2022 Men’s Big Mountain Skis

2022 Men’s Big Mountain Skis


It wouldn’t be unfair to lump all skis over 100mm at the waist into a giant bucket labeled, “Powder,” and leave it at that. Obviously, the fatter the ski the better the flotation, so pick a ski based on how high you want to ride on new snow and you’re good to go. We decided to divide the powder pie in two because there are big behavioral differences between the Big Mountain bundle of skis (101mm-113mm) and the cluster over 120mm.

The very fact that most manufacturers make (at least) one model in each genre verifies that there are reasons to make two distinct models to serve the Big Mountain and Powder categories. The best of the Big Mountain brotherhood are everyday skis for strong riders on – you guessed it – big mountains. But there are also easy riders in the Big Mountain corral; skis that will help the less talented whip their powder skills into shape.

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The split personality of the Big Mountain genre is a result of the evolution of the fat ski phenomenon as a whole. Twenty years ago, when the concept of powder skis was still in its infancy, fat boys were conceived as learning aids for the uninitiated. Experts initially avoided the budding category as if they were badges of ineptitude – until they tried them. When Shane McConkey straight-lined a legendary couloir on a pair of 90mm Volant Chubbs, the collective attitude of the elite was tweaked. Suddenly a new mini-market emerged for high-octane athletes seeking first descents on previously unskiable pitches. Movies from Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research showcased a new frontier in adrenaline sports, and the race was on to see who could make the best tool for these new school, big mountain athletes.

Flashing forward to today, both communities – those who want to maintain their speed in new snow and those who want to maintain their dignity – are being over-served by a brilliant buffet of options. Whether you tear into powder or tiptoe in, the right Big Mountain ski will make slicing knee-deep fresh snow nearly effortless.

People in the market for a powder ski tend to think bigger is better, that if a little flotation is good, massive flotation is better. It’s true that there’s no substitute for surface area, but flotation isn’t the only quality required for off-trail conditions. Some aptitude for moving quickly edge to edge is useful in moguls, which inevitably develop where sno-cats fear to tread. Edging accuracy comes in handy on steep traverses, and short-radius turns are de rigeur in pucker-tight couloirs. Point being, the slightly narrower chassis of a Big Mountain ski is probably a better powder ski for most skiers than the super-wide models that qualify for the Powder club by being next to useless anywhere else.

Every Big Mountain ski pries the tip and tail off the snow to some degree because there’s no better way to motor through crud – powder’s wicked stepbrother – than with a tip that won’t catch and a tail that won’t hang up. Some Big Mountain models are cambered underfoot, some aren’t. The biggest behavioral chasm in the category is the separation of models that can be trusted to hold just a ribbon of edge on hard snow and those who do their best work in the worst conditions, drifting over rubble like it was made from ice cream.

There are two major provisos that need to be shouted from the rooftops: one, acquiring an everyday ski that is too wide poses an increased risk of joint fatigue and even injury to the skier, even if he or she never falls; and two, skiers charging full speed on skis with huge girth but little effective contact area and perhaps no capacity for clean edging pose a danger not just to themselves, but every other person in their flight path.

Please pay attention, because this is why our test criteria are more important today than ever. Heavily rockered skis in the Big Mountain waist width zone of 101mm to 113mm can easily inspire the illusion that their owner suddenly has skills. After all, he can now kill it in the freshies, charging like an off-the-rails locomotive. When he rolls his act out on the groomers, still hauling, still squatting over the middle of his skis, his ultra-rockered tips and tails wildly slapping the snow, his ability to change trajectory and avoid the downhill skier is perilously close to nil.

This is perhaps the most important slope safety issue of our time. Please, people, restrict your use of Big Mountain skis to the off-trail terrain for which they were designed.

The 2022 Men’s Big Mountain Field

Because Big Mountain skis are usually (and appropriately) a second pair reserved for off-trail conditions, the genre isn’t quite as big or as busy as the other core recreational categories. Nonetheless, five new models materialized this season, three of which made our Recommended ranks.

