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Carving Skis

The 6 Best Women’s Carving Skis of 2022

These consumer-friendly carving skis remind us why laying trenches on groomers is so dang fun.

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We test a lot of skis at SKI Test each year, but the carving category is usually the one that excites our testers the most. And for good reason—skinny skis are some of the most thrilling in the bunch. With a narrow little waist—usually between 70mm-80mm underfoot—and more dramatic sidecut, carving skis are engineered to dig trenches on groomers. At the 2022 SKI Test at Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah, our crew of 27 testers did just that.

When judging carving skis, our testers look for a variety of performance characteristics, and as always, there’s some subjectivity that comes into play. Some of our ex-racers who aren’t ready to let go of their glory days just yet want a carving ski that lets them ski like they’re still trying to beat a clock; other testers look for a more versatile carving tool, one that excels on edge, yes, but one that will also smear turns and teach more intermediate skiers how to carve.

That said, most testers would agree that the skis that stand out in the carving category are those that impress them in our Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity, and Quickness scoring categories. So when testers jumped on 2022’s carving crop in early March, they put the pedal to the metal and judged just how well these narrow skis can hang out on edge. By day’s end, it was clear that not all carving skis are created equal. Here are the six women’s carving skis that rose to the top of the pack for 2022.

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No. 1: ‘Best in Test’: Stöckli Laser MX

2022 Stöckli Laser MX

“Roll it over, load it up, and slice through anything. The Stöckli Laser MX requires some skill during turn initiation, and if you want to carve short turns, you have to drive it from the tip. But these are so fun and responsive. Turns out, you can buy a good turn. It may cost you, but why not buy success if you can?” Tracy Gibbons

2022 Stöckli Laser MX Specifications

  • Overall Score: 4.21/5
  • Strengths: Hard-Snow Integrity, Quickness
  • Weaknesses: Crud Performance, Forgiveness
  • Dimensions (mm): 118-67-99
  • Available lengths (cm): 146, 152, 158, 164
  • Radius (m): 13.7
  • Price: $1,299 (without binding)

See how the 2022 Stöckli Laser MX scored in every skill category

Shop the Stöckli Laser MX: Ski.com

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No. 2: Armada Reliance 82Ti

2022 ARMADA RELIANCE 82 TI

Featuring one of the widest waist widths in this category and a lightweight caruba core, the Armada Reliance 82Ti doesn’t make you ski it on edge to get the most out of its performance. It’s more versatile and forgiving, but that user-friendliness comes at the cost of stability and edge grip. That said, it’s still no slouch in the carving department. Says tester Robin Barnes: “There is no pretense with this ski. Carving is easy yet rewarding for a wide range of levels.”

2022 Armada Reliance 82Ti Specifications

  • Overall Score: 4.13/5
  • Strengths: Forgiveness, Crud Performance
  • Weaknesses: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Dimensions (mm): 126-82-109
  • Available lengths (cm): 150, 158, 166, 174
  • Radius (m): 15.4
  • Price: $875 (with binding)

See how the 2022 Armada Reliance 82Ti scored in every skill category

Purchase the Armada Reliance 82Ti: REI | Skis.com

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No. 3: Nordica Wild Belle DC 84

2022 Nordica Wild Belle DC 84

With an 84mm waist, the Nordica Wild Belle DC 84 isn’t strictly a carving ski. But hear us out: This all-new Nordica model tied for the highest score in Stability at Speed. It also ranked No. 2 in Hard-Snow Integrity, proving it has the chops to go up against true carvers. The former U.S. Ski Team members among the test crew claimed they “could really rail on these.” Says tester Marina Knight: “Even being slightly wider underfoot, this thing ripped it all up.”

2022 Nordica Wild Belle DC 84 Specifications

  • Overall Score: 4.02/5
  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weaknesses: Playfulness, Crud Performance
  • Dimensions (mm): 133-84-112
  • Available lengths (cm): 144, 150, 156, 162, 168
  • Radius (m): 13.7
  • Price: $700 (with binding)

See how the 2022 Nordica Wild Belle DC 84 scored in every skill category

Buy the Nordica Wild Belle DC 84: Skis.com | REI

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No. 4: Blizzard Phoenix R14 Pro

2022 BLIZZARD PHOENIX

You can always count on Blizzard to make women’s skis that rip as hard as the dudes’ version. Like the Black Pearls, the all-new Phoenix R14 Pro features a TruBlend wood core that makes for a smooth ride. But with a reduced rocker profile and more dramatic sidecut, the Phoenix R14 Pro offers the next level of carving performance. It’s not the easiest ski to command, but it’s guaranteed to excite expert ladies. Says tester Erika Northrop: “Carves like a hot knife through warm butter.”

