Salomon Czar (2011)

Last year’s Czar struck testers as easy, but a little boring. This year’s model, with its wood core a little more sturdily reinforced, made a huge run up the ranking. It’s still an easy-going ride, but now noticeably snappier and more dynamic. No ski was deemed more forgiving, but now the Czar puts up No. 1 ranking in Quick- ness and a No. 4 in Rebound Energy as well. Meanwhile, its rocker extends about a third of the way back from the tip—plenty of float and maneuverability in powder that both experts and intermediates will enjoy. “Well balanced; quick, snappy; some of the best rebound among the big skis,” said Gleason.
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2011 Salomon Czar

Rating: / 5
Price: $910.00
Year: 2011
Level: 2
Gender: Male
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 131/111/121
Lengths: 182

Stability at speed: 3.28 / 5
Hard snow performance: 2.70 / 5
Crud performance: 3.83 / 5
Forgiveness: 4.43 / 5

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Salomon Enduro

Salomon Enduro (2011)

Salomon blazed a trail with subtly rockered frontside skis, and the new, refined Enduro is a shining example of the benefits. One of the favorites in the category, it blends hard-snow excellence (vertical sidewalls, metal laminates, grippy construction) with an 84-mm waist and a touch of tip rocker. The result is a supremely smooth and versatile ski that trenches on the groomed but loves soft snow, too. Testers praised its confidence in crud and gave it the No. 1 ranking for Flotation, too. “Versatile in seemingly all conditions,” said Garrett.

Twenty Twelve

Salomon Twenty Twelve (2011)

Here’s an interesting design that elicited strong reactions, mostly positive. Salomon bills the Twenty Twelve as a park/freeride hybrid—but if you’re not a park rat, don’t dismiss it yet. Yes, it’s aggressively rockered, tip and tail. Its sidecut carves as well backward as forward. And our test model felt forward-mounted. Yet it surprised us with easy-going, fluid freeriding skills and supreme forgiveness. All that rocker smooths the ride in bumps and harbor chop. It’s nimble and buoyant. And on the groomed, well, you get used to it. All in all, a refreshing eye-opener. “Easy skiing; requires very little effort,” said Gleason.

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 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 Nordica Girish

Nordica Girish (2011)

Girish—Sanskrit for “lord of the mountains”—is an apt name for this versatile multitool. Every other ski in the category has one weakness, usually lack of quickness or hard-snow grip. The Girish puts up high scores across the board. A wood-core, metal-reinforced laminate layup gives it power and stability (and a No. 2 ranking in Hard-Snow Grip), while a touch of tip rocker—40 cm long, up to 4 mm high—gives it a nice looseness and creamy flotation in powder (and a No. 2 ranking in Quickness). There are bigger, stronger skis, but none more versatile. “An all-mountain fat super-G ski with the godsend of rocker; perfect combination,” said Elling.

2011 K2 Sidestash

K2 Sidestash (2011)

The tip and tail notches are for climbing skins—not required, but you get the idea. The Sidestash is built for adventure in the kind of snow you might find beyond the ropes, with or without a short-to-medium hike. Rockered in the forebody and traditionally cambered underfoot, it tolerates hardpack, but greatly prefers soft snow and deep powder. If your snow is typically somewhere in between the two, you’re in luck: Testers ranked the Sidestash No. 2 in Crud. More important: It ranks among the top three in Overall Impression. “Blends big-ski float with user-friendly agility; surprisingly forgiving.” said Gleason.

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.”

2011 K2 Free Luv

K2 Free Luv (2011)

For years we’ve been saying nothing smears better in powder than rocker, but get on groomed and, well, good luck steering around those lift towers. So imagine our curiosity about K2’s new line, in which every ski—even carvers—incorporates reverse camber. The verdict? K2 wins—again. The Free Luv’s elevated tip effortlessly scouts lines through variable snow. It initiates and releases with ease, earning it No. 1 in Forgiveness. Testers admired its versatility, but found it to be a standout in no one criterion. Racer types will want more grip. “Perfect meat-of-the-market ski; forgiving and easy,” said Shultz.