The 105 skis featured in our Buyer’s Guide all earned the coveted badge of Editors’ Pick. That is to say, we’ve designated these planks as the best on the market for the 2016-17 ski season. The models we’ve highlighted are divvied up by waist width and intended purpose, resulting in eight groupings: 90-99 mm freeride; 90-99 mm freestyle; 100-114 mm freeride; 100-114 mm freestyle; 115-plus mm freeride; 115-plus mm freestyle; park; and women’s. One-hundred-and-five skis is a veritable buttload, and we don’t want to overwhelm you, so we’ve provided this handy guide to help you in your crusade to find the “glass slipper” that matches your particular skiing needs—your Cinderella ski.
90-99 mm freeride skis
It’s all about speed and stability. If your skiing style were compared to a musical group, you’d likely be Metallica or Slayer. The act of laying your skis on edge makes you all tingly inside, and the thought of a meticulously groomed, steep run “pitches your tent.” Imagining a fast-paced zipper line will have the same effect. You generally prefer a directional ski that’ll take your trench digging to new levels, because, for you, carving isn’t just a thing, it’s everything.
90-99 mm freestyle skis
When you give your local mountain a solid up-and-down look from the chairlift you see an infinite playground at your disposal. You identify every natural feature in sight—wind lips, tree bonks, mogul fields, cat tracks, cliffs—and ponder how you might perform tricks onto, off of or over each of ’em. You actively seek rollers to tail press, butter or hand drag across, and you’re no stranger to the terrain park, either. You prefer skis with a softer flex and a solid mix of rocker and camber, allowing you to smear up a storm one minute and lock ’er down for high speed carving the next.
100-114 mm freeride skis
You’re at home in the no-fall zone. You rely on skis that are plenty stiff and stable to get you safely down those butterfly-inducing lines you love so much. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on the hardpack but usually just in order to get back to the lift that’ll return you to the delectable soft stuff. When you’re not hucking cliffs or billy-goating rock bands, you’re arcing massive turns down steep bowls, a smile plastered on your face the entire way.
100-114 mm freestyle skis
You enjoy taking those nifty maneuvers you learned in the terrain park and trying ’em out in a more natural setting—preferably with soft snow conditions abounding. Maybe you’re airing out of a natural quarterpipe and capping a perfect tail grab at your apex, or perhaps you’re sending a lofty cork 720 off of a natural takeoff. Either way, your game is all about style and flair. You crave a forgiving flex and ample tip and tail rocker in your skis for pivoty-good times, but you also seek a touch of camber underfoot so you can go full throttle when your pals call for a “Chinese downhill” when the lifts close. You’ll more than likely record the mind-boggling race, tricks and all, and upload your own version of One of Those Days to YouTube.
115+ mm freeride skis
Somewhere near the top of your bucket list is “Move to Alaska.” There, you’d live out your days sliding down spine walls, dropping 40-footers and straight-lining run-outs. Deep, steep skiing is your only worthwhile venture. Thankfully, in your dreams, you live in a place that experiences abundant powder days and is a mecca of big-mountain shredding. You seek a stiffer flex with plenty of camber, ideal for holding fast when a grisly fate awaits you on either side of your line.
115+ mm freestyle skis
Pillows, pillows and more pillows, that’s pretty much all you care about. That and which tricks will serve as the perfect exclamation points on your descents down those marshmallow-laden powder fields. More often than not, you’ll go with a smooth 180 or 540, riding away backwards and brushing off your shoulder, because even Chris Benchetler would have been proud of that performance. The girthy waist width and forgiving flex of your skis allows you to surf the deepest of snow, ready to pop, press and pivot on a dime at any time.
The “pink it and shrink it” approach is a thing of the past. Ski manufacturers regularly tailor the construction of their female-specific models to suit the needs of those with dual X chromosomes. Whether it’s utilizing lighter wood and composites in the core, strategically placing those materials to accommodate female anatomy or cutting down on heavier materials, today’s top brands are going the extra mile to help women get the most bang for their buck, energy expenditure-wise. The planks you’ll find on these pages will give many ladies the confidence to follow in the footsteps of skiers like Monod, Dyer, Backstrom, Bowman, Raymond, Voisin, Parker and Collinson.
It’s 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday and it snowed 12 inches overnight. The lift line to the peak is teeming with hungry powder hounds, but you’re not among them. You’ve made your way straight to the terrain park where you’re assisting the ski area staff in their mission to clear the snow away from the takeoffs and landings of each jump and jib in the lineup. A short while later, you’re spinning, bonking, pressing, flipping and greasing to your heart’s delight. We see you, park rats, and we have what you need: the best jib sticks of the year, ranked and reviewed.