Every day at the annual SKI Test, held last March at Deer Valley, Utah, testers have a debrief about their favorite skis of the day. There is usually consensus around the best, the worst, and the biggest surprises. This year, nearly every discussion heard the phrase “I can’t believe that was a value ski!” The scores reflected it: Most of the following skis would have been ranked in the 2019 Gear Guide, but luckily for skiers on a budget, these boards were in the Value category.
There are a few rules for this category: The MSRP must be at or below $660 (or $850 with a binding), and the ski has to perform on par with the rest of the models at the SKI Test. Any type of skis are welcome. To generate the value score, we take the ski’s test score, multiply it by 1,000, and divide that number by the retail price.
Nab these blue light specials before they’re gone.
Best in Test: Armada Victa 93
This ski made testers wonder why anyone would spend more. The metal-free Victa 93 is lively, forgiving and cheaper than its higher-end sisters, yet it was still knifey and powerful enough for our expert set. It’s grippy, stable, energetic, effervescent, and finishes a turn with strength and confidence. “So fun and poppy,” said Kimberly Beekman.
Value Score: 6.94. See all the scores and specs of the Armada Victa 93 here.
Faction Prodigy 1.0x
A newcomer to our test this year, Faction’s new Prodigy 1.0x wowed testers with its versatility and playfulness. A soft tip absorbs bumps and chop, and yet it holds well on edge and never wavers when you really step on it. It’s both grippy on groomed and maneuverable in the soft stuff. “Super user-friendly,” said Stephanie Humes.
Value Score: 6.15. Get more nitty-gritty with the Faction Prodigy 1.0x here.
Nordica Astral 84
Soft, easy to turn, nimble, and patient with those who haven’t mastered the carve, the Astral 84 incorporates Torsion Bridge technology, which is a light-weight Titanal grid that’s layered onto a balsa wood core. A winner on groomers. “Great for ladies looking to break through the terminal intermediate phase,” said Georgie Bremner.
Value Score: 6.07. See the finer details of the Nordica Astral 84 here.
Dynastar Legend W84
The Legend W84’s five-point sidecut offers a big sweet spot and a more playful feel. Testers loved the way it could be both mellow and a hard-charger, noting it always puts you in the driver’s seat. It felt stable, smooth, and grippy on groomed without ever feeling locked-in. “A joy to ski,” said Marina Knight. “Refreshing and confidence inspiring.”
Value Score: 6.02. Read more about the Dynastar Legend W84 here.
Blizzard Sheeva 9
Blizzard expanded its freeride Sheeva line this year to include this sexy little ripper. Built to be more playful in softer snow than the directional Black Pearl series, the Sheeva 9 possesses both strength and integrity, yet the ski is never demanding and remains versatile in every terrain. “You will feel like a hero on this ski,” said Humes.
Value Score: 6.02. See all of the Blizzard Sheeva 9's scores and specs here.
Salomon Aira 80 Ti
The Aira 80 Ti is more of an all-mountain ranger than a wasp-waisted carver. Its poplar wood core is über light, carbon fiber and flax layers provide torsional rigidity, and a metal power plate underfoot stabilizes. It had a unique feel that testers described as “buttery" with an easygoing nature. “I felt very relaxed on these skis,” said Tracy Gibbons.
Value Score: 5.82. See more details about the Salomon Aira 80 Ti here.
Read more: Top 2019 Value Ski Picks for Men