The gals are meeting you at Chair Two for laps before the daily grind. A frontside, romp-around kinda morning with your favorite people. No new snow, but that’s alright—you’re looking forward to the crisp air. It’s better than a cup of coffee. Those freshly groomed T-to-Bs and your favorite link-it-up through the trees. You’re feeling antsy. Ready to let gravity take over.
You’re the skier who craves the movement and loves to fly; intuitive, precise, uninhibited. Today, you’ll feel strong through your turns. You’ll venture into the glades and navigate moguls with grace. You’ll go faster than your friends; they won’t keep up. Not today, not with these skis.
K2 Mindbender 89Ti W
Three years ago, K2 launched the Mindbender collection of skis and boots and it reinvigorated the brand’s freeride roots. The collection could conquer the entire mountain, but did so with a playful nature that freeskiers—like you, the readers of this magazine—couldn’t quite find. Now, for 2022-23, K2 has refined the entire Mindbender lineup for men and women, with the 89Ti receiving the most significant update… The 89Ti W is a ski that ladies should reach for in between storm cycles, or if they live in a region where it doesn’t snow all that much. During FREESKIER’s Ski Test, skiers enjoyed cornering on groomers and utilized the ski’s playfulness in soft snow. The new changes allowed the ski to compete with other frontside-focused skis yet, most importantly, maintained the versatility and fun our testers covet.
READ THE FULL DEEP DIVE REVIEW — [ CLICK HERE ]
Nordica Unleashed 98 W
All-new to the Nordica brand this year, the Unleashed 98 W is thoughtfully designed to put your creativity in the driver’s seat. A steeper angle in the shovel and tail gives this ski the agility to play all over the mountain—switch or regular—while it still holds its own in tricky conditions thanks to a single layer of terrain-specific metal atop a poplar and beech wood core. “The speed and stability of this ski is unmatched,” raves tester Kristin Bersani. The ladies also couldn’t help but notice how the ski’s light weight played a key role in its exceptional pop off of side hits. Fresh from the trusted engineers at Nordica, we’re certain that longtime fans of the brand will be clamoring to get their hands on this freeride-focused speedster.
Kore 97 W
Dubbed the “purest Kore yet” by the brand, this year’s iteration of the popular series replaces bulkier materials with a layer of carbon to save grams and increase consistency in performance. But don’t let its featherweight fool you—this ski’s backbone can stand up to the roughest snowpacks. “From knee deep pow, to ice-covered moguls and fast groomers, this ski was a pleasure to ski,” attests Resnick, a former Crested Butte ski patroller. While its wider sister is designed for a more surfy and playful feel, the 97 focuses on precision and stiffness to provide a reliable ride for ladies who like to lay ‘em over. “The playful tip of this ski is inviting to any conditions” adds veteran FREESKIER tester Michelle Cox.
K2 Mindbender 99Ti W
Like a best friend, K2’s Mindbender 99Ti W is the kind of ski you always want to have around, no matter which resort you choose to shred. Snowed a few inches overnight? Get it, girl! The low, gradual rise in the tip and tail, paired with its modest waist width provide enough of a platform to float your way to true bliss. Hasn’t snowed in days? Even better. Traditional camber underfoot ensures a strong edge hold on even the firmest of snowpacks while the Titanal Y-Beam construction keeps chatter to a minimum at high speeds. “The ski threw a hammer,“ gushes Jackson Hole-based tester Tami Razinger about her new girl crush. “It slayed through chunky pow and sliced through groomers.” Ladies looking for a dose of metal and a confident ride, saddle up on the Mindbender 99 Ti W.
Faction Dancer 2X
Everything you need to know about Factions brand-new Dancer 2X is in the name. Light on its feet, maneuverable on the floor, stable and powerful for the big finale. If you ask first-year tester Emma Getsinger she’ll tell you, “LOVE LOVE LOVE! So fun in all conditions. From chunder to pow, ice, hardpack or sludge, it’s so dependable.” Two razor-thin sheets of metal sandwich a poplar wood core for a playful, energetic and incredibly stable feel in a ridiculously nimble package. A 96-mm waist and a touch of rocker account for its versatility and ability to bounce on top of the choppy stuff, making this ski at home wherever you want to take it. No matter how you like to ‘get down,’ the Dancer 2X gives you the confidence to make your moves.
