Carving Skis

The 6 Best Men’s Performance Carving Skis of the Year

Don't let dry spells get you down, wax up a pair of these wannabe race skis to get the most from the resort's expensive new snowmaking machines.

 

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Normally, the ideal carving conditions are hard, firm, and cold. This is the exact opposite of the rain-soaked snow we tested carving skis on at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge. Before you discount these test results, remember that it’s a given that skis of this performance caliber can carve on hard snow. However, a ski’s performance characteristics—such as flex, stability, and playfulness—are usually more evident when conditions are less than perfect.

If you’re in the market for a pair of carvers to ride on perfect ’roy and perfect ’roy only, take these reviews with a grain of salt. Those who often contend with less than favorable conditions (i.e. most of us) should still find testers’ feedback on how these skis performed insightful. After all, most of our testers at Timberline are Pacific Northwest locals who carve in these conditions all season. Special thanks to testers Haley Hanseler, Greg Harmes, Eric Korman, Dave Lyons, and Izzie Raitt for pushing through the slop to see which skis would win in a knife fight, and which would have your back when the odds are stacked against you.

BEST IN TEST: K2 Disruption MTi

2021 K2 Disruption MTi
The all-new K2 Disruption MTi carving ski.Photo courtesy of K2

The new Disruption MTi stole the show at Timberline. With two layers of Titanal and the brand’s proprietary Dark Matter Damping system, this ski impressed testers with its edge-to-edge quickness and quiet calm on less-than-perfect snow. The Disruption really comes alive at speed.

  • Strengths: Quickness, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weakness: Forgiveness
  • Score: 4.25/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 118-74-104 
  • Lengths (cm): 165, 170, 175, 180
  • Turn Radius (m): 18.1 (175 length)
  • MSRP: $999 with binding

Völkl Deacon 84

2021 Volkl Deacon 84
The new Völkl Deacon 84 for 2021.Photo courtesy of Völkl

Testers appreciated the Deacon’s wider waist in the mushy conditions, but that doesn’t mean this ski requires soft snow for a good time. The 3D Radius Sidecut is noticeable in this narrower profile, making the ski nimble and easy to turn at moderate speeds, but ready to race when let off-leash.

  • Strengths: Crud Performance, Forgiveness
  • Weakness: Playfulness
  • Score: 4.09/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 132-84-115
  • Lengths (cm): 162, 167, 172, 177, 182
  • Turn Radius (m): 14 (177 length)
  • MSRP: $1,150 with binding

Blizzard Firebird HRC

2021 Blizzard Firebird HRC
The 2021 Blizzard Firebird HRC.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

Last year’s Best in Test ski continues to impress with its tenacity and edge grip. Two different carbon technologies and two layers of metal help with stability and rebound, but the beefy construction means the Firebird skis like an Austrian bodybuilder: There’s so much muscle that it’s a little hefty. Great for athletic skiers.

  • Strengths: Quickness, Versatility
  • Weakness: Crud Performance
  • Score: 4.02/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 126-76-107
  • Lengths (cm): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Turn Radius (m): 15 (174 length)
  • MSRP: $1,320 with binding

Salomon S/Force Bold

2021 Salomon S Force Bold
The Salomon S/Force Bold.Photo courtesy of Salomon

With the top score in Forgiveness, the S/Force Bold proved to be the most approachable ski among the top-ranked carvers. But testers were also impressed by the ski’s snap and stability, courtesy of Salomon’s proprietary Edge Amplifier tech. A great option for West Coast carvers.

  • Strengths: Forgiveness, Stability at Speed
  • Weakness: Quickness
  • Score: 3.94/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 132-84-116
  • Lengths (cm): 170, 177, 184
  • Turn Radius (m): 16 (177 length)
  • MSRP: $1,100 with binding

Stöckli Laser AX

2021 Stockli Laser AX
The 2021 Stöckli Laser AX.Photo courtesy of Stöckli

When this ski is driven “from the cockpit,” it’s an absolutely fantastic ride. Get off balance, however, and it will teach you a lesson. The dynamic stance required by the snow conditions of the test made this even more apparent. But a few testers who found the sweet spot asked to take them home “for extended testing.”

  • Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Versatility
  • Weakness: Quickness
  • Score: 3.90/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 124-78-111
  • Lengths (cm): 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
  • Turn Radius (m): 15.9 (175 length)
  • MSRP: $1,249

Fischer RC4 CT

2021 Fischer RC4 CT
The all-new Fischer RC4 CT.Photo courtesy of Fischer

Skinny with a lot of muscle, this is the exact ski that Fischer’s athletes use on the World Cup Tour. Built with Titanal and a stiff, laminated Beech core, it made testers get it up to speed to maximize returns, but once they did, it paid dividends. Unless you have FIS points, size down for maximum enjoyment.

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weakness: Playfulness
  • Score: 3.88/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 113-65-98
  • Lengths (cm): 165, 170, 175, 180, 185
  • Turn Radius (m): 15.5 (175 length)
  • MSRP: $1,400 with binding

People Also Ask

What’s the difference between carving skis and all-mountain skis?

  • Carving skis are made to perform exceptionally well on groomed terrain, or “piste.” Their construction, sidecut, and bindings are optimized for hard snow performance. All-mountain skis might be able to carve well, but their overall carving abilities might be sacrificed for better all-around performance in moguls and choppy snow. Carving skis have heavier wood cores and thicker sheets of Titanal to optimize performance on edge while somewhat sacrificing performance on ungroomed terrain.

What length of carving ski is right for you?

  • Carving skis are usually shorter than all-mountain or freeride skis, but don’t be fooled: There is a lot of ski packed into all of the carving skis listed above. And shorter skis are usually quicker edge-to-edge, which can make carving even better. Don’t be afraid to try something shorter if you’re planning to buy carving skis.

The 6 Best Performance Carving Skis of 2020

Michael Rogan carving at Taos SKI Test
SKI Tester Michael Rogan gets his carve on at SKI Taos.Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

These are the best tools for frontside lovers who know how to bend a ski and guys who just want to murder corduroy. We test wide-body carvers for softer pistes, but still have World Cup tech with consumer-friendly sidecuts. Get ready for first chair on a groomer day, Thursday night beer league, pristine corduroy, and man-made snow.

BEST IN TEST: Blizzard Firebird HRC

2020 Blizzard Firebird HRC
The 2020 Best in Test Blizzard Firebird HRC.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

Using C-Armor and C-Spine technologies, the newest, wide-bodied addition to the Firebird family reigned supreme in the carving category for 2020. Testers gushed about the HRC’s dominant stability at speed and hard snow performance while appreciating the relatively wide 76mm waist in crud and the HRC’s multi-radius sidecut. Gleason: “This is a renaissance carving ski: The crisp, quiet sensation is at a new level, there is no harshness in the edge grip and it’s invitingly gentle with ultimate precision.”

Blizzard Firebird HRC Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.92 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 126-76-107
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Radius (In Meters): 17
  • MSRP: $1,300 with bindings [BUY NOW]

Stöckli Laser AX

2020 Stöckli Laser AX
The 2020 Stöckli Laser AX.
Photo courtesy of Stöckli

The Laser AX once again pleased former racers and recreational carvers with its wide range of capabilities at a variety of speeds. The ski’s top sheet of Titanal features squiggle-shaped notches—Stöckli calls it Turtle Shell Comfort—which loosens the ski up at slower speeds but locks into place during acceleration, providing ample stability and the highest score in versatility. Schiller: “Excellent balance of power and playfulness with just the right feel and mix of power and pliability.”

Stöckli Laser AX Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 4.02 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 124-78-111
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
  • Radius (In Meters): 13.1
  • MSRP: $1,199

Salomon S/Max BLAST

Salomon S/Max BLAST 2020
The 2020 Salomon S/Max BLAST.
Photo courtesy of Salomon

Elements of Salomon’s race-specific products began to trickle into North America last season, starting with this all-around groomer destroyer. The S/Max Blast performed extremely well in Taos. Testers noted the Edge Amplifier technology increases power transmission from binding to edge, and also garnered comments like “made me smile,” “super quick!” and, perhaps most telling, “category definition ski.” Dyer: “I like the liveliness, edge hold is tenacious, and on a big groomer mountain this would be a blast.”

