2021 Women’s Frontside Skis
2021 Women’s Frontside Skis
Only a few years ago, the women’s Frontside genre looked something like the men’s. Now about all the two different collections have in common is a multiplicity of price points that cover the needs of entry-level skiers and those stepping up to something a bit better. Where the two categories diverge is the high end of the market, where the men ride metal-laden carvers with thick plates, integrated bindings and deeply scalloped sidecuts. Today a woman’s Frontside ski is likely to have a design originally intended for off-trail conditions, with no plate and no system binding. A woman looking for a genuine carving ski will find them tucked away in the Women’s Technical category, arguably the most invisible genre on the American market.
The epicenter of the women’s market has shifted to the All-Mountain East category, with its promise of all-terrain versatility. The women’s Frontside genre has become the home of the step-up ski, a model that will help you improve so you can finally make the move to off-trail skiing. It’s presumed that the already accomplished woman will gravitate to something wider or else use a unisex ski if she really wants a high performance carver.
The 2021 Women’s Frontside Skis Field
The majority of the models in the Women’s Frontside field are made to fill the first few price points in their respective lines. The presence of all these packages (skis and bindings sold as a unit) is about the only characteristic shared by the Women’s Frontside family. The top models – the slice of the market Realskiers’ testers are most likely to try – seem to have little in common save for a waist that measures between 75mm and 84mm underfoot.
The one brand that treats the Women’s Frontside field as quintessential carvers is Head, that happens to be the sole supplier to build its current women’s line from scratch, without reference to any men’s template. In keeping with the rest of the market, its Frontside collection is multi-tiered, serving all women from never-evers to the highly skilled.
Blizzard makes a collection of women’s carvers called Alight, but the U.S. market is so enamored of Blizzard’s Flipcore design that the Alights get overlooked in favor of two skinny Black Pearls, the 78 and 82. The former is one of the best value buys in America and the latter is reviewed below by Blizzard test pilot Keely Kelleher.
Fischer’s entry is a clone of its RC One GT, a hybrid design blending carving and off-trail elements and loaded with Titanal (.8mm laminates). Fischer draws no distinctions between its men’s and women’s models, so talented lasses can step into the RC One GT WS without trepidation.
K2’s Anthem system skis, like the LUV models that preceded them, serve a broad swath of intermediates who prioritize comfort and ease of use. In our 2021 test exercise, the Mindbender Alliance models introduced last year drew all the testers’ attention away from the Anthems, so you won’t find them here. One of the best value buys anywhere, Nordica’s Astral 84, is likewise overshadowed by its redesigned Santa Ana collection.
Skis made for first-time buyers who are moving on from rentals or hand-me-downs don’t normally attract the attention of ski testers, so you won’t find reviews here of Dynastar’s new M-Pro 84 W or Völkl’s redesigned Yumi 84, two of the best “step-up” models for ladies looking to improve their skills.
To learn about the women who penned these reports, please visit our Women’s Test Roster.
2021 Women’s Frontside Skis Profiles
Dynastar Intense 4×4 82 Pro
Tester: Jennifer Simpson
I’ve had the chance to ski the Dynastar Intense 4X4 in a variety of conditions and found it to be a versatile Frontside adventure ski. Face it, at most resorts the powder does not last all day and having a ski that performs well in a variety of conditions is key. These skis are great for days when you are likely to encounter a variety of snow conditions, or when you plan to ski a variety of terrain. In my experience, they’re nimble enough for moguls, stable at speed on the groomers, and provide enough float for forays into frontside powder stashes in the trees or beside the trail. This ski is fun, fun, fun on the groomers, and while they’re wider than my go-to carving skis, they’re quick edge-to-edge and will leave satisfying deep grooves in the corduroy. I’ve found it to be nimble enough for moguls, and especially enjoyable when there is powder or soft crud snow in the bumps. 82mm is a great width for light powder days, where this traditional feeling ski provides some extra float and smoothes out the ride compared to narrower Frontside skis. These skis perform very well up to medium-fast speeds in powder, bumps, and crud. If you like to go on the faster side, or are a more powerful skier, you might consider going up one size from your usual length to keep the tip stable and feel confident when plowing through piled up snow.
Read the full review here
Liberty evolv84 w
Tester: Kim Beekman
This year, Liberty moves its VMT—Vertical Metal Technology—into its women’s line of all mountain skis with two new evolv models, and all I could utter after trenching up Steamboat’s corduroy during a ski test is a breathy, “Thank you.” The 84 is a built to be an all-terrain vehicle (between the racy V and freeride Origin lines), with a touch of tip rocker and progressive flex, but it definitely prefers to mach the groomed at eye-watering speeds. That’s not to say it’s impatient, however; it will hold your hand and coach you into a carve if you’re an advanced intermediate. As for the VMT (which made its women’s debut last season in the V frontside carvers), I’m not sure how this homegrown brand in the Vail Valley managed to invent something so groundbreaking, but I do know it works.. In my humble opinion, it unequivocally puts this former pow-ski brand in the big leagues when it comes to edge grip and stability.
Read the full review here