Stay perfectly centered. Balanced skiers only. Serious muscle-and lung capacity-required. Sound like a cross between a yoga retreat and boot camp? Nah. It's just that today's slalom skis are demanding, powerful, race-ready machines, and you need to be prepared for 'em. Buyer, be warned.
1) ATOMIC: SL:11M
$1,328 (WITH BINDING); 106/64/95; 14.5 M
BEST IN TEST
The SL steers so powerfully into turns, it's like Atomic put 19-inch wheels and wide rubber on it. Received one of the highest overall scores ever.
None, except we couldn't keep them.
Frighteningly quick and powerful, the SL goes right where you point it.
"Too good to be legal. The umps will check to see if this one's corked." -
2) FISCHER: WORLDCUP SL
$1,300 (WITH BINDING); 115/64/100; 13 M
As powerful as the Atomic, but with a heavier feel that our bigger pros lauded. The tail is especially energetic and demanding-it could easily launch those caught unawares.
If you're not perfectly centered, you'll get tossed.
Balanced skiers with serious muscle endurance would be hard-pressed to find a better slalom stick.
"Take two maximum-strength SLs for fast, effective slalom podium relief." -
3) NORDICA: DOBERMANN SLR
$895; 114/64/100; 13 M
The Dobie SLR's huge torque reserves can pummel icy man-made snow into submission. The tip is very active, which makes across-the-hill acceleration instantaneous. GRIPES: Play slacker for a millisecond and you'll be tossed off the back. PROPS: No feathering the arc with these uncompromising Dobies. It's a pure, locked-on carve at all times. TESTER'S TAKE: "Hangs on through the turn like a guard dog on a thief's ankle, then releases on command." -Mike Britt
4) ROSSIGNOL: 9S WORLD CUP
$1,079; 117/65/105; 12 M
The 9S is one of the most powerful skis in the group, but it smothers vibrations so well that it turns cleanly and precisely at all times. Edging is solid and sure, and it sticks like glue on ice. GRIPES: A bit sluggish for those who prefer a snappy slalom ski. PROPS: A deep flex provides constant grip. TESTER'S TAKE: "Maintains contact like a magnet on a steel mountain." -Jenn Gibbons
5) VIST: PRO SL
$1,600 (WITH BINDING, NOT SHOWN); 117/65/101; 14.5 M
Vist's debut slalom board has a near-ideal combo of flex and stability. The flex is deep and easy and makes the ski feel quick and shorter than it is. GRIPES: The Pro SL's subtlety can be lost on larger skiers who like to load up the ski for a big release. PROPS: The category's most accessible and user-friendly ski. TESTER'S TAKE: "More brains than brawn; a very intuitive way to manage the racecourse." -Nicole Pelletier
6) Và–LKL: RACETIGER SL
$1,200; 119/66/102; 13 M
Tapping into the Racetiger's energy is as easy as rolling your ankles. The tip engages immediately and then rockets you across the fall line. Stay balanced and the acceleration will astound you. GRIPES: Sheer, icy stretches tended to induce a chatter or two. PROPS: The Racetigers encourage an economical, centered body position while they move like wipers on high speed underneath you. TESTER'S TAKE: "Throw away the race videos; these skis teach you advanced slalom tactics." -Hilary Webb