Salomon S/Max BLAST Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.74 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 121-72-106
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 160, 165, 170, 175, 180
  • Radius (In Meters): 17
  • MSRP: $1,200 with bindings

Atomic Redster X9 WB

2020 Atomic Redster X9 WB
The 2020 Atomic Redster X9 WB.Photo courtesy of Atomic

The new wide-bodied edition to the Redster line enabled testers to aggressively take on Taos’ softer piste conditions. The pre-tensioned rod on top of the ski, called SERVOTEC, continues to impress by smoothly engaging and releasing a variety of turn shapes, but was most appreciated at high speeds. This smoothness is not for the weak-legged, however, as the ski is built on the same platform as Atomic’s FIS-legal race skis. Larsen: “If you like laying trenches in the snow, this is your tool.”

Atomic Redster X9 WB Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.74 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 128-75-112
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 152, 160, 168, 176
  • Radius (In Meters): 14.2
  • MSRP: $1,200 with bindings

Liberty V76

2020 Liberty V76
The 2020 Liberty V76.
Photo courtesy of Liberty

Nearly every tester unanimously agreed that the Liberty V76 was the surprise carver of the test. The Colorado brand broke through into the top five with the V76. With three vertically laminated alloy struts layered in a bamboo and poplar wood core, plus a full carbon sandwich layup, the V76 outshined a number of brands that make World Cup-level skis and earned the highest category ranks in playfulness and forgiveness. Wallace: “One of the most accessible skis in this class.”

Liberty V76 Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 126-76-106
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 165, 172, 179
  • Radius (In Meters): 15
  • MSRP: $850

BEST VALUE: Nordica Dobermann Spitfire RB 80

2020 Nordica Dobermann Spitfire RB 80
The 2020 Nordica Dobermann Spitfire RB 80, ranked as the Best Value for the category.Photo courtesy of Nordica

With an 80mm waist, the Nordica carver earned high praise for its ability to carve and stay stable at high speeds, but also take on less than perfect piste conditions with assertiveness. Testers noted the Spitfire is enough ski to handle beer league races but stable enough to entertain—and help improve—skiers looking to step up their corduroy carving game. The no-nonsense, dark-as-night top sheet also earned praise in the liftline and beyond. Larsen: “Enough energy out of the turn to power a small city.”

Nordica Dobermann Spitfire RB 80 Factsheet

  • Overall Rating: 3.7 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 130-80-110
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
  • Radius (In Meters): 16
  • MSRP: $1,050 with bindings

The 6 Best High-Performance Carving Skis of 2019

After years of playing second fiddle to fat and rockered skis, carvers are finally cool again. A number of brands are introducing sexy consumer race set-ups that can go faster than you can ski, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to find out how fast that actually is.

In honor of these new hot rods of skiing, SKI hosted a stand-alone Race Ski Test at Copper Mountain, Colo., using the same slopes that the U.S. Ski Team trains on in November. Brands that participated in our annual SKI Test were invited to bring skis for beer league racers and corduroy killers.

Testers: Chris Bivona, Mike Britt, Tim Dyer, Renée Geary, Nick Loomans, Charlie Noone, Lisa Perricone, and Rex Wehrman. No one won gold, but they did get custom hats from Ski Town All-Stars.

Note: SKI is not responsible for any pulled passes that might result from using the following skis.

BEST IN TEST: Nordica DOBERMANN GSR RB

2019 Nordica DOBERMANN GSR RB
The 2019 Nordica DOBERMANN GSR RB.

Nordica’s high-performance GS carver is strong and full of aggressiveness that experienced racers and strong carvers will love. Testers praised the stealthy feel and perfect balance between damp stability and energetic edge-to-edge transfer. Featuring the Marker Recoil Race Plate, this ski was the smoothest and fastest of the test. “Great tool for racers who need a ski that’s well balanced but not too burly.”-Mike Britt

Völkl Deacon 74 Pro

Völkl Deacon 74 Pro
The 2019 Völkl Deacon 74 Pro.