2022 Blizzard R14 Pro Specifications

  • Overall Score: 3.88/5
  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weaknesses: Quickness, Forgiveness
  • Dimensions (mm): 121-70-102
  • Available lengths (cm): 155, 160, 165, 170, 175
  • Radius (m): 14
  • Price: $960 (with binding)

See how the 2022 Blizzard Phoenix R14 Pro scored in every skill category

Shop the Blizzard R14 Pro: Skis.com

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No. 5: K2 Disruption MTi Alliance

2022 K2 Disruption MTi Alliance

“The K2 Disruption MTi Alliance is made for ladies who don’t want to work so hard for beautiful slalom turns on groomers. Performs well even at high speeds. It’s not as burly as some of the others in this category but still has all the same capabilities. The Disruption MTi Alliance is a great ski for those who need help figuring out how to carve.” –Katie Ryan

2022 K2 Disruption MTi Alliance Specifications

  • Overall Score: 3.78/5 (tied with Kästle MX75)
  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weaknesses: Versatility, Playfulness
  • Dimensions (mm): 115-72-103
  • Available lengths (cm): 146, 153, 160, 167
  • Radius (m): 14.7
  • Price: $999 (with binding)

See how the 2022 K2 Disruption MTi Alliance scored in every skill category

Shop the K2 Disruption MTi Alliance: REI 

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No. 6: Kästle MX75

2022 Kästle MX75

Featuring a multi-wood core reinforced with Titanal, the MX75 has a penchant for digging trenches and is one of the burlier, damper skis in the category. It earned high praise for its dependability on edge and at speed, but testers noted that it prefers large-radius turns and isn’t thrilled about changing course once you put the pedal to the metal. An ideal groomer ski for skilled ladies who ski for the thrill of it. Says tester Erika Northrop: “A carving ski that rocks the turns with a plethora of energy.”

2022 Kästle MX75 Specifications

  • Overall Score: 3.78/5 (tied with K2 Disruption MTi Alliance)
  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weaknesses: Versatility, Playfulness
  • Dimensions (mm): 115-72-103
  • Available lengths (cm): 146, 153, 160, 167
  • Radius (m): 14.7
  • Price: $999 (with binding)

See how the 2022 Kästle MX75 scored in every skill category

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What defines a performance carving ski?

Carving skis, also referred to as groomer skis or piste-oriented skis, are skis designed to be used primarily on groomed terrain. Carving skis have a traditional camber profile with narrower waists to encourage quicker edge-to-edge transitions, more edge contact and better grip on the harder snow you find on groomed terrain. These days many brands are making entry-level carving skis that have moderate tip rocker to make turn initiation easier and the ski more forgiving.

Should beginners buy carving skis?

Beginner and intermediate skiers should look for a ski with a medium waist width (something around 75-80mm underfoot) and slight tip rocker. For most beginners and intermediate skiers, that generally means a narrow all-mountain ski that offers more versatility than carving skis, which are primarily designed to be skied on edge. Edging is a difficult skill to learn, and most beginner skiers start out by sliding or pivoting their skis through turns. All-mountain skis with more generous tip rocker than carving skis are generally better suited to pivoting turns. That said, there are some carving skis that have moderate tip rocker to make turn initiation easier and the ski more forgiving.

What length carving ski should I buy?

Women-specific skis generally come in lengths between 150cm-175cm. Unlike all-mountain skis and powder skis, carving skis have a more traditional camber profile. This means carving skis will have a longer effective edge (the length of edge that makes contact with the snow through the turn) than all-mountain and powder skis, which generally have more rocker in the tip and tail and therefore less effective edge.

For that reason, carving skis tend to ski true to length or even longer than their length, so intermediate women should stick to a ski that’s slightly shorter than they are tall (roughly forehead height). Advanced women who like to ski at speed or ski medium-sized turns should be on a carving ski that matches their height.

