Downhill Skis

Two for the Snow

Pick one frontside ski (1, 4, or 5) and one fat powder board (2, 3, or 6) and you'll be set for the season

Downhill Skis

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1. Fischer Watea 84_$825

Whereas most skis take a few laps to figure out, the Watea 84 runs on intuition. “I was immediately comfortable and confident on this ski,” said one tester. “It’s stable, with serious edge grip, but just wide enough for decent flotation.” The proven sidecut and 84mm waist contribute to that performance, but most of the credit belongs to Fischer’s I-Beam construction: two carbon-fiber stringers inside that add stiffness without adding weight. Though the Watea can get a touch skittish at high speed, it transitions from soft snow to groomers flawlessly. 126/84/112;

2. Salomon Czar_$925

Whereas most reverse-camber (rockered) powder skis were made with hard-charging experts in mind, the Czar brings effortless powder skiing to the masses. It makes you feel light on your feet, practically popping to the surface even in six inches of powder. And you can pivot-turn it with very little muscle or momentum. There’s also 10 cm less rocker in the shovel than inSalomon’s full-on reverse-camber Rocker, so when you hit hardpack, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to skitter away to your death. “Silky smooth in variable snow,” said one of our testers. 128/108/118;

3. Blizzard Titan Argos IQ_$925

A couple of years ago, your 95mm-waist skis were superfat. Now, not so much. In fact, skis have gotten so plump so quickly that some of our Silverton Mountain testers/guides were calling anything skinnier than 110 a mid-fat. With that in mind, consider the Argos your expert-level all-mountain ski for places like Snowbird or Whistler. It floats nicely in powder and tracks steadily through old, broken snow, but it also lets you rip big GS turns on hardpack. With a beefy sandwich construction, it can be a little overbearing in crust, but that’s a minor quibble. 132/101/118;

4. Kastle RX_$1,450 W/ BINDING
If there are days when you just want to crank out metronomic turns on the corduroy, then the RX is your ski. This is a race-inspired board for the whole hill, complete with aluminum binding plates for power and a damping but lively wood core milled from vertical strips of ash. Square up to the fall line, tip it into a turn, and feel the RX’s edges penetrate even the hardest of hardpack. And although it has race-ski guts, what really impresses us is the RX’s versatility: You can arc tight slalom turns or open it up and run. 118/70/100;

5. Rossignol Classic CX 80_$1,400 W/ BINDING
Featured in our winter Buyer’s Guide (on newsstands now), the 2009 Gear of the Year–winning CX 80 redefines how quickly an 80mm-waist ski can turn. It’s built to the same specs as Rossi’s World Cup race skis (seriously), so you might think it’d be too much ski for anyone who lacks quads the size of hams. Not so. The mid-fat waist lets you float turns on demand—and is surprisingly versatile. You can chase boot-deep powder, blast super-G arcs, and then reel it back into slalom mode in a flash. “Rock solid and unwavering on firm snow,” said a tester. 124/80/112;

6. Nordica Helldiver_$1,168 W/ BINDING
Think buying two new pairs of skis is overkill? Simply can’t bear the thought of selling your guitar to pay for them? Then we recommend the Helldiver. If you split your time evenly between the hard and soft stuff, it’s the best option here. With a 90mm waist, there’s enough float for fluff skiing, but the aggressive sidecut and sandwich construction let you tip it into powerful carved turns effortlessly. It can feel a little wide for all-day groomers when you’re really laying it over, but both the edge grip and supple ride are impressive. 132/90/118;

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