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Frontside Skis

8 Frontside Skis That Reward Strong and Precise Skiers

These sticks take some steering, but put in the work, and you'll reap the rewards.

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Some skiers are gluttons for punishment. Others just like knowing they have something bombproof underfoot. Whatever the case, there’s a time and place for burly skis—skis featuring heavy metal, dense wood cores, and reinforced sidewalls. That time is usually early to mid-ski season, and the place is anywhere with snow conditions that call for skis with some serious backbone.

To be clear: Burly skis tend to be the opposite of forgiving. While forgiving skis—typically lighter-weight with more rocker and a big old sweet spot—might turn a blind eye to sloppy or tired skiing habits and even gently coax skiers back to where they need to be, stiffer skis don’t have that kind of patience or gentle nature. Because they’re generally heavier, damper, and feature a longer turning radius, they tend to demand strength, precision, and, frankly, a little more work.

Related: 10 user-friendly skis that will forgive your sloppy skiing habits

But damp skis also tend to outperform more forgiving skis on hardpack, in crud, and at speed, making them attractive options for advanced and expert skiers who know how to bend a ski, regularly contend with boilerplate conditions, and those who are willing to put in the extra effort in the name of stability, precision, and control.

If you fall into this camp of skiers, dive into this list of frontside skis that performed best in what we’re calling the “precision” skills categories (Hard-Snow Integrity + Stability at Speed + Responsiveness). Most of these skis scored lower marks in the Forgiveness department, but that doesn’t scare you, does it?

2023’s Best Frontside Skis for Experts Who Charge

Völkl Kendo 88

Völkl Kendo 88
(Photo: Courtesy Völkl)

Precision score: 8/10
Forgiveness score: 6.33/10
Gender: Unisex

What testers say

“The Kendo is always a blast to tip over on edge because of how confident this ski makes you feel. For hard-charging skiers who prioritize on-piste performance, the Kendo is a no brainer. With 88mm underfoot, you still have plenty of width to dabble in softer conditions off-piste, but it’s going to require some attention in mixed snow conditions as it isn’t the most forgiving ski around.” —Jon Sexauer

Read the full review of the Völkl Kendo 88 and see how it scored in every skill department

Kästle MX83

2023 Kästle MX83
(Photo: Courtesy Kästle)

Precision score: 8/10
Forgiveness: 7.2/10
Gender: Unisex

What testers say

“This is a ski for mellow masters of the sport. For someone who seeks a refined approach to each turn, looks for intricate feelings of clean skiing, and has an advanced touch on snow.” —Matt Schiller

Read the full review of the Kästle MX83 and see how it scored in every skill department

Blizzard Brahma 88

2023 Blizzard Brahma 88 Frontside Ski
(Photo: Courtesy Blizzard)

Precision score: 7.83/10
Forgiveness score: 7.33/10
Gender: Unisex

What testers say

“Classic Blizzard! It’s a more aggressive ski for the guy who wants to ski 80 percent hardpack and 20 percent off-piste. I would love to ski this as a daily driver and hammer it on a low tide day. Great ski for anyone looking to lay big, fast turns on- and off-piste.” —Tommy Flitton

Read the full review of the Blizzard Brahma 88 and see how it scored in every skill department

Head Supershape e-Titan

Head Supershape e-Titan
(Photo: Courtesy Head)

Precision score: 7.53/10
Forgiveness score: 5.63/10
Gender: Unisex

What testers say

“I was surprised at how smooth the energy transfer is between turns. It doesn’t jolt you but it allows energy to transfer between turns. I really like that! This ski absolutely sparks arcs and feels like it can handle any speed.” —Tommy Flitton

Read the full review of the Head Supershape e-Titan and see how it scored in every skill department

Nordica Santa Ana 88

2023 Nordica Santa Ana 88
(Photo: Courtesy Nordica)

Precision score: 8.1/10
Forgiveness score: 7.14/10
Gender: Women’s

What testers say

“Honestly, the girly graphics kind of through me off, but this ski was a total crusher. Long GS turns all day baby. Such a fun ski to push hard and set tracks down. Holds its own in hard snow and felt very stable when things got icy. Not the most nimble ski on the market but that didn’t bother me.” —Kelly Klein

Read the full review of the Nordica Santa Ana 88 and see how it scored in every skill department

Völkl Kenja 88

2023 Völkl Kenja 88
(Photo: Courtesy Völkl )

Precision score: 7.9/10
Forgiveness score: 7.43/10
Gender: Women’s

What testers say

“This ski is quite burly, but so stable. It performed about as expected for a Völkl: Stable, dependable, an advanced ski. If you are willing to work for it, it’ll give you anything you want.” —Abby Ghent

Read the full review of the Völkl Kenja 88 and see how it scored in every skill department

Blizzard Black Pearl 88

2023 Blizzard Black Pearl 88
(Photo: Courtesy Blizzard)

Precision score: 7.81/10
Forgiveness score: 6.29/10
Gender: Women’s

What testers say

“This is a great ski for stronger skiers that can put some effort behind each turn. If you’re not on your turn, it’ll ski you. But if you can put the hammer down, it’ll rock and roll.

Read the full review of the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 and see how it scored in every skill department

Elan Wildcat 86 C Black Edition

2023 Elan Wildcat 86 C Black Edition
(Photo: Courtesy Elan)

Precision score: 7.58/10
Forgiveness score: 6.83/10
Gender: Women’s

What testers say

“This ski is for a skier looking to carve some amazing turns on the groomers (no matter how hard the snow may be) and play on the sides of the runs just a bit. It performs well at a variety of speeds and turn sizes, but really shines at medium to high speeds.” —Tracy Gibbons

Read the full review of the Elan Wildcat 86 C Black Edition and see how it scored in every skill department

More 2023 Gear Reviews and Advice

The best women’s frontside skis of 2023
Frontside vs. all-mountain skis—what’s the difference?
The best all-mountain skis of the year
10 skis that will forgive your sloppy skiing habits