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The Best Women’s Carving Skis 0f 2021

BEST IN TEST: Head Power Joy

2021 Head Power Joy
The 2021 Head Power JoyPhoto courtesy of Head

This ski impressed female testers with its forgiveness, a quality that’s hard to come by in performance carvers. Thanks to a World Cup Sandwich construction and layer of graphene, this ski responds with power and pop in the middle of your arc, but a lightweight wood core and Head’s Speed Rocker make this ski accessible. Wiegand: “Any turn shape, any time.”

  • Strengths: Playfulness, Forgiveness
  • Weakness: Stability at Speed
  • Score: 4.38/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 122-68-102
  • Lengths (cm): 153, 158, 163, 168
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.7 (163 length)
  • MSRP: $1,075 with binding

Völkl Flair SC Carbon

2021 Volkl Flair SC Carbon
The 2021 Völkl Flair SC Carbon.Photo courtesy of Völkl

There are two traits that expert skiers look for in a carver above all others: stability at speed and playfulness. The Völkl Flair SC Carbon delivers on those fronts. Thanks to a 3D Glass and carbon construction, this ski is built to hold up under pressure, but tip rocker and a full wood core keep it light and snappy. Raitt: “Solid and forgiving.”

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Playfulness
  • Weakness: Crud Performance
  • Score: 4.06/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 123-70-103
  • Lengths (cm): 150, 155, 160, 165
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.1 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $1,125 with binding

Nordica Sentra SL 7

2021 Nordica SENTRA SL7
The Nordica Sentra SL 7 for 2021Photo courtesy of Nordica

There’s nothing like a fun slalom ski, and that’s exactly what the Nordica Sentra SL 7 is. Featuring a lightweight balsa core combined with metal, this ski exhibits a “go get ’em” attitude. A full camber profile makes this ski less forgiving, but the extra effective edge is a bonus for digging trenches. Wiegand: “Comes to life at speed.”

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Quickness
  • Weakness: Forgiveness
  • Score: 3.94/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 119-69-103
  • Lengths (cm): 150, 155, 160, 165 
  • Turn Radius (m): 12.5 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

Blizzard Firebird Competition 76

2021 Blizzard Firebird Comp 76
The 2021 unisex Blizzard Firebird Competition 76.Photo courtesy of Blizzard

With a little extra girth around the waist, this ski is a heat-seeking missile compared to the darts in this category. Blizzard bills this ski as a recreational carver, but remember—that’s by Blizzard’s standards. The Firebird’s full camber and carbon plus wood core construction require strong handling skills. Raitt: “For the ex-speedracer.”

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Hard-Snow Integrity
  • Weakness: Forgiveness
  • Score: 3.75/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 124-76-105
  • Lengths (cm): 158, 166, 174, 182
  • Turn Radius (m): 14.5 (166 length)
  • MSRP: $1,080 within binding

Fischer RC One 82GT

2021 Fischer RC One 82 GT
The Fischer RC One 82GT Green Machines.Photo courtesy of Fischer

The widest ski in this category with an all-mountain rocker won praise for its versatility and ability to tackle less than perfect corduroy. Testers liked how the ski’s construction of wood and double Titanal layers reinforced with Air Carbon technology translated to stability. But they wished it was a tad livelier. Hanseler: “Heavy, steady ski.”

  • Strengths: Stability at Speed, Crud Performance
  • Weakness: Playfulness
  • Score: 3.48/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 125-82-112 
  • Lengths (cm): 145, 152, 159, 166, 173, 180
  • Turn Radius (m): 15 (166 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

K2 Disruption MTi Alliance

K2 Disruption MTI Alliance
The all-new K2 Disruption MTi Alliance for 2021.Photo courtesy of K2

Leave it to K2 to make a carving ski that introduces women to the art of the arc. Testers loved how they could make it smear as well as carve. K2’s Titanal I-Beam, Dark Matter Damping technology, and Powerwall sidewalls ensure the ski has enough backbone, but doesn’t require women to exert brute force. Hanseler: “Light and responsive.”

  • Strengths: Playfulness, Quickness
  • Weakness: Stability at Speed
  • Score: 3.47/5
  • Dimensions (mm): 115-72-103
  • Lengths (cm): 146, 153, 160, 167
  • Turn Radius (m): 14.7 (160 length)
  • MSRP: $900 with binding

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