Go Deep: Choose Your Weapon

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Without a doubt, fat skis are the hottest category out there right now, and for

good reason: When the snow is soft, the flotation and stability they provide fundamentally alter what can be done on a pair of skis. On these pages is a rough breakdown of what skis are available and how they might be used. Not all models are included (there are just too many these days), and we've already covered the ridiculously fat boards-those with waist widths greater than 100 mm (see "The Specialists," October 2004). Nor is anything under 75 mm included, since those aren't what anyone considers fat anymore. Some are twin-tips, some aren't. There are those who insist a turned-up tail allows a ski to release more easily at the end of a turn, and there are those who are merely annoyed by the blinding rooster tail a twin-tip leaves behind on a groomed slope. It's a matter of preference. If you haven't at least tried a fat ski by now, do so soon. It'll transform forever the way you ski powder.

Powder-Day Only

(90 mm and up)

Some swear by these big boys as their everyday skis, though most skiers find they're just too wide to be any fun on groomers, let alone bumps, and would consider them to be strictly a quiver ski. When the powder's deep enough, however, there's no better tool. With their ample waists, they're indispensable for skimming the surface and laying down GS arcs at speeds once unthinkable in powder. They've changed the way big mountains can be skied.

1 Rossignol Scratch BC

122-90-115, 176-188 cm, $729

2 Salomon Pocket Rocket

122-90-115, 165-185 cm, $795

3 Stöckli StormRider Scot Schmidt

123-91-111, 186-194 cm, $900

4 Blizzard Titan XXL

126-92-112, 181-188 cm, $850

5 Nordica The Beast

124-92-116, 166-188 cm, $865

6 Rossignol B3

122-94-112, 168-195 cm, $869

7 Völkl Explosiv

120-95-112, 165-190 cm, $725

8 Line Mothership Titanium

127-97-117 (at 182 cm), 172-192 cm, $800

9 K2 Apache Chief

126-98-116, 167-188 cm, $700

10 Atomic Sugar Daddy 125-99-117 (at 183 cm), 153-183 cm, $799



Everyday Fun/East (75-80 mm)

While it's easy to be seduced by the trend toward megafat, Easterners need to temper their enthusiasm with reality. Anything over 80 mm won't be very versatile in typical conditions. These rides have significant girth, can carve a turn when they have to, and will be plenty of fun in the woods and on powder days.

11 Völkl 7/24 Pro 115-77-104, 156-191 cm, $725

12 K2 Apache Recon 115-78-105, 160-181 cm, $875

13 Dynastar Legend 8000 116-79-102, 158-184 cm, $875

14 Fischer Big Stix 8.0 112-80-104, 170-180 cm, $650

15 Salomon Scream Limited 114-80-108, 160-180 cm, $695

16 Volant Genesis M Silver 113-80-106, 175 cm, $780



Everyday Fun/West (81-89 mm)

If your home hill is Squaw or Snowbird, and you don't see a lot of hardpack, join the club of hardcore skiers who are making these boards their everyday ride. Not as quick as a midfat, they're still fun in any type of soft snow. In the East, they'd be a blast on powder days or in spring mush.

17 Atomic M:ex 120-84-113 (at 185 cm), 165-185 cm, $799

18 Head i.M 85 122-85-110, 172-193 cm, $800

19 Fischer Big Stix 8.6 120-86-107, 170-190 cm, $750

20 Elan M777 117-87-107, 176-192 cm, $850

21 Dynastar Legend 8800 117-89-110, 158-188 cm, $925



On hardpack, employ a little patience: a wider ski just isn't as quick to edge. And keep them well tuned, or edge-grip suffers. In Powder, they can do no wrong, but be ready for a faster ride than usual.

DECEMBER 2004