For the advanced woman, the All-Mountain East category is most likely the best place for her to hunt for the one-ski quiver. In our view, the 88mm-90mm waisted ski possesses the optimal surface area and shape to deliver adequate flotation in broken snow without creating a ski so wide that tipping it on hard snow potentially puts the knee joint at risk. The more petite the person, the more this prescription pertains.
Most of our top picks are remarkably balanced, meaning they deliver outstanding performance yet are eerily easy to ski. For example, our top Finesse Favorite of 2017, the Blizzard Black Pearl, was our 3rd place finisher for Power properties,
which speaks volumes about its performance/ability range. When we factor in the terrain versatility the archetypical All-Mountain East provides, we’re led to the conclusion that for many female skiers, East or West, these skis bring the best bundle of behaviors to the all-terrain party.
In the final analysis, it’s the adaptability to a broad palette of conditions that make the All-Mountain East genre the home of the do-it-all ski for women. Thanks to their shape and fairly svelte mid-section, they carve up groomed runs with aplomb. While they’re not as quick edge-to-edge as a slalom ski, they’re plenty nimble enough to snake through bumps or slip through trees. Of course they can’t float in freshies they same way a fatter ski can, but how many runs do you get in uncut snow, even on snow days? They have as much flotation for the average woman as a 98mm-waisted ski has for a man, which is sufficient in all but the most luscious, bottomless conditions.
The 2017 Women’s All-Mountain East Field
Despite its central importance to the women’s market, hardly a ripple of change passed over it between 2016 and 2017. The only “new” model among our Recommended roster, Blizzard’s Black Pearl, changed only its core composition and was on the retail market by the end of last winter. So the answer to what’s new is, “Not much.”
But this doesn’t minimize the value of the genre or the appeal of its stars. After all, if you don’t already own an All-Mountain East ski, it’s all new to you. Every one of our Recommended models should be considered not just among the best skis for eastern fall-line femmes, but for women in general.
If there’s an ideal target customer for this genre, it’s the woman who began her ski career on an affordable Frontside model but now is ready to experiment with some off-trail action. No other genre is as well-equipped to assist in the transition from life on the sanitized groomed to life in the less predictable wild.
Power Picks: Off-Piste Explorers
Our Power Picks aren’t for women who are looking for a helping hand as much as a ski-by-my-side partner for their forays all over the hill. These skiers have a well-developed skill set that isn’t satisfied by poking along on manicured runs. If they’re on groomers, they want to blaze; it they’re in radical off-piste terrain, they’re going to keep on tearing it up, too. For women who can ski with the boys but don’t feel any particular need to do so, one of these skis could be your next BFF.