Shrewd Moves: Skis

Schrewd Moves A

Still shocked by high sticker prices in the September Buyer's Guide? Remember, what you pay at a ski shop will be 5 to 25 percent less than Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), which are listed below, along with ski dimensions. Discounts go deepest after Christmas. But you can't wait, so here are SKI editors' picks for great gear deals of 2000-01. With skis, it's a relatively easy task in the age of super-sidecuts: They're all great compared to anything built five years ago. That's harder to say about boots, but three easy picks emerge from this year's medalists. In each case, we divided a product's performance rating by its MSRP to find the gear that yields the very best bang for the buck¿gear that let's you enjoy performance, knowing you've saved a bundle. Note: Reviews include MSRP, Tip-waist-tail widths in mm and range of lengths available in cm.

K2 Mod 7/8
$600, 111-70-101, 167-188 cm
All-Mountain Expert/Freeride
We wanted to keep Value picks under $600. But the Mod 7/8 packs so much punch, we couldn't resist the up-sell. (Sound familiar?) You won't be sorry you spent a little more¿especially if you demand quickness and versatility in a mid-fat. The 7/8 is the lightest and shapeliest of K2's Mod series of four Freerider models: quick in the trees and just itching to bite on the groomers. It's spritely, mellow and never talks back. What's that worth? Marry it.

Head Cyber Light
$425, 103-63-92, 150-180 cm
Women's All-Mountain Cruiser
Of all our Value picks, this one delivers the most high-end features at a low-end price. Positioned as a friendly advanced-intermediate product, it's all that: comfortable, predictable and easy-going. Amp up the input, though, and it responds with surprising precision and gutsiness. In other words, it's there for you now, and it's ready to take you to the next level. No wonder it was the top ski in its category. But here's the real shocker: It was also the lowest-priced.

Rossi Rebel
$459, 104-67-93, 160-191
Aspiring Carver/Player
Don't overlook this overachiever, our only returning Value winner. Sure, it's mellow and forgiving on the groomers, with a wide, comfortable platform and a generous sidecut that yields automatic carves for learners. But here's a little secret: The Rebel is a great stealth choice for young Freeriders on a budget and it's equally at home off-trail as on. And you get all that for a price that's $65 to $90 less than any other medal-winner in its category.

Völkl Carver V21
$575, 105-65-93, 156-191 cm
Player/All-Mountain Cruiser
If skiing is all about balance, so is designing good skis. Hats off, then, to the Carver V21. It's uncannily adept at both Long Turns and Short Turns. Its edges bite like terriers on hard snow, yet release obediently on command. It's forgiving enough for an advanced-intermediate, yet interesting enough for the emerging expert. And with a "street price" in the mid-$400s, the Carver V21 performs the neatest trick of all, balancing performance and price.