You Need New Skis
We've narrowed the field to the six best of the year. Now, use our Terrain Meter to choose a pair based on the conditions you ski the most.
Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Dynastar Contact Cross Ti
Add a layer of metal (preferably titanium alloy) to a frontside ski and you instantly quiet the ride, absorb high-frequency chatter, and boost the speed limit. The Cross Ti delivers all that without sacrificing slow-speed performanceunlike with carving skis of old, you don’t need to bring it up to 30 miles an hour and jump on it to get a crisp, round turn. And because it isn’t as twitchy as some carving skis we tested, you can throw it around easily enough in bumps and ungroomed snow. “The Cross Ti is a versatile and damp frontside ski for someone who loves making round turns on nice corduroy,” said one tester. 120/72/104; $1,100; dynastar.com
Ski Review: Elan Speedwave 14
The theory is this: The wave-shaped structure of this ski is supposed to allow for an easy longitudinal flex without sacrificing torsional rigidity for edge hold. It’s a good idea, but earlier models sometimes buckled under load—and had a tendency to skitter away from you. This year Elan has finally perfected the technology, and our testers found it a breeze to vary the Speedwave 14’s turn shape by backing off for longer arcs or jumping on them for shorter swings. The edge hold matched the more race-inspired skis in the test, and the overall feel was of a buttery carving ski. 123/72/105; $900; elanskis.com
Ski Review: Scott Crusade
The Crusade slaughters variable terrain, letting you slink through the bumps, launch over a gap jump in the park, and still float some powder turns during a storm. “It’s quick and agile and you can throw it around at your whim,” reported one tester. With a 92-millimeter-wide waist, soft flex, and a concave tip for flotation, it’s somewhere between a hard-charging big-mountain ski and a pure carving ski. For a fun day spent exploring the entire resort, you can’t pick a better weapon. 133/92/122; $825; scottusa.com
Ski Review: Line Prophet 100
Is it a fat all-mountain ski or a skinny big-mountain ski? In light of how much fun it is on groomed terrain, we’re going to go with the former. While these traditionally cambered boards easily trounced all comers in the flotation and soft-snow departments, if you know how to drive ’em, you can lock them into big, clean turns, too. Carving them isn’t as mindless as with our favorite frontside skis, but for an everyday, do-it-all ski anywhere out west—or back east at powder-rich Vermont resorts like Jay Peak and Smugglers’ Notch—the Prophet really is prophetic. 134/100/125; $800; lineskis.com
Ski Review: Salomon Shogun
Not all rockered-tip big-mountain skis are the same. Whereas the SideStash is directional and powerful, the Shogun is loose and playful. Its twin tips and lightweight, eco-friendly bamboo-and-hardwood core combine to make a ski that excels in soft snow and tight spaces like chalky chutes and overgrown glades. “They call it a big-mountain ski, but it’s the perfect resort ski for a western skier who’s always poking around looking for the goods” is how one tester put it. 130/101/120; $1,100; salomon.com
Ski Review: K2 SideStash
Of the 55 skis we tested this year (for this issue and our winter Buyer’s Guide, on newsstands now), the versatile SideStash was hands down our favorite big-mountain board. It’s damp and stable enough for high-speed groomers but light enough for short backcountry tours and hikes. An upward bend in the tip keeps the new SideStash floating in powder or thick crud, but the standard flat tail lets you finish your turns on trails at the resort. “This ski does everything a western powder skier needs it to,” said one of our testers. 139/108/127; $950; k2skis.com