2021 Men’s Frontside Skis

2021 Men’s Frontside Skis

The frontside of the mountain may not be the most topographically diverse part of the hill, but the skiers who populate it are the most polyglot we’ve got.  Timid intermediates, cruising seniors, the terrain park contingent, ski school classes, pods of families and lone dive-bombers all crowd into the same space and try to pretend they’re the only ones there.  No wonder we refer to the frontside as a zoo without cages.

Appealing to this many constituencies requires all kinds of skis, from relative noodles to absolute rails, most with system bindings and some without, a few built for comfort and a lot built for speed. It’s the largest field we examine and perhaps the trickiest to find the perfect match.  The feature all these skis share is a waist that is neither skinny nor fat and a design that expects to be exposed primarily to groomed terrain.

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Almost every entry-level ski for the neophyte falls into this family, but there are also a lot of choices for skiers who prefer to fly around at 50 mph. The intended terrain is almost exclusively groomed, but the wider bodies within this family will travel off-slope if asked.  Because carving turns is the aspirational activity associated with skiing on groomed trails, this genre is often tagged with the “Carving” label, but we’ve chosen “Frontside” as it’s a more ecumenical term that includes a lot of non-technical skiers in its cadre.  It’s also germane to mention that the very best carving skis aren’t necessarily in this compendium as they are invariably on the narrower end of the spectrum, which is not the ski world’s current flavor-of-the-month. 

The majority of skis in this genre are sold with an integrated binding that is inextricably married to a specific model.  While the binding company is responsible for the binding design, it’s up to the ski maker to assemble the interface that secures it to the ski. The integrity of this linkage varies from brand to brand, but the idea behind the so-called “system ski” does not: the binding sets in or on an interface that adds damping, reduces the binding’s natural impingement on ski flex and increases the skier’s leverage over the edge.

There are countless iterations of Frontside skis not covered here for several reasons:

  • The ocean of entry-level packages resides at the bottom of this pool, skis bought primarily to fit a price as much as a purpose. They are generally unavailable for ski testing or demoing.
  • Skier interest in the genre is generally declining as skiers opt for wider and wider footprints. Covering 30 more models would stir up more confusion than sales.
  • Skiers looking for real carving power in a ski less than 80mm underfoot often eschew the narrower recreational carvers for full-on Race skis.

Note we’re not omitting narrower carvers because we don’t like them; generally speaking, the narrower (68mm – 74mm) Technical models do a better job of digging into an arc than the models the market – that’s you, Dear Reader, and your ilk – have embraced as your preference.  Rather we have given them their own proper home among our Realskiers categories, tucked between Non-FIS Race and Frontside.

The best skis in this category are unabashedly skewed to the very skilled skier who lives at a high edge angle.  They do not stoop to conquer, with mushy, terrain-conforming baselines that mask a skier’s aptitude for cutting a clean edge.  They like their snow hard and the throttle open.  Defying both conventional wisdom and our own expectations, top Power models continue also to be among the highest rated for Finesse properties, indicating that it’s possible to make a ski that blazes down the mountain that also feels neck-reining simple to steer. Of course we unearthed a few Power potentates with a more typical disdain for slow, mincing turns, and a miniscule minority of Finesse favorites designed to boost their pilots’ prowess and self-esteem.


The 2021 Men’s Frontside Field

Last year a flood of new models hit the Frontside field, with new series from Atomic, Dynastar, Elan, Fischer, Nordica, Salomon and Völkl inundating the largest cast we examine.  While there’s less model turnover this year, we still counted ten new Frontside skis, seven of which earned Recommended medallions.

Among new models, two totally fresh Supershapes from Head earned the highest aggregate scores. The new e-Titan and e-Rally have never been better or more differentiated: the e-Titan clearly has a taste for off-trail terrain, while the e-Rally revels in classic, short-radius carves.


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In the same league as the new Supershapes is a returning legend, Kästle’s MX83. Its immaculate edge treats gravity’s pull as its plaything. Competing for the same skier is Völkl’s new Deacon V-Werks, which goes for a completely different snow feel, with ultralight carbon doing the heavy lifting.

As you might expect, the most accessible new carvers come the Kings of Kindness at K2. The widest models in its new Disruption series, the 82 Ti and 78 Ti, are intuitive cruisers that are more relaxing to zip around on than the typical carver.

