The Hard Edge: Top 10 Resort Skis 2014
Resort skis will always have an edge over their wider, more powder-hungry brethren. From Maine to British Columbia, North America has lots of skiing conditions besides powder. Crud, corduroy, bumbs and Eastern blue ice aren’t conditions to fear, but to anticipate, and ultimately, to enjoy. And why not?
Don’t let some 20-something wannabe huckster tell you that charging around a resort daily on 115-mm-waisted skis is good for your ankles, your knees, hips and back. It’s not. Nor is it good for your form. Throngs of ski instructors, patrollers, guides and lifties—those who spend lots of time at the resort, even when conditions aren't entirely favorable—come to appreciate the tool that best fits the conditions. And most often, the conditions favor a narrower-waisted resort ski with sidecut and camber.
Skis between 75 and 95mm underfoot, with traditional camber, the occasional rockered tip (this brings the initial contact point of the ski edge closer to your foot, making it easier to turn and less “hook-y”) and sidecut are typically apropos for resort or piste skiing. Off-piste skiing is more akin to backcountry skiing, or skiing in areas that don’t get groomed by the resort. Inbounds conditions and/or groomed corduroy can be every bit as enjoyable as powder if you choose the right skis. Here’s why.
With a relatively narrow waist, it’s much easier to initiate a turn in firm conditions. Rolling the ski onto its edge takes less energy, it puts less strain on your joints, and the overall experience is more controlled, and ultimately more enjoyable. Soaring down fresh corduroy, slithering through bumps, even charging through displaced snow piles on a crowded powder day is best enjoyed by having a svelte sporty ski attached to your feet.
The all-around carver skis celebrate the essence of skiing, the turn. Whether snapping short swing turns, or arcing long radius turns, putting a ski on edge and experiencing the floating rail is one of the first barbs that hooks people into flinging themselves down snowy steeps. These 10 resort skis will make sure you never lose sight of why we fell in love with skiing in the first place:
Kastle MX 88
This powerful, Austrian-made gun rails on groomers, on ice, hardpack and through refrozen mank. The signature Hollowcore tip offers terrific swing weight while the ABS sidewall construction provides supremely stable and smooth edge hold throughout any and all turns.
Rossignol Experience 88
With traditional camber underfoot and a stout sidewall construction, the Rossi 88 eats up real estate with aplomb. The slight early rise eases turn initiation for serious fun, whether at high speeds or on technical steeps. 135/88/124
K2 AMP Rictor 90XTI
K2’s user-friendly AMP Rictor is a super playful inbounds tool. The early rise rocker tip and metal-reinforced, shaped construction can float when conditions demand, but also makes nice with harder, more demanding snow conditions. 132/90/115
Blizzard Magnum 8.0 Ti
The Magnum’s first love is corduroy; the second is hardpack. Built with a heavy dose of irony, the Magnum is calmest when it’s on edge. A strong instrument for aggressive skiers who want a confident ski, the Magnum delivers a solid edge at all speeds. 122/80/107
Nordica Fire Arrow 84 EVO EDT
The Fire Arrow 84 has full camber, and an intimidating calm at frightening speeds. Best for he or she who likes arcing turns at higher speeds. It comes with bindings already attached.
$1,499 (with binding); nordicausa.com
Salomon Enduro XT 800
Salomon has traditionally made skis that are super easy to ski, no matter your ability. The Enduro is no exception. With a svelte 80mm waist, shaped sidecut and strong edge hold, the Enduro slices and dices with everyday ambitions. 125/79/107
Atomic Crimson Ti
This traditional camber ski has a small early rise tip for easy turn initiation that works well on hardpack but still tracks in deeper snow. Wood core and titanium inserts give a super responsive, stable feel in all conditions. 132/86/115
$1000 (with binding); atomic.com
Völkl’s versatile Kendo is a hard charging stalwart. Big enough to have fun on snowy mornings, the Kendo has an early rise tip and Völkl’s infamously sturdy sidewall construction that holds steady in all conditions thereafter. 126/89/110
Head Rev 90
One of the easiest skis to put on edge, the playful Rev 90 has enough girth at the tip and waist for snowier evironments, but the progressive sidecut won’t let you down on high pressure days over hardpack. The hybrid sandwich capped construction offers the best of dampness underfoot for high speeds, but a snappy responsiveness for tight, technical turns. 136/90/117
Fischer Motive 86
The Motive really likes to get on edge. Two sheets of Titanal and full-length wood core, this low-profile carver has an affinity for technically proficient skiers who like high speed dynamic responsiveness in a smooth, stable package. 128/86/116