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Eastern skiing is cold and icy (when it’s not raining). Or so the stereotype goes. Our Eastern editors are just fine with that because when the next nor’easter blows in, they’ll be at Sugarloaf crushing Snowfield laps while we Coloradans are burning up clutches in the I-70 gridlock. The skis here do make concessions for Eastern conditions, with narrower waists that cope better with firm stuff (and wind-blasted lift rides). But like Eastern skiers, they’re built for occassional powder days too!
Kästle MX 88 It’s hardly an indictment of rocker, but the fact that a fully cambered ski wins the category is interesting. Kästle embraces rocker for soft-snow applications but prefers the snap and positive edge grip of camber for frontside skiing. In this case, testers agreed. They enjoyed the rebound (No. 3 in the category) and stability (No. 2) that they expected of a metal-reinforced, non-rockered Kästle, but at the same time they were astonished by the MX 88’s fun-loving forgiveness (No. 1). Our 178-cm test length was equal parts agile and smooth, bending readily into glued-to-the-snow arcs with predictable, easily managed transitions in between. “Silky, always flowing. Moves through the tight spots like greased lightning.” ■ | ■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆
MSRP: $1,199 flat
Radius: 20 m (178 cm)
Average Score: 3.50
Rossignol Experience 88 Many midfats perform well on the groomed; it’s tricky afternoon crud that distinguishes the best. The 88 (No. 1 in Crud) is classically Rossi in feel—damp, fluid, with a pleasing heft. With edge grip that belies its width, it dices groomers at irresponsible speeds. And in the afternoon, that width, plus a touch of tip rocker, gives it calm confidence to blast through piles. “Surefooted in multiple applications.” ■|■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆
MSRP: $700 flat
Radius: 16.4 m (178 cm)
Average Score: 3.46
Rocker: 30 percent, tip and tail
Blizzard Black Pearl Boys, take note: The Black Pearl is badass but sensitive, burly
yet communicative…and extremely desirable to expert women skiers. With top scores in every single category save Forgiveness, this ski crushed the competition. Patchy ice? Frozen chop? Flat light? Hell, no light? No problem. From the first turn, this ski is there for you, no matter what. It holds tenaciously on groomed, smoothes out chop, and tiptoes through fluff. A classic sandwich sidewall construction with full wood core and camber underfoot lend a grippy, energetic feel, while tip and tail rocker ease the ride. It’s built for the strong, but it never punishes. Ripping chicks, meet your perfect mate. ■◆ | ◆ | ◆◆
MSRP: $750 flat
Radius: 17 m (166 cm)
Average Score: 4.00
Rocker: Tip and tail
Salomon Rockette 90 The all-new Rockette is, like its bigger sister the Geisha, by far the easiest ski in its category, winning in Forgiveness by a large margin. You can ski it from any level, on any terrain, from any angle. It’s like one of those compasses you used in grade school: Set your turn shape and it draws perfect arcs. Able to transform seamlessly from a bubbly, slalomy carver to a meaty GS ski with teeth, it’s accessible to a wide variety of abilities. ■◆ |◆|◆◆
MSRP: $625 flat
Radius: 15.5 m (169 cm)
Average Score: 3.70
Rocker: Tip and tail
Click here for more ski previews from our 2013 Buyers Guide.