2021 Head Ski Brand Profile


Every brand, large and small, foreign or domestic, has to make a choice about how they want to build a ski. Once they settle on a construction and the equipment to execute it is on premises, they tend to stay with it for the long haul. Head’s wheelhouse construction could not be more fundamental or more sound: while other brands have obsessed with making a cheaper, higher margin ski, Head has stayed with what it knows will never fail them: a stout wood core, two sheets of Titanal and carefully calibrated, pre-impregnated fiberglass to wrap it all up. To those who might quibble some of Head’s skis are over-built, we would counter, wouldn’t you rather own a brand that errs on the side of excellence?

As an Austrian brand, Head has always placed a premium on race results, and its investments in this area are paying impressive dividends. In a sport where wins can be measured in the thousandth of a second, who comes out on top may appear serendipitous; when athlete after athlete is holding up a crystal globe recognizing a season of superiority, something other than serendipity is afoot.

While Head’s victories on the World Cup can’t be discounted, translating gold medals into dollars hasn’t been easy. The American market is not race-driven, to put it mildly. Americans want to go where they wanna go, do what they wanna, wanna do; we’re all about freeride, dude! Head, to its great credit, is first and foremost about technique. Head was the first major brand to treat the Carving trend seriously and make it part of its identity. Hooking into the top of a turn is part of the brand’s essential make-up. Even its recently retired off-trail Monster series has a baseline and tail design more like a carving ski than the typical smear sticks found in the Big Mountain genre. It shouldn’t surprise that Head’s off-trail skis once languished in anonymity in the U.S.

Until three years ago, when Head unveiled the Kore series. Seven years ago, Head changed its entire women’s collection, centering the new series on its use of Graphene, carbon in a matrix one-atom thick. Since then, Graphene has spread through every product category, finally reaching the off-trail Kore collection. Capitalizing on Graphene’s obscene strength-to-weight ratio, Head matched it with Koroyd honeycomb, a triaxial weave of carbon and ultralight Karuba wood to build the Kore’s core, topping it with fleece to minimize mass.

It’s no exaggeration to say the Kore series has catapulted Head into hitherto unknown sales territory for its All-Mountain, Big Mountain and Powder models. Head attempted another coup two years ago with a new lightweight series of system carving skis called V-Series (for its high taper ratio between tip width and tail width). The V-Series uses Graphene in a construction it calls LYT Tech, applying the same materials used in Kore models to make exceptionally lightweight carving skis. Paired commercially with the new Nexo-LYT boot – also built with Graphene and made to be as light as possible – Head is pioneering a new generation of skis that don’t require as much mass to be stable at speed.

Head is betting heavily that the LIB trend isn’t a fad but a here-to-stay reality. The V-Series of (mostly) Frontside skis, featuring LYT Tech, replaced the Instinct system skis that were built along the same Old School lines as the Monsters. The Monsters have now followed the Instincts into retirement, yielding their spot in Head’s line-up to the narrowest Kore, the new 87.

The contrast between Head’s two carving collections, Supershape and. V-Shape, couldn’t be starker. When Head added Graphene to the Supershapes a few seasons ago, it used the weight savings to add more metal to the mix. The V-Shapes eliminate metal everywhere but in the edges. The Supershapes aim exclusively at skiers with elite skills; the V-Shapes hit every price point from coach to first class. The V-Shapes also have companion LYT Tech boots, a high degree of product integration often seen in backcountry ensembles but not much elsewhere in the current market.

Another major differentiator of the V-Series is part of its name: compared to Supershapes, the V-Series tail is considerably narrower, allowing the less skilled skier to scrub the end of the turn with impunity. The gulf between the two carving families grew wider this year, as the 2021 Supershapes have raised their collective game with a new damping system that gives them a fifth gear.

That Head should continue to offer two families of carving skis with contrasting personalities speaks to both the popularity of on-trail skiing in Europe and the brand’s long-standing commitment to carving as the cornerstone of the recreational market.

