For 35 years, skiing has had a convoluted kinship with inline skating. That's changing now.
Pandora’s customer? The deepseeker. With a 115 mm waist—by far the fattest women’s ski in the test—and an early-rise, tapered tip that won’t hook up harshly in fluff, it’s a powder specialist, to be sure, ranking No. 2 in Flotation. The Pandora doesn’t so much turn as drift, smearing easily through trees and down steeps until the rider finds herself, smiling uncontrollably, at the bottom. It’s forgiving, too, making it a good option for powder novices. As for Hard-Snow Grip, where it scored last among winners...well, it’s a powder ski, people. Go find some. “Really sweet in the deep. Perfect for powder only,” said Wilde.
Remember when skiing wasn’t cool anymore? At the height of the snowboard revolution, a college kid taking woodshop helped bring our sport back. Jason Levinthal, Line’s founder, built what were arguably the first skis for the jib generation. Now, Line boasts a huge following among core skiers, for good reasons. One of which is the Celebrity 90, which stomped the category in powder and was No. 3 in Quickness/Bumps, too. It turned up its nose at hardpack, though, scoring last among winners in Hard-Snow Grip. But take a look at the price. Westerners: Buy this board. “What a ripping ski,” said Humes. “I was giddy.”
Line this year introduced the Flite (see No. 10) as a dialed-back, lighter, more forgiving version of the venerable 90. Interestingly, while the 90 is still marketed by Line as the “higher-performing” model, testers found the Flite more to their liking, scoring it slightly higher across the board. Still, hard chargers will love the 90’s hefty, powerful, damp vibe, and the metal-reinforced construction feels especially rugged and durable. Like the Flite, it’s also one of the better values in the test. “Built for the all-mountain ripper: stable, solid and well balanced, though you have to be ready to work a little,” said Scholey.
Was it just three years ago that Line was the scrappy little independent brand with way more passion than market share? Times have changed, though certainly the marketing muscle of parent company K2 must have helped. The twin-tipped Prophets have been tester favorites all along. The Flite is a lightened version of the 90 (a former category winner), ranking No. 3 for Forgiveness. Some testers wanted more edge-grip, but the price is certainly right, and Line still ranks No. 1 in street cred, whether it’s for you or your teenager. “A solid bump ski, quick in the trees, even moonlights in crud; was a joy,” said Malone.