It’s one of those mornings. You open the shade before the sun comes up and look up to the street light. Flakes are coming down in thick, fluttering clumps. The blacktop turned to tundra. The “no friends” mantra doesn’t work with your crew; everyone knows the drill. You might hike today. You might get first dibs on a rope drop. Anything goes, everybody’s ready. In your pack, you have the essentials. Just in case. You’re yearning for something bigger today, something to remember. It’s time to emulate your favorite skier, to charge like the pros.
Blizzard Rustler 11
Unless you’ve been posted up under a rock, you’ve probably seen a few rippers tearing apart your local mountain on the Rustler 11, one of the best powder skis of the year. Blizzard’s iconic orange power house is a tried-and-true weapon for those who seek a stiffer freeride ski that will hold up into the twelfth round. As one tester proclaimed, “It has more confidence than me… every time. I’m never worried if the Rustler 11 is going to respond or hold. It’s a workhorse.” Built with integrity by Blizzard’s top-tier engineers, the ski’s wood-carbon fiber-metal layup is tuned for precise freeriding, adding stability rarely found in a ski with a tip-tail rocker profile. It’s a battle-tested ski that can tame it all, from Alta to Les Arcs, and everywhere in between.
Sleek. Stable. Stylish. Salomon. If they all start with the same letter, they must go together. Salomon’s QST Blank, one of the best powder skis of the year, became an easy favorite among our testers, and it’s one of the best powder skis of the year for good reason. It’s a weapon of choice for, and was metaphorically and literally shaped by the riding of Salomon athletes Stan Ray, Chris Rubens, and Cody Townsend. The QST Blank utilizes a full poplar core with tip and tail rocker, making it an ideal freeride and all-mountain ski for when the snow starts falling, and it generated glowing reviews from our testers in deep snow conditions. “So sick! Stable at high speeds and definitely boosted my ego,” said one of our young guns. “Hopped on and felt right at home.” Take it from us, this is a ski that will play all day long in the deep end and won’t beat you up when the choppy stuff comes out.
Atomic Bent 110
Chris Benchetler—without a doubt, one of the most recognizable names in the sport. Whether you know him for stomping in-sane drops, creating beautiful artworks or for laying down glowing lines set to classic Dead tunes… you know his name. The Atomic Bent 120 and its previous iterations as the Bent Chetler became iconic pow skis over the past decade-plus. But when Benchetler isn’t riding blower pow, his go-to ski is now the Bent 110. The Bent 110 remains lightweight thanks to the beveled HRZN Tech tip and tail as well as its feathery poplar core. Its directional shape with rocker in the tip and tail and camber underfoot ensures stability through variable conditions and the Dura Cap sidewall provides excellent grip on hardpack, adding do-it-all prowess. “I design every ski with a level of authenticity to what I need and what I want out of my skiing,” Benchetler said. “Since I’m based in Mammoth, I had the Eastern Sierra in mind for this ski. But the more I ski it and the more I get feedback on it, I think it works really well anywhere.” This winter, you can decide for yourself.
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Legendary skier Eric “Hoji” Hjorleifson has worked tirelessly over several years to sculpt the Hoji into his ski of choice. With the help of 4FRNT’s team of astute engineers, the Hoji has become a trusted ski for many who seek big lines and high speeds. As is featured in several of 4FRNT’s masterpieces, the Hoji uses an aspen/maple core with carbon fiber stringers to strategically place strength and stability throughout the ski, without the weight that similar options add. “Unbelievably stable. Incredible responsiveness. Absolute charger of a ski,” said ski tester and mustached gentleman, Ian Doherty. At 112 mm underfoot, this ski is an ideal balance of stability and float. Built with enough rocker to float in the fresh, yet still maneuverable and stable enough to completely hold up under less favorable conditions, this namesake ski is the one Hoji trusts for his most far-out missions.
Black Crows Anima
Designed and tested in Chamonix, the Anima reflects where it came from. What we have here is a big mountain driver that can perform as any freeride skier would demand. Trusted by Freeride World Tour Champion Kristoffer Turdell, the Anima is equipped to tackle high speeds in a variety of conditions, while still catering to skiers who see the mountain as a playground. Our testers declared, “the Anima is an absolute mobber of a ski. It doesn’t want to turn much. No, it wants to choose the fastest way down the mountain, popping off a few side hits on the way. Strength and grace rolled into one.” It’s built with a poplar and fiberglass core, short camber underfoot and double rocker. These attributes amount to progressive flex where you need it in the tip and tail, and stability at the contact points underfoot. For the skier who wants to rip the steeps with speed and let loose on natural features all the way down.
