2022 Men’s All-Mountain West Skis

2022 Men’s All-Mountain West Skis

If there is a single, do-it-all ski – particularly for western, big-mountain skiing – it no doubt lives in this category.  The reason is simple: up to this girth (95mm-100mm), these relatively wide skis don’t feel fat underfoot, so they ride the groom like a Frontside ski yet provide as much flotation in powder as possible without the width being a negative when the powder is gone.  Manufacturers recognize the importance of this genre and therefore give it their very best effort, creating a rich array of options for the high performance skier.  It’s remarkable that one category can contain so many different sensations and almost every ski is really, really good.   Pay attention to this category, Dear Reader, for if you don’t already own an All-Mountain West ski, you will.

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A mere 15 years ago we would have choked on these words, as skis 100mm underfoot then were niche models positioned as ideal for Alaskan heli-guides. The evolution that has taken place in the interim was triggered by the arrival of the Völkl Mantra in 2006, at first in the slightly more svelte waist width of 94mm. As with most Völkls made for men, then as now, there was no skimping on the quality of the construction: the Mantra was a rich, powerful ski right out of the chute. It performed like a soft GS race ski, but in a width that tracked through powder like the blitzkrieg, taking no prisoners. It quickly found a following due to Völkl’s already swollen ranks of faithful adherents, attracting the attention of every other major brand. (Nothing engenders a wave of imitators quite like creating a new niche with a high price tag.)

Driving the success of this genre is the eternal hope that part of the do-it-all equation will be a generous dose of fresh, deep powder. If you eliminate powder, and its evil twin, crud, from the mix of conditions in which you’ll use the ski, there’s no compelling reason to increase the ski’s flotation. But unless you live at the base of the ski resort, you can’t be sure what you’ll encounter on a big mountain; if a pocket of powder suddenly becomes available, wouldn’t you rather be on a ski that will embrace the situation? This is the mentality that has persuaded an increasingly large percentage of the market to gravitate to this genre.

Most, if not all, print-published ski tests would include under the All-Mountain West heading skis up to 110mm underfoot. Their inclusion is, in part, driven by the manufacturers, who want to increase the number of star products in this critical genre. But we believe bundling models on either side of the 100mm divide ignores a vital distinguishing trait: narrower skis put less strain on the skier in every condition but powder/crud. Sure, young bucks who log countless miles on western slopes use 108’s (and wider) as their everyday ski, God bless them. But we feel that the skis between 101 and 113mm underfoot should be treated as Big Mountain models that transparently sacrifice certain hard snow behaviors to achieve greater flotation – and presumed ease – in unbroken snow.

Within any genre there are skis that are curl-in-your-lap pussycats – our Finesse Favorites – and skis that are relentless fall-line predators, which we collect into our Power Favorites. The key virtue of the former is they improve ease and terrain access for less aggressive, lighter weight or lower skill skiers. The archetypical trait of the Power posse is they are utterly unflappable no matter where you go or how fast you go once you get there.

There isn’t a line of copy in any ski supplier’s brochure that would suggest their All-Mountain West ski possesses a single limitation, but this untempered enthusiasm conveniently overlooks a critical factor, namely the prospective skier’s skill level.

To be brief, anyone who would not classify himself or herself as advanced is looking behind the wrong door. To be less brief, if you don’t regularly tip the ski to a high edge angle, if you don’t ski with your feet extended away from your body, if you don’t have separation between the central angle of your upper body and the median that runs from your hips to your feet, if you don’t ski comfortably at speed, then you should look for a Frontside ski that will help you develop these skills.

The problem is that if a lower-skill skier acquires a model with a 100mm waist too early in his/her development, forward progress will freeze, slow down or even regress as the wider ski proves too cumbersome to tilt. The skier will probably feel better in powder and crud, but that’s about the extent of the benefits.

