An examination of the current women’s ski market – as outlined in a two-part article on Realskiers.com – reveals that the most highly adapted made-for-women models reside in a category that’s all but invisible in the U.S. The Technical genre comprises the narrowest non-race skis that are intended for carving continuous arcs on groomers. Because this describes how and where a majority of Europeans prefer to ski, Technical women’s skis are popular across the pond.
The reason they’re MIA in the U.S.A. is the advanced to expert woman in America finds the adventure of off-trail skiing far more alluring than the prospect of endless carving, so when she’s ready to step up to better quality of ski it tends to be a wider, all-mountain model.
And so the models that brands invest the most in testing and modifying to optimize their suitability for women gather dust in a corner of the women’s ski rack, if they make it that far. Here are ten of the best women’s skis you’ll have a hard time finding in America (alphabetized by brand).
While it’s hard to find a model that isn’t in stock anywhere, if you’re researching skis in the U.S. market you’ll find the most detailed reviews on Realskiers.com. Each review is linked to a panel of specialty dealers who carry the reviewed model.
It wasn’t so very long ago that options for fat, wide feet were few and far between. Now every brand makes at least one series of boots built on a wide last, and myriad medium and wide shells can also be heat-molded to conform to almost any foot shape. While most wide boots are still aimed at recreational skiers of modest ambitions, there are also more options than ever for more skilled skiers with prodigious pedal extremities.
The boot models referenced here aren’t single iterations; each represents a series of models covering a full range of flexes and associated price points.
Atomic Hawx Magna The Magna models start out huge (yet supportive) and can be made much roomier wherever needed via a fast heat-molding session.
Tecnica Mach 1 HV The Mach 1 HV is a high performance boot in a fat suit. One of the best skiing high-volume boots available.
Lange LX The Lange name is synonymous with uncompromising performance. Not trying to be the biggest bucket in the group, it’s meant for an advanced skier.
Salomon X/Pro Out of the box, the S/Pro is a medium, but Salomon’s slick, 2-minute molding process can create room for almost any hoof.
Head Edge LYT Cool features include a superlight, Graphene-infused shell that can be heat molded, as well as a liner with a nifty – and unique – retro-fit capability.
Rossignol Allspeed Rossi’s boot line gets more budget-friendly as it grows in width, making the Allspeed a bargain for big feet. Extra toe room a bonus.
Nordica Sportmachine Nordica’s performance line of high-volume boots. Both liner and shell are eminently adaptable, but fit so well they may not need to be.
Dalbello DS MX Dalbello is best known for its 3-piece shells, but the DS MX is a fine 4-buckle alternative with a moldable shell and liner. Available with GripWalk.
Tecnica Mach Sport HV The Mach Sport chassis comes in all widths, as it targets all recreational skiers. The “HV” – High Volume – models are hefty size.
Nordica Cruise Nordica has a long history of catering to wide feet attached to occasional skiers. The Cruise specializes in coddling plus-sized paddle-feet.
Rossignol Speed The Rossi Speed, O, rich with irony, is meant for those who mosey. It’s an economy class wide-body, with extra toe room.
K2 B.F.C K2 unabashedly built the B.F.C. for comfort, not for speed. You could put it on blindfolded, a neat trick for a ski boot. Available with GripWalk soles.
Full Tilt Descendant Fat feet attached to park rats – a sobriquet drenched in deep respect – and others addicted to Full Tilt’s 3-piece shells, will feel at home in a Descendant, available with a hike mode as the Ascendant. Clever lads.
Since the early 1990’s, the overarching objective of non-race ski design has been to abbreviate the learning curve. Mission accomplished. These are the seven most influential factors driving modern ski design.
To read more on the evolution of the modern Alpine ski, read Jackson Hogen’s latest Revelation, The State of the Ski Market: The Origins of Today’s Wacky World.
The only foolproof way to protect your knees when skiing is to stay home. But there are some things you can do to mitigate your risk of knee injury, starting with…
Realskiers.com has created a Value Rating System to identify the best ski deals. The Realskiers VRS correlates a ski’s street price with its overall performance score to determine the season’s best buys. The envelope, please….
A testament to how well Flipcore design translates to Frontside conditions.
The old Slicer is still a terrific twintip with true, all-terrain chops.
The revised QST 92 made a quantum leap in overall performance.
Atomic’s lightweight Prolite design hits its sweetspot.
Despite its bias for off-trail skiing, this Liberty miss does well on groomers.
Elan is onto something with its new on-trail/off-trail hybrid Wingman series.
The Sheeva 9 makes off-trail skiing sinfully simple.
One of the few Frontside skis that favors the Finesse skier.
No other double-rockered baseline adapts so well to groomed terrain.
The best bargain in the Big Mountain genre smears crud effortlessly.
Specialty ski shops are part of the connective tissue of our sport. More than just a commercial nexus, specialty shops provide vital educational and social services for the skier community. They hold the keys to every skier’s skills development, for specialty retailers are where you’ll find the best bootfitters. Without the services of a well-trained bootfitter, attaining high-level technical proficiency is difficult, if not impossible.
The specialty shops listed here have all contributed their time and resources to assist Realskiers.com in its mission to serve the skiing public. They are among the best shops in America because they consistently strive to deliver state-of-the-art products and services to their customers.
Aside from their uniformly high service level, these Realskiers Test Centers share another critical attribute: they are family-centric and family owned. As has proven to be the case in ski area management, the gulf between hands-on, family ownership and corporate ownership is a bottomless chasm.
You, the consumer, have the power. You have total discretion over where you invest your recreational dollar. At some point, you’re going to need new gear and the services that come with it. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of patronizing shops that are either on this list or belong on it. Your support doesn’t automatically make you a better person (although it might), but it might very well make you a better skier.