Rounding out the Recommended rookies is Völkl’s re-designed Kanjo 84, one of the few models at its price ($700 MSRP) to earn a spot on a roster loaded with talent. 

Power Picks: High Speed on High Edges

There are several strata of lower-priced Frontside skis made for skiers of modest ambition.  You won’t find any of them here. Our Power Picks are intended for experienced skiers with a full skill set; edge grip at high speed is a paramount virtue. The better the skier, the better the match with the skis identified here. They aren’t trying to teach you how to ski fast on firm snow – they expect you to already know how.

This is where we issue our annual caveat that a great Power ski is often accompanied by inflated Finesse scores, a signal from the testers that they feel the ski has no flaws or limitations. Point being, a high Finesse score doesn’t guarantee that the model will be easy for anyone to ski, only that it feels automatic to a highly adept expert.

2021 Frontside Skis 

Völkl Deacon 84



Two years ago Völkl resurrected its beloved Mantra by concocting a new technology called Titanal Frame; last season, Völkl applied the Titanal Frame touch to its Frontside family. The new pater familias is the Deacon 84 and like the M5 Mantra, it represents a return to traditional Völkl values.

Compared to the RTM 84 it replaced, the Deacon 84 has more edge-gripping power, more energy out of the turn and an overall bigger performance envelope. It’s not just better than its predecessor; it out-scored the entire Frontside field in the primordial technical criteria of early turn entry and short-radius turns, as well as earning the top Finesse score in the category, not bad for what is inherently a Power ski.

What is it about the Deacon 84 that allows it be all skis to all (Frontside) skiers? It’s the alluring combination of a fiberglass torsion box and tactically placed Titanal parts that nullify shock without stifling the glass structure’s naturally springy nature. It’s exceptional rebound – it will lift you right off the snow if you punch it – derives from the Deacon 84’s 3D Glass, top and bottom glass laminates that come together above the sidewall to create a torsion box. The 3-part Titanal Frame anchors the forebody and tail while allowing the center to react to pressure, so the glass can compress and load up energy for the turn transition.

Read the full review here

Kästle MX83



The reason the return of the MX83 ought to interest experts everywhere is because it responds so intuitively to technical commands. All you have to do is look where you want to go, and you’re there. Its fully cambered baseline feels super-glued to the snow, inviting speeds that would cause lesser lights to shake loose. Most skis this torsionally rigid don’t flow over and around moguls too well, but the MX83 has an almost liquid flow bred into its bones.

One of the best indicators of a great ski is how well it performs in conditions for which it wasn’t made. By this measure, the MX83 remains an all-time great. Sure, it’s a gas to make deep trenches in corduroy at speeds that on another ski would be terrifying, but the MX83 adopts the same attitude towards all terrain. It doesn’t care where you point it because it’s confident in its abilities, a self-assurance that invariably rubs off on its pilot.

If it sounds like the MX83 is too much ski for you, in one sense you’re right and in another you’re dead wrong. You’re right in that you may never live up to the capabilities of this extraordinary ski; it’s ceiling will forever be above you. But you’re wrong to think the average skier can’t savor its delights. The MX83’s size range is skewed short so that lighter or less talented skiers can experience perfection without necessarily being able to epitomize it.

Read the full review here

Head Supershape e-Titan



Of Head’s four Supershape models, the one that underwent the most telling transformation for 20/21 was the e-Titan.

It’s not just that the e-Titan has plumped up to a 84mm waist; it’s also been trimmed down at tip and tail. By taking some of the shape out of the sidecut, the e-Titan has become more adapted to uneven terrain and even powder, while the e-Rally remains an unadulterated carver. To put it more plainly, the e-Titan is more at home in a big-bellied GS arc while the e-Rally is genetically inclined to SL turns.

Comparing the new e-Titan to the Titans of yore, the latest issue feels smoother flexing and easier to compress at less than rocket speeds. Reducing the core profile underfoot and making the middle of the ski softer allows it bend more fully, unleashing the e-Titan’s flawless grip. The flex pattern is matched to the sidecut and baseline of each length to achieve a more fluid, balanced flex pattern that makes skiing feel as natural as walking.

