Carving Skis

The 6 Best Women’s Performance Carving Skis of the Year

Some of us just can't—or won't—let go of the race course glory days. Brands get it and are putting out consumer-friendly race skis that remind us why laying trenches is so fun.

Normally, the ideal carving conditions are hard, firm, and cold. This is the exact opposite of the rain-soaked snow we tested carving skis on at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge. Before you discount these test results, remember that it’s a given that skis of this performance caliber can carve on hard snow. However, a ski’s performance characteristics—such as flex, stability, and playfulness—are usually more evident when conditions are less than perfect.

If you’re in the market for a pair of carvers to ride on perfect ’roy and perfect ’roy only, take these reviews with a grain of salt. Those who often contend with less than favorable conditions (i.e. most of us) should still find testers’ feedback on how these skis performed insightful. After all, most of our testers at Timberline are Pacific Northwest locals who carve in these conditions all season. Special thanks to testers Haley Hanseler, Greg Harmes, Eric Korman, Dave Lyons, and Izzie Raitt for pushing through the slop to see which skis would win in a knife fight, and which would have your back when the odds are stacked against you.

BEST IN TEST: Head Power Joy

2021 Head Power Joy
The 2021 Head Power JoyPhoto courtesy of Head

This ski impressed female testers with its forgiveness, a quality that’s hard to come by in performance carvers. Thanks to a World Cup Sandwich construction and layer of graphene, this ski responds with power and pop in the middle of your arc, but a lightweight wood core and Head’s Speed Rocker make this ski accessible. 

  • Strengths: Playfulness, Forgiveness 
  • Weakness: Stability at Speed
  • Score: 4.38/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 122-68-102
  • Lengths (cm): 153, 158, 163, 168
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.7 (163 length)
  • MSRP: $1,075 with binding

Völkl Flair SC Carbon

2021 Volkl Flair SC Carbon
The 2021 Völkl Flair SC Carbon.Photo courtesy of Völkl

There are two traits that expert skiers look for in a carver above all others: stability at speed and playfulness. The Völkl Flair SC Carbon delivers on those fronts. Thanks to a 3D Glass and carbon construction, this ski is built to hold up under pressure, but tip rocker and a full wood core keep it light and snappy. 

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Playfulness
  • Weakness: Crud Performance
  • Score: 4.06/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 123-70-103
  • Lengths (cm): 150, 155, 160, 165
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.1 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $1,125 with binding

Nordica Sentra SL 7

2021 Nordica SENTRA SL7
The Nordica Sentra SL 7 for 2021Photo courtesy of Nordica

There’s nothing like a fun slalom ski, and that’s exactly what the Nordica Sentra SL 7 is. Featuring a lightweight balsa core combined with metal, this ski exhibits a “go get ’em” attitude. A full camber profile makes this ski less forgiving, but the extra effective edge is a bonus for digging trenches. 

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness
  • Weakness: Forgiveness
  • Score: 3.94/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 119-69-103
  • Lengths (cm): 150, 155, 160, 165 
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.5 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

Blizzard Firebird Competition 76

2021 Blizzard Firebird Comp 76
The 2021 unisex Blizzard Firebird Competition 76.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

With a little extra girth around the waist, this ski is a heat-seeking missile compared to the darts in this category. Blizzard bills this ski as a recreational carver, but remember—that’s by Blizzard’s standards. The Firebird’s full camber and carbon plus wood core construction require strong handling skills. 

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weakness: Forgiveness
  • Score: 3.75/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 124-76-105
  • Lengths (cm): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Turn Radius (m): 14.5 (166 length)
  • MSRP: $1,080 within binding

Fischer RC One 82GT

2021 Fischer RC One 82 GT
The Fischer RC One 82GT Green Machines.Photo courtesy of Fischer

The widest ski in this category with an all-mountain rocker won praise for its versatility and ability to tackle less than perfect corduroy. Testers liked how the ski’s construction of wood and double Titanal layers reinforced with Air Carbon technology translated to stability. But they wished it was a tad livelier.

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Crud Performance
  • Weakness: Playfulness
  • Score: 3.48/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 125-82-112 
  • Lengths (cm): 145, 152, 159, 166, 173, 180
  • Turn Radius (m): 15 (166 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

K2 Disruption MTi Alliance

K2 Disruption MTI Alliance
The all-new K2 Disruption MTi Alliance for 2021.Photo courtesy of K2

Leave it to K2 to make a carving ski that introduces women to the art of the arc. Testers loved how they could make it smear as well as carve. K2’s Titanal I-Beam, Dark Matter Damping technology, and Powerwall sidewalls ensure the ski has enough backbone, but doesn’t require women to exert brute force.

  • Strengths: Playfulness, Quickness
  • Weakness: Stability at Speed
  • Score: 3.47/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 115-72-103
  • Lengths (cm): 146, 153, 160, 167
  • Turn Radius (m): 14.7 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

People Also Ask

What defines a performance 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.

Top Performing Carving Skis of 2020

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. These skis are for women who live life on edge (and can bend a ski better than the boys). True carving skis designed with approachable race technology, they belong on corduroy if you can get it.