Those making the cut were the updated Head Kore 105 and brand-new Kore 111. The latter is absolutely stunning, moving into the top spot among our Finesse Favorites, which is where most of the action is in the Big Mountain genre. Nimble, light, playful and as buoyant as a kayak, the Kore 111 is teed up to sell out if the West has any kind of snow year. The Kore 105 is no slouch, but the extra lift and drift of the 111 makes it that much easier to ski tricky snow.

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The other rookie to make the team is Kästle’s FX106 Ti, a classic wood and Titanal sandwich with a twist: the core uses 3 laminated woods – Paulownia, poplar and beech – inside twin sheets of Titanal and fiberglass to make a metal ski that’s light but not limp.

Missing the cut due to a lack of data were the new Stöckli Stormrider 102 and Salomon Blank 112.  Also maddeningly shy of data were two models that debuted a year ago, the Völkl Katana 108 and Kastle ZX108. (The last two seasons were not particularly abundant in the fresh snow department.) What little feedback we recorded suggests that both of these models could vie for a top position in our rankings if only we could capture a little more data on them.

If you’re currently flailing in new snow, you’re on the wrong gear. Powder is the one condition in which the choice of ski can actually improve your skiing experience, without actually requiring you to improve your skiing, if you catch my drift.  A properly sized and selected Big Mountain model will make you a better powder skier a lot faster than a great Technical ski will turn you into a proficient carver.

Power Picks: Killing It

The defining difference between our Power Picks and Finesse Favorites can be summed up succinctly: how fast are you willing to go before you steer out of the fall line? If you tend to ride the brakes and the gas at the same time, you’ve overshot your category: you should be searching among the Finesse models.

But if you love to let it rip, sending up geysers that almost engulf you as you go headlong downhill, this is your dating pool. Chances are, every one of these skis is better than you are, which is a good thing when you’re pushing the edge of the envelope. If your skills are commensurate with our Power Picks, you’ll have a partner for powder days that won’t ever let you down.

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t remind my Dear Readers that there’s one model that eluded our coverage that would otherwise be among the elite Power skis in the Big Mountain genre. The Völkl Katana 108 is a gem worthy of any strong skier’s consideration.

Völkl Mantra 102


If you were hoping to read a review of the Mantra 102, keep your shirt on, I’ll get to it. But I must digress before I’ve begun because I have no better place to sing the praises of the Katana 108, a marvel of a ski that in two years hasn’t tallied enough ballots to qualify for our Recommended ranks. I finally got a chance to ski it in appropriate conditions late last spring and it shattered every preconception I had about its capabilities.

You see, the Mantra 102 review you’ll soon encounter describes a ski that roars downhill with the force of a charging bull. Just how beastly will its Titanal Frame design be when expanded to a 108mm waistline? I expected it to have the turn radius of the Exxon Valdez.

So when I escorted a 177cm Katana 108 into a copse of tight trees, I was amazed to discover that I could swivel them as if they weighed no more than a whisper. They felt frisky and responsive and when loose on the open trail they exhibited relentless edge grip. Their combination of strength on edge and power off it invited speed that would set other skis in the Big Mountain genre into nervous paroxysms. For the skilled skier who knows that the key to shredding crud is maintaining momentum, the Katana 108 might be a better choice than the Mantra 102, which would make it the best Power ski on the market. Now, about that 102…

Read the full review here

Rossignol Blackops Sender Ti


The previous occupant of this critical slot in Rossignol’s lineup, the Soul 7, was probably the biggest seller ever in the short history of the Big Mountain genre. A mostly glass ski that was light, springy and sinfully simple to ski in the soft conditions it was meant for, the Soul 7 HD left behind big tracks to fill.

The Blackops Sender Ti would make perfect figure-8’s with a Soul 7 as they share a similar sidecut and surface area, but in almost every other respect the two skis are unalike. Like rebellious progeny everywhere, the Sender Ti wouldn’t want to be caught dead acting like Dad. But the Sender Ti isn’t just different from the Soul 7; it’s better. By any criteria except perhaps liveliness and drift, the Sender Ti is superior to its multi-laureled predecessor.