The 2021 Head Season

Say a little prayer at the passing of the Monster series. The first Monster issued from Head’s R&D department while I was there in 2001, so I have a sentimental attachment to the collection. They were essentially carving skis in dimensions that would allow them to travel off-trail without changing their trench-digging instincts.  The Monsters were squeezed out of their home in the Head line by the invasion of the off-trail Kore collection that now reaches down to 87mm underfoot, and the widening of the Supershape e-Titan to 84mm.  The Old School feel of a race ski is no longer welcome in the New Age of lightweight, smeary freeride skis.


The Monsters became expendable when the Kore collection took off, with each new addition to the Kore family received by the market with open arms.  In light of the first generation of Kores’ overnight success, the arrival of a Kore 87 was all but foreordained.  If you are a fan of lightweight design and prefer your all-terrain skis on the narrower side, the Kore 87 will most likely be your favorite Kore of all.


Since the advent of shaped skis, no other brand has been as invested in the carving category, both financially and philosophically, as Head. Its 4-model Supershape series has been the benchmark for dual-track carving tools for a decade.  For 2021, the Supershapes receive a new electronic damping system called Energy Management Circuit (EMC). Unlike the KERS technology it replaces, EMC operates both fore and aft of the binding, where it intercepts and neutralizes shock waves when they hit 80Hz.  At speeds when many other skis begin to wobble, the new Supershapes purr contentedly along.


While the new Supershape e-Speed and e-Magnum retain their 2020 dimensions, the e-Rally plumps up to 78mm underfoot and the e-Titan is now 84mm.  The change more clearly differentiates the Rally and Titan, with the former the pure carver and the latter a more versatile all-terrain tool. Head has once again re-set the performance bar for classic carving instruments.


Head is the only major brand to have made an entire women’s collection from scratch, without reference to a single unisex template. Head refreshed its original Joy collection last season, beefing up their construction with more wood in the core to go along with its Graphene-infused glass. For 2021, there’s a new Joy at the top of the series, the aptly named Power Joy that uses Head’s premium Worldcup Sandwich Cap construction, embellished with EMC to ensure it has no top end.  Women who prefer to travel off-trail have a new option in the Kore 87 W, which to all intents and purposes is the same as the unisex Kore 87.


Race skis represent the pinnacle of ski design, perhaps because it’s possible to measure just how good they are. Head takes racing very, very seriously, so when it introduces a new shock-damping technology, as Head did this year with EMC, it’s a noteworthy event.  Its 5-model series of Non-FIS Race skis are just shy of World Cup caliber and a thrill to take for a spin.  I was lucky enough to catch a ride on an e-Speed Pro at Mammoth last February, a speedy suite of runs that still stand out vividly for their unshakeable calm. 


The abrupt halt to last season cancelled my plans for a test of the Non-FIS Race genre, but I still have my memories of a few moments at warp speed to console me and fuel my desire to turn pure power into boundless joy once again.

Kore 103 W

The sole new ski in last season’s Women’s Big Mountain genre was Head’s Kore 103 W. Last season, Head pushed the Kore collection down to an 87 on the skinny side of the width spectrum; the only direction left in which to extend the Kore clan was to go fatter. Hence the Kore 103 W. The last time Head ventured a women’s model in the Big Mountain category, it was the Joy collection’s first season. …READ MORE

Kore 105

Head doesn’t tout its 2022/23 Kore collection as new, because they didn’t change its 2021/22 models, they just swaddled them all in a top layer of urethane, to make them more scratch-resistant. For the narrower Kores, which will be exposed to harsher shocks on the hard snow where they’ll spend much of their lives, the new coating definitely quieted the skis down a tad. So, we’re treating the 2023 Kores, including the 105, as new, …READ MORE

