Overview

Every brand, large and small, foreign or domestic, has to make a choice about how they want to build a ski.  Once they settle on a construction and the equipment to execute it is on premises, they tend to stay with it for the long haul.  Head’s wheelhouse construction could not be more fundamental or more sound:  while other brands have obsessed with making a cheaper, higher margin ski, Head has stayed with what it knows will never fail them: a stout wood core, two sheets of titanal and carefully calibrated, pre-impregnated fiberglass to wrap it all up.  To those who might quibble some of Head’s skis are over-built, we would counter, wouldn’t you rather own a brand that errs on the side of excellence?

As an Austrian brand, Head has always placed a premium on race results, and its investments in this area have paid impressive dividends. In a sport where wins can be measured in the thousandth of a second, who comes out on top may appear serendipitous; when athlete after athlete is holding up a crystal globe recognizing a season of superiority, something other than serendipity is afoot.

While Head’s victories on the World Cup can’t be discounted, translating gold medals into dollars hasn’t been easy. The American market is not race-driven, to put it mildly.  Americans want to go where they wanna go, do what they wanna, wanna do; we’re all about freeride, dude!  Head, to its great credit, is first and foremost about technique.  Head was the first major brand to treat the Carving trend seriously and make it part of its identity.  Hooking into the top of a turn is part of the brand’s essential make-up. Even its recently retired off-trail Monster series had a baseline and tail design more like a carving ski than the typical smear sticks found in the Big Mountain genre.  It shouldn’t surprise that Head’s off-trail skis once languished in anonymity in the U.S.

Until the 2017/18 season, when Head unveiled the Kore series. Three years earlier, in 2014/15, Head had changed its entire women’s collection, centering the new series on its use of Graphene, carbon in a matrix one-atom thick. Since then, Graphene has spread through every product category, finally reaching the off-trail Kore collection.  Capitalizing on Graphene’s obscene strength-to-weight ratio, Head matched it with Koroyd honeycomb, a triaxial weave of carbon and ultralight Karuba wood to build the Kore’s core, topping it with fleece to minimize mass. 

It’s no exaggeration to say the Kore series has catapulted Head into hitherto unknown sales territory for its All-Mountain, Big Mountain and Powder models. Head attempted another coup three years ago with a new lightweight series of system carving skis called V-Series (for its high taper ratio between tip width and tail width).  The V-Series uses Graphene in a construction it calls LYT Tech, applying the same materials used in Kore models to make exceptionally lightweight carving skis. Paired commercially with the Nexo-LYT boot – also built with Graphene and made to be as light as possible – Head pioneered a new generation of skis that don’t require as much mass to be stable at speed. 

Head is betting heavily that the LIB trend isn’t a fad but a here-to-stay reality. The V-Series of (mostly) Frontside skis, featuring LYT Tech, replaced the Instinct system skis that were built along the same Old School lines as the Monsters.  The Monsters have followed the Instincts into retirement, yielding their spot in Head’s line-up to the narrowest Kore, the 87. 

The contrast between Head’s two carving collections, Supershape and. V-Shape, couldn’t be starker. When Head added Graphene to the Supershapes a few seasons ago, it used the weight savings to add more metal to the mix. The V-Shapes eliminate metal everywhere but in the edges. The Supershapes aim exclusively at skiers with elite skills; the V-Shapes hit every price point from coach to first class. The V-Shapes also have companion LYT Tech boots, a high degree of product integration often seen in backcountry ensembles but not much elsewhere in the current market. 

Another major differentiator of the V-Series is part of its name: compared to Supershapes, the V-Series tail is considerably narrower, allowing the less skilled skier to scrub the end of the turn with impunity. The gulf between the two carving families grew wider last year, as the 2021 Supershapes raised their collective game with a new damping system that gave them a fifth gear.