Dynastar E-Pro 99
The E-Pro is lively, smooth and predictable, able to hold an edge on crust, and capable of punching through crud—guaranteeing your enjoyment in all weather. Using a Hybrid Core, Dynastar designed the E-Pro so that it was able to absorb vibrations and deflections, giving you trust when you need it the most. The part that really impressed our testers the most was how a ski designed to charge hard and be stable at speed also felt light, nimble and extremely quick edge-to-edge, especially in tighter terrain. Most skis are able to excel at one or the other, but the E-Pro is smooth and damp, without losing much of its energy in the process.
This duality makes the E-Pro forgiving for a ski that excels on-piste. It’s best suited for technical skiers and hard-chargers who know how to rip, and we think it will be a quality addition to any skier’s quiver… that is, if you’re someone who wants to arc big turns and charge fast downhill.
READ THE FULL DEEP DIVE REVIEW — [ CLICK HERE ]
QST Lumen 98
Slimmed down this season, Salomon’s QST Lumen 98 is drawing attention in the industry with its all-around shape change and minty-fresh paint job. The skis’ early-tapered tip and freeride-focused rocker profile keep you afloat when you want to ditch the groomers, while it’s interior construction, featuring a layer of woven carbon/flax and cork in the tip and tail, keep chatter quiet and the cruise controlled. A dramatic change in turn-radius—down to 15 m from last year’s 19 m—elevates this ski’s versatility and creates a massive shift in its precision, especially in terrain where quick’n’sassy pivots are mandatory. Reliable and oh so lively. These skis will make even the dullest of days memorable. “Carves effortlessly and can be trusted in moguls and pow, alike,” comments Utah-based Anna Tedesco. This is definitely one of the best women’s skis of the year; we expect this ski to be spotted in lift lines around the country.
Rossignol Black Ops 98 W
When Rossignol started leaning on the expertise of its athletes, like Tatum Monod, to design its freeride-centric skis, the brand created a lineup of ripping planks that successfully achieve the right balance of power and play. Just under 100-mm in the waist, this skis is designed for those days when it hasn’t snowed, but you’re still looking to get creative on side hits, in the park or maybe even in the streets. A twin tip design allows for smooth butters and confident switch skiing while a poplar wood core accounts for this ski’s pension to fly, making it one of the best women’s skis of the year. Camber underfoot provides enough grip for ripping groomers and icy halfpipe walls, too. “I love that it’s damp yet playful enough for butters; it’s not going to punish you for slarving,” says Sidney Rickets. Daily driver, engage.
Elan Ripstick 94 W Black Edition
The newest member of the Ripstick family, the Ripstick 94 W Black Edition brings Elan’s pedal-to-the-metal QuadRod construction to the ladies collection. Featuring four carbon tubes that bolster the ski’s precision without adding significant weight, this ski shines in the firm stuff. “This ski carves through hardpack like a hot knife through butter, but that added carbon takes the stability up to the next level. Lay ‘em over and let the ski do the rest. Once you set the carve, there’s nothing knocking this ski off the tracks,” say the FREESKIER testers. The maneuverable, 94-mm waist allows you to roll effortlessly from edge-to-edge while maintaining the comfort of all-terrain control, no matter what gear you shift into.
Völkl Kenja 88
“I Kenja believe how great these skis arc!” Get it?! The new and visibly integrated Tailored Carbon Tips on the frontside-focused Kenja deliver highly effective turn initiation, as if your brain’s cerebellum is communicating with your skis telepathically. Featuring Völkl’s powerful Tailored Titanal Frame, partnered with a multi-radius sidecut, this ski is quick to anticipate the next turn. The Kenja 88 is one of the best women’s skis of the year and offers unwavering stability which makes it a great choice not only for ex-racers, but for ladies who like to link long and reliable turns from top-to-bottom. This ski will be coveted by devotees of Vonn and Shiffrin, but is also a great option for an intermediate skier looking to advance their skills on-piste.
