Score a perfect ride—floating in powder, grabbing big air, blitzing the entire hill—with the best new skis and snowboards

Nov 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
skis reviewed

Photograph by Mark Wiens   

The Confidence Builder
Fischer AMC 76

Length tested: 182 // Sidecut: 120-76-106 (tip-waist-tail)
Wood-core skis are justly celebrated for their lively feel, but Fischer's new AMC proves that a weight-shaving wood-and-carbon-fiber core blend can run with (and past) the best of them. Credit the ski's patented Railflex2 integrated binding system, which settles the boot into the ski's chassis and allows an even and consistent flex throughout. On multiple laps at Colorado's Aspen Highlands, my AMC 76 bit into firm groomers like a pit bull, but the adequate waist width helped it ride comfortably through variable crud once I got off the manicured trails. The most versatile ski of the bunch. $1,050, bindings included;

The Masterpiece
Zai Siegiu

Length tested: 170 // Sidecut: 118-76-103
Part art project, part trophy ski, Zai planks are handcrafted in Switzerland. Yeah, they're showy, but they're also top-flight performers. They shined brightest on hard snow at slightly slower speeds, thanks to easy turn initiation and strong edge hold. An ash-and-titanal topsheet damped vibration nicely on high-speed blues, and the shorter length helped them jitterbug nimbly through thigh-blasting bump runs. They're not wide enough to excel on powder days, but you can't have it all, even for the price of a Zermatt vacation. $3,500, bindings, poles, and ski bag included;

The Punk Rider
Atomic Sweet Daddy

Length tested: 181 // Sidecut: 119-80-105
It's a shame that all absent-father problems aren't so easily fixed. Filling a significant gap in Atomic's lineup, the Sweet Daddy stands out with slim dimensions, a lightweight foam core, and a slightly shallower sidecut than that found on its brethren, the Big Daddy and the Sugar Daddy. This ski was happiest carving sweeping, powdery turns, but it also rips just fine on firm steeps. Atomic's Beta Cap design minimizes ski twist when on edge, providing superior grip. The reasonable price and understated graphics belie this ski's power and control. $749 (skis only);

The Mixed Master
Völkl Unlimited AC4

Length tested: 184 // Sidecut: 125-82-110
Völkl has come a long way from its racers-only pedigree. And the Unlimited best represents the brand's growing commitment to high-performance, all-mountain planks. Benefiting from Völkl's new double-grip design—a raised profile on both sides of the ski to better transfer energy to the edges—and a lively popple-wood core, this ski instantly elevates any skier's ability. In Crested Butte Mountain Resort's Phoenix Bowl, which offers some of the most intense lift-accessed runs in the West, the Unlimited ran fast and sure over a variety of terrain, arcing across sun-baked bumps, through crusty glades, and into tracked-up powder without missing a beat. $1,065, bindings included;

The Phat Cat
K2 Apache Outlaw

Length tested: 181 // Sidecut: 124-88-111
If you have a search-and-destroy attitude about powder stashes, the Outlaw is all the ski you need. It reigns supreme in knee-deep, whether you're in bounds or outside the ropes. The wide platform skittered a little on hard snow but made up for it in the soft stuff, where it powered through variably deep, jerky, and at times perfect powder with gunslinging authority. A weight-saving alloy layer and touch of flex make the big boards surprisingly responsive in the bumps, while they still cut long, gracious GS turns on lower-mountain runouts. $875 (skis only);

The Soul Slider
Salomon Teneighty Gun

Length tested: 185 // Sidecut: 122-90-115
The foam-core Teneighty Gun, with its surf-inspired name, is a slightly stiffer version of the Pocket Rocket, Salomon's pioneering twin-tip powder plank. At Crested Butte, these all-mountain skis were perfect for the north face's chutes, bumps, and trees. They also provided a blissfully chatter-free joyride on a high-speed, mile-long cruiser. These skis are too wide for a full day carving hardpack, but if you seek out the softer parts of the hill, the Guns will have you chasing an endless winter. $795 (skis only);