The 2022 Men’s All-Mountain West Field


The All-Mountain West category, while not as densely populated as the broader All-Mountain East genre, is commercially at least as important. No other category exerts as strong an influence on a brand’s image, in part because the best skiers on a given (most likely western U.S.) mountain most likely ride an AMW model as their daily driver. Its importance to all ski brands is underscored by the number of new and significantly improved models introduced this season: of the 19 models we examined, 8 are new, or 42% of the field. That’s a lot of fresh faces for a year during which product development was difficult at best.

Two of this season’s debutantes ended on top of our rankings, with Völkl’s M6 Mantra assuming the throne as best Power model, and Head’s Kore 99 earning best-in-show for Finesse properties. Both are utterly amazing in completely different ways. Kästle launched two new AMW missiles, the FX96 Ti and the surprising ZX100, bringing its model total in the genre to three. Note that the unchanged MX98 remains one of the top AMW models.

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Atomic is also introducing two new AMW models to go alongside a returning staple. The new Maverick 100 Ti and Maverick 95 Ti aim at the same all-terrain target, and both exhibit laudable Finesse traits, but the 100 Ti’s superior flotation in soft snow and better grip on hard snow gives it the edge in our team’s estimation.

Liberty modified its evolv 100 by adding a third alu strut to its Vertical Metal Technology core, in the process transforming it from a mellow Finesse model to a fall-line charging Power ski, a clear demonstration of VMT’s efficacy.

One new model that would have earned recognition for its Finesse virtues, only we didn’t tally enough ballots to rank it, is Salomon’s totally overhauled QST 98. While the QST 99 it replaces was a fine all-mountain ski, the arrival of the Stance 96 last season rendered it redundant. The new QST 98 widens the behavioral gulf between the two Salomon AMW entrants with an amply rockered baseline that delivers a bit of drift with every arc.

All unisex All-Mountain West models, whether new or returning, biased towards Power or Finesse properties, lightweight or burly, strive to serve two masters by providing enough surface area to facilitate off-piste skiing while retaining basic carving skills for when the off-trail is off-limits. AMW Finesse models focus on making off-road terrain easier to tame for less aggressive skiers, while Recommended Power skis come alive at higher revs. Once infused with speed, the top Power skis don’t so much float over choppy terrain as demolish it.

Power Picks: All-Condition Chargers

Not all the best skiers on big mountains use All-Mountain West skis as their everyday ski, but the ones that do are probably on one of our Power Picks. It’s not that less skilled skiers can’t handle them if sized appropriately, but these skis aren’t meant to mosey down the mountain. They’re built to batter down the stiffest crud, an approach that only works if the throttle is open. If you’re an expert skier and you haven’t tried one of these models yet, don’t let another season go by without doing so. To paraphrase the late, great Warren Miller, if you don’t do it this year, you’ll be another year older when you do.

To inject a personal note into the proceedings, I adhere to my own advice, choosing an All-Mountain West Power ski as my daily driver. If you’re a western skier who logs more than 30 days a season and charges the fall line, you probably already have one of these models. If you don’t, get one.

Völkl M6 Mantra


 Any time a brand introduces a fundamentally new technology, it takes a couple of years to learn how to optimize it. Now that Völkl engineers have tinkered with Titanal Frame for a few seasons, testing countless iterations, they’ve found a way not only to perfect the benefits of Titanal Frame, but to magnify its virtues with a couple of complementary components. The marriage of the new Tailored Titanal Frame with 3D Radius Sidecut and Tailored Carbon Tips has created a new benchmark for the genre, that will, in all probability, soon be recognized as one of the greatest all-terrain skis of all time.

Let’s dive into the details. The key to Titanal Frame is breaking what is normally a uniform topsheet of metal into three sections. The fore and aft sections of Titanal are shaped like an elongated “U”, with metal concentrated around the perimeter. The alu alloy here is .7mm thick, much thicker than usual, which accentuates the tip and tail’s connection to the snow, somewhat counterintuitive for an all-terrain ski.

