In our four years of testing in Vermont, the All-Mountain category has turned upside-down. Or, more accurately, gone fakie. What used to be a predictable collection of softened-up race skis with one or two twin-tipped park skis mixed in has become the opposite. Now the challenge is finding out which twin-tips can actually ski the whole mountain. Keep in mind: Some hardcore juniors-especially those who are heavier and/or like to go fast-might still have better luck on one of the more versatile race skis.
Line Chronic Mini
$350. 97-76-90. 123-143 cm.
This park-and-pipe master now rules the entire mountain. We all knew what this ski could do in the manmade terrain, but it blows testers away with its ability to carve, hold and maneuver on the natural stuff. The scowling-skulls graphic might be a little dark for 10-year-olds, but the midfat waist makes the Mini a pleasure in powder.”It’s not like any other ski in the group.”
Dynastar Team Trouble Maker
$250. 103-68-92. 127-148 cm.
From the wild colors (they change as you ski), to the balanced twin-tip construction, these skis beg to be pushed. Their specialty is big air with noticeably soft landings, but they can also carve a sweet arc if you pressure them correctly. The name, popular with testers, only completes the package.”This ski reads my mind: It does whatever I want.”
$250. 95-70-91. 119-149 cm.
This park-and-pipe ski is equally at home in bumps. Its foam-core torsion-box construction is light enough for terrain-park fun yet forgiving enough to turn even our hardcore racers into bumpers. And the graphics? A huge hit. “Pops you up at the top of the jumps.”
Atomic SX:11 J (Supercross”)
$289. 102-62-92. 120-150 cm.
Here’s one that can make rough and extreme conditions genuinely fun. Its tough construction and bring-it-on attitude handles anything you want. The only single-tip in the group, it won’t ski backward, but it’s solid and sturdy on the steeps and surprisingly agile in the air. “All-Mountain experts apply here.”
Völkl Supersport Jr.
$250. 107-67-93. 110-150 cm.
The Supersport is a superlight superstar. It has plenty of energy and rebound, which makes doing any spins or doubles easy. (OK, relatively easy.) Its quickness gives it an edge in tight trees or bumps, where it’s easy to maneuver, and it loves to arc on the groomed. “This ski totally rocks.”
Head Mad_Trix Jojo
$310. 107-72-102. 145-163 cm.
Park or powder: Name your pleasure. With its wide-ish waist, the Jojo loves soft snow. But its heart is in the terrain park, which is mostly where testers wanted to take it. It’s smooth and forgiving enough for intermediates, but with a durable wood core, it’ll please young experts, too.”Great ski for fooling around all over the mountain.”
Salomon Teneighty T
$295. 102-70-94. 129-145 cm.
This ski is almost more comfortable in the air than on the ground. Balanced and light, it makes catching big air-and landing it successfully-a no-brainer. It handles the crud and powder, too, but bumps and jumps are its natural habitat. “I would go off tiny jumps and still go way high.”
Fischer Airstyle Jr.
$250. 102-70-94. 129-145 cm.
Similar to the Salomon, the Airstyle is an affordable twin-tip with a versatile waist-width that makes it an enjoyable ride on soft or hard snow. It’s quick, easy and exceptionally springy. It’s also very forgiving, which makes it a great partner while learning to rip. “It was born to do it for you.”
Rossignol Scratch Jr.
$249. 106-70-90. 118-148 cm.
Rossi has lightened up its Scratch so younger and smaller juniors can take advantage of its park-and-pipe performance. Not interested in a twin-tip? The Bandit Jr. is a single-tip ski of otherwise similar construction and geometry. Both deliver fun and adventure without making huge demands of the pilot. “CCan you say spin?”