That Head should continue to offer two families of carving skis with contrasting personalities speaks to both the popularity of on-trail skiing in Europe and the brand’s long-standing commitment to carving as the cornerstone of the recreational market. Since the advent of shaped skis, no other brand has been as invested in the carving category, both financially and philosophically, as Head. Its 4-model Supershape series has been the benchmark for dual-track carving tools for a decade. 

Last season, the Supershapes received a new electronic damping system called Energy Management Circuit (EMC). Unlike the KERS technology it replaced, EMC operates both fore and aft of the binding, where it intercepts and neutralizes shock waves when they hit 80Hz.  At speeds when many other skis begin to wobble, the latest Supershapes purr contentedly along.

While the returning Supershape e-Speed and e-Magnum retained their 2020 dimensions, the e-Rally plumped up to 78mm underfoot and the e-Titan is now 84mm.  The change more clearly differentiates the Rally and Titan, with the former the pure carver and the latter a more versatile all-terrain tool. Head has once again re-set the performance bar for classic carving instruments.

Head is the only major brand to have made an entire women’s collection from scratch, without reference to a single unisex template. Head refreshed its original Joy collection two seasons ago, beefing up their construction with more wood in the core to go along with its Graphene-infused glass. In 2021, Head created a new Joy at the top of the series, the aptly named Power Joy, that uses Head’s premium Worldcup Sandwich Cap construction, embellished with EMC to ensure it has no top end.  Women who prefer to travel off-trail have the option of the Kore 87 W, which to all intents and purposes is the same as the unisex Kore 87.

The 2022 Season

The big news at Head is a series of small but significant tweaks to every one of Head’s popular Kore series, including the introduction of a new model, the Kore 111.  The main structural change is the elimination of synthetic Koroyd in favor of a full dose of Karuba and poplar in its now all-wood core. The flex pattern has also been fiddled with, creating a stiffer stick in the thinner widths that will spend more time on hard snow, while the wider versions are softer and more responsive.

Another small change with a big effect is how the top edge has been rounded off, so the ski can slide sideways almost without resistance. On a Big Mountain model with the girth of the new Kore 111, this makes a huge difference in how easy it is to swivel the bottom of the turn, a labor-saver that will prolong your powder day.

The new Kore line comes in more sizes, at 7cm increments, so skiers can find the length that’s tailored to their specifications. Taken in toto, the various modifications made to all the Kore models, men’s and women’s alike, have improved the skis’ snow feel to the point that, light weight aside, it’s indistinguishable from a well-made traditional ski.   

Power Joy

The Power Joy is unlike the rest of Head’s extensive Joy family of women’s skis, all of which were built from scratch, without reference to any unisex template. The Power Joy has clearly paid a visit to the Race Department, coming away with the EMC shock-damping system, and purloined its sidecut from the men’s Supershape e-Speed. It may have been “feminized” in some fashion compared to the e-Speed, but I doubt very much it skis …READ MORE

Supershape e-Magnum

Head was the first major manufacturer to embrace carving skis when they were still in their infancy, and the brand has never lost its commitment to perfecting the genre. The latest embellishment to its unmatched collection of carving machines is called EMC, for Energy Management Circuit. EMC converts vibration into electric current at precisely 80Hz, so your skis settle down just when the going gets rough. The e-Magnum is the shapeliest of all the Supershapes, …READ MORE

Supershape e-Speed

If you love the sensation of a firecracker-quick slalom ski, you’ll be smitten by the Head Supershape e-Speed the first time you kick it into high gear. That’s when its super-shapely sidecut shines, for at precisely 80Hz its piezo-powered Energy Management Circuit calms the whole ski down so the e-Speed can maintain continuous snow contact despite being whiplash fast edge to edge. One arena in which the e-Speed is surprisingly adept is a mogul field, …READ MORE

Supershape e-Rally

Head didn’t invent the shaped ski, but when the Carving Revolution was in its infancy it was the first major brand to commit to the concept with its Cyber series. Over the last quarter century its commitment hasn’t wavered, consistently offering several skis in its collection with curvaceous sidecuts. For the last decade, the focus of Head’s non-race carving models has been the Supershape series, a family that remains intact in 21/22, returning intact the …READ MORE