The center section, which doesn’t mesh with the tip and tail pieces, is .3mm thick, a brilliant touch as it makes the center of the ski more flexible without losing its damping qualities in the critical underfoot area. This feature matches up perfectly with 3D Radius Sidecut, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Read the full review here

Kästle MX98



The MX98 is an outlier in the All-Mountain West genre, the only ski in the category that headlines a family of fully cambered carving skis. Its only concession to the requirements of off-trail travel is a long (270mm) front rocker that’s so gradual it’s imperceptible. Given that its classic, wood (silver fir and poplar), fiberglass and Titanal (.5mm sheets) core isn’t particularly lightweight, how can it ski comparably to an armada of competitors with double-rockered baselines and lighter weight constructions?

Well, it doesn’t. It behaves differently from most (not all) of its competition in how well it maintains snow contact. What’s remarkable is how well this translates to the irregularity of off-trail skiing. While the MX98 can float in fresh snow, it’s not bobbing on the top as much as it is trenching through whatever lies ahead, regardless of depth or consistency. Its chassis may be built for carving, but its 98mm girth at the waist allows it to plane sideways – in test-card parlance, to drift – over the most manky crud with a calm that would make the Buddha proud.

When pointed downhill, the MX98 gets the message to giddy-up, hewing close to the fall line. Finishing a short-radius turn on edge isn’t going to happen, but the MX98 can switch from a carve to a drift, and visa versa, in the blink of an eye, so it can always swivel across the hill to brake or change route.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Bonafide 97

The Blizzard Bonafide has been at or near the top of our All-Mountain West rankings since it burst on the scene about a decade ago. While it’s undergone four or five tweaks since its debut, its enduring excellence is due primarily to what hasn’t changed: the original Flipcore construction that removes all stress from the rocker/camber transition. As soon as the ski is pressured, the transition zone disappears and the full length of the ski finds the snow. A Bonafide feels engaged from tip to tail because it is. This is the foundational reason for its sustained success.

Over its relatively long lifespan, the Bonafide has found a few thorns in all the roses thrown its way. One criticism is that its brawny build is best managed by experts, and there’s something to this claim in that the Bonafide performs better with some energy flowing through it, meaning it likes to be ridden fast. Some find it boring and wonder what the big deal is. In the Bonafide’s defense, all high-performance skis perform better under an expert’s guidance and an affinity for speed is not, by itself, a demerit. Furthermore, if you want rebound energy out of a Bonafide you have to load it. If you just stand there looking cute, it won’t react because you haven’t told it to.

While there are worse problems to have, being known as an experts-only ski is a concern nonetheless, one Blizzard addressed last year with the introduction of the TrueBlend core. The objective of TrueBlend was a smooth, round flex adapted for every size, married to a flex pattern and baseline likewise adapted by length. The key to its execution was the precise location of denser strips of beech in a predominantly poplar core. Each size was treated like its own model, so the shorter skis were also softer and more accessible to lighter and lower skill skiers.

Read the full review here


Nordica Enforcer 100


While there are no statistics I can point to substantiate my argument, I would contend that the Enforcer 100 is the most powerful model in the All-Mountain West pantheon. It earns this distinction due to an extra-high camber line that begins to load with stored energy from the moment you stand on it. Nordica alleges that the Enforcer 100 surrenders half of its baseline to rocker: 30% in the front and 20% of the rear running surface are pulled off the snow at one of the most aggressive angles in the genre. Yet despite this inherent loss of snow contact, the Enforcer 100 doesn’t ski “loose,” not at all. The tip and tail are made of the same stern stuffing as the midsection, so they don’t flop around on hard snow and aren’t easily buffeted off course by sodden crud.

One reason the early vintage Enforcer 100’s were so stout is that, due to molding limitations, all sizes used the same baseline. This was one of the major changes introduced just last season: each size of the 20/21 and 21/22 Enforcer 100 has a unique baseline, sidecut and core profile. This change is significant as each size will ski a little differently, so think twice before sizing up.

