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Frontside Skis

8 Frontside 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, 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: How our testers rank and review skis 

But burly or 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 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 some of the stiffest, dampest frontside skis from SKI’s 2022 gear test. They all scored low marks in the Forgiveness department, but that doesn’t scare you, does it?

2022’s Burliest Frontside Skis

Blizzard Brahma 88

They may look like narrow all-mountain skis, but the Brahmas perform like Formula 1-inspired superchargers. If you’re an expert in the East or West with strong legs, these skis aim to please on the frontside.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.32/5
  • Overall Score: 3.91/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Blizzard Brahma 88

Tester Comment

“The Brahma is damp and stable at all speeds, but not quite lively and playful enough to make it a more approachable ski. It’s a great ski for strong, advanced skiers that want to spend the majority of their ski days on groomed terrain. It’s one of the more versatile skis in the Frontside category, and it’s hard to find major faults with it other than it being a little too much ski for most to handle.” —Jon Sexauer

Kästle FX86 Ti

With two sheets of Titanal sandwiching a beech and poplar wood core, and full sandwich sidewalls, the FX86 Ti is a pretty stiff ski. Testers felt comfortable on groomed terrain, but only the braver, stronger, taller testers were able to tap into its potential in variable terrain and bumps.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.32/5
  • Overall Score: 3.65/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Kästle FX86 Ti

Tester Comment

“A ski for someone who knows how to ski well. Powerful through the turn, smooth on the edge to edge transition. It wants to be driven—no backseat skiing allowed. It doesn’t demand 100% power all the time, but it demands at least some amount of attention.” —Otto Gibbons

Kästle MX88

Testers call the MX88 a ski made for Deer Valley because it excels on corduroy and anywhere it has the space to carve GS turns. It’s a pretty beefy ski, but for a Kästle, surprisingly balanced—unlike some of its brethren, it’s not all work and no play.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.46/5
  • Overall Score: 3.57/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Kästle MX88

Tester Comment

“Bring on the big mountain groomers and dig some trenches. Pop off into the bumps or crud, just make sure you have your big boy pants on.” —Tracy Gibbons

Elan Wildcat 86 C Black Edition

The additional carbon reinforcement and laminated wood core in this new Wildcat model make all the difference in how zippy it is. This ski loves to go fast and be skied on edge–just don’t ask it to slow down and take it easy.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.5/5
  • Overall Score: 3.74/5
  • Gender: Women’s-specific
2022 Elan Wildcat 86 C Black Edition

Tester Comment

“The faster you go, the more responsive these skis become. At slower speeds, it’s kind of burly and harder to turn. Probably best for a more aggressive skier who will be able to push these to get performance out of them.”–Wendy Crosby

Salomon Stance 90

Built with two layers of Titanal and a poplar wood core, the Stance 90 was commended for being deafeningly quiet. Salomon did liven up the ski this season by removing some of the top layer of Titanal and replacing it with the company’s signature carbon and flax blended laminate for added versatility, but this ski is definitely more sports car than SUV.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.5/5
  • Overall Score: 3.69/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Salomon Stance 90

Tester comment: “Smooth and stable on edge. It’s also easy to skid, which offered comfort scrubbing speed or moving off-piste in bumps and crud. The ski held up well on groomed terrain, but didn’t have a ton of energy exiting the turn. Could be a solid option for a skier who spends most of the season on groomed lifts and isn’t overly concerned with venturing past that often.” —Jon Sexauer

Fischer RC One 86GT

The Fischer RC One 86GT always fools testers into thinking it was made only to carve, but it always exceeds expectations both on and off the groomed. It’s built for speed, and can crush the frontside without crushing you.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.54/5
  • Overall Score: 3.82/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Fischer RC One 86GT

Tester Comment

“A strong, stable, and traditional ski that likes to be on its edges. Once I figured out the turn radius it was a lot of fun. Short, quick, snappy swing turns is what this ski was made for. Doesn’t like to be pushed into a a different turn shape.” —Luke Larssen 

Völkl Kenja 88

With 88mm underfoot, Völkl’s 3D Radius technology, and a bomber Tittanal frame construction, the Kenja 88 really excels on hardpack. Strong skiers can coax some playfulness out of her, but as a general rule, this ski just wants to impress with her stability on the groomers.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.55/5
  • Overall Score: 3.84/5
  • Gender: Women’s-specific
2022 Völkl Kenja 88

Tester Comment

“Totally fun! Decently stiff, but has a really short turning radius. It wants to arc straighter slalom turns and ski quickly. Not quite as good in crud because they didn’t want to be told where and when to turn.” —Courtney Harkins

Nordica Enforcer 94

Built with two sheets of metal and Nordica’s proprietary wood core blend, the Nordica Enforcer 94 is stiff, and some lightweight skiers may have a hard time tapping into its full potential. But skiers who can tip ‘em and rip ‘em will do exactly that, and love this ski all season long.

  • Forgiveness Score: 3.58/5
  • Overall Score: 4.07/5
  • Gender: Unisex
2022 Nordica Enforcer 94

Tester Comment

“Beefcakes! You need to be moving pretty quick to make these bad boys turn. Definitely a lot less forgiving than a lot of skis in this category on groomers. It’s more of a GS type than a slalom ski. Surprisingly nice in bumps and crud—the rocker makes them decently forgiving in those conditions. Still, the Enforcer 94 is not for beginners, and even for experts it’s a ski that doesn’t give you a whole lot without you putting some of the work.” –Dustin Cook

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