WHO: Unrepentant cruisers who know how to arc a ski
WHAT: Quick, edgy, narrow-waisted carvers
WHERE: Freshly groomed cruisers
Looking for a breakdown on how each of these skis performed in various conditions? Look no further than this scoresheet for everything you want to know.
Some carving skis demand strong quads and flawless technique. The Speedmachine only demands that you have as much fun as it does. It succeeds with a combination of quickness and ease that’s uncommon in this category. No other ski came close in the Playfulness criteria, where many an overbuilt carver comes to grief. There’s metal in the GT’s layup, but cutaway sections fore and aft reduce weight and soften flex. The result: Serious fun. Megroz: “Sick ski. Tons of pop and playfulness.” More info about the Nordica GT Speedmachine 80 here.
Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness/Maneuverability, Versatility. Average Score: 3.96
$1,099 with binding
Dimensions: 130-80-110; Radius: 16.5 m (180); Lengths: 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
Testers know Kästle's cost a little more. In the case of this year’s MX 84, it’s money well spent. The return for your investment is classic Kästle performance—smoothness without unnecessary weight, exciting energy without unwieldiness. Best-in-class buoyancy makes it an obvious choice for Western velvet or warm days back East—it’ll never trench too deeply. And the MX’s supple dampness lets it flow through crud with ease. “So smooth. Such a well-rounded ski,” said Gooding. More info about the Kästle MX 84 here.
Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed, Versatility. Average Score: 3.80
D: 128-84-112; R: 16.3 m (176); Lengths: 152, 160, 168, 176, 184
There’s a full-metal version of this ski that’s way more powerful (RTM 86), but the testers are here to talk you out of it. There’s plenty of precision-carve performance in the RTM 84, a mainstay model from Völkl. But it’s not all frustrated race ski. On soft-snow days, it’s wide, light, soft, and loose enough for off-piste adventure, even bumps. When it’s firm, it still carves like a Völkl. “Responds well to light or heavy attack,” said Gleason. “Loves to stray from the groomed.” More info about the Völkl RTM 84 here.
Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness/Maneuverability, Hard-Snow Integrity. Average score: 3.78
$1,150 with binding
D: 131-84-112; R: 17.9 m (177); Lengths: 162, 167, 172, 177, 182
Especially if your quiver already includes a midfat for soft-snow days, the Curv makes perfect sense. It’s a finely tuned carving specialist, incredibly good for dicing groomed runs at high speeds, not at all interested in venturing off-piste. Speed brings out its best. Testers called it one of the racier models in the category. And its Hard Snow score was easily the highest. Forgiving? Nope. First to the bottom? Every darn time. “An arc machine” said Larsen. “Tons of rebound energy.” More info about the Fischer CURV GT here.
Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed, Versatility. Average Score: 3.74
$1,099 with binding
D: 129-80-112; R: 16 m (175); Lengths: 168, 175, 182
If you’re angry at all that beautiful corduroy and want to hack it to bits, here’s your weapon. You’ll feel better after. Notice that the ultra-narrow Redster X9 puts up the highest score for Overall Impression. Testers have to ding it for lack of versatility. (Flotation? Forgiveness? Ha!) But for what it’s designed for—high-angle arcs on the hardest snow at the highest speeds—it’s a joy. Town-league racers: Take note. Vail speed patrol: Good luck catching up. Schiller: “One-dimensional, but wow! Unbelievable.” More info about the Atomic Redster X9 here.
Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, Quickness/Maneuverability. Average Score: 3.72
$1,200 with binding
D: 114-65.5-99.5; R: 15.4 m (175); Lengths: 169, 175, 181
The Speed Zone belongs among the race-inspired carvers in the category. It loves high speeds, hard snow, and high-edge angles. The difference is its quickness and relative ease of use. Where the other arc machines tend to be GS-inspired, the Speed Zone loves a tighter arc and abides slower speeds. Throw it out as far as you dare; it locks, loads, and reliably catapults you back across the fall line and into the next turn. “Amazingly good,” said Elling. “Elegant and smooth, easy but strong on edge.” More info about the Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti here.
Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, Quickness/Maneuverability. Average Score: 3.71
$1,000 with binding
D: 121-72-106; R: 15 m (174); Lengths: 158, 166, 174, 182
Blizzard aims for balance in the groomer-specific Quattro, attempting to deliver high-performance carving without making it heavy and exhausting. That’s never easy, but the Quattro succeeds. It gladly trades some high-speed stability and hard-snow grip for lightness and ease, and it’s among the more forgiving skis in the category. But there’s still some snap to it as well, especially if you like shorter arcs and lots of them. Rogan: “Tip it on edge, add pressure, and this thing sings.” More info about the Blizzard Quattro 8.4 here.
Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Hard-Snow Integrity, Playfulness. Average Score: 3.57
$1,080 with binding
D: 129-84-113; R: 16 m (174); Lengths: 167, 174, 181
For a true carving specialist, check out Rossi’s Pursuit line. The Experience, by contrast, promises and delivers versatility. To be sure, the 84 is a capable carver, ideal especially for soft Western groomers. Basalt fibers give it an unmistakably damp and mellow feel without adding weight, so it’s calm at speed. More important, it handles the typical broken-snow resort conditions with unflappable ease. “The Everyman’s all-mountain carver,” said Larsen. “East to roll over and stand on.” More info about the Rossignol Experience 84 HD here.
Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Playfulness, Versatility. Average Score: 3.57
D: 133-84-120; R: 16 m (178); Lengths: 146, 154, 162, 170, 178, 186
Hate clichés all you want, but Stockli is known for Swiss-built precision, and that’s what you get in the Laser SX. It’s not built for comfort or ease, testers warned. Versatility? Nein. But the SX is certainly among the strongest and edgiest skis in the category. Testers loved what it does at high speeds in medium and long arcs, laying trenches and thumbing its nose at the speed cops. If that’s what makes groomer days fun for you, it won’t disappoint. Casey: “Scores won’t reflect what a blast it is to ski.” More info about the Stockli Laser SX here.
Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed, Playfulness. Average Score: 3.51
$1,199 with binding
D: 120-70-99; R: 16.8 (177); Lengths: 149, 156, 163, 170, 177, 184
Got sidecut? Testers generally deemed the Rally to be the turn-iest of the bunch. Even the slightest edge angle sends it arcing across the hill. If that’s your style, you’re in Carve Heaven—find some fresh cord and get ready to drag hip. And if you’re not the capable carver you hope one day to be, the Rally’s super-tight radius serves up can’t-miss carves even at slow speeds on gentle slopes. “Tight is right! A mind-blowing, mad-arcs ripper stick,” said Elling. More info about the Head Supershape i.Rally here.
Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed, Quickness/Maneuverability. Average Score: 3.49
$1,200 with binding.
D: 135-76-114; R: 13.7 m (170); Lengths: 156, 163, 170, 177