Because the Enforcer 100 was the first member of the now extensive Enforcer family, it was passed over for product improvements that became staples for the rest of the series. The two most significant of these both aim at weight reduction. True Tip extends the wood core deep into the shovel, reducing the amount of heavy ABS needed to stabilize this area. Adding carbon stringers to its top glass laminate reduced the amount of (heavy) fiberglass required by 35%.

Read the full review here

Salomon Stance 96



One way to grok the role played by the Stance 96 in Salomon’s line is to look at its counterpart in Salomon’s QST collection, the new QST 98. Earlier versions of this QST included on-trail features like super-wide tips and multiple doses of shock-dampening fibers, but the new QST 98 has a clear bias for off-trail conditions. Salomon can afford to tilt the QST towards side-of-the-trail conditions because the Stance 96 is so rock-solid on groomers.

Vis-a-vis its competition from other brands, the Stance 96 takes dead aim at the wood-and-Titanal chargers from Blizzard, Nordica, Kastle and Stöckli. If you want to play with big boys, you have to use the same materials, so the Stance 96 sandwiches its poplar core with laminates of Titanal and carbon-flax fiber (CF/X), a double dose of dampeners that keep the Stance 96 planted on the planet. The only acknowledgement that it’s up for heading off trail is a rockered tip that feels a little lost when it hasn’t any loose snow under it to give it something to do.

The Stance 96 handles speed well, which is a good thing as it likes to hew closely to the fall line. Its long natural turn shape is the product of an unusually narrow tail that helps keep the skier oriented downhill. A rectangular cutout in the Titanal topsheet pares off a few ounces so the Stance 96 feels a little more agile than its girth would suggest, but it imparts a sensation of imperturbable solidity more than playfulness.

Read the full review here

Fischer Ranger 99 Ti


The first Fischer skis to bear the Ranger name were essentially wider versions of Fischer’s classic wood-and-Titanal all-terrain skis, that were themselves near relatives of race skis. They were ponderous barges that sought to subjugate powder rather than caress it. That formula didn’t fly too far, so the pendulum swung in the other direction, capitalizing on Fischer’s expertise in lightweight cross-country ski cores to make a featherweight series of Rangers.

If that was the perfect solution, this generation of Rangers would still be among the living. Turns out, all-terrain skiing includes hard, brittle snow, often on steep terrain. Bantamweight construction comes up short in this situation, and so the search continued.

A couple of seasons ago, the pendulum swung back, and this time Fischer hit the mark: a ski that’s solid but not stodgy, with a shape that lends itself equally to smearing and carving, and steering control in all conditions. The baseline of the 21/22 Ranger 99 Ti is amply rockered, so it rolls over irregular terrain with aplomb, and when all the freshies have been flattened into groomers, an extra dose of Titanal underfoot keeps the Ranger 99 on course. Fischer has finally found the elusive balance between the needs for off-trail imprecision and on-trail accuracy.

Read the full review here

Dynastar M-Pro 99



Just last season, Dynastar radically altered its all-mountain offering, replacing the long-in-the-tooth Cham/Legend design with the M-Pro series. The M-Pro collection consists of four models, that roughly parallel the ability hierarchy of novice (M-Pro 84), intermediate (M-Pro 90), advanced (M-Pro 99) and pro athlete (M-Pro Rider).

The M-Pro 99 is clearly the sweetspot in the series, with more Titanal in its guts and a more connected-to-the-snow baseline. While there’s metal in its make-up, it’s a relatively mild dose, so the M-Pro 99 Ti doesn’t behave like a typical Austrian wood-and-metal sandwich. It’s lighter and looser, with a baseline and build that are biased to off-trail conditions. It performs best when the surface isn’t too slick, so it has something to push against and improve contact along the length of the ski.

Skiers who don’t barrel straight down the fall line will appreciate the M-Pro 99’s mix of agility and stability. Its natural inclination is to make a medium to long radius turn; short turns will tend to involve a bit of drift at the top and bottom with a clean edge in the belly of the turn. Chargers who attack the hill like Footloose’s Larry Rhoads will want to step up to the 186cm length, which Rhoads describes as a “22m machine that eats up terrain.”

