski naturally surfaces.” Völkl uses a plateaued central ridge that narrows in front of and behind the binding area, thus notably reducing swing weight. Carbon stringers increase stability, while a full rocker profile provides optimal maneuverability, no matter the snow conditions or terrain.

4. Nordica Santa Ana 110

Nordica’s Santa Ana 110 left our testers in awe. The 110 features a sandwich construction with a combination of poplar, beech and balsa wood squished between two stiff sheets of Titanal metal for incredible stability and responsiveness, even at Mach speed. Our testers picked up on the hard-charging capabilities of this ski right away. Jenny Harris commented that it “feeds off the energy you put into it beautifully.” Greta Muxworthy said it’s “most suitable for pow days but still really fun in the bumps!” Whether sailing through deeper snow or gobbling up leftovers is on the agenda, reach for the ever-powerful, ever-playful Santa Ana 110.

5. K2 Gottaluvit 105Ti

For the big-mountain oriented skiers out there, K2’s Gottaluvit 105ti should be at the top of your “What to Buy” list heading into 2019. The Gottaluvit 105ti is constructed with a rockered tip and tail for ultimate versatility, while its aspen and paulownia core, complemented by a layer of Titanal, provides lightweight yet stable performance in a variety of scenarios. As tester Jenny Harris put it, “Rejoice ladies! A ski built for charging steeps and taking on any texture of snow at full speed. If you are looking to put the hammer down on some extreme terrain but still like a pink topsheet, these are your boards.”

6. Sego Up 108

Ski your next powder-laden objective with confidence by clicking into Sego’s UP 108, developed in conjunction with pro skier Lynsey Dyer. This burly, heavily rockered option caters to strong skiers who want to turn the entire mountain into their playground. “More speed, more air, more fun,” commented Madeline Dunn. “Versatile as hell. This ski is great on the hardpack and deep pow alike,” noted Anna Tedesco. Its directional rocker profile and 5 mm of camber underfoot, gives the UP 108 high-speed stability, smooth turn initiation and the utmost maneuverability. Bonus: these planks are made in the USA, on the Idaho side of the rugged Teton Range.

1. Blizzard Sheeva 11

Blizzard’s Sheeva 11 gives powder-seeking, exposed-line-craving ladies the right tool for the job. “A hard-charging, big-mountain ski. It wants to go really fast down big lines,” commented Casey Jillson. Mo Mitchell exclaimed, “Yippee… favorite pick thus far!” Constructed with a unidirectional carbon frame in the tip and tail with a poplar, beech, balsa and paulownia wood core, the Sheeva 11 is ultra-lightweight and stable. It boasts a consistent flex without compromising torsional rigidity necessary for high speeds. The widest offering of the Sheeva series, the 11 will have ladies everywhere chomping at the bit.

2. Icelantic Maiden 101

Boasting one of Icelantic’s ever-popular, beautiful topsheet designs, the Maiden 101 is a true all-mountain all-star. It’s wide and sturdy enough to slay through every type of snow condition; sufficiently playful and buttery for the most experimental skiers; and plenty versatile to take anywhere, anytime of the season. This ski combines Icelantic’s Fly-Weight wood core (built with pacific albus) along with a multi-layered combination of triaxial and unilateral fiberglass for a truly versatile set of planks. “So playful and buttery yet just so stable,” noted Anna Tedesco, while Katrina Devore commented on its universal appeal, “I feel as though women of all levels could be into this ski.”

3. Blizzard Sheeva 10

The fan favorite Sheeva 10 returns in 2019 with even higher praise from our ski testers: “I was slaying the entire mountain—that’s right, the whole thing,” said Madeline Dunn; “Traditional, solid, hard-charging ski,” commented Katrina Devore; “Fun and flirty!” raved Sarina Scott. The ski’s poplar, paulownia, balsa and beech wood core keeps things light and playful, while a unidirectional carbon frame in the tip and tail, with a Titanal plate in the middle, adds the rigidity and stability you’d expect from the Austrian ski manufacturer. The mid-width choice from the Sheeva line, the 10 is a frontside ripper with true off-piste capabilities.

1. Folsom Gold Digger

“Hands down, my favorite, favorite powder ski!” exclaimed tester Bridget Boyle. Jenny Harris said, “Its fat tips with a quick turning radius create a playful powder ski. It provides reliable and unwavering support when you need to make those fast, twisty moves.” Well, you heard it here first, ladies: you’ll hit the jackpot with Folsom’s Gold Digger. It’s built with a flex, sidecut apex, camber and mount point orientation designed to jive better with the fairer sex; a notably stable, 115-mm platform; and a relatively short 15-meter turning radius, all adding up to a pow-shredder with all-mountain flare. In addition, Folsom is a custom ski manufacturer, and able to fine tune each pair of skis to its owner’s preference for even greater enjoyment on the hill.

1. Armada ARW 86

For those ladies seeking long days in the park but are just as eager to navigate glades, destroy groomers and turn the entire mountain into a jibster’s funhouse, Armada’s ARW 86 is the ticket to glory. Constructed using an ash and poplar core for superior stiffness with low weight, and slight rocker in the tip and tail with camber underfoot, these skis allow for confident all-mountain skiing with a playful, park-oriented style. “Surprisingly turn-able and carve-able for such a flexible ski,” said Sarina Scott. Launch these babies off the biggest jump in the park or wiggle them through the trees; no matter the terrain, this updated offering from Armada will carry you down the mountain with style.

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