1. Rossignol Holyshred | Dimensions 131/98/121 | MSRP: $800
Like any industry, the ski business chases trends. Skis got super fat and then normalized. Rocker went boat shaped before growing more subtle. Lightweight for lightweight’s sake was a thing until it wasn’t. And every brand has crowed about their new super fibers of late. This year’s trend? Simple: build skis that flex easily, but still feel damp and powered up. Designers call this getting the “feel” right, and given how many lengths and widths they build these days, it’s a hard thing to nail. That’s a long preamble, but the takeaway is that, based on our test results, with its new Blackops line, Rossignol figured out how to nail “accessible power” in modern ski design. The All Mountain Holyshred is no mushy ski with a honeycomb tip. It’s built like quality skis have always been built, with a wood core and two sheets of metal. The new twist here is the addition of a vertical viscous material called LCT that lets the ski contour the terrain without bucking. LCT also adds life to the ski. On the test hill, the Holyshred feels natural and unlimited. You can ski it anywhere without thinking about what’s on your feet. Swami Gripe: At slow speeds the Holyshred is predictable, but underwhelming. The LCT wants to be powered up. Swami Like: Anyone can ski it, but you have to drive it to tap into the potential. “Crazy stable at top speed, but you can sluff turns too,” said a tester.
2. Nordica Enforcer 100 | Dimensions: 133/100/121 | MSRP: $850
Nordica claims the all-new Enforcer 100—the brand’s top seller for years—is “smoother and more playful than ever.” Our 10 testers at Steamboat agreed. “This ski is still at home on wide-open slopes with the pedal to the floor,” said a race coach, “but unlike the old Enforcer 100, it has life at slower speeds.” The energized and inviting ride quality comes courtesy of a new carbon-fiber chassis that adds pop to the turn and makes the wood and metal 100 more versatile off-piste without detracting from its on-trail stability. Those same traits mean slow or slashy skiers will dig it too. Skinnier and more powered up than the Rossignol Sender Ti, but not as focused on burliness as the Salomon Stance 96 (next review), this is your ski if you spend half your time on-trail and half off. Swami Gripe: Not as surfy as the Enforcer 104, but that’s by design, Nordica wanted the 100 to be more frontsidey than that. Swami Like: “It likes to go fast, but it pivots too,” said one tester.
3. Salomon Stance 96 | Dimensions: 132/96/114 | MSRP: $850
As a brand, Salomon is known for fun and loose All Mountain skis that excel off-trail. But that’s just public perception based on one category. Salomon has always made powered up on-piste skis, and to prove it to U.S. skiers they took a “stance” and built this new lineup of beefy modern ripper skis with two sheets of metal, burly wood cores, race-inspired sidecuts—and not much else. On groomed snow, the Stance 96 was the most powered up ski in the test, capable of hooking up and holding on to firm snow at full throttle in big arcing turns. “They lock you in like you’re on rails as you sweep across the fall line,” said a tester. So where does the Stance 96 fit in the market? Most of our testers ski on 105 millimeter and bigger skis out West, and to them a 96 millimeter waisted ski is ideal for non-storm days when the best skiing is on chalky steeps in the alpine or groomed snow down low—conditions that you want to ski fast in. This Stance offers class leading stability, but you can still manage it off-trail. Swami Gripe: It can be tough to break it from an arced turn once you commit. Swami Like: No speed limit.
4. Fischer Ranger 99 Ti | Dimensions: 130/97/121 | MSRP: $799
One of the first companies to recognize the benefit of removing wasted material from the nose of the ski to reduce swingweight, Fischer’s carbon nosed Ranger line has always been fun, playful, and easy to convert to backcountry use. Last year, though, the brand decided to ignore weight savings for weight savings sake and build the Ranger based more on on-snow feel. The resulting wood core backed with two sheets of metal amped-up the high-speed stability, edging power, and dynamic energy return of the 99 Ti. At Steamboat, we had the perfect mix of soft snow and firm to run All Mountain skis through their paces, and this Fischer seemed perfectly suited to the day according to many testers. Even in year two of our testing, “It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” said a tester. “The blend of attributes is everything I look for in an All Mountain ski.” Swami Gripe: That tip is light and soft. Stay balanced and ski the Ranger from the belly. Swami Like: “You can butter them around off-trail or rail them back on,” said a tester who appreciated the versatile tip.