Black Diamond Impulse 112
Bringing technical knowledge from years of developing backcountry planks, Black Diamond has created a versatile weapon in the Impulse 112. A poplar core with full ABS sidewalls ensure increased power and torsional stiffness, meaning this ski is a joy to ride when you turn on the jets, and its 112-mm footprint provides angelic float on bottomless days. When the snow is soft, the Impulse’s versatility shines. As one tester put it, “this ski is perfect for big mountains, cliffs, pow days, bumps, you name it. It tracked so well while carving on groomers, crushed landings and was still super playful.” Black Diamond has a reputation for making durable and dependable gear, and the Austrian-built Impulse 112 is shaping up to be a freeride ski longtime fans of the brand will be proud to ride.
Head Kore 111
There are plenty of important metrics when deciding if you should cop a new pair of planks, but when one ski has support like the team riding the Kore 111 it’s never a bad sign. Head worked specifically with its team of riders, including Cole Richardson, Hedvig Wessel and others to bring this ski to life. The Kore 111 features tip/tail rocker with a karuba-poplar wood core that floats like a boat through calm waters and will still plow through the chop. At the end of the day, it isn’t built to dink around on mellow terrain. No, this ski was conceived to glide through the pillows of Western Canada or paint huge lines on the high faces of the Alps. It’s a ski that makes deep snow and steep terrain feel easier than it should.
Rossignol Sender Squad
One length. One mission. Send it. The Sender Squad is an unbelievably reliable tool for those who seek a stiffer ski that will carry them through crud, powder, groomers and back again, twice over, uphill, backwards through a snowstorm. Titanal specifically placed underfoot ensures reliable stability at every turn. “Took ‘em in tight trees, cliffs, hard bumps, and groomers. Didn’t struggle with any of it,” said our testers. “They definitely have no max speed, and hold and edge like a well-tuned Super G ski. I love the slight tail tip so it doesn’t feel as grabby.” Take this baddie to the biggest lines, the fastest speeds, the steepest drops, and just like us, you’ll find yourself thankful that you had such a trusty stallion beneath your feet.
Scott Pure Pow 115
A powder hound of a ski with the agility and weight of an all-mountain twig. Impossible, you say? The mad scientists in the lab at Scott would beg to differ. Scott’s Pure Pow 115 was designed to float through the deepest days you’ll ever encounter. Its 23 m turn radius suggests that it thrives on the large steep faces, yet its lightweight construction gives it the nimble and responsive feel that you need when navigating back to the car after a long stint of riding. Before you mention it, yes, this ski still maintains the stability you depend on; accomplished using sandwich sidewall construction and layering carbon stringers with paulownia wood through the core. The result is a ski that will blow you away with how efficient it is, especially for its size.“A joy to ski in powder! The weight to power ratio is incredibly impressive.”
Majesty Havoc Ti
MAJESTY IS A BRAND THAT IS TURNING HEADS IN THE NORTH AMERICAN SKI SCENE. The brand hails from southern Poland, where its engineers use the region’s rugged and steep mountains to test new creations. The Havoc Ti is the brand’s daily driver and features an all-new, four-radius sidecut and four-radius rocker profile. Titanal strips layered with a poplar and ash wood core give way to a beautiful combination of strength and versatility. This ski isn’t here to noodle around, it’s here to take care of business and get you down the hill with speed and control. Our testers were excited at how well the Havoc Ti tamed the wild slopes of Jackson Hole. “A fantastic ski that floats exceptionally well, turns effortlessly and performs beyond expectations. Majesty is stepping up to the f*ckin’ plate!” The Havoc Ti is a ski with enough dexterity to make it through technical terrain, with the backbone and stability to allow you to make dreamy turns down the biggest faces.