The Deacon 74 PRO is resoundingly stable at speed when skied aggressively and with an athletic stance. A few testers noticed it could get away from them if they were just slightly in the backseat, but Völkl’s versatile super ski rewards good form with easy edge initiation and a variety of turn capabilities. “Very fun and playful and the flex works for various skiing abilities.” – Perricone

Stöckli Laser WRT

2019 Stöckli Laser WRT
The 2019 Stöckli Laser WRT.

Despite its short length, testers loved the way the Laser WRT remained nimble as they tried to break the speed of sound. Stöckli’s World Cup tech gives this ski the tightest turn radius in the test, making it perfect for beer leagues with tight gates, or those who want snappy, responsive turns at any speed. “Handles various types of turns with no issues, trustworthy through everything!” – Renée Geary

Rossignol Hero Master

2019 Rossignol Hero Master

The racers praised the no-nonsense Hero Master. Each length has a different turn radius, ranging from a manageable 16 meters at 170cm to nearly Super G-sized 23 meters in the 185cm length. Testers loved the aggressiveness and bite, noting this ski as a quintessential beer leaguer made to win. Britt: “Expert race enthusiasts could jump into a GS course and kick butt if this ski doesn’t kick theirs first.”

Salomon S/MAX BLAST

2019 Salomon S/MAX BLAST
The 2019 Salomon S/MAX BLAST.

The all-new S/MAX BLAST was the most approachable ski of the day, friendly to testers who just finished their college race season, those who hadn’t raced in years, and everyone in between. The compact tip eases into turns comfortably and keeps the ski smooth throughout each arc. It’s suitable for racers and lovers of the carve. The complete package in black. “Excels in everything it’s asked to do.” – Noone

HEAD iSpeed Pro

HEAD iSpeed Pro
The 2019 HEAD iSpeed Pro.

Extremely damp and seemingly lacking a speed limit, the Head iSpeed Pro means 100 percent business and is not for the faint of heart, or carvers who desire a variety of turn shapes. This ski is made to arc in one specific shape and made to do it fast. You don’t have to be a racer to enjoy it, but you’ll need to be comfortable on edge to unleash this ski’s full potential. “A powerful ski that locks into turns.” – Bivona

Read on about the HEAD iSpeed Pro here.

The 6 Best Men’s Hard Snow Skis of 2019

The following were tested at Deer Valley during SKI Test 2019.

BEST IN TEST: Blizzard Firebird WRC

2018/2019 Blizzard Firebird WRC
The 2018/2019 Blizzard Firebird WRC.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

The Firebird WRC made fast and beautiful turns quicker than testers could think. With two unique carbon technologies—one that maximizes edge hold and stability through the turn, and another that increases rebound and creates powerful transitions—this ski rewarded testers who invested power into it. Elling: “Get your helmet on, grab these skis and get up early to destroy the groomers.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.87 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 115.5-68-98.5
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 170, 175, 180, 185
  • Radius (in meters): 18.5
  • MSRP: $1,320 with binding (BUY NOW)

Stöckli Laser AX

2018/2019 Stöckli Laser AX
The 2018/2019 Stöckli Laser AX.Photo courtesy of Stöckli

The AX doesn’t require a pair of thunder thighs to enjoy, but when testers put the pedal to the metal, this ski was ready and willing. The top layer of Titanal features notches that assist with easy turn initiation and release at lower speeds but lock together as velocity increases for rock-solid high-speed performance. Testers loved it. Gleason: “Crisp turn initiation, super-fast glide, and strong flex in the tail. A real stand out!”  3.79 / 5

  • Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 124-78-111
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
  • Radius (in meters): 15.9
  • MSRP: $1,199 flat (BUY NOW)

Völkl Deacon 76

2018/2019 Völkl Deacon 76
The 2018/2019 Völkl Deacon 76.Photo courtesy of Völkl

The Deacon features a number of new technologies from Völkl’s RaceTiger World Cup skis to create an incredible carver that left testers thunderstruck. Nearly every tester agreed that the Deacon 76 delivers pure carving joy at high speeds, but a number noticed that it still makes enjoyable arcs at moderate speeds, too. Casey: “Strong, quiet, super fun. Just get ready for a meeting with ski patrol.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.79 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 122-76-103
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 171, 176, 181
  • Radius (in meters): 18.3
  • MSRP: $1,065 with binding (BUY NOW)

Nordica Dobermann Spitfire

2018/2019 Nordica Dobermann Spitfire
The 2018/2019 Nordica Dobermann Spitfire.Photo courtesy of Nordica

