From opening day's white ribbon of death to the slush fun of spring, these frontside tools with waist widths between 65-85mm will make every bit of groomed snow your personal playground.
Women's Groomed Skis at a Glance
- Who: Women who can bend a ski better than the boys.
- What: Super-carvers complemented with some all-mountain capabilities.
- Where: Frontside domination, all season long.
BEST IN TEST: Nordica SENTRA 7
We’re still dreaming about this ski—that feeling of going mach schnell, hip grazing the ground, snow jetting into our uphill shins.... The SENTRA SL 7 is fully cambered with a wood core sandwiched by two sheets of metal and a sidecut that locks in with just a tilt of your ankles. It’s a carving machine that bites firmly and releases easily. “Slices and dices with amazing precision, power, and energy,” said Gibbons. Read more about the Nordica SENTRA 7 here.
- Strength: Hard-Snow Integrity, Overall Impression; Weakness: Versatility
- Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 119-69-103
- Lengths (in centimeters): 150, 155, 160, 165
- Radius (in meters): 13
- MSRP: $999 with binding
BEST VALUE: Black Crows Vertis Birdie
The Vertis Birdie proved most versatile in this category, and testers felt its playful carve-ability the minute they got off the lift—a refreshing relief from the “racer-ready” types. Despite a short test length, this ski’s poplar wood core, slight rocker at the tip for forgiveness and initiation, and classic camber underfoot was stable on edge at speed, and proved game for romping on DV’s corduroy. Barnes: “A little rocket.” See more details about the Black Crows Vertis Birdie here.
- Strength: Flotation, Balance of Skills; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.83 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 122-85-105
- Lengths (in centimeters): 152, 159, 169
- Radius (in meters): 14
- MSRP: $660 flat (BUY NOW)
Atomic Cloud 12
The Cloud 12 has never met a “slow” sign it didn’t mock. It moves at eye-watering speeds, but a solid edge hold means the only thing to fear is the speed patrollers. A pre-stressed rod on the forebody attaches to the ski fore and aft, which pulls the ski into a state of tension. When the ski is flexed, the rod relaxes and then energetically rebounds. Barnes: “Tip this beast over and it dives into beautiful GS turns.” Read more about the Atomic Cloud 12 here.
- Strength: Stability at Speed, Overall Impression; Weakness: Forgiveness
- Overall Rating: 3.8 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 112-70-97
- Lengths (In Centimeters): 147, 154, 161, 168
- Radius (In Meters): 15.3
- MSRP: $950 with binding (BUY NOW)
Rossignol Experience 84Ai W
Rossi redesigned this line and thankfully gave the men’s and women’s the same name. Testers found it to be less twitchy than its wasp-waisted sisters, with a rounder tip and tail that were happy to drift or feather when asked. A power rail down the center and elastomer in the tip absorb vibrations and keep the ski stuck to the snow. More friendly than bite-y, it’s one of the more playful and versatile offerings in this competitive set. “As comfy as well-worn jeans,” said Gibbons. See the Rossignol Experience 84Ai W's other scores here.
- Strength: Forgiveness; Weakness: Hard-Snow Integrity
- Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 126-84-116
- Lengths (in centimeters): 144, 152, 160, 168
- Radius (in meters): 12
- MSRP: $700 flat (BUY NOW)
K2 Tough Luv
K2’s new women’s-specific BioKonic core puts less mass down the center and more on the perimeter to give the women’s line stronger edge grip and lighter swing weight. A carbon and flax laminate dampens vibrations, and a sidecut designed for a lower center of gravity eases initiation. Testers thought the Tough Luv was versatile for a wide range of abilities. It has a huge sweet spot for both long and short turns. “One of the stronger skis in the category,” said Knight. See more details about the K2 Tough Luv here.
- Strength: Balance of Skills; Weakness: Crud Performance
- Overall Rating: 3.72 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 129-82-111
- Lengths (in centimeters): 146, 153, 160, 167
- Radius (in meters): 12
- MSRP: $900 with binding (BUY NOW)
Stöckli Laser MX
This thing can turn a catwalk into a slalom course. The first Laser for women, the MX is certainly aimed at experts—two sheets of Titanal, damping rubber, and fiberglass sandwiched with a wood core. Testers loved it on edge, but they whined that it would only make snappy, tight turns and that it was too short to be stable at speed (the longest length is 162cm). It’s a bit of a one-trick pony—but it sure is incredibly good at that single trick. “Construction is divine,” said Barnes. Read more about the Stöckli Laser MX here.
- Strength: Quickness; Weakness: Stability at Speed
- Overall Rating: 3.64 / 5
- Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 119-65-100
- Lengths (In Centimeters): 144, 150, 156, 162
- Radius (In Meters): 12.4
- MSRP: $1,049 with binding
Carving Skis FAQ
What defines a carving ski?
Carving skis, also referred to as groomer skis or piste-oriented skis, are skis designed to be used primarily on groomed terrain. Carving skis have a traditional camber profile with narrower waists to encourage quicker edge-to-edge transitions, more edge contact and better grip on the harder snow you find on groomed terrain. These days many brands are making entry-level carving skis that have moderate tip rocker to make turn initiation easier and the ski more forgiving.
Should beginners buy carving skis?
Beginner and intermediate skiers should look for a ski with a medium waist width (something around 75-80mm underfoot) and slight tip rocker. For most beginners and intermediate skiers, that generally means a narrow all-mountain ski that offers more versatility than carving skis, which are primarily designed to be skied on edge. Edging is a difficult skill to learn, and most beginner skiers start out by sliding or pivoting their skis through turns. All-mountain skis with more generous tip rocker than carving skis are generally better suited to pivoting turns. That said, there are some carving skis that have moderate tip rocker to make turn initiation easier and the ski more forgiving.
What length carving ski should I buy?
Women-specific skis generally come in lengths between 150cm-175cm. Unlike all-mountain skis and powder skis, carving skis have a more traditional camber profile. This means carving skis will have a longer effective edge (the length of edge that makes contact with the snow through the turn) than all-mountain and powder skis, which generally have more rocker in the tip and tail and therefore less effective edge.
For that reason, carving skis tend to ski true to length or even longer than their length, so intermediate women should stick to a ski that's slightly shorter than they are tall (roughly forehead height). Advanced women who like to ski at speed or ski medium-sized turns should be on a carving ski that matches their height.