More women’s skis are sold in the Frontside category than any other, for several salient reasons:
- The first ski a woman owns is usually a Frontside ski, for better performance on groomed terrain. Anything wider is almost always a second ski,
- Women tend to be smaller than men, so they don’t need a wider ski to achieve some measure of flotation in soft snow, making a Frontside ski more versatile for women than it is for men.
- The category covers a broad price/performance range, so women of widely varying budgets and abilities can find what they want in this genre.
These observations aside, the characteristics of the women’s Frontside category mirror those of the men’s. When our female testers took this cast of characters on snow, they found a lot to like: the results were very close, with the margins between scores down to minute fractions. Almost every ski could qualify as a “winning” ski but rather than present them all as virtually equal we skimmed off the crème de la crème to present here. This means that there are some stellar skis in this genre that aren’t referenced here and only appear among the reviews by brand.
While it’s difficult to assess performance across the gender divide, our test results do suggest that a women’s Frontside ski tends to be less aggressive and fall-line oriented than the top men’s models. This shouldn’t surprise, as one of the main criteria for a women’s model is that it be easier to bow. But it does suggest that the more talented and speed-driven women may find a more suitable ride among the men’s favorites.
While American men continue to chase the dream of powder by procuring ever fatter skis for their daily use, most American women harbor no such illusions and so continue to find their favorite skis in the Frontside category. (Could it be that women are inherently more practical than men? Discuss amongst yourselves.)
Looking at the full spectrum of made-for-women models, the Frontside genre falls between the 85mm-94mm-waisted All-Mountain East category, already an overweight girth for a lot of gals, and a tiny clique of kick-butt Technical skis hardly anybody stocks. This has the effect of funneling most of the female market into the Frontside segment, where they are well served with the widest selection of models found in any women’s category.
The 2017 Frontside Field
Roughly a quarter of all our Recommended models for women fall in the Frontside category. To a degree we don’t see among men’s Frontside models, the field is heavily skewed towards the Finesse side of the ledger. While we’ve highlighted 3 models for their Power properties, even these skis are more tender than tough.
Women who like their turns relatively short and their speed under control will find most of these fillies respond promptly to a light touch. If this doesn’t sound like enough ski for how you like to blaze the frontside, you might consider a men’s model or a Technical ski with a more traditional, cambered baseline.
As was the case across all categories of women’s models, not much is new among Frontside women’s skis. Only a couple of new Frontside families were introduced, the Flair collection from Völkl and the Quattro clan from Blizzard. Each series has a standout product our female testers elevated into our Recommended ranks.
Finesse Favorites: Ability Boosters
A case could be made that the whole idea of acquiring a modern ski is to make the business of getting from point A to point B as easy and effortless as possible. The skis our test panel has identified here have taken this mission to heart. These aren’t limp noodles that lose their zest for living as soon as you stomp on the accelerator; all our Finesse Favorites also received more than respectable Power scores. As the skier progresses in ability under their gentle guidance, they have the performance reserve to carry her to the next ability level without breaking stride.