The women’s Big Mountain genre has bedeviled us since we began covering these super-fat models as a separate category five seasons ago. Part of the problem is that skis this wide require some semblance of new snow to be given a fair evaluation, limiting their appeal as test subjects except on rare occasions.

Another factor depressing feedback is the limited market for skis that will serve as a second or third pair for its owner. Our crew has commercial considerations that oblige them focus on where most of the action is in the women’s market. Their priority is to test what’s new and the Big Mountain genre hasn’t seen a lot of model turnover in recent seasons.

Just because we don’t have much in the way of test results doesn’t mean we can’t comment on these models and connect interested parties to the shops that stock them. But we don’t have the data to support statistical ratings and so, as we have for the last two seasons, we’re not presenting test statistics or Finesse/Power ratings. The Recommended models are listed alphabetically by brand, as they are all equal in our eyes.

If we had unearthed even a single card on one of the few women’s Powder models, such as the Völkl Bash 116 W, you’d read about them here. Very few mainstream companies catalog a women’s Powder model (>113mm waist) anymore, as small-batch suppliers meet what limited demand exists.

The 2018 Women’s Big Mountain Field

The winds of change are rustling the normally placid waters of the Women’s Big Mountain category. There are three all-new entrants to the field, Blizzard’s Sheeva 10 and 11, and Nordica’s Santa Ana 110. All are inspired by unisex models – Rustler 10 and 11 and Enforcer 110, respectively – and all use metal in their make-up, a relative rarity in the genre.

The Santa Ana 110 merits an extra mention because it uses two full-length sheets of Titanium, which should give it an extra measure of stability in rough conditions. It also has a predominantly wood core, which improves damping. Nordica can afford the added weight of wood and metal because two sheets of prepreg carbon, instead of heavier fiberglass, carry the rest of the structural load.

I’m dwelling on the Santa Ana 110 here because I didn’t get a shred a feedback on what is sure to be a sensational ski. I’m comfortable with this assertion as our test panel raves about the Enforcer 110, the Santa Ana’s sibling. I’m not comfortable writing reviews and recommendations without a single snapshot of its performance profile on snow, so you won’t find a review of this boffo new Nordica below.

Another model of impeccable pedigree that escaped our net is Völkl’s revamped 100 Eight W. Its embellishment is an extra layer of fiberglass called 3D.Glass that significantly improved the performance of all the unisex models with the same feature. I expect the 100 Eight W to display a parallel increase in power.

Realskiers’ Recommended models that are returning unchanged (except cosmetically) are folded into our 2018 results; our comments about them are likewise unchanged from last year.