2021 Women’s All-Mountain East Skis

2021 Women’s All-Mountain East Recommended Skis

For the advanced woman, the All-Mountain East category is most likely the best place for her to hunt for her one-ski quiver.  In our view, the 88mm-93mm waisted ski possesses the optimal surface area and shape to deliver adequate flotation in broken snow without creating a ski so wide that tipping it on hard snow potentially puts the knee joint at risk. The more petite the person, the more this prescription pertains.

Read More

Most of our top picks are remarkably balanced, meaning they deliver outstanding performance yet are eerily easy to ski. Blizzard’s Black Pearl 88 has sustained this delicate balancing act for several seasons, becoming the number one selling ski in America over that span. Its boffo box office inspired its competitors to raise their game in response, flooding the AME with more options for the advanced woman than any other genre.

When we factor in the terrain versatility the archetypical All-Mountain East provides, we’re led to the conclusion that for many female skiers, East or West, these skis bring the best bundle of behaviors to the all-terrain party. 

For in the final analysis, it’s the adaptability to a broad palette of conditions that makes the All-Mountain East genre the home of do-it-all ski for women. Thanks to their shape and fairly svelte mid-section, they carve up groomed runs with aplomb.  While they’re not as quick edge-to-edge as a slalom ski, they’re plenty nimble enough to snake through bumps or slip through trees.  Of course they can’t float in freshies they same way a fatter ski can, but how many runs do you get in uncut snow, even on snow days?  They have as much flotation for the average woman as a 98mm-waisted ski has for a man, which is sufficient in all but the most luscious, bottomless conditions. 

The 2021 Women’s All-Mountain East Field


The All-Mountain East field has solidified its position as the dominant genre in the women’s market.  Any doubt of its supremacy was wiped out by a flood of new models this season, headlined by Blizzard’s latest iteration of its best selling Black Pearl 88.  Hoping to lure a few lasses away from Blizzard’s embrace are this roster of fresh talent: Dynastar M-Pro 90 W, Fischer Ranger 92 Ti WS, Head Kore 87 W, Liberty evolv90w, Nordica Santa Ana 88 and 93, Rossignol Blackops Trailblazer and Stargazer, Salomon Stance W94 and W88, Stöckli Nela 88 and Völkl Blaze 94 W.

This tsunami of model turnover is testament to the runaway popularity of the All-Mountain East genre.  No other genre can match its versatility, a statement that remains true regardless of the female skier’s ability.

Our unique methodology this season unavoidably curtailed our coverage of several deserving models, including 2020 Recommended medallion winners the Völkl Kenja 88 and Blizzard Sheeva 9. 

Realskiers’ 20/21 Women’s Ski Test: The A-Team Steps Up

 My ski season ended on March 13, and with it any hope of business as usual. When the hammer fell, my scheduled women’s test session was still two weeks from launching. How could I credibly report on the current crop of women’s skis – including some important new models – without any data to support my assessments?

Read More

I turned to the one cadre of skiers who had already skied this year’s top models: the women who serve as test pilots for the major brands’ product development teams.  Every one of our 20/21 women’s ski reviews is authored by a veteran evaluator, some with over 20 years experience. Naturally, their reviews reflect their personal experiences and are therefore biased in favor of the brand and model under review. Whatever the shortcomings of an explicitly prejudiced point of view are more than compensated for by personal insights into the process of creating these models.

To learn about the women who penned these reports, please visit our Women’s Test Roster.

Völkl Secret 92


Tester: Kaylin Richardson

The Secret 92 is the single ski quiver for the powerful female skier. Its versatility continues to blow me away. It is the first ski I’ve had the pleasure of owning that I can pull out on any given day, with any given conditions, and never have any regrets.

As a former ski racer, and 5’10” woman, I can overpower many women’s skis when I really go for it. The Secrets are slightly stiffer than some of their contemporaries and I love that. Their multilayer woodcore and full sidewall design make for a ski that holds an incredible amount of energy without requiring a herculean effort. This is what initially impressed me most and keeps me coming back to the Secret day in and day out: the magical combination of power, versatility, and ease.