Some carvers can be finicky – they’re wonderful to ski as long as you do it according to their definition of what’s right. But the shallower sidecut of the e-Titan makes it more open-minded. Pick a turn shape, any shape, and the e-Titan can dance to it. Pretty much anyone can hop on a pair and have fun as its slick blend of carving power and drift-ability opens up the bottom end of its ability envelope as well as ungroomed side of the mountain.

Read the full review here

Liberty V76



The V76 imparts a thrilling cocktail of sensations that don’t normally mix. It’s inherently both lively and damp, urgently on and off a steeply angled edge or content to ride a relaxed, languid arc. Best of all, it’s instantly accessible; you don’t need to adapt to it because it’s already one move ahead, adapting to you. For this reason it’s a brilliant re-entry vehicle for skiers who have been out of the sport for over a decade and want to try something that is both new and yet familiar.

The unique construction that allows the V76 to simultaneously maintain world-class snow contact and sensuous snow feel is Vertical Metal Technology (VMT). VMT consists of vertical aluminum struts that run tip to tail. When it was introduced last season, the V76 had two such struts; for 20/20, Liberty has added a third to boost its effectiveness on hard snow. As you might imagine, a longitudinal vertical strut will resist any force that tries to bend it, which is how the V76 is able to achieve such unshakeable edge grip.

“The ski was quiet but not dead,” notes master ski technician Theron Lee. “The ski follows terrain well and its liveliness was much appreciated.” The V76’s full range of talents is certainly best appreciated by a skilled technical skier like Lee, rather than someone who still stems their turns. Its 15m-sidecut radius favors the skier who like his turns tight and tidy, although it only takes a tweak of edge angle to extract a longer turn.

Read the full review here

Völkl Deacon V.Werks



All carving skis are judged by how well they maintain edge connection on hard snow. Classically, the key to keeping a ski quiet all along its edge was to ladle on the Titanal, a proven method that achieves its damping objective in part by its mass. As a leader in lightweight design, V.Werks instead turned to its wheelhouse material, carbon, to make a damp, non-metal ski that would be light and responsive.

Several factors work together to make the Deacon V.Werks easy to steer into a tight-radius turn without a lot of encouragement from the pilot. The cambered center section of its 3D Radius Sidecut is slalom-turn tight (14m@172cm); all the skier has to do to activate it is raise the edge to a high angle, a normal move for anyone who knows how to carve. To make it easier to depress into a deep carve, the abbreviated camber line underfoot is fairly shallow and soft. The tip and tail rockers are long and gradual so the long-radius zones at front and rear don’t interfere with the ski’s quickness edge to edge. The absence of metal and low elevation of the Marker system give the Deacon V.Werks a clarity of snow feel and lively energy that’s relatively rare among elite carvers. In short, V.Werks hit its target: the Deacon is a high-energy carver that’s simplicity itself to steer for skiers with the requisite skills.

Read the full review here

Head Supershape e-Rally



In light of Head’s long history of making category-crushing carvers, it’s saying something to assert that the new batch of Supershapes is the best ever and that among them the e-Rally hits the sweetspot. At the first hint of recognition that its pilot wants to change direction, it dips and tugs into the turn; all it needs is a little more encouragement in the form of a tilted edge and it’s cutting a short-radius arc you couldn’t bobble if you tried. As the skier’s energy shifts to the tail at arc’s end, the e-Rally provides an earthquake-proof platform for transitioning to the next exhilarating turn.

With its 54mm-drop between tip and waist width along with two thick, end-to-end, wall-to-wall sheets of Titanal, you’d surmise the e-Rally isn’t open to suggestion about turn shape. But you’d be wrong. Sure, if you take full advantage of its sidecut you can cut a world-class slalom turn, but back off the edge angle and you can extract whatever shape you want.

A parallel point can be made about the e-Rally’s attitude about speed: it’s not mandatory to go 40 mph, but you’ll never discover the amazing effect of Head’s new Energy Management Circuit (EMC) if you don’t give it some gas. The EMC converts vibration to electric current at precisely 80Hz, so you have to generate enough shock to trigger the EMC conversion. When you have sufficient energy coursing through its system, the e-Rally becomes both calmer and more responsive, reacting to a jolt of added pressure with palpable forward propulsion.