Bigger mountains deserve bigger skis. You’re living out West and sub-100 mm seems too narrow for your dream lines. But you’re also hungry for everything, a taste of the entire mountain. Laps one, two and three are the warm-ups, per usual. Laying over wide turns across the entire pitch. Snow falls at one-inch per hour; minimal buildup, but enough to toss around. It’ll stay cloudy, so maybe the trees will be better. Yeah, the trees will be better.
Friends call out from the lift as you’re dipping into your next turn—two more and you’re hopping through a mogul field and into the ungroomed. That’s where you play, the in-between. If it snows a foot tomorrow, you already know where you’ll head first. But, right now, you’re dipping into a pocket that someone hasn’t found yet. It’s soft. You float through it and ride on, flowing.
Black Crows Atris Birdie
Returning to the pages of our coveted Buyer’s Guide, the Atris Birdie is truly one of the best women’s skis of the year, soaring to the top of the rankings thanks to the subtle yet significant design tweaks from the perfectionists over at Black Crows. Need a ski that can hover in powder and still hold up on the hard pack? What about stability at speed and quick-pivot maneuverability? The engineers thought of everything, including a double rocker profile paired with a slightly straighter sidecut and traditional all-mountain camber, for those exact reasons. Tester Katie Hitchcock couldn’t help but flock to this bird, “If I could only have one ski, ever, this would be it.” With a do-anything, 105-mm waist, the Atris Birdie shines in bigger terrain where anything is possible on the way down.
Blizzard Sheeva 10
It’s hard to know exactly how the conditions are going to be on any given day. Instead of worrying about what skis to bring, just get yourself a pair of Sheeva 10s from Blizzard, one of the best women’s skis of the year. Designed for freeride-focused ladies, the Sheeva 10 is unchanged for 2023 yet still adored for its versatile 102-mm waist width and incredibly stable Titanal layer underfoot. Whether Mother Nature delivers chalky groomers, a few inches of fresh or days-old leftovers, this ski is always the right tool for the job. Tester Michelle Cox attests, “It’s a stiff ripper on groomers, a slasher in the moguls and totally competent in the deep.” We’re not saying you should only bring one ski with you on vacation but, if you have to, this will be an easy choice.
Icelantic Nia Pro 105
When Icelantic set out to develop its first women’s pro model ski, the brand asked its female athletes what their dream ski would look like when it came to dimensions, flex, materials and artwork. What those pros wanted and what eventually became the Nia Pro was not a big, burly, cambered ski with two sheets of metal for only the most aggressive skiers around. No, the Nia Pro is a fully rockered, playful ski set at 105-mm underfoot that loves to carve thanks to its Reflective Rocker sidecut. The Nia Pro’s Reflective Rocker means that the full rocker profile mirrors the sidecut radius. This makes for a ski that can be playful and surfy but also a powerful tool to charge because you’re able to engage the entire edge. Combine that with a relatively stiff flex, and the ski remains stable at speed and provides a solid platform for stomping landings.
READ THE FULL DEEP DIVE REVIEW — [ CLICK HERE ]
Faction Mana 3X
Brand-new to Faction’s mix of skis, the Mana 3X is part of the lightest twin-tip freestyle series the brand has to offer. Bold enough to walk the line between all-mountain and backcountry, the Mana 3X is one of the best women’s skis of the year and floats, pops, slashes and carves literally all over the mountain. The ski’s incredibly light weight can be attributed to its poplar wood core and will keep your legs feeling fresh from sunrise to sunset. Specific reinforcements in key areas, including extra-durable edges and a carbon-and-rubber stomp pad underfoot provide unquestionable reliability when you need to put the landing gear down. Ladies who have a pension for throwing big 360s, backflips and skiing switch, take note. Anna Tedesco will tell ya it’s “an intuitive ski that is equally playful and aggressive.”
