In yet another example of our cutting-edge journalism, permit us to point out that men and women are different. The pertinent manifestation of this principle is that the same width ski that makes an ideal men’s all-terrain tool is a tad too wide to be an everyday ride for all but the most talented lasses. Put more succinctly, if you don’t instinctively ride an elevated edge angle, a ski from the All-Mountain West genre should be a second, soft-snow pair of skis.
The primary reason for taking this precaution is that a wider ski takes more effort to roll up on edge. A lower skill skier is more likely to just push it around, all fun and games in soft snow but a bit like an unguided missile when the snow firms up. Lower skill skiers tend to regard our Power Picks as lacking in forgiving traits, while the experts who log many miles a season don’t detect any unfriendly attitudes no matter where or how they ski them.
So what woman does belong on an All-Mountain West model? As long as it’s a second ski reserved for soft snow conditions, there’s really no upper or lower suitability threshold for any of our favorites. And yes, it can be an everyday ski for a strong, athletic woman and probably is serving that function for those lucky enough to ski over 50 days a year. They do make it look effortless, but it’s worth noting these are ladies who drop their hips within inches of the snow as a matter of course.
The 2018 Women’s All-Mountain West Field
Last winter we had ideal test conditions, except at every trade fair, which is where we capture most of our data on women’s skis. So despite an abundance of fab skis in this important genre, we only have a pitiful few on which to report. The killer skis that escaped our scrutiny include the new Nordica Santa Ana 100 and Dynastar Legend W 96, the revised Völkl 90 Eight W and returning luminaries like the Salomon QST Lumen 99, Head Great Joy and Fischer My Ranger 98. If we could only control the weather, we’d have a lot more women’s All-Mountain West models to recommend.
Our winnowed cast of winners epitomizes what this category is all about. Each is at at its best in off-trail conditions, with the Power Picks providing the extra oomph experts appreciate. We lament the absence of so many worthy skis, particularly category debutantes Santa Ana 100 (in its new construction, it’s a whole new ski) and Legend W 96, the former a certain Power Pick and the latter a lock as a Finesse Favorite.