Read the full review here

Kästle FX96 Ti



It isn’t easy playing second fiddle. Consider the fate of Kästle’s FX series, forever the bridesmaid to the perennial bride, the MX series. The top three MX models are all avatars of excellence in their respective categories and have been for years. If it were child’s play to make a series as good or better, more of Kästle’s competitors would have already managed the feat.

The challenge isn’t just to make another legendary ski, already a steep hill to climb, but to make a MX-quality ski that’s clearly not like an MX. In its first incarnation, several product cycles ago, the FX models used a tapered tip and double-rockered baseline – essential elements in any off-trail oriented model – to differentiate the series. Otherwise, the MX and FX models of yore skied similarly because they were constructed similarly.

Kästle decided the two families weren’t different enough, so they wisely kept the MX models intact and made the next generation of FX models with a radically different baseline that seemed to be 90% rockered, and even took the Titanal out of half the tribe. No question this epoch of FX skis didn’t ski like a fully cambered MX model, but neither did it knock anyone’s socks off. The FX HP models at least had Titanal to stabilize them, but they were relatively lifeless.

Read the full review here

Liberty evolv 100



Small-batch producers like Liberty have a tough row to hoe. Aside from zero name recognition, they have to either work with an established factory or try to start their own facility, both of which have their disadvantages. Their other two biggest problems are how to differentiate themselves from the pack and thereby generate a sense of mission when it’s highly unlikely they’ll have unique materials or processes, and how to make a consistent product when limited demand dictates they work in short production runs.

Small batch producers also have to decide how to reach potential customers, with almost all of them settling on a direct-to-consumer model as that’s the only way they can create enough gross margin to cover their higher costs. As Realskiers.com is dedicated to the survival of specialty retailing, we only review brands that distribute their skis primarily through brick-and-mortar retailers. (I’m obliged to say “primarily” as every brand in Christendom sells a certain amount of their stock directly, perhaps a subject for a future Revelation.)

So, what first attracted us to Liberty was their clear objective of establishing a viable dealer network, despite the added costs of charting this course. Its brand identity was defined by its lightweight bamboo and carbon construction which was well adapted to wide-body, off-trail skis, a domain overrun with small-batch brands.

Read the full review here

Finesse Favorites: All-Terrain Access for All

The main reason to acquire an All-Mountain West ski is to get the widest ski possible you can use as an everyday ride. The reason you want the widest ski is so you can take it into powder and what’s left of powder between storms.  To make that all-terrain access as effortless as possible, you want one of our Finesse Favorites.

The price of off-trail success can be some stability at high speed on hard snow, but this shouldn’t be a concern for advanced skiers who rarely reach the top of the end of the recreational speed range. When kept within their comfort zone – mid-radius turns at moderate speeds – our Finesse Favorites can motor through any terrain you care to traverse. For their ability to tame tough terrain with a tender touch, we award all our Finesse Favorites a Silver Skier Selection.

Head Kore 99



The Kore 99 epitomizes what makes Head’s unique Kore construction so well adapted to irregular, off-trail conditions without compromising its capacity for holding on hard snow. The All-Mountain West category resides on the boundary line between hard-snow carvers and Big Mountain drifters. The Kore 99 is definitely from the latter camp of looser skis, but its thoughtful design never forgets that is has to meet a certain hard snow performance standard or Head won’t put its name on it.

Let’s take a look at the off-trail adaptations first. Kore’s paramount intention is to make a lightweight construction that can be applied to wide skis without extra weight accompanying the extra width. The champion of this coup is Graphene™, carbon in a one-atom thick matrix that has the highest strength-to-weight ratio ever discovered, much less industrialized. Graphene allows the ski designer to increase flex resistance while decreasing overall weight, so it can be moved around the ski to achieve just the sort of snow feedback being sought. In the Kore series, Graphene is moved to the tip and tail where it adds structure but almost no weight, thereby lowering swingweight and making these wide skis easy to swivel.