Read the full review here

Völkl Deacon 80



There’s a trail of clues that would lead a ski behavioral therapist to believe that the new Völkl Deacon 80 is the inferior in the relationship with its bigger brother, the Deacon 84. For starters, there’s its price, which works out to $100 less at retail. Price is usually an indicator of the cost of goods, and sure enough the Deacon 80 uses glass for its 3-piece top laminate instead of the Titanal in the 84. And the Deacon 80 is, of course, narrower, which among carving skis can sometime indicate that it’s geared slightly lower.

While these indicators are all true enough, the reality on snow is that the Deacon 80 is definitely in its brother’s league but it offers a different bundle of sensations. It’s more of a step laterally than down the product quality ladder. It uses the same structure as the 84’s Titanal Frame, with glass in lieu of metal. The 80 copies the 3D.Ridge and 3D.Glass construction of the 84, it has exactly the same size splits (ranging from 162cm to 182cm) and while it’s slimmer, it’s thinner by the same 4mm everywhere, so its sidecut radius is also identical to the 84’s.

Read the full review here

Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 80 RB



The tip-to-tail camber line on the Spitfire 80 RB creates an instant connection at the top of the turn and releases energy at the bottom with a peppy pop. “A great dynamic performer,” assesses Start Haus’ Jim Schaffner. “I could have a blast all day on groomers with this one.”

The Spitfire 80 is available either flat or with its own plate and binding. This is not an idle choice, as the plate version doesn’t just change how the ski feels underfoot, it stabilizes the entire ski, as if the plate were full length. You might think a race-style plate would make the Spitfire 80 an unmanageable hellion in low-depth crud, but the opposite is true. If your plan for the Spitfire is to crush high-speed groomers in the early morning and you have the skills to commit your hips to the turn, the plate defangs all vibrations that might perturb your blazing descent.

To get full value out of the Spitfire 80, with or without the plate arrangement, it pays dividends to be skilled. Pay heed to the remarks of Corty Lawrence, who is the epitome of the strong, technical skier: “80mm is a good width – versatile yet still agile and playful. Like all Nordicas, you need to be lord and master,” by which he means you better be in charge or else the ski will be.

Read the full review here

Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76 RB



If you don’t know how to engage a ski at the top of the turn, and don’t care to know, you might as well stop reading about the Nordica Dobermann Spitfire 76 RB right now. It has the cleanest, highest, earliest connection to the next turn in a category in which this particular trait is prized. But if you’re still lingering on the downhill edge when you should already be tilting in the other direction, you’ll miss the moment. Don’t worry if you do, for the Spitfire 76 will find the edge as soon as you give it a chance. But part of what makes this review an unblushing rave will pass you by.

If you’re hooked on the G’s generated in a short turn, you’ll feel right at home on this cobra-quick stick. It has the reflexes of a fencer, moving unerringly into the center of the arc where it ignites and, as it says in its name, fires the skier across the fall line. The Dobermann Spitfire 76 RB has all the qualities a strong skier expects in a race ski, just de-tuned a red hair so it’s more fun for freeskiing. Jim Schaffner from Start Haus, a big man with an engrained race technique for which the term “powerful” seems inadequate, wrote of the Spitfire 76, “I felt like I could do anything on this ski. It’s fun, lively, snappy, with a dash of the Dobermann race heritage feel.”

Read the full review here

Dynastar Speed Zone 4×4 82 Pro



The American skier’s ongoing infatuation with fat skis has so distorted our collective notion of what an all-terrain ski should look like that we no longer remember the days when the best skiers’ everyday ride was a race ski or something similar. As recently as the late 1990’s, a ski as wide as Dynastar’s Speed Zone 4×4 82 Pro would have been regarded as a powder-only behemoth.

The 20/21 4×4 is attached to the Speed Zone family, but it’s actually a separate breed. In keeping with the overall trend to lighter skis, the 4×4 82 Pro uses a multi-material core with laminated beech providing the primary structure and a band of polyurethane (PU) between the wood and the outer sidewall. The PU adds a dampening element as well as being lighter than the wood it replaces.

