The Best Skis of 2020

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: October 29, 2019

In years of yore, I would use this space to promote the models that I personally preferred in each unisex genre. (Women’s views prevailed in the domain of the fairer sex.) This year I saw no reason to deviate from the wisdom of my beloved test team, who unerringly selected la crème de la crème of each category. Please note that there are too few Women’s Powder models to constitute a category and none whatsoever to populate the race genre.

NON-FIS RACE: Völkl Racetiger SL

Better skis ski better, and Non-FIS Race skis are still the best skis made. The Völkl slalom has the biggest performance envelope of the lot. If you’re a good skier, why don’t you have one of these in your quiver?

TECHNICAL: Head Supershape i.Magnum

Technical skis are all about the continuous, dual-track carve. Head has been at the top of this game since the Supershape quartet appeared several seasons ago. If you want to feel carving G’s in your gut, hop on an i.Magnum. [Note: Technical category results are posted now on the Realskiers members’ site and will be posted soon on the public site.]

Women’s TECHNICAL: Atomic Cloud 12

Atomic gets it. The best female skiers don’t want a women’s ski as much as they want a great ski scaled for their size. No compromises. No taking out all the good stuff. No pink. Screw keeping up with the boys; let them try to keep up with you when you’re riding on Cloud 12.

FRONTSIDE: Kästle MX84

You will never regret owning this ski, ever. For a technical skier who knows how to operate a fully cambered ski, it will become an addiction. It’s reasonably patient with skiers of lesser skills, but that’s not who it’s for. Do you want to see how fast you can go and maintain total control?

Women’s FRONTSIDE: Dynastar Legend W 84

The Women’s Frontside genre is the only genre focused on skiers who aren’t already accomplished. Emboldened confidence is more valuable than hair-trigger precision. The Legend W 84 is the hero ski for the aspiring expert.

ALL-MOUNTAIN EAST: Völkl Kendo 88

If you don’t own an All-Mountain East ski, get one. While you’re at it, get the best one, Völkl’s all-new Kendo 88. Over the years, there have been more Kendos than Kardashians, but the latest is also the greatest all-around ski in the most important category.

Women’s ALL-MOUNTAIN EAST: Blizzard Black Pearl 88

Who were you expecting, Princess Meghan? Of course the belle of the ball is the Black Pearl 88, which is in the process of setting a sales streak for women’s skis that may never be broken. All those women must be happy, or the buzz would be killed by now. Instead, the beat goes on…

ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST: Blizzard Bonafide

I’ve said it before, on more than one occasion: the Bonafide is probably the best all-condition ski ever made. It positively does not care where you point it. Okay, it favors the better skier; what doesn’t? Not many skis can bite like a rabid dog or smear like Parkay® on a whim.

Women’s ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST: Nordica Santa Ana 100

We never get enough data to make a stat-based call on Women’s AMW models, so I picked the Santa Ana 100 because it’s suited for women, not diluted for women. It’s made for the gal who knows how to get after it, because if you don’t have the skills, you shouldn’t shop in this store.

BIG MOUNTAIN: Nordica Enforcer 104 Free

You’d think stuffing another Enforcer between the 110 and the 100 would be overkill. Okay, it is. But you’ll be so glad Nordica did. This is the sweetspot, the wheelhouse, the home run. Little things, like a higher tail rocker, make a big difference. Don’t think about it; get it.

Women’s BIG MOUNTAIN: Blizzard Sheeva 10

If ski makers are going to use metal in a Women’s Big Mountain model, they had better use it sparingly. So Blizzard only uses a low dose of Ti in the Sheeva 10, but metal always makes a difference in stability, particularly in crud, which is what we call powder after the first run.

POWDER: Salomon QST 118 

The reason we don’t show stats on Powder skis is because it’s impossible to find, much less stabilize, test conditions. So I defer to the Imaginarium, wherein I hypothesize the perfect world, then the ski I’m wearing in it. As the chopper lifts away and our gang unstraps their skis, I’m holding a Salomon QST 118 and smiling so hard my face might break. [Note: Powder category results are posted now on the Realskiers members’ site and will be posted next month on the public site.]

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