By now you’ve probably been up to your favorite ski resort(s) a few times and you’ve realized that, instead of trying to make do with your old skis, it would have been more fun to have some new ones. Not to worry. Here are some excellent all-mountain skis you can grab now to take advantage of the remaining months of the season. Order today and you can have them by the weekend.
Outside Magazine’s 34 dedicated testers rated the following skis at the top of their class for “All Mountain” models — that is, skis for those who hit a variety of resort terrain in a variety of conditions: early-morning groomers, powdered trails, and the back bowls. And you can find some good prices now online.
K2 SideStash: Gear of the Year for 2010
Outside testers chose the K2 SideStash as the 2010 Gear of the Year (and Skiing Magazine designated them the 2009-2010 “Best in Test Winner” ) due to its balanced performance in a wide variety of conditions. They said it handles powder so well you probably won’t need a pure powder ski (unless maybe you live in Squaw Valley), yet its metal-and-wood laminate construction is burly enough to handle crusty, first-thing-in-the-morning corduroy. The gentle tip rocker allows you to initiate turns with little tip pressure, yet they float effortlessly to the surface in the light stuff. Skiers of all levels praised the SideStash’s controllability. The testers recommend that they be paired with a Marker Duke Binding to create the ideal combo for backcountry as well as resort hard-pack (not to mention spring snow). (Tip: 139 mm; waist: 108 mm; tail: 127 mm) Get the new K2 SideStash here for an excellent discount.
Rossignol Phantom SC 87: Chosen as “Killer Value”
The testers at Outside loved the value-versus-price of the Rossignol Phantom SC 87 and they awarded them the “Killer Value”designation. They liked it in every condition, terming the ski “silky,” “energized,” and “stable but completely maneuverable.” Rossignol has paid careful attention to the balance between the ski’s longitudinal flex (lengthwise bend) and torsional flex (side-to-side bend). One tester stated simply: “This is one of the best skis I’ve ever tested in any category.” (130/87/116) The retail price is $750 but you can get them for a discount here. Here’s a video review of the Phantom SC87 from Skis.com:
Right now, Skis.com is offering a nice deal: get a free Nordica Flake Hoodie or Wild Hoodie with any purchase of $299 or more at Skis.com → Click here to shop at one of the most comprehensive ski stores online and get a free Nordica Hoodie. Ends 1/31/12.
On with the reviews of all-mountain skis…
K2 Apache Xplorer
Due to its versatility, the K2 Apache Xplorer has become a success story for K2 since its introduction last year. As Outside summed it up: “Bring the Xplorers up to speed and they’re as damp and predictable as any ski in this test. Ski them lazy and slow and they won’t buck you. In other words, K2 has mastered the easy-to-ski, mid-fat, all-mountain ski.” The skis are known for their generous “sweet spot.” One tester said, “Anybody could ski it at any speed on any mountain.” It has a wood core that consists of fir and aspen for strength, durability, and energy. The construction, plus the width and sidecut dimensions make the ski responsive yet fairly forgiving. (128/84/112) Get them here along with bindings for a serious discount from REI.
Head John 94
Outside’s highest-scoring ski in the all-mountain category is the Head John 94. This twin-tip ski combines big-mountain capabilities with technical riding. From blasting through trees and powder to arcing race-style turns, this ski is tremendously versatile. “Fun, fun, fun,” said one of Outside’s testers. The company that builds skis for Bode Miller and Swedish free-skier Jon Olsson knows a thing or two about how to build performance into a wood-core ski. The “94” in the product name refers to the 94-mm waist — a width that makes this ski excellent for broken or cruddy snow while retaining the carving characteristics that allow for making GS-style turns on groomed runs. This ski is more for advanced or expert skiers. (132/94/119) Get it from Altrec for over $200 off the suggested retail price.
Here’s a video of Jon Olsson having fun on his Head skis (from Seven Sunny Days by Matchstick productions. See their new film, The Way I See It):
Salomon X-Wing Fury
Here is an excellent all-around ski for just about everyone — the Salomon X-Wing Fury, a ski that fits a wide range of abilities. This is the successor to one of the best-selling skis of all time, the Salomon X-Scream, and now takes its place as the flagship of Salomon’s line of all-mountain skis. Unlike the X-Scream, however, which labored in deep snow, the X-Wing excels in it. The 85-mm waist and the wood core provide both excellent shock absorption and enhanced edge holding. As one of Outside’s testers said: “Everyone will love it.” Of the X-Wing Fury, OntheSnow.com stated: “Likely the best all-mountain ski ever made.” Ski Magazine awarded it a gold medal in 2008-2009. Why get 2 or 3 different skis when the X-Wing Fury will handle just about anything you throw it at? (126/85/113) Get it here (plus bindings) for a good discount.
Fischer Watea 94
The Fischer Watea 94 is a great all-mountain ski for lighter or less-powerful skiers. From Outside’s review: “From the ‘powder hull’ tip — it’s shaped like the prow of a ship — to the loose and playful feel, this ski was built with the resort powder skier in mind. On the groomed trails the Watea is predictable and stable.” Skiingmag.com wrote: “It scored its highest marks in stability and is, predictably, cool and calm even at top speed.” They noted that once it gets up to speed it is maneuverable and stable, but it does not particularly like short turns. Powder Magazine said: “This might be the most backcountry-ready ski out of Fischer’s freeride line.” (130/94/118) Find it here for a good discount off the list price.
Scott’s Team Issue Poles are made from aircraft-grade aluminum (twice as strong as the industry standard) and have a simple, durable strap. The 3-section Black Diamond Expedition Poles maximize pack space and adjustability with their FlickLock mechanisms; the top of the Power Series grip is reinforced so you can use it to pry open frozen buckles. Leki’s Speed S Carbon Trigger Poles have a quick-release button on top of the grip so you can click the strap in and out conveniently; the straps also release automatically should you snag your pole on a tree, reducing the possibility of injury.
If you want the most eco-friendly ski poles you can get, check my review of the bamboo ski poles from Soul Poles.
Here’s a good video on ski pole considerations:
Have fun during the rest of the season. And if you don’t get enough days in with your new skis, remember that the southern hemisphere ski season (Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, etc.) will soon be here! 🙂
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