Fischer KOA84 (2011)

We’re still scratching our heads: A tank that plows through crud like this one does shouldn’t be able to effortlessly dice up tight trees, too. The Koa 84 is a standout for striking the perfect balance: a solid powerhouse that’s ridiculously easy to ski. Its hallmark is a glued-to-the-snow feel (it’s No. 1 in Hard-Snow Grip), which lends the driver the assurance to send it into the trees without checking speed. It’s predictable, stable, and has a ripping, racy feel. Its heavier weight is comforting, but it sinks more than most in powder. “A stable ski that rips in all conditions,” said Beale. “I was a charging animal on this ski!”
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2011 Fischer KOA84

Rating: / 5
Price: $795.00
Year: 2011
Level: 2
Gender: Female
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 126/84/112
Lengths: 167

Stability at speed: 3.66 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.66 / 5
Crud performance: 3.23 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.50 / 5

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Nordica Conquer

Nordica Conquer (2011)

One would expect a hard-snow ski with a waist width of 84 mm to be the most versatile in the category (No. 1 in Flotation, Stability and Crud Performance). But what surprised us was that it still managed a No. 2 ranking in Quickness edge-to-edge. The Conquer is everything for everyone. It’s solid and predictable yet humming with energy; smooth and powerful yet—with a 20-percent lighter wood core than last year’s model—surprisingly easy to ski. Simply put, it’s fast, and it’s a blast. “The Conquer will never give up on you,” said Moscarella. “It continues to provide tenacious grip no matter what you throw at it.”

Blizzard Viva

Blizzard Viva 8.1 (2011)

Every ski has character traits. This ski has personality. It’s snappy, lively, bubbly—and so responsive, it seems to read your mind. Just think about turning, and you’re ripping perfect GS turns down the steeps. Powerful, yes, but polite, too—patiently skidding when you need to scrub speed. Though most at home on hardpack, its 81-mm waist is wide enough to bust crud and float though pow. Are we gushing? Absolutely: It was No. 1 in Rebound Energy, Forgiveness, Hard-Snow Grip and Balance of Skills. “This ski blew my mind,” said Humes. “Quick, stable, snappy—everything I love in a carver.”

2011 Blizzard The Crush

Blizzard The Crush (2011)

Let’s hope the still-small, reemergent Blizzard factory is fully staffed: These skis are going to sell. The redesigned Crush blows through everything in its path. All you have to do is look down your line, and this ski will take you there. Steep, tight trees? Chuck yourself in. Chopped up crud? Ditto. Groomers? It rips. A rockered tip and tail work with its sidecut for supreme contact on hard snow, making it the most versatile in the category—tops in Hard-Snow Grip, Crud, Rebound and Stability. And yes, it smears lusciously through pow. “I couldn’t go as fast as this ski wanted to,” said Beale. “What a standout.”

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Line Pandora (2011)

Pandora’s customer? The deepseeker. With a 115 mm waist—by far the fattest women’s ski in the test—and an early-rise, tapered tip that won’t hook up harshly in fluff, it’s a powder specialist, to be sure, ranking No. 2 in Flotation. The Pandora doesn’t so much turn as drift, smearing easily through trees and down steeps until the rider finds herself, smiling uncontrollably, at the bottom. It’s forgiving, too, making it a good option for powder novices. As for Hard-Snow Grip, where it scored last among winners...well, it’s a powder ski, people. Go find some. “Really sweet in the deep. Perfect for powder only,” said Wilde.

2011 Atomic Elysian

Atomic Elysian (2011)

Atomic has two winners in this category. The wider-waisted Elysian shined in soft snow; the narrower Seventh Heaven (see No. 10) in hard. A twin-tip with traditional camber—one of the few in the category with no rocker—the Elysian lays its whole edge on the snow, making it supremely stable at speed. Try to rein it in, though, and it will groan and drag, feeling sluggish underfoot. Nothing flashy here; just a simple, solid ski that performs. For Westerners skiing mostly off-piste, it’s a great ski. “Very solid base without feeling heavy or damp,” said Wilde. (Easterners: Look to the right. The Seventh Heaven is a better bet.)

Fischer Watea 94

Fischer Watea 94 (2011)

Fischer has gone to great lengths to lighten up the 94-mm Watea, milling out parallel channels in the core, then filling them with reinforcing carbon-fiber I-beams. Then it gives the tip a unique shape—a 3D prow like the hull of a speedboat—the better to slice through soft snow. The result: The Watea 94 was No. 1 for Flotation and No. 2 in Crud Performance. As testers pointed out, there are quicker and more energetic skis in the category, but the Watea loves cruising in long, fast arcs on the groomed while waiting for the next powder day. “Fun at high speeds; awesome in crud; all-mountain versatile,” said Boller.

Rossignol S110W (2011) thumb

Rossignol S110W (2011)

Rossi was among the first to incorporate rocker into a women’s ski (Voodoo Pro BC110). Now it unveils the S110W Freeski, one of the first women’s skis with rocker and reverse sidecut. Hence its funny shape: The tapered tip and tail smear better in the deep. With roughly the same dynamics as the hugely popular S7 (No. 1 in Men’s Deep Snow), the S110W is not built for versatility; it’s built to float effortlessly through feet of velvety powder, where it handles speed so well you hardly notice the trees are a blur. For deep-snow purists, it can’t be beat (No. 1 in Overall Impression). “It could float the Titanic,” said Dawson.

2011 Atomic Seventh Heaven 79

Atomic Seventh Heaven 79 (2011)

The Seventh Heaven has a quick, racy feel that’s ideally suited for harder snow. (Not surprising, given that it has the narrowest waist of the group.) Most testers wrote “good frontside ski,” or “great for an East Coast everyday ski,” which means it’s the least versatile in the group. But what it does—carve—it does well. (Atomic edge-grip? Check.) A slight rise in the tip (Atomic calls it “adaptive camber”) makes it easy to pivot in transitions between turns, which accounts for a high score in Forgiveness (No. 4), but otherwise it’s built like a traditional groomer ski. “Feels powerful underfoot, but easy to initiate,” said Moscarella.