Cochise 106

The Cochise 106 knows how it should be skied, even if you don’t. It’s well aware that it won’t be able to carve a short turn at minimal speed, so it keeps close to the fall line until it can shift into third. Once it reaches cruising speed, it dons its dancing shoes and shows just how indifferent to heinous crud a ski can be.

The Cochise 106 is one of the few Big Mountain models that doesn’t get the heebie-jeebies on hard pack. Its imperturbability where other skis literally tremble is due in part to its classic, wood and Titanal construction and in part to its Flipcore baseline.

This latest incarnation of the Cochise represents a return to its roots as an all-terrain ski, as it was conceived to be. While the 21/22 version of the Cochise is a bit easier to bow, it’s still a fall-line-loving powerhouse. If it’s afraid of anything it sure doesn’t show it.

Whether riding a high edge on groomers or banking off a wind berm, the Cochise provides an unwavering platform you can depend on. It’s the perfect match for the expert who won’t flinch in the fall line. Even though Cochise has changed over the years, it hasn’t contorted into something it’s not: it’s still the same Power ski it always was.

FX106 Ti

Any clear-eyed assessment of what transpires on a powder day at any popular resort would conclude that the “powder” part of the day begins around 9:00 and ends around 10:00. For the rest of the day, all accessible terrain devolves into something considerably less idyllic. The Kästle FX106 Ti is built to cope with this reality, for it wields its smear-ability like a weapon when deep snow switches from a fluffy texture to something closer to tapioca.

During the “powder hour,” any ski with approximately the FX106 Ti’s dimensions will spool out mid-radius turns with unconscious ease; once perfect conditions are in the past, the real work begins. It’s in the slop that the FX106 Ti’s stout, wood-and-Titanal construction proves its mettle, planing over afternoon porridge that would kick a lesser ski off course. With two full sheets of Titanal in its guts, the FX106 Ti isn’t one of those fat skis where the width isn’t noticeable; rather, its heft imparts confidence that in the battle against crud, its pilot is well armed.

Left to its own devices on firmer snow, the FX106 Ti likes its turns long and laid over. Not that its probable owner is likely to be a big fan of groomers, but they’re an unavoidable aspect of resort skiing, so you might as well make them fast and fun.

Black Pearl 88

Blizzard already had the best-selling ski in the U.S., men’s or women’s, when it made two changes to the Black Pearl 88 that made the best even better.  The first major sweetener was TrueBlend, a meticulously arranged parquet of lightweight poplar and denser beech that is adapted for every length, and coordinated with modifications to the baseline and sidecut. The goal of TrueBlend is a perfectly balanced flex that feels smooth yet energetic.

The second major booster was a women’s-specific Titanal plate underfoot that spreads its calming effect over nearly the full length of the ski. “Every length is calibrated to create an optimal, round flex that travels well in all conditions,” notes Blizzard tester Cara Williams.  “The latest Pearls are actually slightly heavier (+150g) than the previous model,” she notes, “but I discovered after only 3 or 4 high-speed turns, that once you click in, the function and performance outweigh the literal weight of a ski – it’s more important to be the right weight than light weight.”

RC One 86 GT

The Fischer RC One 86 GT is to all intents and purposes a hard-snow carving specialist with a waist just plump enough to put it in the company of a bunch of all-terrain generalists. In an effort to blend in, the RC One 86 GT has a tiny splay of tip rocker, and a tail rocker so tiny it should be called a rockette.

This masquerade lasts only as long as it takes to get the ski on the snow, where there’s no disguising its tip-to-tail connection. A 175cm seems like plenty of ski even at the upper reaches of the recreational speed range, which its ultra-supportive edge invites one to inhabit. You can set it to reel off medium-radius turns with the unalterable precision of a metronome. “Solid and rhythmic,” enthused Jan’s Jack Walzer after taking the RC One 86 GT for a spin.

One tip-off that Fischer envisions the RC One 86 GT in frontside environs is that it’s the head of a mostly Frontside (75mm-84mm underfoot) product family. Furthermore, its construction is all about maintaining snow connection, a classic Frontside obsession. The tip and tail are outfitted with Bafatex®, a synthetic compound meant to muffle shock and keep every cm of the 86 GT’s cambered baseline plastered on the snow. Not to mention all that Titanal to further cow hard snow into silence.

Brahma 88

It’s a joy to discover an all-terrain ski with the strength and stability of an Old School GS race ski that can be reined in to less than 40mph and still move edge to edge with the ease of a figure skater. The Brahma 88’s softer extremities allow it to roll over terrain so smoothly it’s as if the ski were part of the flow of the run and not a separate component. In keeping with the best the All-Mountain East genre has to offer, it’s as comfy on glassy groomers as it is in 18-inches of fresh.

“This is a fun, nimble ski,’ says Rafferty from Peter Glenn. “Comfortable in short-radius turns in the steeps, comes around happily in moguls and gives a smooth ride at high speeds. If you prefer a slightly softer feel than the Bonafide without giving up significant performance, the Brahma 88 is worth considering. I never felt that it was doing anything counter to my efforts. I think of this as a friendly ski.”

To keep things friendly, pay close attention to length selection. If you’re not one of the biggest lads on the hill, you don’t need a 189cm. Remember, the Flipcore baseline doesn’t reduce its effective edge length once it’s tipped and pressured, so when you’re between sizes you’re probably better off going shorter, particularly if you like trees, bumps and chutes.