Nordica is known for making no-nonsense skis, but where the brand gets really serious is when it comes to high-performance carvers. With a slalom-specific tip paired with GS waist and tail dimensions, this ski allows for a variety of different radius turns. The carbon race bridge inserts in the tip and tail provide seamless transitions between turns and stability on edge. But, as testers noticed, only experts need apply. Larson: “You won’t find the top speed of this ski without getting banned from your local ski resort.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 122-72-102
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
  • Radius (in meters): 16
  • MSRP: $1,249 (BUY NOW)

HEAD Super Shape i.Titan

2018/2019 HEAD Super Shape i.Titan
The 2018/2019 HEAD Super Shape i.Titan.Photo courtesy of Head

The most versatile ski in Head’s Super Shape series, the i.Titan is no slouch when it comes to frontside fun. While it can confidently carve corduroy with laser precision, this ski has a recreational ease-of-use that was lost on some race-inspired carvers in this category. Built with two sheets of metal and a graphene layer, the i.Titan went punch-for-punch with many of the race carvers, with a unique level of smoothness and edge grip that set it apart. Sexauer: “Snappy, responsive, and easy to command.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.73 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (In Millimeters): 137-80-116.9
  • Lengths (In Centimeters): 156, 163, 170, 177
  • Radius (In Meters): 14.1
  • MSRP: $1,200 with binding

Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti

2018/2019 Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti
The 2018/2019 Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti.Photo courtesy of Dynastar

In a category filled with super-spicy race planks or bland frontside softies, this ski’s universal appeal tickled rookie and veteran testers alike. Like a flavorful salsa verde, the Speed Zone 12 Ti brings enough heat to hang with the other race-inspired carvers but remains forgiving enough that skiers without formal race backgrounds can slice, dice, and carve the crap out of freshly groomed snow. Casey: “User-friendly performance means you don’t need to be a World Cup skier to have fun on these.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.59 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 121-72-106
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Radius (in meters): 15
  • MSRP: $1,000 with binding

Stöckli Laser WRT ST

2018/2019 Stöckli Laser WRT ST
The 2018/2019 Stöckli Laser WRT ST.Photo courtesy of Stöckli

Designed by Stöckli’s World Cup Race Team, the Laser WRT intoxicated like a fine scotch and appealed to testers with formal race training. Those without race back- grounds, however, described the ski with plenty of exclamation points and expletives. These rocket ships aren’t for everyone, but if you long for the days of club racing in college, this short-turn-radius GS ski will provide an advantage at the Beer League races this season. Gleason: “Quick in turn initiation with a feeling of purpose.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.57 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 118-66-100
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 162, 172
  • Radius (in meters): 14.8
  • MSRP: $1,199 flat

Atomic Redster X9

2018/2019 Atomic Redster X9
The 2018/2019 Atomic Redster X9.Photo courtesy of Atomic

Nicknamed “The Green Hornet” for ’18-’19, the Redster X9 remains unchanged besides its new jade topsheet color. It still features seven-time World Cup Overall Champion Marcel Hirscher’s Servotec technology, it still has a bomb-proof Titanal-wood-Titanal construction, and it still has one purpose: To arc and destroy every inch of corduroy at your local ski hill. The faster you ski it, the smoother it becomes. Yellow-jacket speed patrol beware: You can’t keep up with this ski. Jay: “Makes groomers as fun as powder.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.47 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 114-65.5-99.5
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 169, 175, 181
  • Radius (in meters): 15.4
  • MSRP: $1,200 with binding (BUY NOW)

BEST VALUE: Rossignol Hero Elite MT Ti

2018/2019 Rossignol Hero Elite MT Ti
The 2018/2019 Rossignol Hero Elite MT TiPhoto courtesy of Rossignol

Like most of the race-inspired carvers in the category, the Hero MT borrows technology from Rossi’s World Cup race line. In particular, this ski has Line Control Technology (LCT), a rail of vertically aligned Titanal in the middle of the core that locks the ski into carves and smoothly finishes every arc. Testers noted it turns on autopilot so well it could help a Level 2 PSIA instructor pass a Level 3 test, or a former park rat moonlight as an ex-racer. Rogan: “Smooth in almost every turn shape with great adjustability.”

  • Overall Rating: 3.36 / 5
  • Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 123-74-109
  • Lengths (in centimeters): 159, 167, 175, 183
  • Radius (in meters): 15
  • MSRP: $900 with binding (BUY NOW)

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