The biggest differences between the two generations of Rossi’s are in baseline and construction, with the Sender Ti possessing a more continuous snow connection and a damper ride able to suck up the vibrations that come with higher speeds. The Sender Ti doesn’t just toss Titanal at the problem; it adds supplementary damping systems on both the horizontal and vertical planes. An elastomer layer Rossi calls Damp Tech smoothes out the ride in the forebody while twin ABS struts running the length of the ski resist every effort to knock it off line. A weave of carbon alloy incases its poplar core, just for good measure.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Cochise 106



The Cochise 106 knows how it should be skied, even if you don’t. It’s well aware that it won’t be able to carve a short turn at minimal speed, so it keeps close to the fall line until it can shift into third. Once it reaches cruising speed, it dons its dancing shoes and shows just how indifferent to heinous crud a ski can be.

The Cochise 106 is one of the few Big Mountain models that doesn’t get the heebie-jeebies on hard pack. Its imperturbability where other skis literally tremble is due in part to its classic, wood and Titanal construction and in part to its Flipcore baseline.

The Cochise will always own a special place in Blizzard’s history as Arne Backstrom’s ski, for it was Backstrom who first conceived of Flipcore, the technology that would completely transform the Austrian brand, elevating it from obscurity to prominence in the American market. The Cochise was the first embodiment of his vision, and as such enjoys holy relic status in the halls of Blizzard’s R&D department.

Read the full review here

Fischer Ranger 107 Ti


The Fischer Ranger series is aptly named, for over the relatively long arc of its career it has ranged from one end of the design spectrum to the other. It began several seasons ago as essentially an all-mountain ski with racing in its bloodlines, beefed up with square sidewalls and a classic wood and metal make-up. For a skilled skier with strong legs they could pulverize anything in their path, but as a helpmate to the so-so skier looking for an easy way down a crud field, they were overkill.

So Fischer tacked back in the other direction, tapping into its expertise in cross-country ski design – where the brand has reigned for decades – to re-outfit the Ranger line with an elaborately milled out core. This move was in keeping with the overall trend to lighter constructions, but for the most part this collection lacked the power and energy to match the performance of the top models in the Big Mountain category.

In 19/20 Fischer again re-designed the flagship of its Ranger Ti series, returning to a lay-up with twin Titanal laminates for stability and liberal use of carbon to make it responsive. Carbon inlays in the tip and tail help make the extremities thin and light, so the latest Ranger 107 Ti is easier to foot steer when necessary. “It’s user-friendly but still can be skied aggressively,” notes one admiring tester. “You can take your foot off the gas and it’s still responsive.”

Read the full review here

Finesse Favorites:  Kicking Back

The original idea behind making a ski as fat as 110mm underfoot wasn’t to open previously unskiable terrain to world-class athletes, but to allow those without such skills to be able to navigate less forbidding pitches when the snow is knee deep.

Our Finesse Favorites fulfill this mission by bringing a sense of playfulness to the business of floating and smearing through powder. They prioritize ease over accuracy, allowing the less proficient powder skiers to more easily access this exciting terrain. The ulterior motive behind manufacturing such models is, of course, to sell you a second pair of premium skis. We warn you: once you go fat, you never go back. Which means, once you ski the deep on one of these plump beauties, you’ll never again foray into the pow without fatties on your feet.

Head Kore 111


My first run on the new Head Kore 111 was the most fun I had all test season. I’d been waiting for what passed for a powder day last year to appear, and when the opportunity arose, I struck. There were still a few clean lines to be had when we began our assault on Mt. Rose that morning, and plenty of places to string together pockets of powder. The Kore 111 felt so agile out of the chute, I practically danced down the fall line, pouncing back and forth as if the surface was firm and my skis were narrow, neither of which was the case. My turn shape was resolutely shallow, as I never crossed far across the fall line, the Kores exiting each turn with an enthusiasm usually reserved for slalom skis.

