A performance ski that can handle both GS and slalom. Key characteristics: edge-hold, stability, ability to carve.
"I want a race ski to carve a clean arc because that's how racers accelerate," says Pete. Just as important as the ability to carve, though, is stability. "With the speeds and forces we generate, it can get scary if you're on a squirrely ski," says Hedda. Junior racers are skiing best on shorter, shapelier skis, especially in slalom. There's no downside: Shorter skis are easier to turn, weigh less, yet are surprisingly stable.
Fischer World Cup SC Jr. w/ Booster
The SC wowed our testers. Maybe it's Bode Miller worship. More likely, it's just good. It scores high in every aspect: stability, energy, versatility, accuracy, fun. Like a true race ski, it doesn't work well at slow speeds; strength and speed are needed to bend this plated ski. Otherwise, it's a balanced, powerful ride for slalom or GS.
"I feel like Bode! Extreme accuracy. Made for advanced racers." -Caroline
"Quick turns come naturally. Big sidecut helps it knife through turns." -Whit
Atomic SL:11 J
Size: 130, 140
The SL 11 takes the necessary ingredients of a great race ski-energy, precision, stability and a little craziness-and combines them in a rocket. More agile and controllable than a GS ski, it still has the stability and power needed for that discipline. It's heavy, especially with the Atomic binding, but ready to rule the race hill.
"So much energy and bite. All I had to do was tip it up. And if I really pushed, wow!" - Emma
"Best slalom ski I've ever been on. Just roll your ankles and arc." -David
(* Dimensions vary by length; these are for 130 cm.)
Völkl P50 SC Jr.
The P50 Jr. is a versatile slalom ski for all levels of racers. The combination of energy, light weight and short length made our test model easy to carve and control. Younger racers like its maneuverability; older racers want something beefier, but like its quickness and attitude.
"Awesome at everything: long GS or short slalom turns, even skating." -Pete
"Rocks at slalom. Any racer-any skier, for that matter-will love it." -Caroline
Head Worldcup SL Team
The Worldcup SL's strength is versatility. It makes any size turn with comfort and control, whether in slalom gates or trees. Awesome at slalom, surprisingly good at GS. Will help any racer move up a level.
"This ski has great versatility. Good for a slalom skier who likes to leave the course sometimes and explore." -Will
"Forgiving. It doesn't penalize you for getting in the back seat." -Tyler
K2 Axis Jr.
If fun is your No. 1 goal in racing, here's your ski. Deep sidecut makes it agile. Strong racers will want more ski on race day, but the Axis is quick, fast and lively.
"Perfect for 11- to 12-year-old racers, when racing is still just fun." -Sasha
"Lightweight and fun. Who would love this ski? Me! Now!" -Bobby
Once again, the slalom out-skis the GS. The 3V is more versatile than Salomon's 2V, in both short and long turns. It's stable, damp and smooth; best for stronger skiers who can bring out its quick side.
"Great long-turn carving. It gets more fun the more you ski it." -Katherine
"With its super suspension, all you have to worry about is winning." -David
Dynastar Team Course 64
Price: > $425
The 64 shines as a GS carving machine. It's easy to roll on edge for long, sweeping turns, and its construction provides a stable, solid ride. Testers can bend it for quick, short turns, but that takes work.
"Grippy and fun. Perfect for racers who love to carve and go fast." -Tyler
"Any radius, any speed. Could star in a movie: Mission: Possible. -David
Elan F3 Race
The F3 is great for emerging racers looking for a versatile ski. Our short test models were light, easy to ski and energetic- enough for all but the most serious racers.
"You don't have to work it, and it's very light. Like a squirrel on steroids." -Pete
"Great energy. An average racer would excel on this ski." -Caroline
Rossignol 9S Racing
The beefy, plated 9S slalom appealed to big J3s with the muscle to turn it. They loved its smooth, stable arcs. It likes to go fast, and its wide tail finishes strong.
"Mom, Dad, sorry; last year's skis are no good: I need these." -Sasha
"Knifes through all conditions with its weight. Advanced skiers only!" -Tyler