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.
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Salomon Enduro

Rating: / 5
Price: $1250.00
Year: 2011
Level: 2
Gender: Male
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 127/84/111
Lengths: 177

Stability at speed: 3.84 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.61 / 5
Crud performance: 3.59 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.46 / 5

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2011 Salomon Czar

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.

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.

K2 Aftershock

K2 After Shock (2011)

K2 goes deep with rocker. Almost every ski in the line gets some, from huge helpings in powder skis to subtle tip rocker that makes hard-snow skis easier for skidders to pivot. In an all-mountain ski like the After Shock, a 15-cm section of tip rocker gives it float in powder, smooth shock-absorption and quickness in bumps and crud, and forgiving maneuverability on hard snow. That left our 174 cm test length with about 160 cm of traditional camber—plus two sheets of metal—with which to carve trenches as deep as we cared to. “Fun, lively, quick and easy. A true one-ski-quiver ski,” said Garrett.

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 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.

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.

Blizzard M-Power

Blizzard M-Power (2011)

It’s built like a race ski in some respects—wood core, metal laminates, vertical side walls. Blizzard’s new Power System—a carbon reinforcement bar connected to an oil-filled piston underfoot—adds tip and tail pressure at speed while quieting the ski between turns. Blizzard softens the flex and adds tip rocker for manageability and soft-snow versatility, but it’s still very much a go-fast ski: No. 2 in Stability at Speed, No. 1 in Hard-Snow Grip. It’s thrilling, but it expects you to know what you’re doing. Easterners will love the tenaciousness. “Give it the gas; it gives back,” said Malone.

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.