As I put the 111’s through their paces, it passed every exam with flying colors. Short isn’t the natural shape for a ski of the 111’s girth, but it’s so simple to foot-swivel and smear that it could change direction in a closet. Assisting its superior smudge factor is a new Kore feature, chamfered top edges that slice sideways like a sushi knife. Because there isn’t a situation in which it can’t be turned by some means, the Kore 111 is a treat in the trees, where powder can still be found past 10:00.

The biggest problem with skis as wide as the Kore 111 is that their shortcomings start to show up as the powder “day” fizzles out around mid-morning. The Kore 111 could care less that the powder is kaput. Perhaps because Head replaced the Koroyd used in previous Kore cores with Karuba and poplar, the Kore 111 provides the feedback of a classic, wood and fiberglass chassis despite belonging in the same weight class as an anorexic Alpine Touring model.

Read the full review here

M-Free 108


It was only a few product cycles ago that Dynastar transformed its brand identity with the debut of the Cham series. It was a bellwether moment, both for Dynastar and the burgeoning freeride market segment. The Chams were the first collection from a mainstream brand that used what was then referred to as a “5-point” sidecut, the two extra points indicating the ski’s widest points, which were pulled back from their traditional location at the tip and tail. What came to be known as tip taper has now been universally adopted by every Big Mountain model in the known world.

The Chams also went all-in on another trait that has since gone category-wide: a double-rockered baseline. The net effect of tip taper and rocker on the forebody of the ski was to disconnect it from the cambered mid-section; even if the ski were tipped and pressured, the tip wouldn’t participate in the resulting turn. Adding metal to the Cham construction only made the disconnect between shovel and mainframe more pronounced.

If memory serves, the Chams had only been out for a year when Dynastar added a Cham 117 to the line. By this time, Dynastar had a reputation for making some of the burliest fat skis you could buy. The brand show pony, Jeremy Nobis, was doing descents on Dynastars that earned the ex-World Cup racer the unofficial title of best free skier in the world. So, the Cham 117 had to be badass, and was it ever.

Read the full review here

Nordica Enforcer 110 Free


The Enforcer 110 Free is so good at motoring through crud that it jumped to the top position among Big Mountain models in its debut season. Its reign would have certainly continued had Nordica not fashioned an Enforcer 104 Free two years ago, which usurped the throne so briefly held by the model from which it was cloned.

Just because the narrower and lighter Enforcer 104 Free feels more maneuverable than its stouter big bro doesn’t mean the Enforcer 110 Free suddenly morphed into a lugubrious tanker. It’s still remarkably agile for its girth and its camber pocket delivers a lively turn finish that makes it ski lighter than it actually weighs. “This is the most versatile wide profile ski I have ever used!” gushed Boot Doctor Bob Gleason. “An uncanny blend of big ski float and directional fortitude, with a quickness and rebound that will have you tap dancing in the tight spots.”

Three winters ago, I was able to saddle up an Enforcer 110 Free in the conditions for which it was made: lots of tracked-up pow on trail and lush powder lines in the trees. It was a storm day with blustery winds, so if you weren’t in the woods you couldn’t see squat. The situation called for a ski that could absolutely care less about what lay ahead. The Enforcer 110 either rolled over or obliterated whatever dared cross its path. Its ability to plane over uneven surfaces allows it to ride high enough that it’s always easy to throw ‘em sideways to scrub speed or foot-swivel a short-radius turn.

Read the full review here

Salomon QST 106 


If Salomon’s brand identity over the past forty years could be summarized in a single word, it would be “innovation.” The driver behind its history of successful new product introductions is a corporate culture grounded in extensive Research and Development (R&D). Salomon’s Annecy Design Center continues to launch breakthrough products capable of disrupting a market, such as the Shift binding.

The same relentless devotion to R&D that made the Shift possible spurred Salomon to re-design the QST 106 two seasons in a row. The list of last year’s changes may sound like a handful of minor alterations, but together they turbo-boosted the QST 106’s 19/20 Power score and its 19/20 Finesse score shot even higher.

