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Gear Guide 2018: Women’s Powder Skis

The only thing better than skiing the deep stuff is slaying it on the proper skis. These fat-body boards happily embrace their girth. When the storm cycle hits, you’re good to go.

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Who: Women lucky enough to surf pow on the regular.

What: Playful, surfy, specialized tools for wide-open lines.

Where: The deep stuff. We’re talking knees and up.

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.

Nordica Santa Ana 110 (BEST IN CATEGORY)

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Metal in a pow ski? Testers eloquently (and sans abbreviation) said F-yeah. The new Santa Ana 110 takes the place of the La Nina as the official Pow Slayer, taking its rightful place at the top of the sexiest boards alive. It’s a stable, hard-charging—yet never punishing—pow crusher whose spirit animal would be Rhianna. It’s more traditional in feel, yet plenty progressive with its blunt-nose attitude that poaches lines with pride. Interesting that the top ski also scored lowest in the category for Quickness—pow days are just too precious to waste on short turns. “This ski came to play in a serious fashion,” Gleason said. More info on the Nordica Santa Ana 110 here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Crud. Average Score: 4.06

$849 flat

D: 139-110-128, R: 15.5m (169), Lengths: 161, 169, 177

Atomic Backland FR 109 W

None

Horizontal rocker? Touring ski? Fear not. The Backland FR 109 delivers every ounce of downhill performance you’d expect from an alpine pow board. Yes, it’s lightweight. But a carbon “backbone” insert keeps it strong and stable. And that across-the-ski rocker (along with the usual vertical rocker-camber-rocker) floated like a boat in the deep Daly Chutes. Indeed, testers alternately described it as burly, nimble, and balanced—“It’s kind of magic that it can be all things at once,” said Knight. It was middle-of-the-road in Hard-Snow Integrity, but it is a pow ski, after all. More info on the Atomic Backland FR 109 W here.

Strengths: Quickness/Maneuverability, Flotation. Average Score: 4.03

$725 flat

D: 132-109-122, R: 16.5m (167), Lengths: 159, 167, 175

Salomon QST Stella 106

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The only thing testers quibbled about with the Stella 106 was the fact they had to bring it back to the corral. They called it nimble, floaty, fun, easy, playful, quick, and stable. It soared through DV’s powdery trees, turning so quickly it seemed to read our minds. With a wide range of entry, the Stella 106 is easy enough for a powder novice and strong enough for the highest experts on the hill. The widest in Salomon’s QST women’s line, the 106 has a wood core reinforced with a carbon/flax weave. A honeycomb tip keeps it maneuverable and floaty. “Hero ski. Loved everything it did,” Barnes said. More info on the Salomon QST Stella 106 here.

Strengths: Flotation, Quickness. Average Score: 3.87

$850 flat

D: 136-106-124 @ 167 cm, R: 20m (at all lengths), Lengths: 159, 167, 174

Blizzard Sheeva 10

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You can see the sheet of Titanal on the topsheet, keeping the ski damp and stable in the center where you need it, and keeping the tips maneuverable and light where you don’t. A new model—Blizzard is investing heavily in women’s designs—the Sheeva 10 is forgiving, fun, and versatile. Some testers whined that it wasn’t a true “powder” ski—several manufacturers entered narrower skis in this category —and wanted to try the wider 112-waisted Sheeva 11, but they got over it pretty quickly after they dove through the DV trees. “A wonderful marriage of playfulness and performance,” Brent said. More info on the Blizzard Sheeva 10 here.

Strengths: Balance of Skills/Versatility, Overall Impression. Average Score: 3.86

$720 flat

D: 132-102-122, R: 14.4m (164), Lengths: 156, 164, 172

Rossignol Soul 7 HD W

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This year Rossi brings the HD—Carbon Alloy Matrix, a carbon and basalt fabric—into the women’s line. It adds edginess and a crisp feeling to the now-classic Soul 7, which has long been prized for its loose, smeary playfulness in pow. Testers were divided about the update, however, with some complaining it added too much bite and stiffness, making the new version unwieldy. Others proclaimed it the perfect “all mountain powder ski,” a one-ski quiver capable of carving when the pressure’s high. “A ski that does everything without being overly demanding,” said Lovell. More info on the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W here.

Strengths: Flotation, Stability. Average Score: 3.73

$850 flat

D: 136-106-126, R: 16m (164), Lengths: 156, 164, 172, 180

Elan Ripstick 102 W

None

Elan’s factory sits in a valley between Slovenia’s Julian Alps; it’s a proud brand, born from mountain people. The new Ripstick line (the great name reincarnated) gets a 102 (and an 86) waist this year, and testers loved its no-nonsense bomber feel. It’s not nimble—it scored lowest in the category for Quickness—but it sure is stable, plowing through crud with tank-like determination. It has a dedicated right and left—rockered edge on the outside, cambered on the inside—and hollow carbon tubes through the core to add stability and save weight. “Big, bold, and strong is the new skinny,” Brown said. More info on the Elan Ripstick 102 W here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Crud. Average Score: 3.72

$800 flat

D: 143-105-120, R: 17m (170), Lenths: 156, 163, 170, 177

K2 Luvboat 105

None

This aptly named playgirl is super floaty, forgiving, and fun in the conditions is was made to ski in: powder. Ask it to carve cleanly on hardpack, however, and it’ll happily turn its big, rockered nose back into the trees. (It scored last in the category for Hard-Snow Integrity.) Thanks to said tips, they do ski short and can be overpowered by stronger women, but the sheer ease and fun factor was noted by all. Testers felt this would make a perfect intermediate tool for those just venturing into the deep stuff, or a great all-rounder for women who don’t want a ski that makes them work too hard. “Turn after turn of good times,” Bremner said. More info on the K2 Luvboat 105 here.

Strengths: Forgiveness, Playfulness. Average Score: 3.72

$900 flat

D: 137-105-121, R: 16m (170), Lengths: 163, 170, 177

Kästle BMX 105

None

True to the other Kästles in this category, the BMX 105 is best for women not sold on dedicated women’s skis. (In truth, all Kästle’s offerings are unisex; the smallest size in this model is a 173 cm.) It’s powerful and demanding, scoring lowest in Playfulness and Forgiveness. The brand’s signature Hollowtech in the tip (that see-through window) reduces swing weight and purrs through powder, and the sandwich construction wood core is metal free (Kästle also makes the metal-laden 105 HP, which is even burlier). It does ski long, and requires muscle. But those who can wield it will never go back. “Send it!” said Humes. More info on the Kästle BMX 105 here.

Strengths: Stability at Speed, Crud. Average Score: 3.70

$999 flat

D: 134-105-123, R: 17m (165), Lengths: 165, 173, 181, 189