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Carving Skis

The 10 Best Groomer Skis for Early-Season Turns

These skis will convince you that skiing on man-made snow in December is, in fact, quite exciting.

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There are skiers who while away the fall months watching ski movies and dreaming of their first powder day of the coming season; and then there are those who dust off the ski tuning bench in the garage, snap a rubber band around the brakes of their carving skis, and get busy beveling edges and dreaming of the first carving turns of the season on crappy, mostly man-made snow.

To the skiers in that second group: We salute you. To those in the first camp: You’re missing out on one of skiing’s greatest joys. There’s nothing quite like skiing in late November and early December, when there’s just one lift open and you’re navigating a narrow white ribbon of boilerplate. There’s no distraction, no temptation lurking off-piste, nothing to do but to work on your turns. Over and over again.

But carving up groomers during the early-season is only fun if you have the right tool for the job. Those 95mm-plus all-mountain planks you ski during the heart of the season aren’t going to convince you that lapping the same two runs is exciting (especially if your trusty all-mountain skis haven’t been tuned in a season or two). To understand the joys of early-season turns, you need something narrower underfoot—something designed to be tipped on edge and stick to hard snow like white on rice. Something like the skis listed below.

These 10 skis are hot off the 2022 press and SKI’s top choices for skiing early season snow conditions. With waist widths between 65-90mm, solid core constructions, and minimal rocker, these skis earned major props from our gear testers for their rock-solid performance on hard snow.

Meet the 27 people who test, rank, and review skis for our annual Gear Guide

If you’re an advanced skier in the market for a dedicated groomer ski, peruse the skis listed under the Carving section. If you’re still working on your carving chops, or just looking for a more versatile groomer ski, scroll down to the Frontside section. Wherever you land, you can’t go wrong with these 10 corduroy destroyers.

Carving vs. frontside skis—what’s the difference?

Carving Skis: Dedicated Groomer Skis with Narrow Waist Widths

Head WC Rebels eSpeed

  • Waist Width: 68mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.82/5
2022 Head World Cup Rebels eSpeed

Tester comment: “Pure power out of the turn and an absolute dream on edge. This ski is a riot when tipped up on edge at speed, but a little bit of a challenge to manage at slower speeds. You have to be on it because these skis want to run, and they’ll go where they want if you don’t actively drive them. Wouldn’t venture off-piste on these, but if ripping cord is your game, this is the ski.”
—Jon Sexauer

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

K2 Disruption Ti2

  • Waist Width: 71mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.58/5

Tester comment: “The Disruption Ti2 is essentially a GS ski and absolutely rips. It’s incredibly stable and fun to ski on, but it does take some work. Feels long and burly, and that makes it somewhat challenging to do slow, skidded turns on. But man, are they fun. Silky smooth, great edge hold, just rock-solid. Experts only, though.” —Dustin Cook

Check out the best men’s carving skis of 2022

Stöckli Laser AR

  • Waist Width: 83mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.58/5
2022 STOCKLI LASER AR

Tester comment: “The Laser AR is a great combination of energy and stability. It’s pretty easy to ski, yet still stable, even in a shorter length. Good edge hold, steers turns easily, and has a versatile turn shape. A solid carving ski for any advanced skier.” —Nick Loomans

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Stöckli Laser MX

  • Waist Width: 67mm
  • Gender: Women’s-Specific
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.5/5
2022 Stöckli Laser MX

Tester comment: “The Stöckli Laser MX is a carving machine that made me feel like a World Cup racer. It’s smooth, trustworthy, rad, and can lay it over on hard or soft snow. This ski is just money. Figuratively and literally.” —Marina Knight

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Blizzard Phoenix R14 Pro

  • Waist Width: 70mm
  • Gender: Women’s-Specific
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.4/5
2022 BLIZZARD PHOENIX

Tester comment: “The Phoenix R14 Pro is solid as all get-out in GS turns. I had to work it to make short turns, but the ski handles them well once you get there. It’s not for the timid skier and better suited to the gal who likes to ride on edge. I could really push this ski, and the harder I skied the more it excelled.” —Robin Barnes

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Frontside Skis: Versatile Groomer Skis with Wider Waists

Stöckli Stormrider 88

  • Waist Width: 88mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.54/5
2022 Stöckli Stormrider 88

Tester comment: “It doesn’t get any smoother than the Stöckli Stormrider 88! It’s so easy into the turn and remarkably quiet even at high speeds. The tip stays glued to the snow and doesn’t bounce around. I may skip out on the rest of the gear test and just take these skis home to meet my parents. I still don’t understand how this ski can feel soft and be so easy to ski but when it’s tipped on edge, it’s a full-blown race ski.” —Luke Larsen

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Völkl Kendo 88

  • Waist Width: 88mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.54/5
2022 Völkl Kendo 88

Tester comment: “The Kendo 88 just has my number. This ski defines the Frontside category. It has a ripping, agile waist width and its strong sidewalls bite like teeth into the hardest snow and don’t let go. While all this power is grabbing and going, your feet are just calm and relaxed. This ski gives you a refined, not raw, agility.” —Matt Schiller

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Blizzard Brahma 88

  • Waist Width: 88mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.5/5
2022 Blizzard Brahma 88

Tester comment: “Never get bummed out by high pressure systems again. Even during those long stretches with no new snow in sight, the Brahma 88 makes skiing fun. It’s fun through the trees and in the crud off-piste, but the ski really shines when pushed on the groomers.” —Luke Larsen

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Stöckli Nela 80

  • Waist Width: 80mm
  • Gender: Women’s-Specific
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.59/5
2022 Stöckli Nela 80

Tester comment: “Yowza! The Nela 80 flies through the crud off-piste like it’s grown wings but once it hits the corduroy, it skis like a primed race horse that’s finally let out of the stable. I even went so far as to thank the skis at the end of my test run…” —Erika Northrop

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

Fischer RC One 86 GT

  • Waist Width: 86mm
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Hard-Snow Performance Score: 4.22/5
2022 Fischer RC One 86GT

Tester comment: “These babies rip. They look for hard and fast snow and turn on a dime. Tons of fun and would be a killer daily driver for an ex-racer or someone who just likes to crush groomers. Nimble enough to get through crud, but they want hardpack.” —Courtney Harkins

Read the full review for category scores, strengths, weaknesses, and tester feedback

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