In this year's Race Ski category, there's a clear division between those models that can perform well in the gates and are then enjoyable to ski elsewhere on the mountain (listed here under "Race Skis Plus") and those skis that should probably be restricted to the racecourse ("Strictly Race").
On average, the slalom skis and the combination or dual-event race skis are shorter, softer and lighter, with sidecuts that split the difference between slalom and GS. The result is balanced control, quickness and maneuverability, which translates into more fun in the course and greater versatility elsewhere on the hill. Testers found that these skis do not sacrifice speed in the course by being more versatile on the mountain.
Skis of the Strictly Race ilk, by comparison, are too stiff and powerful for all-mountain play, and are best applied to training and racing. Except for the K2 slalom, they're all GS skis. They're designed for racers old enough to be allowed two pairs of race skis-one for slalom and one for GS.
$475. 104-63-91. 125-135 cm.
One of the most popular skis in the test, this dual-event race ski specializes in fun. It's responsive to the input of experienced racers but forgiving of mistakesas well, with a ride that's predictably smooth and stable throughout the turn. Win a race in the morning; rip the trees and bumps in the afternoon. "You'll be fast and have fun anywhere."
Salomon Equipe 10T 3V
$425. 114-63-96 (at 140 cm). 120-150 cm.
Quick, light and easy, Salomon's junior slalom race ski is exceptionally versatile. It has the control and stability to take you for a ride in the gates (slalom or GS), yet its quick reaction time can make you a legend off the race hill, too. It's also forgiving enough for beginner racers, especially the 120-cm length ($395), which comes without a plate."I hated to stop skiing on it."
Và–lkl P60 SC Race Stock Jr.
$450. 105-63-90 or 110-63-95. 130-148 cm.
The Völkl junior slalom ski is a carving machine: Tight turns are easy, thanks to the deep sidecut and soft flex of this ski. But it's also comfortable in long GS turns, making it a stealth dual-event choice. It's fun in the course, fun in the bumps and fun just playing around."It's like speeding down the mountain on a rocket."
$289. 100-62-91. 115-140 cm.
Here's an Atomic that every level of racer can appreciate. Lots of sidecut makes for quick and easy turns. A narrow waist means good edge-grip. And it's light enough for younger racers, yet still packs the unmistakable punch of an Atomic race ski. "It holds in tough spots and floats over rough spots."
Fischer Competition Jr.
$350. 110-63-92. 118-148 cm.
Older racers will want the full-on GS and slalom models, but the Competition Jr. straddles the fence nicely for younger or less aggressive racers looking for a two-event ski. It can handle GS, slalom and the entire hill. The 118- and 123-cm lengths ($295) come without the plate that gives the longer lengths more stability. "An all-mountain race ski on Red Bull."
Head World Cup SL Team
$355. 110-63-96. 121-151 cm
Here's an exciting combination of energy and strength. The SL Team is quick from edge to edge, yet has heft for a fast, stable ride in the gates. It holds on the ice and gives back what you put into it. But beware: You have to stay on top of it. "This ski turns so quick it seems alive."
$665*. 107-64-90. 130-148 cm.
Versatile and easy. It takes almost no effort to make this ski work. It will put a new racer into the game or reward a top racer with excellent performance. It has a soft, easy feel that builds confidence, and enough performance to grow with."It does what a racer wants it to."*130-cm length ($325) comes without plate.
Rossignol 9S Racing Jr.
$469. 115-65-90. 130-150 cm
Rossi's junior slalom ski comes with a llightweight plate for increased power and leverage. It's balanced and damp, and its deep slalom sidecut is a good match for new and younger racers. It's quick and easy to control at any speed. "From NASTAR to Nor-Ams."