For a ski with a race lineage, the 4×4 82 Pro is oddly more in its element off-trail than on, as it transitions from a carve to a scrubbed turn without a hitch. Peter Glenn’s Steve Parnell was impressed by its versatility as he navigated through a melee of spring conditions at Squaw Valley. “Went from groomed to crust to powder today. This one will make your day. Made it all easy.”

A well-balanced ski with nearly equal scores for all performance criteria, it should have a broad appeal across all ages and abilities.

Read the full review here

K2 Disruption 78 Ti



As befits the brand that made “rocker” an enduring entry in the ski design lexicon, K2 hasn’t paid much attention to the ski market below a 80mm waist width – where cambered baselines still dwell – since the brand lost interest in racing around the turn of the millennium. For 20/21, K2 has error corrected with a vengeance by launching the 10-model Disruption series of carving skis.

Both the power and forgiveness inherent in the Disruption 78 Ti derive from the same source, a single band of Titanal the runs nearly the entire length of the ski in a uniform width that matches the waist dimension. On soft groomers, it feels like the edge is cushioned yet never loses contact, thanks in large part to a baseline that has zero tail elevation and only a smidgeon of early rise at the tip.

While the Disruption 78 Ti is a departure from K2’s twin obsessions with Freeride and Freestyle designs, it’s pure K2 in its emphasis on ease of use. You don’t have to have perfect timing or Navy Seal fitness, just point, tip, repeat, and look Ma!, you’re carving! Okay, it’s not quite that simple, but damn near. Anyone buying his/her first pair of skis who anticipates staying on groomers for the foreseeable future will discover that the Disruption 78Ti encourages proper edging skills without requiring them.

Read the full review here

Atomic Redster X9 WB



The “WB” in this Redster’s name stands for Wide Body, but by today’s standards its 75mm waist looks painfully corseted. Its sidecut radius is only 13.5m in a 168cm, roughly the dimensions of a World Cup slalom. If the pilot tilts it to a high edge angle, it will tuck into a short-radius turn with the eagerness of a cutting horse cornering a calf. (Note that it earns a 9.0 for short-radius turns, one of the best scores in the category for this bellwether feature.) As long as it isn’t subjected to FIS-level speeds, its fully cambered baseline stays plastered to the snow. If the pilot gives it a little poke in the tail just for grins, it responds with a jolt of energy that carries you weightlessly into the next turn.

Well, weightlessly may be a stretch. The Redster X9 WB is hauling around a lot of Titanal in its pudgy frame, enough to keep its SL shape from getting too skittish at GS speeds. Surprisingly easy to ski, the X9 WB feels geared down to accommodate a skilled skier who may no longer be in tip-top race condition.

‘I didn’t know Atomic made a Redster in a recreational ski,” muses Theron Lee. “Great at slower speeds. Its width makes the ski easy to maneuver at lower edge angles without hurting its carving accuracy at higher angles.”

Read the full review here

Völkl Deacon 76



What a proud papa the Völkl Deacon 76 must be. When it slipped quietly into Völkl’s line two years ago to replace the creaky Code collection, all the ballyhoo was rightfully concentrated on the M5 Mantra. There was no hint at the time of the little Deacons in utero in R&D, gearing up to replace the redoubtable RTM 84 and RTM 81, veteran Frontside carvers that had come to the end of their dual-track lines. The new kids turned out to be real firecrackers, fulfilling every father’s dream of out-performing his expectations.

But as often seems to be the case with kids, they don’t want to do things Dad’s way. Where the Deacon 76 is quiet and unhurried, the Deacon 84 and 80 are bundles of energy. The Deacon 76 likes to luxuriate in a long turn that never loses snow contact; the kinder prefer a catch-and-release approach that involves pouncing across the fall line. The junior Deacons exude the tireless will to play of a Jack Russell terrier, while the Deacon 76 prides itself on energy conservation.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Firebird HRC



The new Blizzard Firebird HRC isn’t really a race ski – its dimensions run afoul of FIS regulations – but don’t tell it that. Despite its 76mm waist, the HRC thinks it belongs right between the Firebird WRC and Firebird SRC, Blizzard’s non-FIS GS and SL models, respectively. It may not be exactly what a meld of the WRC and SRC would look like, but it mimics their race-room construction and does its best to match their capabilities.