To maintain the snow feel expert skiers expect, Head uses a Karuba and poplar wood core, sandwiched between carbon and glass laminates. Among the minor changes introduced across the Kore line this season, a Koroyd honeycomb that had been part of the internal structure has been swapped out with Karuba, a superlight wood usually found in backcountry models. (The other notable change for this season is the size splits in the new line, which allow skiers to more precisely dial in the length that fits them.)

Read the full review here

Kästle ZX100



Kästle’s MSRP’s hover near the peak of the retail pricing mountain, where the air is so thin only a few brands can survive in it. The relatively new Czech ownership wants to expand the line by dropping a few experimental models down to a lower altitude, where the people, particularly less affluent younger people, can afford to acquire them.

Hence the ‘Z” in its name, a reference to Gen Z, otherwise known as young adults. The first foray in this direction was the ZX108, a non-metal, robustly rockered Big Mountain model with surprising moxie, introduced just last year. The ZX100 is its first offspring, with a retail tag of $749, a pittance for a Kästle and right in line with the rest of the market.

The low price wouldn’t be worth much if the ski couldn’t cut it, but the ZX100 is a knockout, particularly in the softer snow it’s made for. This became evident on a spring day at Mt. Rose, where the snow surface evolved from boilerplate to mush in the span of three hours. As soon as the top surface became loose enough to dislodge, the ZX100 was in its element. Although it has no Titanal in its guts, its classic wood-and-fiberglass sandwich is strong on the edge and peppy coming off it. It’s sidecut is also right out of the time-honored playbook, with just a little more shape and tip-to-tail taper angle than the norm. Without the metal to dampen its response to pressure, the ZX100 feels quick and lively even though its natural sidecut radius is 18m in a 180cm and short turns aren’t really its wheelhouse.

Read the full review here

Rossignol Blackops Holy Shred


I’m no longer privy to all the stats required to create a clear picture of last year’s ski sales in the U.S. market, but the tea leaves I’ve read suggest that Rossignol bet long and won.

When the ski industry went into a coma in March of 2020, huge order cancellations ensued. Budgets had to be slashed to match the new reality, replaced with new forecasts with ever-shrinking orders to buttress them.

I don’t know where the knowledge and/or intestinal fortitude came from, but Rossignol appears not to have adopted the scorched-budget policy many of its competitors adhered to. How else to explain how they were ready to fill orders when dealers around the country suddenly realized a horde of ready-to-buy skiers was lined up on their doorstep?

Read the full review here

Dynastar M-Free 99


The simplest way to characterize the new M-Free 99 from Dynastar is it’s a narrow Powder ski, a genre that’s otherwise populated by models over 113mm underfoot, compared to this M-Free’s 99mm. In groomed conditions, its tip and tail have nothing to do except dangle above the snow surface, waiting to be called into action. Considering how loose its extremities are, it’s cool, calm and collected underfoot, moving edge to edge in medium-radius turns without drawing attention to the fact that the tip and tail are on sabbatical.

Size selection is always important; with the M-Free 99, it’s critical. The 178cm length isn’t just a scaled-down 186cm, as each length goes through its own development process. To support the strong, fall-line crud skier who is the M-Free 99’s most probable partner, the 186cm length is a must, as it provides a longer, more stable mid-section to distribute a big boy’s pressure and liberate his aggressive instincts. Listen to the testimony of two strong, attacking testers from Bobo’s, Sawyer and the aptly nicknamed Big John Hume.

Sawyer, who devours terrain in 50-meter swaths, says, “The amount of tip and tail rocker make this a forgiving ski that still holds an edge through king-size turns yet it’s easy to shut it down and stay controlled.” Big John also liked the M-Free 99’s supple flex pattern, admiring its “soft, round flex tip-to-tail, making this a perfect one-ski quiver for the park rider wannabe.” The Realskiers scoring system doesn’t grade fitness for Pipe & Park shenanigans, so we’ll take Big John’s word for it. His perspective brings to light an aptitude for air that may come to define its core audience.