Since riding these boards I haven’t had to hang my head because I accidentally grabbed my powder pontoons on a bluebird groomer day or held back my cursing when I’m stuck with carving skis as a surprise blizzard arrives.. The Titanal Frame creates a stability I can trust at speed on any surface, yet I still get the dynamic feedback of acceleration, arguably the most fun part of skiing. They are playful without being squirrely, cutting through virtually any snow condition like butter.

Read the full review here


Head Kore 93 W



Tester: Robin Barnes

Hummina, hummina, hummina. This ski made my heart go pitter-patter! When I first picked it up, I wondered if the lightness of its construction could stand up to a variety of conditions and speeds. Shame on me for doubting. It dazzled me on groomers, sliced and diced through the crud, and perhaps most astonishing was the way it deftly handled frozen corral-head bumps covered in 10 inches of heavy pow.

The Kore 93 W shows great versatility in being gentle and easy to tip and carve at lower speeds, but throw it into gear and it rips robust trenches or massacres any ungroomed condition that you throw at it. The ski is equally stunning at high edge angles or low edge angle steering, pivoting, and shmearing. At 93mm underfoot, there is really no reason to fret about which ski to bring for the day. It does it all and makes you feel like a champ doing it.

The Kore W series was adopted from the non-gender-specific Kore line with very little modification for the women’s version. Since it was a already a winner as a light weight, supremely versatile ski, Head simply moved the recommended mounting point 1cm forward for the W series, to make the front of the ski even more accessible and let the rest of the technology speak for itself in the women’s market.

Read the full review here

Head Kore 87 W


Tester: Elaine Furtney                                          

The Head Kore 87W is quite simply the most versatile ski I’ve ever skied. Light, playful and maneuverable, it boasts stability and edging performance that rival that of your typical “carving” skis.

Pairing a modern tapered tip and tail with a svelte 87mm waist allows heretofore unimagined playfulness and “surfability” in this category compared to anything out there. Suddenly a relatively narrow ski can rip up the groomers on that first corduroy lap, and show you refined and forgiving manners in the end of day slush and crud. The narrower waist gives the 87 edge to edge quickness that encourages snappy short turns and lets them dance through the moguls without fear of catching tip or tail.
On a bluebird 6-8” powder day with a fortuitous early up at 7:30, I skied spongy wind-buff, fluffy pockets of light snow, wind-scoured hard snow and groomers. Through it all, the Kore 87W behaved with impeccable manners and added joy to the day. It was literally great in everything!

This ski has such a huge sweet spot I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone from the aspiring advanced skier to the dedicated expert. I used to say “when you’re not sure which ski to bring, bring the Monster 88’s.” That has now changed to the Kore 87.

Read the full review here

Black Pearl 88


Tester: Cara Williams

I have been a part of Blizzard’s Women2Women movement for nearly six years now and the technology that Blizzard has created from our feedback keeps getting better. Enter TrueBlend Woodcore, a game-changing core at the heart of the new Black Pearl 88. During vigorous (yet fun) on-snow testing, the W2W group engaged in myriad conversations that led to the creation of the women-specific Black Pearl collection. The new Black Pearl 88 delivers stability at high speeds and in all types of conditions. Period. The 2020 skis are actually slightly heavier (+150g) than the previous model, but I discovered after only 3 or 4 high speed turns, is that once you click in, the function and performance outweigh the literal weight of a ski – it’s more important to be the right weight than light weight. The new Black Pearl 88 is less nervous, especially on harder and steeper snow, which is partly due to a women-specific Titanal platform in its midsection that runs edge to edge underfoot. The subtle rocker at tip and tail has less contact with the snow, for added float and liveliness. In all conditions the Black Pearl 88 conveyed a smooth and confident feeling that will benefit skiers ranging from novice to expert. Blizzard added a 177cm length and changed to 6cm size breaks that give the buyer more options. Every length is calibrated to create an optimal, round flex that travels well in all conditions.

