The 101 skis that have earned the distinction of Editors’ Pick in the 2016 Buyer’s Guide are categorized by waist width and purpose, resulting in eight separate groupings: 90-99 mm freeride, 90-99 mm freestyle, 100-114 mm freeride, 100-114 freestyle, 115+ mm freeride, 115+ mm freestyle, park specific and women’s. To help narrow down the search for your next pair(s) of skis, we’ve provided a roadmap complete with explanations regarding various skiing styles and their correlation to the adjacent groupings.
You’re built for speed. You accumulate vertical feet like a Tiger accumulates notches on his belt. Steep, perfectly manicured groomers get your engine revving. You’re likely not ripping backwards, but you fancy the occasional bump run and crud busting. You might be an ex-ski racer. Maybe not. Either way, you can lay your skis over with the best of ’em.
You generally stick within the resort boundaries, dodging tight trees, bouncing down mogul fields and popping tricks off side-hits under the chair. You grin as onlookers applaud. You’re equally keen to show off in the park. Regarding construction, a softer flex is preferred, with a mix of rocker and camber to keep your ski both nimble and stable.
Cliffs, chutes, crud, couloirs—you’re constantly charging treacherous terrain. You seek a stable ski, capable of handling burly lines at high speeds. You enjoy the occasional jaunt onto the hardpack, but you’re really at home while ripping big, open turns in soft and variable snow conditions. Then again, a balls-to-the-wall straight-line will do just fine, too.
Your ideal ski is agile and stable, helping you stick that flatspin 360 off your favorite wind lip, then ride away through the crud with ease. Taking flight off natural hits is your specialty. You need enough girth for modest pow days, yet a ski that’s competent on edge for your hardpack endeavors. A softer flex with some early rise tickles your fancy. Shred your way into that very eligible skier babe’s heart. Don’t forget to smile and wave.
You’re always daydreaming of Alaska. You prefer your skiing nipple deep and crazy steep. Massive pow fields are your canvas—these skis are your paintbrush. Your masterpiece might just be two, parallel straight lines from top to bottom. Fall line face shots are your aphrodisiac. Cliff drops also get you hot and bothered. Your nickname might be “Freight Train.” Think Seth Morrison or Todd Ligare.
You stare down the dreamiest pillow line with this debate in your head: Enter with a spin to the right, left… or perhaps a switch 5? You stomp and destroy each pillow, then amid your run-out, you toss a beauty of a nose butter for added effect. These maneuvers come with ease, due in part to your ski’s hefty amount of rocker, forgiving flex pattern and plus-size waist width.
You spend your free time (all of it) soaking up videos of Joss Christensen, Phil Casabon, Vincent Gagnier and co. Jibbing is life. Even on a pow day, you’ll be the one in the terrain park clearing snow from the lips and the landings. You may or may not ski with poles, and your outfit’s technical ratings might be the last thing on your mind. Cotton FTW! Regardless of your stylistic preferences, on thing’s for sure: You need a ski that’ll spin, stomp, slide and repeat.
Whether you’re slaying pretty faces with Lynsey Dyer, getting upside down like Tatum Monod or sliding rails like “Maad” Maude Raymond, you need a ski that will exceed your demands. You could shred a men’s offering, sure, but you crave a model that caters to your anatomy. The planks highlighted in these pages will perform to your standards and elevate your game. The skis are your milkshake. The mountain is your yard. All the boys will come.