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.
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SKI_LI_pandora_recrop2.jpg

Rating: / 5
Price: $800.00
Year: 2011
Level: 2
Gender: Female
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 142/115/139
Lengths: 172

Stability at speed: 2.88 / 5
Hard snow performance: 2.64 / 5
Crud performance: 3.54 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.58 / 5

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2011 Line Celebrity 90

Line Celebrity 90 (2011)

Remember when skiing wasn’t cool anymore? At the height of the snowboard revolution, a college kid taking woodshop helped bring our sport back. Jason Levinthal, Line’s founder, built what were arguably the first skis for the jib generation. Now, Line boasts a huge following among core skiers, for good reasons. One of which is the Celebrity 90, which stomped the category in powder and was No. 3 in Quickness/Bumps, too. It turned up its nose at hardpack, though, scoring last among winners in Hard-Snow Grip. But take a look at the price. Westerners: Buy this board. “What a ripping ski,” said Humes. “I was giddy.”

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.”

Line Prophet Flite

Line Prophet Flite (2011)

Was it just three years ago that Line was the scrappy little independent brand with way more passion than market share? Times have changed, though certainly the marketing muscle of parent company K2 must have helped. The twin-tipped Prophets have been tester favorites all along. The Flite is a lightened version of the 90 (a former category winner), ranking No. 3 for Forgiveness. Some testers wanted more edge-grip, but the price is certainly right, and Line still ranks No. 1 in street cred, whether it’s for you or your teenager. “A solid bump ski, quick in the trees, even moonlights in crud; was a joy,” said Malone.

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 Elan Spire

Elan Spire (2011)

As the fattest ski in the category, the Spire was at a disadvantage in terms of quickness and hard-snow grip, but it held its own nevertheless. It’s fluid, supple, strong and surprisingly agreeable in bumps. And with that 98-mm waist, no one doubts its powder-day capabilities—especially with its touch of tip rocker. Flotation won’t be a problem. Aside from the rocker and width, it’s the same as the Apex (see No. 13), which testers liked for all-mountain, all-conditions applications. But if you ski lots of powder, the Spire will satisfy. “Easygoing, balanced, round and smooth in longer turns,” said Casey.

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.

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.”