Please don’t get defensive, but if you don’t care for the HRC’s comportment, you may not be good enough for it. It uses bi-directional carbon weave both horizontally underfoot, for power at the top of the turn, and in vertical struts that keep it plastered to the snow through turn exit. The combination makes a ski that Corty Lawrence describes as feeling like a “quintessential GS. It needs to be stood on, no complacency allowed, don’t get lazy.

“When you stand on the edge at operating speed,” Corty continues, “the HRC is exceedingly rewarding. Super confident underfoot, it enters turns with enthusiasm (better be on the front of your boots!) and comes off the turn with ample energy (better be where you¹re supposed to be here, too!) Turn shape can be modulated with authoritative subtlety, which isn’t the contradiction it sounds like. Shorter turns can be accomplished at speed, but at pedestrian velocities it must be muscled,” Corty concludes.

Read the full review here

Salomon S/Force Bold



The S/Force Bold is an unapologetic Frontside carver. If you want to find out how deep a new snowfall is, take a run on the S/Force Bold and you’re almost certain to find the bottom. Any ski this stable can make its way through off-trail porridge, but it will send out the occasional reminder that you’re running against its grain. The reason the S/Force Bold is laden with dampening agents and associated avoirdupois is to maximize edging power and stability on hard snow, which is its happy place.

When it’s running fast and loose in its element, the S/Force Bold is “damp, stable, with very strong edge hold,” says Bobo’s Pat Parraguirre, identifying its dominant traits. “If you like speed and grip – this ski is for you! Great high-speed carver.” Note that Pat didn’t mention short, slow turns on his list of likes, for the S/Force Bold shows its disdain for their ilk by ignoring them entirely.

Longtime fans of Salomon skis will remember the Enduro, its last Frontside series to make bombproof long turns. The S/Force Bold represents a return to this type of damp, dedicated carver after several generations of lighter weight solutions. In a laid-over, big-bellied arc it’s as secure and comfortable as riding in the back of a limo.

Read the full review here

Liberty V82



Two years ago 3 brands introduced high-end models with vertical laminates made from metal or carbon. Liberty’s version, with two aluminum ribs trisecting the bamboo/poplar core, earned the highest scores from our panelists. Last season, Liberty added a third metal strut to the men’s V-series models it introduced the prior year. Liberty’s Vertical Metal Technology (VMT) is as effective a system for maintaining snow contact as any extant, short of loading the ski up with every dampening agent known to man. Theron Lee of Bobo’s succinctly describes how it feels: “damp but not dead.”

One reason the V82 skis so well is that the metal ribs don’t work alone. Two 1cm-wide swathes of carbon straddle the center strut, poured PU sidewalls have a calming effect on the edges they rest on and a carbon base layer adds bonus buffering. The result is very close to race-ski grip without having each run feel like a workout. If one word could characterize what it feels like to take a spin on the V82 it would be “natural.” There’s nothing to adapt to, nothing to figure out.

Read the full review here

Rossignol Hero Elite Plus Ti


You can tell a lot about a ski by its immediate family. Rossi’s Hero Elite Plus Ti is closely related to the Hero Elite LT Ti and ST Ti, both legit non-FIS Race models, even though the Plus Ti’s plus-sized shape (78mm) is many mm’s more ample than the 71mm waist of the LT Ti and 68mm midriff on the SL Ti. The Hero Elite Plus Ti not only uses the same construction as its gate-bashing sibs, its sidecut radius is the same as the ST’s in the167cm size preferred by slalom specialists.

Two years ago, Rossi converted all of the Hero Elite clan to a new damping system, Line Control Technology. (LCT). Instead of using horizontal sheets of Titanal, as has been the case for decades among race models, LCT uses a vertical Ti laminate down the center of the ski so the forebody is more resistant to deflection. Torsional rigidity is softened a tad to allow the deep sidecut to engage gradually and progressively as the ski is tipped and pressured. “Stable and forgiving into the turn,” assures Scott Sahr from Aspen Ski and Board, “without compromising edge contact.”

