Just two years ago, the Technical field in the U.S. was so forlorn it didn’t include a single new model of any importance. But over the last two seasons, the genre has been rejuvenated by an infusion of fresh blood that, at least on paper, gives the appearance of a genre bustling with activity. With the exception of one or two models, the Technical category is full of shiny, new faces.
Yet if recent history is any measure, it doesn’t matter how brilliantly any Technical ski performs, the demand simply isn’t there to justify stocking it. Because the category caters to experts, its constituent models are all excellent. The few step-down models that flesh out the genre in Europe are all but invisible on this side of the pond, so you won’t see any of them in this round-up.
Our ability to report on all the latest innovations has been mightily compromised by a pandemic that has eradicated the events that in a typical year would have provided a showcase for new models. We have a few shards of feedback, but not enough to merit side-by-side comparisons among models that share more performance similarities than they display differences.
In light of the fact that all the top Technical models are perforce perfect carvers, and in consideration of the limitations of our uneven data collection, we won’t provide data or rankings on 2022 Technical skis, either for men or women. Our slender reviews are a reflection of the spottiness of our data, but we wanted to provide as complete a picture of the substantially overhauled genre as we could under our constrained circumstances.
Last season, Head spiffed up its perennial powerhouse carvers, the Supershape Magnum and Speed, with its latest shock-stifling system, Electronic Management Circuit (EMC). Also last year, K2 created a slew of new carvers headlined by the Disruption MTi, the brand’s first serious foray into Technical turf in a while.
For 21/22, K2 has substantially raised the bar with the Disruption Ti2, with twice the metal content of the MTi. A Technical ski with a $1,300 sticker price is rare air for any brand; that it hails from K2, better known for its well-rockered wide-bodies, makes the Disruption Ti2 an unexpected line extension to a narrower waist and a beefier chassis.
Other brands with new flagship Technical models include Blizzard, Dynastar and Völkl. Blizzard’s new Thunderbird R15 adapts the Austrian brand’s new TrueBlend core concept to an on-piste beast. Dynastar rounds out the complete line transformation begun last year by adding a Speed family of hard-snow carvers, led by the 68mm-waisted Speed 963. Völkl has decommissioned its erstwhile Deacon Pro family and anointed the Deacon 72 Master the new leader of the carving faithful.
America is a nation of optimists. How else to explain why we buy wide skis on the faint hope we’ll encounter fresh snow, when Technical skis perform so much better on the groomed runs we ski every day? If skiers in the market for a second pair bought a precise carver instead of a fat swiveler, they’d not only be acquiring a more useful tool, they’ll be far more likely to improve their skills.
I realize it’s delusional to hope for Technical skis to make a swift return to market relevance, but if we fail to celebrate the best of them, how will the U.S. skier ever know they even exist? It’s in this spirit that we present the finest Technical skis in our market, listed in alphabetic order by brand. Realskiers members who want to check out the dusty data from two years ago will find our 2020 reviews – replete with test data – in our Review Archives.