Let’s get real for a second, just you and me.
Most skiers—from park rats to corduroy carvers to uphill junkies—are gear heads, at least ostensibly. It doesn’t take long, standing in the lift line, to hear a hot take on ski shapes or a humblebrag about grams, sidecut and stiffness. But don’t get me wrong… I’m not trying to put anyone on blast, I definitely do it too. The irony is this—go into any ski shop and the staff will unanimously agree on one thing: Graphics sell skis. Tech specs be damned, when hard earned cash is on the line, we all pick the planks that just look good.
So, instead of writing another ski roundup on the science of skis profiles, materials and flex patterns, I’m going to give the kids what they want. Let’s talk about sexy topsheets. And before you start trolling me in the comments, let me say this: This list is totally subjective. No empirical research went into compiling these skis into one post, just a lot of browsing websites, calling friends and skimming press releases for the most eye-catching topsheet designs of the season.
Faction Prodigy 3.0. Designed by Anat Royer, the theme of this year’s Prodigy is “how the music looks when played.” Royer re-imagined audio waves containing a hidden message: Engage Le Jeu Que Je Le Gagne, a French palindrome that translates to ”kick off the game so that I can win it.”
Blackcrows Serpo. Designed by Yorgo Tloupas, a Greek-French artist known for his work in the fashion, auto and luxury worlds. The topsheet of the new Serpo deliberately has no particular story, which fits in with the Crows dedication to consistency and unity across all of their skis and decades of designs.
J Skis Thick Lines. Designed by Aaron James Draplin, these limited edition skis are simple, bold and timeless. Using thick lines, natural colors and earthy iconography, they hit the sweet spot between trying too hard and not trying hard enough. It’s the world around us, refined down to its basic elements.
WNDR Reason 120. Designed by Christian Johansen, the new Reason 120 was inspired by a snowy owl, a silent and beautiful apex predator. Bonus points for a 51-percent bio-based topsheet, which is decorated with the owl’s wing, symbolizing the weightless flotation we all seek from powder skiing.
Shaggy’s Skis Medora 105. Designed in northern Michigan at its custom ski shop, the Mendora is a new women’s ski with a mountain design that feels anywhere but the Midwest. As a sucker for both line art and the blue and gold—hey, I’m an Ann Arbor native, sue me—these topsheets are notably slick.
Völkl Revolt 104. California artist, Ben Brough, designed these topsheets and I would love to give him a high five. Covered in mythical creatures and spirit animals, the level of detail is impressive, without giving your eyes a seizure. The more you look closely at the details, the more you discover, too.
Weston Summit Skis. Designed by Brooklyn Bell, the new Summit topsheets are bold and colorful, without being over the top. Even better, a portion of the proceeds from this ski will go towards avalanche education scholarships, so you can feel good about buying something that looks damn good, too.
K2 Wayback 96. Designed by Geoff McFetridge, the Wayback topsheets prove you don’t need color to make a beautiful ski. The graphics harken to the journey and tell a story of going further into the backcountry than you ever have– so far out there that you don’t know your way back to civilization.
Atomic Bent Chetler 120. Designed by the legend Chris Benchetler himself, the newest iteration of the Bent Chetler is, dare I say, the best topsheet yet? An all-in graphic on old man winter, these color planks will brighten your day almost as well as they float in the deeps.
Season Nexus. Sometimes less is more. Black never goes out of style.