Meet the Rippers

Head Monster 88

Head Monster 88     Photo: Photo by Mark Wiens

Over several weeks of testing at three resorts Colorado's Copper Mountain and Utah's Snowbird Resort and Powder Mountain our crew skied hundreds of runs in variable conditions on the best skis the industry has to offer. Here's this year's standout.

Head Monster 88 (126/88/112) $950 head.com

1. It's a friendly monster. Our advanced-intermediate testers felt like heroes, our former U.S. pro said it "laid a nice rail," and everyone in between praised its ability to stick on hardpack, plow through crud, and provide the overall smoothest ride of any of the skis we tested.

2. Sure, this year's Monster 88 was upgraded with better graphics. But what you can't see is what really counts. Copper fibers placed in front of the binding are designed to absorb vibrations and also make the ski more torsionally stiff. It's called Intelligence Technology, and it works.

3. A silver spruce wood core surrounded by a sheet of metal alloy provided a soft, smooth flex "like riding a stick of warm butter," said one tester. But that didn't make the ski floppy: Thanks to a solid, ABS-embedded sidewall, there's no annoying chatter, even on the firmest of hardpack.

4. "This ski popped out of turns on ice and turned quickly in the bumps," said one tester. Credit the Monster's Liquidmetal technology for all that maneuverability and snap: A mix of three or more metals, when cooled the alloy has more than twice the strength of titanium.

5. Racers might find it too damp or sluggish at high speeds, but everyone else should find it just right. The Monster is neither the lightest nor, at 88 mm underfoot, the fattest ski we tested, but you won't sink in powder, and you'll appreciate its heft when blasting through crud.

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