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.

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.

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 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.

2011 Nordica Radict

Nordica Radict (2011)

The first thing you notice is how huge it is. Then the scary clown. Then the tip profile: There’s almost no upward curve to it. The new Radict has traditional camber underfoot—about 60 percent of its length—with pronounced rocker tip and tail. The tip rocker starts 40 cm back and rises almost a full 3 cm—so high there’s no need for much additional tip curvature. The combination of width and rocker adds up to supreme flotation in the deepest pow. Testers had to punish it for lack of versatility, but still gave it the No. 2 ranking for Overall Impression. “Surprisingly maneuverable for its size; super fun,” said a tester.

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.