5. Dynastar M-PRO 99 | Dimensions: 127/99/117 | MSRP: $800
When a brand jumps up in our rankings like Dynastar did this year, you know that they’re onto something good. In this case it’s a new construction that blends a traditional wood core in the heart of the ski with the lightweight but damping properties of polyurethane on the periphery. Add that construction—plus a little metal—to a modern shape with just the right blend of rocker and you get the M-PRO 99, one of the most fun All Mountain skis in the test. “The easy skiing powerhouse of the test,” said a tester from Utah. “Rails like a boss, but you can feather it into and out of turns with ease too.” Swami Gripe: Our bigger testers thought it got bucked around a little too much when they hit hard snow at speed. Swami Like: “The ability to vary the turn shape and have fun with the terrain is unmatched in the category,” said a tester. “Unlike the old Dynastar Chamonix line, it’s effortless to find the sweet spot and sink into the arc.” Look here if exploring new terrain matters more to you than arcing metronome turns on groomers—though the M-Pro does that well too.
6. Blizzard Bonafide 97 | Dimensions: 136.5/97/118.5 | MSRP: $900
“The flex, the flex, the flex,” that’s how one test card praised Blizzard’s totally new All Mountain skis. Here’s what that tester meant: The days of very stiff or very soft skis are behind us. Today’s ski designers are hell-bent on getting the correct flex in every model and length. Why? When you fall in love with a ski, it’s because the flex works for you—letting you butter and smear turns, or power a ski up and sustain some Gs. If that ideal was easy, every ski would feel perfect, but it isn’t easy. So Blizzard set out to fix that problem beginning with the all-important core of the ski. With their new TrueBlend core construction, wooden stringers of specific densities are placed in specific locations in every length and model of ski to achieve the attainable power and comfortable ride qualities that are the theme of ski construction in 2021. On the test hill, that translated to an easier skiing Bonafide that skis intuitively—the Holy Grail of construction. Swami Gripe: Our test skis were a bit tight/sharp, so it was hard to butter. Swami Like: You don’t need to buy a custom ski when each length and model is customized at the factory. “Way more user-friendly than the previous models, but still no speed limit,” read a test card.
7. Völkl Mantra 102 | Dimensions: 134/96/117 | MSRP: $875
At 102 millimeters underfoot, the carryover Mantra 102 was the fattest ski in the category—which meant it was well suited to the soft snow we poked around for in the aspens and firs at Steamboat. Paired with a longer (20 meter) turn radius in the taller lengths, that silhouette means the 102 pivots and floats well in soft snow—traits that are bolstered by Völkl’s lightweight build that only places metal where it’s needed. Back on groomed snow, the Mantra is a shapeshifter: Like many modern skis, the forebody and tail of the Mantra feature elongated sidecuts that love arcing bigger turns and let you scrub speed at will. But the harder you drive the Mantra, the more you engage the shorter turn radius of the sidecut underfoot. It sounds wonky, but it’s actually quite noticeable. The tips and tails don’t feel hooky, and the turn shape is determined by how hard you drive the ski. The effect is boosted versatility. Swami Gripe: To execute Völkl’s unique layup requires a lot of hand work and resin that give the Mantra a glassy feel. Swami Like: “So smooth,” said a tester. “It rolls over everything. And you can ski it easy or hard.”