Read the full review here

K2 Mindbender 88Ti Alliance


Tester: Emma Whitelande

I hop on the chairlift, three other women next to me, yet we don’t speak a word. We are all utterly focused on the run we just took and getting our thoughts down on our test cards while they are fresh in our mind. Now as I glance down, I see four different versions of what is to ultimately become the Mindbender 88Ti Alliance. This is the first test of many to come with the goal of creating one of the most versatile skis for women.

With each subsequent test and discussion, we all agreed we sought to create a ski that felt stable, balanced and confidence inspiring to a range of skier types. Too heavy of a ski would steer many women away, but too light meant the ski would constantly deflect and bounce around. An overly stiff ski would require too much muscling and race technique to get the ski to bend.

Titanal Y-Beam construction evolved through the process of developing the desired weight and stiffness for the women’s 88Ti. Titanal is laid over the ski in a ‘Y’ shape creating the flex profile, producing precise turn initiation while allowing for easy release out of a turn. Having the metal laid out in a ‘Y’ allows for a weight savings while maintaining desired stiffness. The Titanal Y-Beam created for the Mindbender 88 Ti Alliance became the design that was applied to the rest of the Mindbender collection, both for men and women.

Read the full review here


Mindbender 90C Alliance 


Tester: Kim Reichhelm

When we design a new ski the first thing we do is develop the chassis (the shape of the ski including sidecut, camber and rocker) that will be the basis for each women’s mold. At K2, all women’s skis have their own, length-specific mold.

My days of being a big mountain ripper are past. I have a closet full of trophies and a body covered in scars. My goal these days is to be the most fluid skier on the mountain. I want my skis to complement my style and not punish me when I make a mistake. The Mindbender 90C Alliance is my go-to resort ski and the most popular ski for my Women’s Ski Adventure clients. The C stand for carbon; there is no metal in this ski making it more flexible tip to tail, which allows it to engage into the turn easily and be more forgiving coming out. The carbon adds torsional rigidity that keeps the ski from chattering on hard snow and adds some snap for carving and in bumps. The versatility of this ski is what makes it so fantastic. It carves, it skids, it’s fun in the bumps and even has some float in a little bit of fresh snow. The best part is, I don’t have to work hard to ski fluidly on this ski.

Read the full review here

Nordica Santa Ana 88


Tester: Brooke Froelich

First day I skied the Santa Ana 88 was for a photo/video shoot on a spring storm day with heavy snow. I was hesitant to ski with a new pair of skis under those conditions. However, the SA 88’s were super intuitive to ski. By my second turn, I forgot I was on a new model. They were stiff enough to cut through crud, and playful enough to quickly respond in powder or variable terrain. Just a SUPER all-around fun ski! For only being 88mm underfoot, I thought I might have to work a little harder in powder. Not much! I still bring this ski on powder days, and always have fun on them.

Now, is it a true powder ski? No – you’re going to get more face shots with the 88s than you will on the 110s. You’ll work a little harder in deep powder, but it will stand up to anything you encounter.

Additionally, this is HANDS DOWN my favorite pair of skis for the backcountry. The SA 88 is relatively lightweight for how responsive and solid it skis. I like a ski in the backcountry that will let me confidently hop turn in a chute, that will solidly bust through sun crust, and will be a PLEASURE to ski for the patches of powder we find along the way. If you want a one-ski quiver, the Santa Ana 88 will do ANYTHING you want her to.

