The women’s Big Mountain genre has bedeviled us since we began covering these super-fat models as a separate category four 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.
What model renewal there is in 2017 may not have attracted a lot of interest as changes were sometimes hiding behind familiar names and shapes. Half of the models included in our women’s Big Mountain roundup are returning technically intact from their respective 2016 collections.
Just because we don’t have many 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 did last year, 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, 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 2017 Women’s Big Mountain Field
After lying dormant for a year, the women’s Big Mountain genre showed it still has the capacity for change, with several key models undergoing alterations significant enough to affect their snow feel. Atomic’s Backland FR 102 W took everything from the Century 102 but its name, then slid a Carbon Backbone under its topskin to brighten its personality. Blizzard’s Sheeva retained its shape but altered its basic composition.
K2’s wonderfully named Luv Boat slimmed down from a 108mm waist to a 105, a minor tweak compared to the liposuction that transformed its insides. Rossignol’s Savory 7 underwent the same alterations as its soul mate, the unisex Soul 7, and has been rechristened the Soul 7 HD W to better capitalize on its partner’s runaway success.
Salomon kept the Stella name, re-assigning it to women’s sizes of the new QST 106. The 2017 QST Stella 106 demonstrates that a lightweight wide-body design can serve the needs of both genders.
The rest of the women’s Big Mountain field is comprised of returning models, several of which still rank among the best of their kind.