- Who Needs carving skis? Frontside lovers who know how to bend a ski.
- What are carving skis? World Cup tech with consumer-friendly sidecuts.
- Where are the best places for carving skis? Race gates, pristine corduroy, and man-made snow.
BEST IN TEST: Blizzard Firebird WRC
The Firebird WRC made fast and beautiful turns quicker than testers could think. With two unique carbon technologies—one that maximizes edge hold and stability through the turn, and another that increases rebound and creates powerful transitions—this ski rewarded testers who invested power into it. Elling: “Get your helmet on, grab these skis and get up early to destroy the groomers.” Read more about the Blizzard Firebird WRC here.
- Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 115.5-68-98.5
- Lengths (in centimeters): 170, 175, 180, 185
- Radius (in meters): 18.5
- MSRP: $1,320 with binding (BUY NOW)
Stöckli Laser AX
The AX doesn’t require a pair of thunder thighs to enjoy, but when testers put the pedal to the metal, this ski was ready and willing. The top layer of Titanal features notches that assist with easy turn initiation and release at lower speeds but lock together as velocity increases for rock-solid high-speed performance. Testers loved it. Gleason: “Crisp turn initiation, super-fast glide, and strong flex in the tail. A real stand out!” You can find more details about the Stöckli Laser AX here.
- Strengths: Forgiveness, Crud Performance; Weakness: Stability at Speed
- Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 124-78-111
- Lengths (in centimeters): 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
- Radius (in meters): 15.9
- MSRP: $1,199 flat (BUY NOW)
Völkl Deacon 76
The Deacon features a number of new technologies from Völkl’s RaceTiger World Cup skis to create an incredible carver that left testers thunderstruck. Nearly every tester agreed that the Deacon 76 delivers pure carving joy at high speeds, but a number noticed that it still makes enjoyable arcs at moderate speeds, too. Casey: “Strong, quiet, super fun. Just get ready for a meeting with ski patrol.” Read more about the Völkl Deacon 76 here.
- Strengths: Versatility, Hard-Snow Integrity; Weakness: Crud Performance
- Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 122-76-103
- Lengths (in centimeters): 171, 176, 181
- Radius (in meters): 18.3
- MSRP: $1,065 with binding (BUY NOW)
Nordica Dobermann Spitfire
Nordica is known for making no-nonsense skis, but where the brand gets really serious is when it comes to high-performance carvers. With a slalom-specific tip paired with GS waist and tail dimensions, this ski allows for a variety of different radius turns. The carbon race bridge inserts in the tip and tail provide seamless transitions between turns and stability on edge. But, as testers noticed, only experts need apply. Larson: “You won’t find the top speed of this ski without getting banned from your local ski resort.” Find out more about the Nordica Dobermann Spitfire here.
- Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness. Weakness: Versatility
- Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 122-72-102
- Lengths (in centimeters): 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
- Radius (in meters): 16
- MSRP: $1,249 (BUY NOW)
HEAD Super Shape i.Titan
The most versatile ski in Head’s Super Shape series, the i.Titan is no slouch when it comes to frontside fun. While it can confidently carve corduroy with laser precision, this ski has a recreational ease-of-use that was lost on some race-inspired carvers in this category. Built with two sheets of metal and a graphene layer, the i.Titan went punch-for-punch with many of the race carvers, with a unique level of smoothness and edge grip that set it apart. Sexauer: “Snappy, responsive, and easy to command.” Read more about the HEAD Super Shape i.Titan here.
- Strengths: Playfulness; Weakness: Stability at Speed
- Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 137-80-116.9
- Lengths (In Centimeters): 156, 163, 170, 177
- Radius (In Meters): 14.1
- MSRP: $1,200 with binding
Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti
In a category filled with super-spicy race planks or bland frontside softies, this ski’s universal appeal tickled rookie and veteran testers alike. Like a flavorful salsa verde, the Speed Zone 12 Ti brings enough heat to hang with the other race-inspired carvers but remains forgiving enough that skiers without formal race backgrounds can slice, dice, and carve the crap out of freshly groomed snow. Casey: “User-friendly performance means you don’t need to be a World Cup skier to have fun on these.” Get more details about the Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti here.