So what seemingly minor tweaks resulted in a major performance lift? Let’s start at the top of the turn, where cork replaced Koroyd as a lightweight shock filter. The “Cork Damplifier” is reputed to be sixteen times more shock absorbent than the honeycomb it replaced. It’s like Xanax for the QST 106’s tapered tip, calming it down so nothing disturbs it.

Read the full review here

Nordica Enforcer 104 Free  


The Nordica Enforcer 104 Free and Enforcer 110 Free are both first-class Big Mountain Finesse skis – they’ve each recently held top billing in the genre – but they earn their high ratings for ease of use in different ways. The Enforcer 110 Free is inherently better at drifting and flotation, simply by dint of its superior surface area. These are critical properties for a Big Mountain ski, but they aren’t the only admirable attributes. The Enforcer 104 Free out-finesses its bigger bro with easy-steering agility, able to hew to a tighter radius whether on edge or off.

The Enforcer 104 Free even feels quicker than the narrower 185cm Enforcer 100, because you don’t detect its extra 4mm of width as much as you notice its lively response to lighter pressure. It seems to hover like a water bug over wind-battered crud, floating just above the havoc underfoot where it’s still able to move freely side to side. It smooths out the ruffles in the most ravaged terrain, turning a ratty collage of ruts into a dance floor.

Back-to-back runs on the 110 and 104 in 10 inches of partially tracked powder confirmed what one might suspect a priori – that the narrower ski was noticeably easier to steer no matter how you slice it. Whether pivoting your feet to make a short turn shorter or banking off a wind drift, the Enforcer 104 took less force to guide. To the obvious question – is a 104-waist width really necessary in a line that already has cornerstone models on its flanks in the original Enforcer 100 and the 110? – we have an equally obvious answer: oh, yes.

Read the full review here

Head Kore 105


The Head Kore 105 is the perfect ski for our times. No, it doesn’t promote universal love and understanding among all people, but it does what it can, considering that it’s a ski. It’s not just that it’s the lightest ski in the genre, it’s how that light weight contributes to a quickness off the edge that makes the Kore 105 feel narrower than its actual dimensions.

Another reason that the Kore 105 behaves like a skinnier ski is it adheres to a metal-free diet; the absence of Ti laminates softens its torsional rigidity, enabling it to conform to terrain rather than attempting to subdue it. This business about feeling narrower matters because it makes it reasonable to consider the Kore 105 as an everyday ski for western resort skiing.

Its ultra-light weight also makes the Kore 105 an ideal in-resort/backcountry hybrid. The biggest concern any backcountry skier has about a super-light ski is that it will be great going uphill and suck on the way down, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. There’s zero chance the Kore 105 will flame out on the descent, as it’s far more substantial than any AT model of which I am aware.

Read the full review here

K2 Mindbender 108Ti


The entire Big Mountain genre owes K2 a debt of gratitude for championing the concept of rocker with such fervor that it was soon adopted as an essential design element for any ski over 100mm underfoot. As an early adopter of double-rockered baselines, K2 has a lot of institutional expertise at making a very wide ski that’s very easy to steer. The Mindbender 108 Ti continues this tradition of simplifying off-trail skiing with just the right balance of baseline, sidecut and flex pattern.

Two visible features give the Mindbender 108 Ti its signature look and associated behavior, Titanal Y-Beam and PowerWall. Ti Y-Beam is, as the name suggests, a slingshot-shaped yoke of Titanal that fortifies the tail and perimeter of the forebody. PowerWall elevates the midsection to amplify pressure over the camber pocket and direct more force to the edge. The tapered tip is allowed to distort as it shoulders its way ahead in tracked-up crud without affecting the tranquil ride behind it.

The Mindbender 108 Ti tries to win the war against crud by caressing it instead of crushing it. It has a gift for rolling to the edge that makes it feel quicker than the norm among skis of its 108mm girth. To execute a truly tight radius turn requires overruling its roughly 30m-sidecut radius and foot swiveling a flat ski, a move the Mindbender 108Ti has down pat. Its impressive 9.50 score for drift speaks to its ability to brake according to the current style that uses skidding as the primary form of speed management.

