Head iSupershape Titan (2011)

Head added 7 mm to the waist of its top-end Supershape, giving the perennial winner an added measure of versatility. But it still has the deepest sidecut in the category—a 13.5-meter radius that dives in and carves at the barest hint of edge angle. What continues to surprise us is its combination of thrilling high-speed performance with an undomineering personality and versatility of turn shapes. Crud? Not on the menu. But Titan slithered through bumps with ease. At its heart it’s a slalom race ski, but fun to freeski as well. “Instantaneous hookup, rally-car performance; versatile for a carver,” said Gleason.
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2011 Head iSupershape Titan

Rating: / 5
Price: $1275.00
Year: 2011
Level: 2
Gender: Male
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 128/78/114
Lengths: 170

Stability at speed: 3.46 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.58 / 5
Crud performance: 2.53 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.33 / 5

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Blizzard Titan Atlas

Blizzard Titan Atlas (2011)

Blizzard makes rockered skis, too, but the Atlas proudly rocks traditional camber, and its No. 3 overall ranking speaks volumes. Among the fattest in the category, it floats through crud and powder as you’d expect, but its edge-grip and carveability are faultless. The camber gives it a responsiveness and explosiveness that rockered skis lack. “Such a silken grip; surefooted in chunky snow; nice round turn finishes,” said Gleason. The Slider binding interface gives you options: Buy another Slider ($75) for a tele or AT binding, and presto: interchangeable bindings.

2011 G-Power

Blizzard G-Power FSIQ (2011)

While it’s amazing what some of the wider skis in the category can do, nothing beats a narrow waist for quickness and edge-grip. Throw in a dose of exciting rebound energy and a ton of sidecut, and you’ve got one thrilling ride. The G Power is a race ski with manners—quiet, confident and obedient in high-speed arcs. Carve technicians will love it, and corduroy is its preferred medium, but its supreme Quickness (No. 1) translates well to moguls. (Hence its No. 1 ranking in Balance of Skills.) Little ski; big fun. “Super lively feel combined with superior carving performance,” said Scholey.

2011 Volkl Gotma

Volkl Gotama (2011)

The original backcountry twin-tip returns with minor modification this year. It’s fully, but subtly, rockered, with a long, gradual tip-to-tail bend. Völkl takes care to make sure rocker and sidecut work together: Tip a Gotama up on groomers, and there’s plenty of edge-to-snow contact for easy carving. But it’s built for soft snow. It surfs and smears readily in powder and smoothly manages crud. There were more dynamic skis in the test, but the Gotama won accolades for versatility and mellow user-friendliness. “A versatile tool for powder and crud—even carves on hardpack; fun and easy,” said Casey.

2011 K2 Rictor

K2 Rictor (2011)

Where the After Shock (see No. 5) features K2’s “all-terrain” rocker, its little brother the Rictor gets “speed rocker.” Just the forward 10 percent is rockered—the rest is traditionally cambered. K2 pairs that profile with a huge tip and aggressive sidecut for an 80-mm ski that carves with enthusiasm but never talks back. It gets excellent marks in Forgiveness—truly an everyday frontside ski and a worthy successor to the late, great Apache Recon. “The tip rocker loosens up the front of the ski, making it just plain easy to turn and more versatile off–piste for such a narrow ski,” said Elling.

2011 K2 Burnin' Luv

K2 Burnin' Luv (2011)

Interesting: Testers liked K2’s lower performing ski, the Free Luv (see left), better than the Burnin’, an expert ski layered with metal laminates. Perhaps with a waist of 70 mm—the narrowest in the test—it got penalized for not being as versatile as others. As you’d expect, though, it was one of the quickest sticks—its edge-to-edge rhythm is as automatic as a metronome’s. But it insisted on short turns, and some felt the new “speed rocker” tip—a slight rise to ease initiation and transition—took some getting used to. “Best suited for an Easterner who wants to carve, carve, carve,” said Wilde.

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.”

Volkl Kendo

Volkl Kendo (2011)

The Kendo, frankly, sparked disagreement. It’s a narrower version of the highly decorated Mantra (see No. 13). Kendo means “way of the knife,” and with a sturdy, race-ready construction and two sheets of metal, that’s an apt image for its performance on groomed. Its lightness surprised us, and there was consensus regarding its Quickness (No. 2). But some testers saw it as a burly carver most at home on hardpack; others enjoyed it more in bumps and crud. One of our pickiest testers was its biggest proponent. “Rips the heck out of the hill in every facet: pow, crud, bumps, carving,” said Elling.