By Steve Woodfield
In our second installment of the best winter gear of 2013, we’re looking at alpine skis. Those lift-line elitists snickering at your old traditionally shaped skis could use some manners, but they’ve got a point: the new rockered shapes make skiing more fun. Which ones should you buy? There are two schools of thought. One, invest in a quiver. If you already have a modern set of day-to-day frontside or all-mountain skis with some life left in them, pay for a professional tuning, keep them in rotation, and consider some powder skis for the times you skip work to chase fresh snow. The second line of thinking: Ditch your fully cambered relics in favor of a pair of do-everything all-mountain (East Coast, Colorado) or big-mountain (Utah, California, Washington) skis that rip on groomers, navigate bumps, and float enough for storm days. Here we review the top performers from our Snowbird, Utah, ski tests. They’re all great skis; the goal is to find the ones that best suit the conditions and terrain you ride most often. So while it might be tempting to get some huge and surfy powder skis, if you see only four or five blower powder days a season (be honest with yourself), those fat boys are probably not your best choice.
Dynastar Cham 97
Rocker (an upward bend of the ski) and taper (a narrowing at the tip, tail, or both) are arguably the biggest innovations since metal edges. Getting the right balance is the tough part.
For any skier north of 160 pounds who likes stability at speed and steady tracking through leftover, variable snow, the Bonafide is the genuine article.
Black Diamond Equipment Verdict
At under 10 pounds, the Verdict is lightweight enough to tour all day in the backcountry, and it’s stable, predictable, and floaty enough to rise above weird snow anywhere.
Salomon Rocker 2
The new Rocker 2 is at its best when it’s sniffing out hidden powder stashes—these are nimble, quick, loose soft-snow skis. The buttery Rocker 2 lacks high-speed stability and edging power, but you won’t think about that when you’re throwing them into powder piles in the forest or detonating fluff bumps beneath the chair.
Photo by Zach Dischner