8. Head KORE 93 | Dimensions: 133/93/115 | MSRP: $750
Head calls the KORE 93 a “solid lightweight,” meaning it’s light enough for backcountry skiing, but solid enough for everyday charging inbounds. A dozen testers backed that up: “Maybe the best lightweight ski ever,” said one. “Endless grip, smooth, damp, and easy to smear.” For more evidence of this ski’s chops, just look at its placement: It’s the only lightweight ski to make the top ten in a category loaded with beefy skis backed by two sheets of metal. Credit for the 93’s predictable performance lies with Koroyd, the honeycomb polymer inside the wood core that eats vibration like metal without the weight penalty. But the weirdly powerful edge penetration is simply baked into the racing heritage of this Austrian brand. Swami Gripe: The downside of being so damp and predictable? It’s damp and predictable. The ski isn’t as lively as it could be when you’re arcing turns and want a bit more pop. But to be fair, about half of our testers would gladly accept that for the confidence the 93 delivers. Swami Like: “The edges feel crisp, the turn shape is variable, and you can ski it at any speed,” said a tester.
9. Armada Declivity 92 Ti | Dimensions: 132/92/118 | MSRP: $775
Armada’s roots are in park and pipe, but the company really burst on the scene with its super playful powder skis that were among the first to get the blend of rocker and taper right for everyday soft snow slashing. But as for making All Mountain skis that you could carve turns on from tip-to-tail and still rip around off-trail on? The brand wasn’t in the game. That changes with the new Declivity line of simple wood core and metal skis built to actually rip a carved turn instead of buttering around. “One of the best Armada’s I’ve ever skied,” said a longtime tester of the new Declivity 92. “They’re crazy smooth, transition effortlessly, and hold a clean edge at most speeds. I could see a lot of freeskier types learning to arc turns on these.” Swami Gripe: We tested a 180, which was a bit short and underpowered for most of our testers. We’re assuming the 188 would bring some more oomph and stability at top speeds. Swami Like: Skis like the Declivity and Stance (they share a parent company) represent a positive change in skiing and serve as reminders that routine ripping on packed snow and groomers should be celebrated, lest skiing become like snowboarding only drawing crowds on storm days.
10. Elan Ripstick 96 | Dimensions: 136/96/110 | MSRP: $800
Elan helped usher in the concept of accessible power with their effortless Ripstick line. We’re talking mindless turn initiation at slow and moderate speeds, a huge sweet spot, and a comfortable ride with very little bucking. Today, the market produces easy skiing All Mountain skis galore, but nothing is as buttery and predictable as the Ripstick 96, which is a new model this year with more bite underfoot. Credit for the ease of use still rests with Elan’s unique asymmetrical design that puts more rocker on the outer edges for ridiculously hook-free skiing in transitions. Swami Gripe: Our biggest skiers and our most dynamic skiers wanted more energy return and stability at top speeds. The 96 gets a bit flighty there although the edgehold is unwavering. Swami Like: Ski buying is about matching up skis to skiers: If you appreciate a beautiful round turn and like to ski off-trail too, but don’t hammer all day every day, the Ripstick 96 is worth a look. “A great ski gets even better,” said a tester with suspect patella tendons who keeps his speed in check and arcs round turns.
11. Liberty Evolv 100 | Dimensions: 139/100/122 | MSRP: $850
The Evolv 100 is a carryover ski from last year, but sometimes it takes a year for new skis to catch on with our testers. That might be the case with the Evolv 100 which features Liberty’s Vertical Metal Technology or (VMT) that beefs up a ski without weighing it down with full sheets of horizontal metal. “Damp super cruisers that love speed and reward hard-charging,” said a tester that likes to cruise. “The tip of the ski is like a battering ram,” said another. Look here if you love a quiet ride above all else and aren’t looking to pop dramatically from turn to turn. Dampness is the overarching trait. Swami Gripe: The Evolv line would benefit from more life in the form of both energy return, and a more playful feel when scrubbing turns off-trail. Swami Like: Said a tester: “Smooth flexing ski that can handle a few skiing styles, but is more powerful than it feels at first. You can mix up the turn shape at will, and it’s anything but nervous.”