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Gear Guide 2020: Best in Test Skis

The best skis based on overall scores from SKI Test 2020 in Taos, New Mexico

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The SKI Magazine SKI Test is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive and in-depth magazine test in the U.S. We recruit 26 testers from around the country, all of whom have unique skiing backgrounds and experience testing skis. With credentials ranging from PSIA Alpine Team Coach to Former U.S. Ski Team Tech, they arrive at Taos with one objective: Determine the best skis for SKI Magazine’s readers.

Like in every competition, there are some products at are, quite simply, better than all the rest. These are the best skis. Why? Because they earned the highest overall scores in the 2020 SKI Test in their respective categories.

Men’s All-Mountain Ski: Head Kore 93

2020 Head Kore 93
The Head Kore 93 had the highest overall score at SKI Test 2020.Photo courtesy of Head

The narrowest member of Head’s Kore family has proved to be the complete all-mountain package yet again. The ski’s construction is a perfectly blended combination of a karuba wood core with Koroyd plus carbon and graphene built into the tip and tail. Altogether, this provides best in class versatility, best overall impression, and the top score of the entire SKI Test.  According to tester Jon Sexauer: “The best ski from the test. Can make you a better skier without forcing you to be a better skier.”

Women’s All-Mountain Ski: Fischer My Ranger 96 TI

2020 Fischer My Ranger 96 TI
The 2020 Fischer My Ranger 96 TI had the highest score of any women’s ski at SKI Test 2020.Photo courtesy of Fischer

Blizzard Black Pearl, step aside—there’s a new queen of the hill. The My Ranger 96 TI earned top scores in the two most telling skill departments of all-mountain skis—balance of skills and crud performance. A beefy core of poplar wood and Titanal makes the ski damp and predictable at speed on groomers, but a carbon inlay in the rockered shovel lightens the ski’s load, making it easy to turn and floaty in everything from chop to pow. Said tester Robin Barnes: “Right out of the silk market in Beijing—silky and smooth.”

Men’s All-Mountain Wide Ski: Nordica Enforcer 104 Free

2020 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free
The Nordica Enforcer 104 Free topped the charts in the widest category at SKI Test 2020Photo courtesy of Nordica

The all-new Enforcer 104 Free blends the playful versatility of the Enforcer 110 Free and the do-anything assertiveness of the Enforcer 100. The result is smile-inducing magic. With a lightweight wood core sandwiched between two layers of metal and stout ABS sidewalls, the Enforcer 104 Free is capable everywhere. The tail rocker provides a versatile platform that allows the ski to release from turns more easily and adds a newfound level of pop. Sexauer: “Powerful, balanced, and ready for anything.”

Women’s All-Mountain Wide Ski: Head Kore 99 W

Head Kore 99 W 2020
The 2020 Head Kore 99 W also snagged the Gear of the Year award for women’s skis.Photo courtesy of Head

The new Kore 99 W made our lady shredders feel things—good things. As one tester put it: “This ski has some special sauce that blends a feathery, lightweight feel with a strong backbone.” That special sauce is Head’s winning combination of incredibly light graphene in the tip and tail to reduce weight, a honeycomb-shaped material known as Koroyd that adds elasticity and flexibility to the ski, and a karuba wood core that’s dense yet light and incredibly responsive. Said tester Kristi Lovell Brown: Brown: “Head-turning, mind-opening, the new Kore 99 W gets best in show. What a surprise to have a debut ski come to life.”

Men’s Frontside Ski: Fischer RC One 86 GT

2020 Fischer RC One 86 GT
The 2020 Fischer RC One 86 GT was awarded the Gear of the Year award for men’s skis and graced the cover of the 2020 Gear Guide.Photo courtesy of Fischer

The Austrian-built RC One 86 GT integrates BAFATEX—a high-tensile, lightweight scrim used primarily in sails—in the tip and tail to reduce swing weight and increase edge-to-edge quickness. With two sheets of Titanal sandwiching a wood core to increase torsional rigidity and damp vibrations at high speeds, the RC One 86 GT earned the highest category scores for quickness, stability at speed, and balance of skills. Add in three different turn radii built into the noticeably unique sidecut, and the latest resort tool from Fischer goes down smoother than a pint of coffee stout on nitro. Said tester Michael Rogan: “If your heart is in racing, but your lifestyle is now in cruising, this is your ski.”

Women’s Frontside Ski: Head Total Joy

2020 HEAD Total Joy
The 2020 Head Total Joy is Best in Test for the women’s frontside ski category.Photo courtesy of HEAD

The Total Joy touts much of the same technology as Head’s KORE series—a karuba wood core, Allride Rocker, and graphene in the tip and tail to lighten the load. That said, the Total Joy is an entirely different ride. With an 85mm waist, she’s more at home carving corduroy at speed than smearing turns in bumps and crud. And while the KORE 93W will gladly help an intermediate skier break through, the Total Joy prefers already confident skiers who like to get edgy with it. Geary: “Super snappy.”

Men’s Performance Carving Ski: Blizzard Firebird HRC

2020 Blizzard Firebird HRC
The 2020 Best in Test Blizzard Firebird HRC.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

Using C-Armor and C-Spine technologies, the newest, wide-bodied addition to the Firebird family reigned supreme in the carving category for 2020. Testers gushed about the HRC’s dominant stability at speed and hard snow performance while appreciating the relatively wide 76mm waist in crud and the HRC’s multi-radius sidecut. Gleason: “This is a renaissance carving ski: The crisp, quiet sensation is at a new level, there is no harshness in the edge grip and it’s invitingly gentle with ultimate precision.”

Women’s Performance Carving Ski: Blizzard Firebird Competition 76

2020 Blizzard Firebird Competition 76
The 2020 Blizzard Firebird Competition 76.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

Hold on to your bloomers, gals—this ski is going places, with or without you. The new Firebird Competition 76 is designed to be a tad more forgiving and user-friendly than the more seriously race-oriented Firebirds—but just a tad. With a moderate shovel and multi-radius sidecut, the Competition 76 lets you rip short or long turns and caters to ex-racers who aren’t hurling themselves down gates anymore, but still ski like they’re trying to beat the clock. Brown: “Powerhouse of a ski demanding a fit driver.