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Atomic Beta Race 10.22 Jr.
$485 140-170 cm 89-62-80
Here is a truly race-specific ski, modeled after the No. 1 ski on the World Cup. “When I laid it way over, it came around quickly,” Skip said. “It got me out of trouble when I needed it to and stayed stable throughout the turn.” Strictly for the more advanced skier, the 10.22 rewards sound technique, but would prove unmanageable for a novice. “They felt like F-15 fighter jets on my feet,” Jack said.
Dynastar Team SF
$385 150-178 cm 100-64-85
The SF tested well for forgiveness and versatility. Soft-flexing and lightweight, it should appeal to younger, beginning racers, the testers felt, and would also be a good fit in the All-Mountain Recreation category. It dove into turns readily and held well in all conditions. “It gripped especially well,” said Taylor.
Dynastar Team STC
$385 130-160 cm 97-63-87
Dynastar’s slalom race ski lives up to its design. It makes clean, powerful short turns, whether in the course or on steep and challenging terrain. “This ski is like a tennis ball bouncing back and forth with good rebound,” Jack said. “It’s very good at short slalom turns.” The ski appealed to the J4 group (ages 11-12) more than the J5s (8-10), who weren’t quite ready for it.
Elan F1 Race
$325 158-198 cm 99-62-85
Novice racers will enjoy the F1 Race, testers agreed. Its deep sidecut made it a carving machine, yet its not-too-wide tail released easily at the end of the turn. It was easy to ski in all conditions. “A beginner racer or a recreational skier would like this ski because it’s easy to turn and forgiving,” Taylor said. The F1 was easy to control, especially in short slalom turns.
Fischer WC Jr. GS
$365-$395 126-176 cm 94-62-81
“Powerful, stable, versatile,” the test cards said. The WC Jr. GS, tested with the Booster plate that comes only on the longer lengths, showed surprising spunk and versatility. It laid down sweet, stable long arcs on the groomed, but it also ripped quick slalom turns on a dime¿even with the plate. “I liked how confident it made me feel,” Jack said.
Head Cyber WC Ti Team
$395 140-180 cm 99-62-88
This ski tested very well with our younger racers, who found it stable at speed but also surprisingly easy to maneuver and fun in all terrain. “It was good at everything,” Chelsea M. said. Testers agreed that it works on a couple of levels: for the beginning racer who’s just getting going and for the advancing racer who just wants to win.
K2 M6 Team
$300 146-167 cm 99-65-88
K2 pulls off a neat trick with the M6: a ski that scores well in stability without sacrificing forgiveness. In other words, it’s fast but friendly. “It’s soft and easy so you can get away with a lot,” Pat said. “But it still has some pop.” Smaller testers weren’t able to get on our 167-cm test ski, but would probably benefit from the M6’s soft flex.
Nordica K0.0 GS Jr.
$699 150-170 cm 97-63-85
In addition to being “cool-looking,” this sleek silver ski was stable at speed. It got its highest marks for long-turn carving and cruising. (The 170-cm test length probably had something to do with that.) “These skis are like train tracks on high-speed arcs,” Jack said. “They are not wobbly-bobbly.”
Rossignol Power 9 Pro
$399 140-160 cm 99-63-87
“Responsive” and “energetic” were the recurring themes on the Power 9’s test cards. Rossignol, respected for its race heritage, didn’t disappoint the testers. They agreed that these skis are ideal for younger racers because they are smooth and easy to handle. “I loved ’em,” Chelsea F. said. “I liked how easily they turned.”
Salomon Equipe 10 Team
$425 144-168 cm 103-64-90
This ski puts up some of the highest overall scores in the category. “It allows you to get a high edge angle with both feet so that you can carve a clean, stable arc,” Gabby said. Testers liked the EEquipe’s combination of heft, stiffness and energy. “I liked the rebound,” Pat said. “It had plenty of pop in both short turns and long GS arcs.”
Stockli AXR WC Jr.
$599 142-172 cm 93-61-84
Stockli is a lesser-known brand with a good reputation on the World Cup. The AXR WC ranked high among J4 racers (ages 11-12). “Smooth as glass¿even at high speeds,” Taylor said. Jack agreed: “I liked how I could really crank it around at high speed and feel confident it would hold.”
Völkl P40 F1 Race Carver Jr.
$395 138-168 cm 95-63-83
Also popular among the older and heavier racers in the test, the P40 put up high marks in the long-turn carving and stability criteria. “I liked the stability. It was really solid at high speed,” Chelsea M. said. Though it shined on hard snow, testers also thought it would be a good All-Mountain ski, as it performed well in all conditions.