Read the full review here

K2 Reckoner 102

One of my favorite bump skis that wasn’t intended to be a bump ski was the K2 Shreditor 102 (circa 2015). Of course, it couldn’t be as quick a real mogul ski edge to edge, so it did most of its navigation by slarving through the troughs and slinking around the lumpy bits. The new Reckoner 102 is in several respects the same ski, albeit embellished in ways its ancestor was not.

The similarities are hard to miss. The shape of the 184cm is identical save for a tip that’s 3mm wider on the Reckoner, giving it a marginally (.7m) snugger sidecut radius. Both Shreditor and Reckoner rely on braided fibers to control flex and torsion, with the Shreditor using a Triaxial braid of fiberglass and the Reckoner using Spectral Braid spun from carbon. Both vintages use Aspen in the core, although the Shreditor complemented it with featherweight Paulownia while the Reckoner uses Aspen in concert with denser fir. Both have relatively low camber underfoot, use a reinforced sidewall for added resistance to ski-on-ski damage and both, of course, are twin-tips.

What the Reckoner 102 brings to the party that the Shreditor could not is Spectral Braid, a variable-angle braiding technique (Patent Pending). As applied to the Reckoner, Spectral Braid uses a tight weave underfoot that opens up as it moves to tip and tail. This makes both front and rear rocker zones soft and compliant, helping the Reckoner 102 switch from forward to reverse in a twinkling.

Read the full review here

Völkl Blaze 106


From a product standpoint, Völkl has very few problems. The avatars of its latest technologies – the Mantra M6, Kendo 88, Mantra 102 and Deacon 84 – sit atop their respective genres, a stunning display of dominance. I’ll wager Völkl has maintained the highest average sale price among all brands for the last 20 years, a measure of its marketing might and commercial success.

When one is so accustomed to winning, one wants to win at everything, and there was one arena where Völkl hadn’t made much headway: skis sold at lower price points. Völkl had earned a reputation as the brand for experts; lesser lights need not apply.

It was partly to appeal to the greater swath of the market who shun the pinnacle of the price pyramid that last year Völkl launched the Blaze series. At a $599 street price, the Blaze 106 hoped to attract the economy-minded in the market for a lightweight, off-trail ski. To hit the lower price point, it reduced its use of Titanal down to mounting plate and lightened up the core considerably: a 186cm Blaze 106 weighs in at a mere 1772g, compared to 2330g for a 184cm Katana 108.

Read the full review here

Blizzard Rustler 10


The Blizzard Rustler 10 wants you to look good, so it makes everything about off-trail skiing easier. There’s a long, central band of Titanal on the top to stabilize the ski underfoot while allowing the tip and tail to twist. The idea is to keep the tapered tip from getting involved with every obstruction it meets; instead of trying to hook up at the top of turn like a hard-snow-oriented ski is meant to do, it politely deflects all rough treatment by bending with the blow. The same basic idea at the tail keeps it from insisting on finishing every arc on a hairline trajectory, as if skiing were trying to emulate figure skating.

The Rustler 10 also wants you to ski all day, or at least be able to on those storm days when your tracks fill in between tram rides and to stop would be unforgivable. So it keeps its overall weight under control, despite the Titanal stabilizer, by using a recipe of poplar, beech, Paulownia, milled foam and balsa for the core, and layers of glass laced with carbon as the main structural element. Swatches of unidirectional carbon in the tip and tail subtract from the ski’s swingweight so it’s easier to pivot when circumstances require a sudden change in direction.

A more powerful skier who takes his hard-snow technique with him when he travels off-trail might prefer the more connected feel of the Blizzard Cochise 106. But for the majority of off-piste skiers, the Rustler 10 is a better fit. When the nearly expert skier really needs help, the Rustler is a godsend. Imagine being in flat light – a common condition when the goods are there to be gotten – and not being able to tell what your tips are going to encounter next. That’s where the Rustler 10’s innate surf-ability takes over, smearing over the unseen obstacles as if they weren’t there.

