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Frontside Skis

10 Skis That Reward Strong and Precise Skiers

These burly 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 out East and in the Midwest, where the snow conditions 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, burly skis don’t have that kind of patience or gentle nature. They tend to demand strength, precision, and, frankly, a little more work.

On that topic: 10 Skis That Won’t Punish Your (Occasionally) Sloppy Skiing Habits

But burly or damp skis also tend to outperform more forgiving skis on hardpack, in crud, and at speed, making them attractive options for skiers who primarily stick to the groomed, 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 the burliest frontside skis from SKI’s 2020-’21 SKI Test. They all scored low marks in the Forgiveness department, but that doesn’t scare you, does it?

2021’s Burliest Frontside Skis – Men’s

2021 Völkl Kendo 88

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.33/5
  • Overall Score: 3.85/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 11
2020-21 Volkl Kendo 88

Tester comment: “Fun, aggressive frontside ski. Quick and snappy, but stable. A little stiff and unforgiving—definitely have to ski with a forward stance and be on top of the front of the ski. A great frontside ripper for an aggressive advanced/expert skier. Less aggressive skiers would probably feel overwhelmed.” —Todd Casey

Get the full picture: 2021 Völkl Kendo 88 Review

2021 Salomon Stance 90

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.44/5
  • Overall Score: 3.76/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 12
Salomon Stance 90

Tester comment: “Great damp, solid feel—not something I expected from a Salomon. Gives you back what you put into it, but a great easy feel if you just want to cruise.” —Luke Larsson

Read about its strengths and weaknesses: Salomon Stance 90 Full Review

2021 Fischer RC1 86GT

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.5/5
  • Overall Score: 4.06/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 4
2020-21 Fischer RC1 86GT

Tester comment: “Fun and fast ski. Made for hardpack and hip-dragging. PSIA, here I come.” —Kevin Sommers

Go deeper: Why testers loved the Fischer RC1 86GT

2021 Nordica Enforcer 94

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.65/5
  • Overall Score: 3.95
  • Overall Rank: No. 8
"Nordica Enforcer 94 2021"


Tester comment: “Nicely versatile with an underlying desire to charge down the hill. These skis deliver more if you put more into them. They like a strong touch and pay that back. They are precise and offer solid grip on hardpack. They speak East Coast fluently.” —Bob Gleason

See how it stacked up: The Best Men’s Frontside Skis of the Year

2021 Armada Declivity 82Ti

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.65/5
  • Overall Score: 3.9/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 9
Armada Declivity 82Ti

Tester comment: “This ski handles everything with ease and is good at all of it. Rolling them over is a blast. Damp enough to handle variable snow, this ski would be a great do-it-all tool between storm cycles.” —Jon Sexauer

2021’s Burliest Frontside Skis – Women’s

2021 Völkl Kenja 88

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.67/5
  • Overall Score: 3.94/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 12
Volkl Kenja 88

Tester comment: “This ski was really amazing for a frontside groomer. I had a terrific time carving in a variety of turn sizes on freshly groomed corduroy. This ski initiated turns well and had a lot of directionality. The Kenja just wants to be trusted, and if you do, you will be rewarded with full, robust turns.” —Courtney Krause

Read more: 2021 Völkl Kenja 88 Full Review

2021 Atomic Vantage 80 Ti W

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.75/5
  • Overall Score: 3.96/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 11
Atomic Vantage 80 Ti W

Tester comment: “These were stiff, but tamable. I needed some power behind them, but once the power was there, they swung around nicely and seemed pretty versatile, no matter the turn shape. Fun, but meant for a more advanced skier.” —Courtney Harkins

Learn more about its strengths and weaknesses: Atomic Vantage 80 Ti W

2021 Salomon Stance 88 W

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.83/5
  • Overall Score: 3.85/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 13
Salomon Stance 88 W

Tester comment: “I like how these edges feel against the snow—great connection to the surface via their dampness. However, that stiffness leaves a little less room for play. That said, it’s designed for carving and stability is its strength.” —Jessi Hackett

See how it compares: The Best Frontside Skis of the Year

2021 Armada Victa 87 Ti

  • Forgiveness Score: 4/5
  • Overall Score: 4/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 10
Armada Victa 87 Ti

Tester comment: “Wahooo! These are kind of like getting on a bull and trying to hang on for dear life. They are super responsive and quick. They handle themselves well through carving turns, crud, and bumps.” —Renee Geary

Read more: 2021 Armada Victa 87 Ti Full Review

2021 Elan Wildcat 86 CX PS

  • Forgiveness Score: 4/5
  • Overall Score: 4.22/5
  • Overall Rank: No. 8
Elan Wildcat 86 CX PS

Tester comment: “So inspiring on the groomers and in the trees. Not the most  forgiving in bumps, felt like the tip and the mid-body wanted to do two separate things there. But a great choice for a gal who doesn’t love bumps.” —Robin Barnes

Related: What testers loved about the Elan Wildcat 86 CX PS


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