Read the full review here

Fischer RC One 82 GT


The new RC One 82 GT doesn’t get quite as large a dose of Titanal as its running mate, the All-Mountain East RC One 86 GT, but it’s hardly a delicate flower. A Titanal sheath rolls over the top of its Air Carbon Ti core, and another TI laminate gives it race-caliber grip underfoot. In the shovel and tail, the Ti is replaced with Bafatex®, Fischer’s own shock-absorbing synthetic. The RC One 82 GT uses the same triple-radius (short-long-short) as The Curv, so the softer zones on the ski curl more easily while the middle delivers unshakeable support.

Given its origins and substantial construction, you’d expect the RC One 82 GT to be “a blast at speed as much as mellow cruising,” as Ward Pyles of Peter Glenn discovered. “Super quick edge to edge,” he adds. “Fast, quick, rips everything,” concurs a Jan’s tester, whose boss, Jack Walzer managed to be even more succinct. Walzer’s one-word review: “Money.”

Read the full review here

Finesse Favorites: Easy Riders

The top echelon of unisex Frontside skis isn’t made for Finesse skiers, period, end of story. Finesse skiers are instead served by the cascade of step-down models that populate the bulk of the Frontside category.  Generally speaking, these lower priced models don’t stand a chance competing against the elite of the genre so you won’t usually find them among our Recommended medallion recipients. 

Any unisex Frontside model that earns its highest marks for Finesse properties is perforce an oddity, and so it is with this season’s tiny sample. The Blizzard Brahma 82 is a blast to ski despite having little in common with the Frontside community. The new Völkl Kanjo is the rare second-tier ski that can compete with the upper echelon despite its lower cost. And the new K2 Disruption 82 Ti brings K2’s legendary ease of operation to a category overloaded with Power options.  If you’re looking for a lightweight, pliable carver, these three are your best options.

Blizzard Brahma 82



This ski shouldn’t be here. Skis with a patently off-piste baseline have no business infiltrating the ranks of Frontside models, by definition the domain of deep sidecuts and highly arched camber lines. How does a ski whose Flipcore baseline is practically already bowing manage to mingle with the second cousins of true race skis? If a sitcom producer cast a story about the Frontside category, all the proper club members would be draped in Armani, while the brash Brahma 82 would crash the party in flip-flops, jams and a tattered tee.

In short, the Brahma 82 is here because it’s so damn easy and fun to ski. It’s one of a tiny minority of Frontside skis with a higher Finesse score than Power score. Of course, it’s ease of use wouldn’t mean squat if it couldn’t hold on hard snow, but the Brahma 82 grips ferociously because beneath its mellow exterior beats the heart of a lion. Two end-to-end sheets of Titanal are sandwiched with layers of multi-directional fiberglass around a poplar and beech core. Throw in a dab of carbon in the tip to keep the swingweight down and a dampening platform underfoot and you have many of the same components that power the rest of the genre’s best skis.

Read the full review here

Völkl Kanjo 84



The new Kanjo 84’s 3D Radius Sidecut is like an onboard coaching tool: the better the skier’s technique, the more often he’ll activate the Kanjo 84’s tighter turning center section. The more the skier can load the ski at the turn’s apex, the greater the rebound off the edge and across the fall line.

This level of performance “would not disappoint an advanced skier,” observes ski coach and tuning technician extraordinaire Theron Lee. “Smooth and easy turning, it’s able to carve with technique but just as happy to slarve into turns. Its fairly big sweet spot allows for a wide range of abilities, from solid intermediate level on up.”

Almost any model priced at the Kanjo 84’s $700 MSRP will satisfy the low-bar demands of intermediates. The beauty of the Kanjo 84 is it won’t overwhelm the first-time ski buyer yet has the performance ceiling of a much more expensive model. For a skier who can only get out a few times a year and is likely to spend that time on groomers, the Kanjo 84 is an outstanding value.

Read the full review here

K2 Disruption 82 Ti



K2 has always placed Forgiveness at or near the top of its hierarchy of desirable ski qualities. True to this heritage, the Disruption 82 Ti earned its highest marks for Forgiveness/Ease, which helped make it one of the few Finesse skis in a swarm of Power carvers.

The most obvious reason why the Disruption 82 Ti comes across as easier to ski is its width; at 82mm underfoot, and with a less radical sidecut than most Frontside Power skis, it’s easier to throw into a drift and it won’t buck when introduced to ungroomed terrain.

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