Read the full review here

Atomic Maverick 100 Ti


In the 2018/19 season, Atomic dove into the deep end of the Lighter is Better pool, emerging with Pro Lite, a skeletal construction that sought to trim mass using all the means at the R&D department’s disposal. Their all-mountain Vantage series went wall-to-wall Pro Lite, which resulted in many of their test scores falling below our Recommended threshold.

Atomic’s new Maverik and Maven (for women) series have bid aloha to Pro Lite, returning to a classic, elementary construction that Atomic could build in its sleep: an all-poplar core encased in top and bottom sheets of fiberglass and either Titanal (.4mm) or carbon, depending on the model. The emphasis on lightweight hasn’t been jettisoned – 1800g for a 180 is relatively light in this genre – but it has taken a back seat to performance fundamentals.

The Maverick 100 Ti’s special sauce is the combined effect of its double-rockered baseline (25/60/15), tapered tip and unique HRZN Tech Tip that’s rockered on both axes. Atomic calls this combo the ski’s Flow Profile, a good term for how a ski meets the snow. In the case of the Maverick 100 Ti, the front rocker reveals a decided preference for off-trail skiing, sacrificing early connection at the top of the turn on firm snow for a better buffer when barging through cut-up crud.

Read the full review here

K2 Mindbender 99 Ti


If there’s ever an award for the brand that does the most to make in-resort, off-trail skiing more accessible, it should be called the K2 Cup. The company credited for making rocker a permanent addition to the ski design landscape has never forgotten that wide skis were meant to make skiing easier – in fact, a hell of a lot easier – in ungroomed conditions. The Mindbender 99 Ti takes this commitment one step further by making skiing in all conditions, including crystalline corduroy, as easy as falling out of bed.

A strong case could be made that the Mindbender 99 Ti is the easiest ski in the AMW genre to just hop on and ride. The Realskiers scoring system unfairly penalizes the Mindbender 99 Ti for achieving exactly what it aims for: a balance beam that’s nearly impossible to fall off. When all its scores are tallied, its consummate ease subtracts from its power quotient. Were we to tweak our criteria in favor of comfort and confidence-building, the MB 99 Ti would be the top-ranked Finesse ski in the category.

The personality profile of the Mindbender 99 Ti can be traced directly to the Ti Y-Beam, its principal structural component. As if often the case, Titanal laminates have such a profound effect on torsional rigidity and vibration damping that both its presence and its absence are palpably evident. In the Mindbender 99 Ti, wherever the Ti goes, Power properties follow; where it’s excised, Finesse facility blooms in its absence.

Read the full review here

Atomic Bent Chetler 100



To give you an idea of what a steal the Bent Chetler 100 was when it was introduced three years ago, Atomic understandably raised its retail price by $100 a year later, and it was still the best value in the category. But the Bent Chetler 100 is more than just a good deal; it’s a wonderfully versatile ski that’s as easy to ski in off-trail conditions as any AMW model at any price.

The key to the Bent Chetler 100’s charms is its Horizon Tech tip and tail which are rockered on both axes. By crowning its extremities, the littler Chetler feels like it can drift in any direction on a whim without losing control of trajectory. When in its element, it’s the epitome of ease, rolling over terrain like a spatula over icing.

The Bent Chetler 100 is all about freedom of expression rather than the tyranny of technical turns. So what if its liberty-loving tip doesn’t want to show up early in the turn? That’s not its shtick. It has talents Technical skis never imagined, like throwing it in reverse off a precipice. It’s light, it’s easy to pivot and it’s wide enough to float in two feet of fresh. If you evaluate the Bent Chetler 100 for what it does rather than what it isn’t meant to do, it’s an all-star in a league of its own.

Read the full review here