Intelligent designs that are up for anything—and so fun to ride that you’ll want to take them everywhere. Watch how we tested for this year’s winners.
Nordica NRGy 100
BEST FOR: Ripping edge hold.
THE TEST: We found the NRGy ($799) worked best for directional skiing—meaning skiing through the apex of a turn instead of sloughing your skis around sideways. Credit the balanced mix of camber (for hard snow), rocker (for ease of turning and float), and tip and tail taper (for predictable tracking in soft snow). But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to groomers: it’s perfectly suited to directional skiing in uncut powder at top speeds.
THE VERDICT: Equal parts carver and soft-snow blaster. 136/100/120.
BEST FOR: Every mountain. Every day.
THE TEST: Take premium construction (wood, metal, vertical sidewalls) and add Blizzard’s best-in-class rocker technology and you get a ski that’s as lively as it is damp. The harder you tip the ski on edge, the more contact you get. But if you want to stand up and float pow turns, that same rocker gives you ample buoyancy—even with the 98-millimeter waist.
THE VERDICT: If you spend 40 percent of your time on groomers and the other 60 percent off-trail, this is the only ski you need. 133/98/118; $850
Head Venturi 95
BEST FOR: Skiing made easy. Easy like Sunday morning.
THE TEST: The price would indicate cheap construction. But the Venturi 95 ($600) comes complete with a high-quality wood core, all-terrain rocker, a sandwich layup, and vertical sidewalls. The 16-meter turn radius felt familiar to a wide range of testers. Back off the gas and it’s perfectly adept at squirreling around in trees in search of powder nuts. Push it on hardpack and it only gets more dynamic and stable.
THE VERDICT: It nearly won the category. 140/95/126.
K2 Shreditor 102
BEST FOR: No-B.S. shredding nationwide.
THE TEST: The brand-new Shreditor 102 ($660) skis well on groomers, but it excels in real-world off-trail conditions. The extra-damp ride soaks up chunder. And the ability to endlessly vary the turn shape means you can run them down the open face, into the bumped-up gut, through the trees, and over the rock into the chute.
THE VERDICT: “The perfect off-piste ski,” said a tester. “It does everything you ask.” 131/102/127.
BEST FOR: Stability without the demands.
THE TEST: Völkl reinvented the Mantra ($825) for 2015, incorporating full rocker and a wider footprint. You simply tip the ski onto its edge and arc away. The design takes some life out of the experience, especially at the end of the turn, but you never feel you’re going to get slapped. Off-trail, the same full rocker—abetted by subtle tip and tail taper—lets you slough your turns at will.
THE VERDICT: As close to autopilot skiing as you can get. 132/100/118.
Rossignol Experience 100
BEST FOR: Replacing your entire ski quiver.
THE TEST: In the new Experience 100, Rossignol’s engineers have incorporated much of what they’ve learned in their wildly successful 7 series of big-mountain boards. Thirty percent of the ski is rockered for easier transitions, while the lighter-weight honeycomb Air Tip cuts swing weight and further enhances flotation. The result: it was silly fun in six-to-ten-inch storms. But because 70 percent of the Experience 100 is traditionally cambered, and the guts are crafted from wood and metal, it can lay a mean carve, too.
THE VERDICT: Our favorite all-mountain ski this year. 140/100/130.
BEST FOR: The adventuresome.
THE TEST: Subtle taper and ample rocker in the shovel of the Q-98 ($600) make it loose and surfy, while the traditional flat tail means there’s still a stable platform to finish the turn when the powder is no longer bottomless. Carving isn’t its forte, but the Q-98 is a silky, shock-absorbing ride in everything from firm bumps to consolidated crud.
THE VERDICT: The Q stands for “quest.” It’s a line of skis designed to explore the entire mountain. And Salomon nailed it. 134/97/120.
Atomic Vantage Theory
BEST FOR: Anything but brutal hardpack.
THE TEST: A full 75 percent of the Theory ($600) is cambered, and the tip rocker extends down only 15 percent of the shovel. Instead of a layer of metal, which adds mass, here you get carbon. The result is a nimble feel on- and off-trail with very little swing weight. The Theory pivots and surfs easily through crud and bumps but got a bit chattery on ultrafirm groomers.
THE VERDICT: More evidence that you don’t need huge girth to ski off-piste. 132/95/121.