Read the full review here

Kästle FX106 Ti


Any clear-eyed assessment of what transpires on a powder day at any popular resort would conclude that the “powder” part of the day begins around 9:00 and ends around 10:00. For the rest of the day, all accessible terrain devolves into something considerably less idyllic. The Kästle FX106 Ti is built to cope with this reality, for it wields its smear-ability like a weapon when deep snow switches from a fluffy texture to something closer to tapioca.

During the “powder hour,” any ski with approximately the FX106 Ti’s dimensions will spool out mid-radius turns with unconscious ease; once perfect conditions are in the past, the real work begins. It’s in the slop that the FX106 Ti’s stout, wood-and-Titanal construction proves its mettle, planing over afternoon porridge that would kick a lesser ski off course. With two full sheets of Titanal in its guts, the FX106 Ti isn’t one of those fat skis where the width isn’t noticeable; rather, its heft imparts confidence that in the battle against crud, its pilot is well armed.

Left to its own devices on firmer snow, the FX106 Ti likes its turns long and laid over. Not that its probable owner is likely to be a big fan of groomers, but they’re an unavoidable aspect of resort skiing, so you might as well make them fast and fun. Of course, the FX106 Ti won’t hook up at the top of the turn like a carving ski, but it’s more than solid enough so you can open up the throttle on the dash back to the lift.

Read the full review here

Salomon Stance 102

The new Salomon Stance 102 is a Frontside ski in a fat suit. Were it not for its width, which by Realskiers’ rules lands it in the Big Mountain genre, and a dash of tip rocker, it would be a Frontside ski, and a strong one, at that.

To understand a ski’s purpose, one needs to know what void it’s filling in its brand’s big picture, as well as where it fits in the category in which it’s competing. Perhaps the best way to define the role of the Stance 102 in Salomon’s 21/22 collection is to identify what it is not, namely a QST.

Salomon’s well established QST series goes all-in on the Lighter is Better approach; while the top models use a Titanal platform underfoot, the rest of their construction depends on a mix of fibers to deliver the right ratios of longitudinal flex, torsional rigidity, light weight and shock damping. Within the global Salomon product universe, the QST label is shorthand for Quest, which connotes off-trail skiing in resort.

So, the Stance series wasn’t intended to go head-to-head with QST in the race for the lightest in-resort ski. The competition it was made to stare down are the wood-and-Titanal powerhouses issuing from the likes of Blizzard, Nordica and Volkl. The niche the Stance 102 aims to occupy is that of a wood (poplar) and metal (Titanal) laminate that’s just a bit less than the market leaders in the genre: a bit less heavy, a bit less torsionally rigid in the forebody and a bit less work to bow.

Read the full review here

Fischer Ranger 102 FR


Fischer’s Ranger series of off-trail skis is split into two distinct camps. Those with a “Ti” suffix include two sheets of Titanal that deliver the enhanced edge grip and shock damping that are the hallmarks of the aluminum alloy. Those with “FR” in their name use fiberglass as the main structural component, with a dash of carbon in the tip to lower swingweight and buffer the forebody. Without metal to calm them down, the FR series ski considerably looser than their Ti cousins, tipping their terrain preference to the soft side.

When it has a little cushion of snow to push against, the skier can compress the camber pocket underfoot, loading its fiberglass laminates so they recoil off the edge with enough energy to carry the skier across the fall line. Deep snow fills the gaps under its double-rockered baseline, stabilizing the entire chassis. All the skier needs to do is initiate a mid-radius rhythm down the fall line and the Ranger 102 FR will take over from there.

The Ranger 102 FR’s frisky attitude is perfect for the Finesse skier who doesn’t want to plow through pow on a metal-laden battleship but prefers to playfully pounce in and out of it. An outward sign of its inner desire to let its freak flag fly is a twin-tipped baseline that would rather drift over snow than drive through it. A big sweet spot that’s easy to balance on makes it simple for skiers of any skill set to keep up with Ranger 102 FR’s smooth moves.

Read the full review here