Supershape e-Titan

Of the four Supershape models, the one that underwent the most telling transformation last season was the e-Titan. In previous generations, the Titan and Rally were very close in every respect. Last year, the e-Titan put more distance between it and its thinner sibling. It’s not just that the e-Titan plumped up to an 84mm waist; it also was trimmed down at tip and tail. By taking some of the shape out of the sidecut, …READ MORE

Kore 85 W

Head has so much confidence in the all-terrain capabilities of its off-trail Kore design that last year it discontinued its Monster series and chucked its classic, wood-and-Titanal construction, to make room for the Kore 87 in its collection.  This year, the entire Kore family, including the re-christened Kore 85 W, was redesigned in several subtle ways to raise the performance bar even higher. From a global performance perspective, Head understands that not all Kores will …READ MORE

Kore 87

How can a ski as narrow-waisted as the Kore 87 come across as the most versatile ski in its wide-body family? After all, the Kore collection is 100% an off-trail creation; its avatar should be the new Kore 111, not this string bean. The improbable polyvalence of the Kore 87 is partly explained by a sleight of hand Head pulled off in the make-up of the narrowest Kore models in the 21/22 line. Taking advantage …READ MORE

Kore 91 W

The Head Kore 91 W is either the best women’s ski for off-trail skiing, or the best off-trail ski for women, take your pick.  Don’t detect a difference?  Neither do we. The properties that make the Kore 91 W a great women’s ski and those that make it ideally suited for off-piste conditions are the same. No matter which side of this equation you’re on, the Kore 91 W got a shot in the arm …READ MORE

Kore 93

The reason the market hasn’t been awash in lightweight skis since the dawn of time is because mass is part of what makes a ski damp, or able to absorb vibration. Lighter weight formulae have been tried for decades, always with the lamentable downside that they couldn’t hold an edge any better than Florence Foster Jenkins could hold a note. Then along came the Kore 93, shattering preconceptions about a lightweight ski’s ability to perform …READ MORE

Total Joy

Two seasons ago, the Joy family of women-specific carving skis underwent the same sort of across-the-board transformation that the Kore series experienced this year. Head’s justifiable focus on Graphene, carbon in a one-atom-thick matrix – that allows Head to tinker with flex in ways previously unimaginable – makes it sound as though the ultralight Total Joy were made of synthetics and pixie dust, but it’s actually grounded in an all-wood (Karuba and ash) core, with …READ MORE

V-Shape 10

With Graphene in its arsenal, Head has embraced lightweight design with the fervor it once brought to the early carving craze. The unapologetic objective of the V-Shape series is to create the lightest on-piste design possible. There are still traditional elements in the V-Shape 10, such as carbon, fiberglass and ash alongside Karuba in its wood core, but it’s Graphene that makes its LYT Tech construction possible. Through all the disruptive design changes that have …READ MORE

Kore 97 W

Head’s Kore series provides a perfect example of why a great off-trail ski and an ideal women’s ski share the same design criteria.  For 21/22, the changes made to the unisex Kore collection were ipso facto applied to its women’s iterations.  The same alterations that make the new Kore 99 a better all-terrain ski also make the Kore 97 W a better women’s ski. The most visible change is to the topsheet, which is now …READ MORE

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 …READ MORE

Kore 103 W

The sole new ski in the 2022 Women’s Big Mountain genre is Head’s Kore 103 W.  Last season, Head pushed the Kore collection down to an 87 on the skinny side of the width spectrum; the only direction left in which to extend the Kore clan was to go fatter. Hence the Kore 103 W. The last time Head ventured a women’s model in the Big Mountain category, it was the Joy collection’s first season. …READ MORE

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 …READ MORE

Kore 111

My first run on the new Head Kore 111 was the most fun I had all test season. 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 …READ MORE