Line Pandora 110
To understand who Line’s Pandora collection was made for, it’s important to note who designed it. Hadley Hammer grew up skiing Jackson Hole and now spends her days exploring the Austrian Alps. She needs a ski that pairs touring qualities with versatile performance capabilities; enter the Pandora 110. Utilizing the brand’s triple hybrid core construction of carbon, fiberglass and aramid, the Pandora 110 can cut through the crap without weighing you down in the process. A Jill of all trades, this ski can just as easily surf deep pow as it can react edge-to-edge in chunder due to its refined rocker profile, adaptable tapering and functional 110-mm waist. Sidney Ricketts gives her stamp of approval, saying “It’s a fun, schmeary ski that rides through chopped pow really well, but can also carve a great turn on firmed snow.”
Faction Dancer 3X
The ideal woman for the Dancer 3X isn’t afraid to go big. She’s fast, she’s feisty and she wants to make her mark on the baddest lines on the mountain. The widest Dancer X of the bunch, this is one of the best women’s skis of the year and boasts a 106-mm waist to provide a wide-enough platform to float like a boat when a big storm rolls through. A sustainably-sourced poplar core sandwiched between two thin sheets of metal creates a perfect balance of weight-savings and easy handling, while also maintaining stability and precise edge hold at ungodly speeds. Tester Sara Dery couldn’t agree more, “This ski crushes terrain and has great connection with the snow.” Anna Tedesco adds, “Stable and easy riding. Boogie on, amigos!”
Fischer Ranger 102
Fischer believes skiing is more than just a lifestyle. Which is why the brand has spent the last two-plus years redeveloping its entire Ranger line with the help of a robust lineup of athletes— Sandra Lahnsteiner, Kyle Smaine and Lynsey Dyer, just to name a few. At 102-mm underfoot, this Ranger 102 is one of the best women’s skis of the year and shines in the versatility category, just as it’s designed. It offers a more playful flex than its skinnier siblings but also boasts a tailored sheet of metal underfoot for added reliability at speed. “Versatile and playful, the new and improved Ranger had my back from railing groomers to searching for leftovers in the trees,” says tester Casey Jillson.
Icelantic Riveter 104
If you’re someone who is constantly pushing the limit of your equipment, seeking bigger lines, faster speeds and opportunities to lay down long, beautiful turns, Icelantic’s Riveter 104 may just be your perfect match. The consensus from our testers is that this ski wants to absolutely charge. A directional rocker profile with 5 mm of camber underfoot allows this ski to accelerate in and out of turns, and its wide, tapered tip blasts through chunder like a wrecking ball. Anna Tedesco says, “The Riveter 104 can rail some beautiful arcs, and when you want to follow the Jackson locals into the backcountry, the wide shovel will keep you afloat through fresh pow turns.” A versatile, performance-oriented ski, the Riveter will have you indulging in turns from top to bottom.
Line Pandora 104
Designed with the same materials and intentions as its big sister, the Pandora 104 is one of the best women’s skis of the year and serves to be just a bit more versatile when conditions are questionable. The 104-mm waist is wide enough to support you in a few inches of fresh snow but it also reduces the sidecut of the ski to make faster and shorter turns. The brand’s proprietary Magic Finger Carbon Filaments give the ski its guts to stand up to unfavorable snowpacks like ice, chunder and overcooked mank for a feel good ride, every ride. “The Pandora 104 is fun, poppy and really easy to maneuver in the bumps,” says Emma Getsinger. “It will give you enough play to enjoy the pow but will also allow you to carve on the groomers or hardpack off trail.”
Icelantic Maiden 111
Don’t let the beautiful butterflies fool you, the Maiden 111 is made to sting like a bee wherever you set your sights on the mountain. While it’s the widest in Icelantic’s freeride-specific collection, the Maiden 111 is one of the best women’s skis of the year and can carve, charge, pivot and play thanks to a touch of camber underfoot and a rockered tip and tail. A Hybrid Flight Core saves weight and increases the ski’s pop for an incredibly fun ride, no matter the conditions. “The Maiden 111 is surfy in powder and light on the feet,” says tester Tami Razinger. For ladies who find themselves venturing off the beaten path to flex their style on big cliffs and natural hits, the Maiden 111 is the multi-functional tool for the radical trade.
This article was originally published by Freeskier.com. Read the original article here.