It’s all about balance: too stiff and you won’t be able to de-camber them—you’ll be stuck with poor glide and a twitchy ride. Too soft and your weight is unevenly distributed, which saps power as you push through each stride. We ran laps at Eldora Mountain Resort’s Nordic Center, outside Boulder, Colorado, exchanging Madshus’ top-shelf race skis for its high-end but more affordable Terrasonics. What did we find? A minimal weight penalty but the same quality base material and a quieter ride will make for a mellower learning curve.