Women's Gear 2000: Yes Virginia, There is a Ski for You

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Santa Claus may be a fantasy, but this season's high-performance women's skis are for real.What do women want? Men have long pondered that question, and lately ski designers seem to have a clue.

First, all women are not 120 pounds. We may be 90 pounds or 160 pounds, tall or tiny, built for speed or for show. And when it comes to sports, some of us are timid, some are fierce. It stands to reason, then, that one group of design features will not please all women¿a species not inclined to be easily pleased in the first place.

In broad terms, the challenge in designing women's skis is to ease up on heft to accommodate lighter weights and shorter heights, while still maintaining performance features that allow the ski to hold on ice, rocket out of a turn, slither through moguls and carve trenches on the groomed. Improbable? Of course. Impossible? Not necessarily.

To find such skis, we gathered testers of varying ages, styles, sizes and abilities (see the Test Team Roster on page 92) and divided the skis into two categories: All-Mountain Expert (for the more demanding and athletic woman) and All-Mountain Cruiser (for the woman who doesn't ski as much as she'd like, but wants instant fun when she does). Gold-medal winners had to satisfy one key criterium: Would testers ski on them by choice? The answer, in the case of all these skis, is a resounding yes.

Check out our giude to women's skis 2000