Atomic’s two principal product categories, Frontside and All-Mountain, receive a couple of notable upgrades, one deep inside and one applied on top. The inside alteration to the Vantage and Vantage X series is a switch to a maple/ash core to give the top models in these lines a little more power. The surface treatment is called Nano TPU, a textured topskin that’s designed to maintain the ski’s appearance. Among our 2018 Recommended models, the Vantage X 83 CTi, Vantage 100 CTi and Vantage 90 CTi benefit from these improvements.

While enhancing its mainstream models is all well and good, this development pales in comparison to the importance of introducing a new race line. From Atomic’s race-centric standpoint, all recreational skis are rife with compromise; only when building a race ski can its engineers execute their art as it highest level. Racing is the lifeblood of the brand; every scintilla of technology it can concoct that shaves a tenth of a second off the clock is worth the investment.

The sexy new feature on the G9, S9 and X9 is called Servotec, a single rod embedded in an elastomer receptacle under the toe piece and attached at the other end a few inches from the shovel. (Those will long memories may remember a generation of Salomon models with Prolink, which worked on similar principles.) Servotec keeps the front of the ski quieter when straight running and augments rebound when the ski recoils from pressure.

The second standout feature of the new 9 series is a significantly slimmer silhouette. Just sitting in a ski rack, the G9 looks like a ballistic missile on a launch pad. The sidecut radius of each 9 model still matches the expectation of the skier looking for a GS, SL or combi race model; it’s just that their tips and tails have been trimmed.

The instant you step into an Atomic race ski, you can feel its seriousness of purpose. I’ve never been strapped into an F-1 car, but I imagine it’s a similar sensation: you are now in the hands of a higher power. Buckle up; it’s going to be one helluva ride.