BEST IN TEST: 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 Blizzard 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.”

Blizzard Firebird Competition 76 Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 4.12 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 126-76-107
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Radius (In Meters): 14.5
  • MSRP: $1,080 

Stöckli Laser AX

2020 Stöckli Laser AX
The 2020 Stöckli Laser AX.
Photo courtesy of Stöckli

The aptly named Laser AX is a ski with a precise mission: It’s programmed to carve the crap out of corduroy. If you have other ideas about where and how to ski the Stöckli Laser AX— good luck to you, let us know how that goes. If you’re on board with the ski’s desire to flirt with Mach 1 speeds, you’re in for one exciting ride. Don’t let the ski’s rockered tip and tail fool you—the Laser AX is a carving machine that doesn’t have any interest in exploring off-piste. Humes: “Fun and powerful. Never felt the speed limit.”

Stöckli Laser AX Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 4.02 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 124-78-111
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
  • Radius (In Meters): 13.1
  • MSRP: $1,199

Head iRace Pro

2020 HEAD iRace Pro
The 2020 Head iRace Pro.
Photo courtesy of Head

Get ready to arc ’em or park ’em. These skis feature Head’s high-tech KERS technology. Science isn’t our strong suit, so here’s our layman translation: There’s a chip in the ski that stores kinetic energy and automatically shoots that stored energy out to the tail of the ski at the end of each turn to stiffen it, so you jet out of each turn with more speed and stability. Sound gimmicky? We’ll buy you a drink if you manage to find this ski’s speed limit. Robinson: “For a gal who knows how to rip and likes to work her quads.”

Head iRace Pro Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 122-68-102
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 160, 165, 170, 175, 180
  • Radius (In Meters): 14.4
  • MSRP: $1,025

BEST VALUE: Atomic Cloud 12

2020 Atomic Cloud 12
The white 2020 Atomic Cloud 12.Photo courtesy of Atomic

If you’re going to put “Cloud” in the name of a carving ski, it better ski like a dream—it’s hard to take it seriously otherwise. Lo and behold, testers loved the Atomic Cloud 12. Thanks to an active camber profile and light poplar wood core, this ski rebounds with lots of energy from edge to edge. Drive the Cloud 12 as a GS or slalom ski—it will playfully jump between turn sizes while the ski’s Titanium stabilizer hushes chatter at speed. Kennen: “Perfect ski for this category. Fun and zippy turn to turn.” 

Atomic Cloud 12 Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 112-70-97
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 147, 154, 161, 168
  • Radius (In Meters): 15.3
  • MSRP: $950

Nordica Sentra SL7 TI FDT

2020 Nordica Sentra SL7 TI FDT
The 2020 Nordica Sentra SL7 TI FDT.Photo courtesy of Nordica

If skis have a spirit animal, the Sentra SL7’s is a terrier— energetic, agile, and a little mischievous. With a tight turn radius of 12.5m at 160cm, it likes to ski little circles around you and bound from edge to edge. With a balsa core sandwiched between two sheets of metal and a full camber profile, the Nordica Sentra SL7 is a slalom ski through and through—exactly what some testers wanted out of a carving ski, but too squirrely for others. Brown: “If shooting off rapid-fire slalom turns is your thing, this is the stick for you.”

Nordica Sentra SL7 TI FDT Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.48 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 119-69-103
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 150, 155, 160, 165
  • Radius (In Meters): 12.5
  • MSRP: $1,000

Rossignol Nova 14 Ti

2020 Rossignol Nova 14 Ti
The 2020 Rossignol Nova 14 Ti.Photo courtesy of Rossignol

Our instructor friends tell us that most skiers who think they can carve, can’t. But it’s not their fault, they could carve if they had the right tool for the job. Enter the Rossignol Nova 14 Ti, the most entry-level carver in this category. Its adaptive flex pattern and oversize sidecut enhance stability and control through the turn, boosting confidence and bringing the goal of one day visiting Trenchtown within sight. Brown: “Rare to have a carving ski that encourages a smear into a carve. A ski school tool.”

Rossignol Nova 14 Ti Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.48 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 123-74-109
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 153, 160, 167
  • Radius (In Meters): 12
  • MSRP: $1,000

The 9 Best Hard Snow Skis of 2019


18-19 Nordica Sentra SL7 TI Women's carving ski
The 2019 Nordica SENTRA 7Photo courtesy of Nordica

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

18-19 Black Crows Vertis Birdie W Women's Carving Ski
Black Crows Vertis BirdiePhoto courtesy of Black Crows

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

18-19 Atomic Cloud 12 Women's Carving Ski
Atomic Cloud 12Photo courtesy of Atomic

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

18-19 Rossignol Experience 94 Ai W women's carving ski
Rossignol Experience 84Ai WPhoto courtesy of Rossignol

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

18-19 K2 ToughLuv women's carving ski
K2 Tough LuvCourtesy of K2

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

18-19 Stöckli Laser MX women's carving ski
Stöckli Laser MXPhoto courtesy of Stöckli

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

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