2013 Buyers Guide Preview: Best All-Mountain Skis (West)

Sneak Peek: Our tester's top picks in the 2013 Mixed-Snow category. Check out the full results on newsstands now.
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Sneak Peek: Our tester's top picks in the 2013 Mixed-Snow category. Check out the full results on newsstands now.
2013 Buyers Guide Preview: Mixed Skis West

We continue to preview our Buyers Guide this week with the top two men's and and top two women's skis from our Mixed-Snow (West) category. You know them as mid-fats or all-mountain skis. Whether the forecast calls for powder or crud, these sticks are your best bet for skiing the West's varying conditions. You can see full reviews of the top 2013 skis in our Buyers Guide. 

Men's Mixed-West

Blizzard Bonafide We warn against obsessing over the numbers, but there it is: The Bonafide scored highest of all the skis in all categories. That’s putting it all together, which is exactly what this returning champ (best in show last year too) does, with sidecut, rocker, and flex in perfect, harmonious blend. Given its width and rocker, it ought to prefer deep snow, but the Bonafide seems every bit as enthusiastic about groomers (No. 1 in both Stability and Hard Snow) and even bumps (No. 2 in Quickness). Testers warned that their 187-cm test length required attention in tight spots, but otherwise they were throwing superlatives and generally fawning. “Stable, smooth, quick, reactive, powerful, comforting,” etc., ad nauseam. Sick ski. ■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆

MSRP: $900 flat
Dimensions: 133-98-118
Radius: 21m (180 cm)
Average Score: 3.79
Rocker: Tip and tail

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Rossignol Experience 98 Skis this wide shouldn’t carve hard snow with such calm confidence. But in the 98, testers’ favorite Rossi, that’s just a fringe benefit. Its natural habitat is Western resort conditions: powder mornings, cruddy afternoons, chalky bumps, velvet groomers. But it’ll thrive in all but the worst Eastern conditions. Tip rocker smoothes the ride; metal gives it high-speed stability; forward-extended sidecut gobbles up the turn. High marks across the board. “A gorgeous ski."■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆

MSRP: $800 flat
Dimensions: 139-98-128
Radius: 19.9 m (180 cm)
Average Score: 3.59
Rocker: 30 percent, tip and tail

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Women's Mixed West

Volkl Aura Damp, smooth, stable. These attributes are Völkl hallmarks. So it came as no surprise that the Aura swept the category in Stability, Crud, and Hard-Snow Grip. Scoring No. 1 in Overall Impression, however, means it’s supremely versatile too. The Aura commits to the snow instantly, twisting through tight trees and crushing crud. It’s not picky about terrain, but it does crave speed, so it’s best for girls who like to send it. Camber throughout— except for the early-rise tip—gives it a more traditional feel, with exceptional hold on hardpack. A lightweight wood core with titanium layers makes it easy yet powerful and, of course, damp, smooth, and stable. ■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆

MSRP: $825
Dimensions: 131-96-114
Radius: 22.4 m (170 cm)
Average Score: 3.68
Rocker: Tip only

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Blizzard Samba With a wood core, vertical sidewall, sandwich layup, the new Samba is a speed- loving, groomer-knifing, crud-busting beast that locks horns with you until you step up your game. It holds tenaciously on hardpack— “like a traditional GS ski on steroids”—which explains its No. 1 score in Stability and No. 2 in Hard-Snow Grip. A rockered tip is easy to engage but won’t tolerate laziness; it ranked last among winners in Forgiveness. ◆ | ◆◆

MSRP: $850 flat
Dimensions: 131-98-116
Radius: 20 m (173 cm)
Average Score: 3.50
Rocker: Tip and tail

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Click here for more ski previews from our 2013 Buyers Guide.