If the conditions are soft—spring corn, slush bumps, or eight inches or more of powder—Rossi’s T4 lets you make easy-going S-curves. Push the speedometer too high, though, or venture onto firmer terrain, and the T4 feels a tad mushy. Gripes: Aside from standard turn shapes, the T4 lacks pizzazz. Props: Forgiving enough for less aggressive skiers—or primo conditions.
Test lengths (cm): 178, 185
Tip/waist/tail (mm): 122/94/112
K2 Hippy Stinx
The Hippy—with studded tips and skull graphics—isn’t what you’d call subtle. And it skis the way it looks: If you like to make long-radius, fall-line arcs or need to bomb over uneven terrain, there’s no beefier platform. Gripes: Too clunky for steep, tight turns. Props: Heading out to cat or heli ski? These can handle it.
Test lengths (cm): 179, 189
Tip/waist/tail (mm): 125/95/118
Fischer Big Stix 10.6
The dimensions say it all: The Big Stix is wide enough to float over anything from Wasatch chalk dust to Cascade cement. Turn initiations and transitions require some muscle; big mountain arcs are effortless. Gripes: So fat, some skiers may have to adjust their stance to extra-wide. Props: With a light Air Carbon-and- wood core, it’s more agile than it looks.
Test length (cm): 180
Tip/waist/tail (mm): 135/106/123
Black Diamond Havoc
With a shapely sidecut and dual bow-shaped ribs implanted in the construction for reinforced stiffness, the Havoc has a versatile balance of power and snap for precise turn execution at high speeds. The shovel is big enough to power through the worst crud. Gripes: Some testers felt they were a bit “heavy and “sluggish. Props: Twin tips let you ride switch—and help you shimmy down narrow chutes.
Test lengths (cm): 173, 183
Tip/waist/tail (mm): 122/88/114