Kore 111

Head doesn’t consider the addition of a urethane coating sufficient to qualify its 2023 Kore models as new, and in the case of the Kore 111 – the widest 2023 Kores we essayed – we concur. But answering the question of whether the 2023 version is a noticeable improvement over its near-clone predecessor isn’t as interesting as the fact that both ended up in the top spot in our Finesse rankings. What is it about …READ MORE

Kore 85 W

Head has so much confidence in the all-terrain capabilities of its off-trail Kore design that two years ago it discontinued its Monster series and chucked its classic, wood-and-Titanal construction, to make room for the Kore 87 in its collection.  Last year, the entire Kore family, including the re-christened Kore 85 W, was redesigned in several subtle ways to raise the performance bar even higher. From a global performance perspective, Head understands that not all Kores …READ MORE

Kore 87

How can a ski as narrow-waisted as the Kore 87 come across as the most versatile ski in its wide-body family? After all, the Kore collection is 100% an off-trail creation; its avatar should be the Kore 111, not this string bean. The improbable polyvalence of the Kore 87 is partly explained by a sleight of hand Head pulled off in the make-up of the narrowest Kore models just last year. Taking advantage of Graphene’s …READ MORE

Kore 91 W

The Head Kore 91 W is either the best women’s ski for off-trail skiing, or the best off-trail ski for women, take your pick. Don’t detect a difference? Neither do we. The properties that make the Kore 91 W a great women’s ski and those that make it ideally suited for off-piste conditions are the same. No matter which side of this equation you’re on, the Kore 91 W got a shot in the arm …READ MORE

Kore 93

Head ran its entire Kore collection through the re-design wringer only last season, so it was a bit of a surprise when only a year later all the Kores were given another collection-wide enhancement, in the form of a urethane topsheet. Chosen primarily for its protective qualities, the urethane layer also added a noticeable dose of smoothness to what was already a fabulous ski. A close examination of the cumulative scores for the 2023 Kore …READ MORE

Kore 97 W

Head’s Kore series provides a perfect example of why a great off-trail ski and an ideal women’s ski share the same design criteria. In 21/22, the changes made to the unisex Kore collection were ipso facto applied to its women’s iterations. The same alterations that make the new Kore 99 a better all-terrain ski also make the Kore 97 W a better women’s ski. The most visible change was to the topsheet, which is now …READ MORE

Kore 99

Just last season, Head invigorated its Kore series by making a handful of product changes that palpably improved every Kore model’s performance. You’d think the Austrian brand would rest on its considerable laurels, but it elected to add a urethane topcoat – like frosting on the proverbial cake – to help protect the top and sides from nicks and scratches. Lo, and behold, the addition of an end-to-end dampening layer gave the new Kores a …READ MORE

Supershape e-Rally

Head didn’t invent the shaped ski, but when the Carving Revolution was in its infancy it was the first major brand to commit to the concept with its Cyber series. Over the last quarter century its commitment hasn’t wavered, consistently offering several skis in its collection with curvaceous sidecuts. For the last decade, the focus of Head’s non-race carving models has been the Supershape series, a family that remains intact in 22/23, returning unchanged from …READ MORE

Supershape e-Titan

Of the four Supershape models, the one that underwent the most telling transformation two years ago was the e-Titan. In previous generations, the Titan and Rally were very close in every respect. In the current Supershape family, the e-Titan has put more distance between it and its thinner sibling. It’s not just that the e-Titan plumped up to an 84mm waist; it also was trimmed down at tip and tail. By taking some of the …READ MORE

Total Joy

Three seasons ago, the Joy family of women-specific carving skis underwent the same sort of across-the-board transformation that the Kore series experienced last year. Head’s justifiable focus on Graphene, carbon in a one-atom-thick matrix – that allows Head to tinker with flex in ways previously unimaginable – makes it sound as though the ultralight Total Joy were made of synthetics and pixie dust, but it’s actually grounded in an all-wood (Karuba and ash) core, with …READ MORE