RMU North Shore 114
The North Shore 114 is a brand-new addition to RMU’s lineup. The widest underfoot in the series, it’s a ski that will surprise you with how agile it is, especially for its size. RMU worked closely with its athletes and staff to create a freeride masterpiece, and clearly the R&D paid off. One tester raved that this was, “[My] favorite ski of the test. So nimble while turning, carried speed well, and felt absolutely solid in everything from chunder to powder at high speeds. Super soft landings too for such a hard charging ski.” Featuring an ABS sidewall and a poplar core, the North Shore 114 will float like a butterfly and carve like a bee. Plus, RMU has included a thin felt layer between “unlike material” in its wood construction to increase the durability and adhesion of the materials. It’s a small adjustment, but one that can make a large difference when it comes to holding on to the gear you care about. For a nimble ski that can tackle soft snow with ease, RMU’s all new North Shore 114 will do no wrong; one of the best powder skis of the year.
Life begins in a powder turn. Dreams realized in a fleeting moment. Light to the touch, the snow consumes you. You scored. Just like they do in the movies. The lights go out. Full immersion. Then a breath. Up for air. Wipe the goggles. Prepare to dive. In and out you go, floating, bopping, plowing through the White Room. There isn’t a key, not even a door.
It’s out of a fantasy tale, how you find it. Some spend their whole lives trying to recreate its ecstasy. Some days it lands in your lap. Other times it’s just out of reach; those days you’re stuck dreaming, waiting, yearning for the next chance. When it comes, you’ll be ready.
Armada Whitewalker 121
Armada’s Whitewalker 121 is specially designed with Sammy Carlson’s input, forged to provide the ultimate surf experience when Mother Nature delivers the goods. No wonder it earned top spot in our list of the best powder skis of the year. What sets this ski apart is the dexterity that it provides. “If you’re looking for a pow ski for the deepest days, this is the one for you. Super soft, super buttery, honestly a beast of a ski. “Stellar at slaying pow,” says our testing cohort. Thanks to the ultralight caruba wood core, you get a ski that’s dependable and stable, while remaining super light and maneuverable. The root of this ski’s greatness lies in its AR Freestyle Rocker build, a staple of many Armada freestyle skis; underfoot you’ll find positive camber that will let you engage your turns when needed, but exaggerated rockered tip and tails allow for the float and schmear you need when the flakes just won’t let up.
Elan Ripstick 116
Designed to be an all-mountain assassin for deep days, the widest Ripstick in the collection delivers on all counts. Elan’s Vapor Inserts in the tip shed unnecessary weight in an area that needs no bulk, and supply you with smooth float when you venture into deeper conditions. The skis are also specially designed for the right and left feet, meaning your inside edges are fitted with more camber to grab an edge with ease, and the outside edges are more rockered. This gives the Ripstick 116 a remarkable ability to transition from groomers to powder without flinching—making it one of the best powder skis this winter. Derek DiPiero took them out after 20 inches fell overnight in Jackson, and his words will take us home: “If you think it’s weird seeing left- or right-specific skis, someday it will seem weird to see anything else. This is a great innovation that other brands would benefit from implementing. You lose almost nothing as far as stability, but you gain reactiveness that is so crucial when you get into a tight spot.”
Icelantic Saba Pro 117
The Saba Pro 117 isn’t your ordinary powder ski; it’s one of the best powder skis of the season. It was designed in collaboration with Icelantic’s team of riders, all coming together to create the ski of their dreams. They demanded a ski that would be playful enough for creative freeride pursuits, stable enough to stomp larger landings without getting squirrely and surfy enough to have fun and make the most out of deep conditions. The Reflective Rocker mirrors the sidecut, which allows the skier to engage the entire edge and find power when they need it. It’s a ski that allows you to paint your own line with poppy persistence. Our testers took note of this, saying that the Saba is one of the best iterations of a full rocker ski they’ve ridden. “It’s stable, predictable, slashy and fun. The forgiving tail made the ski feel maneuverable, but at no point does it lose its floaty nature.” Icelantic promised a ski that would satisfy and it delievered.
Fischer Ranger 116
Over the last two-plus years, Fischer has worked with its entire team of athletes and dedicated engineers to redefine the Ranger series. With the goal of expanding the capabilities of each ski, the 116 was crafted into a powder ski that can take on much more than the deep stuff, making it one of the best powder skis of the year. A poplar/beech wood core and sandwich sidewall construction create a ski that is stable and can charge, yet playful when you want to schmear and pop. Our testers were electric in their comments about the ski. “Absolute charger of a ski. Honestly the most fun I’ve had on a ski all day. More, more, more! Didn’t want to clip out.” If you seek a pair of twigs that will give you the confidence to hit the turbo engines, crush through crud and keep you afloat in the deepest snow around, the Fischer Ranger 116 is a ski that will do you no wrong.