- Strengths: Forgiveness, Versatility. Weakness: Playfulness
- Overall Rating: 3.59 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 121-72-106
- Lengths (in centimeters): 158, 166, 174, 182
- Radius (in meters): 15
- MSRP: $1,000 with binding
Stöckli Laser WRT ST
Designed by Stöckli’s World Cup Race Team, the Laser WRT intoxicated like a fine scotch and appealed to testers with formal race training. Those without race back- grounds, however, described the ski with plenty of exclamation points and expletives. These rocket ships aren’t for everyone, but if you long for the days of club racing in college, this short-turn-radius GS ski will provide an advantage at the Beer League races this season. Gleason: “Quick in turn initiation with a feeling of purpose.” Check out more details about the Stöckli Laser WRT ST here.
- Strength: Hard-Snow Integrity; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.57 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 118-66-100
- Lengths (in centimeters): 162, 172
- Radius (in meters): 14.8
- MSRP: $1,199 flat
Atomic Redster X9
Nicknamed “The Green Hornet” for ’18-’19, the Redster X9 remains unchanged besides its new jade topsheet color. It still features seven-time World Cup Overall Champion Marcel Hirscher’s Servotec technology, it still has a bomb-proof Titanal-wood-Titanal construction, and it still has one purpose: To arc and destroy every inch of corduroy at your local ski hill. The faster you ski it, the smoother it becomes. Yellow-jacket speed patrol beware: You can’t keep up with this ski. Jay: “Makes groomers as fun as powder.” Find out more about the Atomic Redster X9 here.
- Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.47 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 114-65.5-99.5
- Lengths (in centimeters): 169, 175, 181
- Radius (in meters): 15.4
- MSRP: $1,200 with binding (BUY NOW)
BEST VALUE: Rossignol Hero Elite MT Ti
Like most of the race-inspired carvers in the category, the Hero MT borrows technology from Rossi’s World Cup race line. In particular, this ski has Line Control Technology (LCT), a rail of vertically aligned Titanal in the middle of the core that locks the ski into carves and smoothly finishes every arc. Testers noted it turns on autopilot so well it could help a Level 2 PSIA instructor pass a Level 3 test, or a former park rat moonlight as an ex-racer. Rogan: “Smooth in almost every turn shape with great adjustability.” Read more about the Rossignol Hero Elite MT Ti here.
- Strengths: Quickness, Versatility; Weakness: Crud Performance
- Overall Rating: 3.36 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 123-74-109
- Lengths (in centimeters): 159, 167, 175, 183
- Radius (in meters): 15
- MSRP: $900 with binding (BUY NOW)
People Also Ask
What are the best carving skis?
- Blizzard Firebird HRC - Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
- Stöckli Laser AX - Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
- Völkl Deacon 76 - Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
- Nordica Doberman Spitfire - Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
- Head SuperShape i.Titan - Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
What's the difference between carving skis and all-mountain skis?
- Carving skis are made to perform exceptionally well on groomed terrain, or "piste." Their construction, sidecut, and bindings are optimized for hard snow performance. All-mountain skis might be able to carve well, but their overall carving abilities might be sacrificed for better all-around performance in moguls and choppy snow. Carving skis have heavier wood cores and thicker sheets of Titanal to optimize performance on edge while somewhat sacrificing performance on ungroomed terrain.
What length of carving ski is right for you?
- Carving skis are usually shorter than all-mountain or freeride skis, but don't be fooled: There is a lot of ski packed into all of the carving skis listed above. And shorter skis are usually quicker edge-to-edge, which can make carving even better. Don't be afraid to try something shorter if you're planning to buy carving skis.