Read the full review here


Liberty evolv 90w


Tester: Kim Beekman

The evolv 90w is an all-mountain multi-tool designed to make your face hurt from smiling so hard. Designed with Liberty’s revolutionary Vertical Metal Technology—struts of metal sandwiched vertically between lightweight wood stringers, rather than two sheets of metal laid above and below the core—this ski has all the confidence-inspiring stability and edge-grip without the muscle-burning weight. It goads you to go faster, ski longer, explore further, and is always up for the challenge. The 90 waist is perfect for venturing all over, from arcing perfect turns on groomed to surfing boot-top fluff in the trees. It’s also remarkably forgiving when you want to back it off and slide it around; it readily welcomes your input.

It’s poppy, playful, responsive, and yet bites like hell when you want it to. If you’ve never skied a Liberty before, this is the one to try.

Read the full review here


Dynastar M-Pro 90 W


Tester: Pauline Astruc

The M-PRO 90 W is an all-new woman’s freeride ski that we launched as part of Dynastar’s new M-Line collection. We’ve introduced the ski in three sizes (154, 162, and 170cm) with sidecuts specifically adapted to each size to better address the size specific needs of every type of female skier. Featuring a directional freeride shape, this is a ski that really bridges the freeride/all-mountain segments and offers fast and precise performance for advanced to expert women skiers.

We are fortunate to have our home at the foot of Mt. Blanc in Chamonix. The access to every variety of terrain and snow condition allows us to gain a strong understanding of a ski’s strengths and weaknesses. Even with a freeride ski we will generally begin development on piste as this is where every little imperfection can be felt. For the M-Pro 90 W I began on a mid-steep slope with northern exposure, slowly rolling the ski from edge to edge and then progressing on later runs until I was really skiing fast. My initial impression was that I was on a slalom ski. The instant engagement and quickness edge to edge was amazing. Later, when moving into mixed snow conditions, the combination of our Hybrid Core construction and Rocket Frame Ti insert allowed me to continue pressing the gas with a level of confidence I hadn’t really experienced before. Quick and nimble, yet strong and damp. Really the perfect combination for a fun, confident everyday ski that’s not overly demanding yet delivers strong performance and pure all-mountain versatility.

Read the full review here


Rossignol Experience 88 Ti W


Tester: Claire Challen

If you’re looking for a one-ski quiver for both groomed and un-groomed trails, the Experience 88 Ti W is for you. Whether you’re a seasoned intermediate starting to explore off-piste terrain or an expert skiing all over the mountain in any conditions, these skis will take you where you want to go with confidence. The Experience 88 transitions from off-piste to on-piste terrain with ease, making them my go-to choice for the majority of days on the mountain. I know I’ll always have a good time no matter the conditions. I use my Experience 88’s for my own free-ski play days because I like to explore off-piste but I also to like to ski fast on groomed trails. They’re also fantastic do-all skis for instructing because I can confidently navigate all terrain and snow conditions, switching up trail choices per the needs of my clients. The 88’s are playful and easy to turn yet also stable at higher speeds. I can go from solid carving turns on groomed and hard-pack conditions and hop over to an un-groomed trail for some fresh powder turns. These skis are a well-utilized pair within my quiver.

Read the full review here


Nordica Santa Ana 93


Tester: Madeline Dunn

The entire Santa Ana collection this year blew me away. Growing up as a Junior Olympic and NorAm level ski racer, I expect excellence when it comes to big mountain skis.  I need a ski that can turn on a dime, float in the powder and rip the groomers, often on the same run.

This Santa Ana 93 does just that for me, day after day. It’s my go-to ski for any day that I plan to take at least a few groomer laps, knowing I’ll be off-piste on every other run. Being a racer, I never gave up that desire for the best and most responsive equipment. I grew up racing on Nordica and still ski their entire quiver to this day.

This year’s collection of Santa Ana skis dials down the dosage of metal to a single sheet of Titanal that varies in dimension by model and size. As a female who has skied both the Enforcer and Santa Ana collection, this shift to one piece of metal instead of two in the women’s line has been a game changer for the brand.  One piece of metal delivers just the right amount of sturdiness while also keeping the ski lighter for a lady that likes to ski bell-to-bell.

Read the full review here