Atomic Bent Chetler 120
The original Grand Daddy of Atomic’s Bent family, the Bent 120, one of the best powder skis of the year (again), has been the building block for Atomic’s entire freeride collection. Like coming home to Mama’s fresh baked pie, our testers were thrilled to click into this iconic ski. “The Bent 120 is such a fun ski. Stiffer underfoot and softer in the tip and tail. Great combo between playful and stable. Energetic in and out of the turn, and easy to initiate.” Atomic’s HRZN Tech in the tip and tail make the ski easier to butter and press, and also gives you 10 percent more surface area without adding any width or weight to the ski. This means you’ll be gliding through blower powder with less effort and more efficiency, saving precious energy for your next deep snow maneuver. And while it is a softer freestyle ski at heart, the Bent 120 is no pushover. The skis’ carbon backbone offers enough power underfoot, while leaving you a softer tip and tail for your creative pursuits. If you’re looking for a ski that will let you ski powder with a freestyle surfy feel, the Bent 120 is just the pair of planks for you.
RMU Professor 121
RMU has resurrected the Professor from beyond the grave! One of RMU’s original powder skis—first built back in 2009—the team dug out the blueprints, pinged team athlete Benny Smith to help with the redesign and went to work redefining this OG. Benny’s skiing is playful, energetic and graceful, and the updated Professor 121 is designed to accommodate this craftsman’s taste. Camber underfoot with a rockered tip and tail give this ski a beautiful balance of playfulness, float and responsiveness. “Smooth operators. These skis were soaking up the bumps. Floats dreamily in the powder and quite stable at speed. Good for someone who is trying to be buttery smooth.” As we heard from the guys and girls who tested these out on the hill, it’s a silky-riding powder ski, built to facilitate the prettiest deep turns a skier can find.
K2 Mindbender 116C
Designed to pay homage to K2’s hard-charging, freeride roots, the Mindbender series has been a success for over three years now. The 116C is the most powder-hungry member of the collection—designed for strong skiers to bolt lines on the biggest mountains in the world. Built with Spectral Braid Technology, a fiber reinforcement woven at specific angles atop the wood core that allows for precision tuned torsion and flex, the 116C is responsive and firm, yet floaty and fun. And we don’t say that lightly. As our testers couldn’t help but notice how easily this ski maneuvered around the hill, “Melted my mind with the versatility. Felt like I could do anything with ease.” Here we have a more directional ski that will give more advanced skiers the stability they depend on. Able to run with the best of ‘em, the Mindbender 116C is a workhorse that will bring you the good times on a silver platter.
Season Eqpt. Forma
From the mind of legendary ski industry pioneer Eric Pollard comes the Forma, Season Eqpt’s powder-surfing weapon of choice and one of the best powder skis of the year. It’s a carving machine turned surfy skiers dream, and our crew was quick to notice how fun it was after a storm in Jackson. “As close to a perfect ski as you’ll find. It carves, pops, pivots—literally anything you want it to do. This ski is a total people-pleaser.” The first thing that stands out for the Forma is its fishtail design. Less surface area in the tails makes it easier for the tip of the ski to rise up and float through snow, and this effect runs through every turn you’ll make. Landing off larger cliffs into bottomless snow becomes easier as your tips gently rise with the reduced surface of the tail and deep turns become cleaner when your tips effortlessly rise to the surface. Built to last with a unisex and forever cool, all-black design, Forma is a work of art.
Rossignol BlackOps 118
Parker White and Tatum Monod use this ski to pillage stacks and booters from Mt. Baker to interior British Columbia—heard enough yet? A poplar wood core and rectangular sidewalls formulate a ski that will do the hard-charging skier looking for a great balance of freestyle and big mountain well. Jackson Hole proved to be the perfect testing ground for this ski, especially after two feet of fresh. It was a crowd favorite among our testers, “super fun, playful and hard-charging pow ski, absolutely perfect for Jackson. The Black Ops 118 is the ski to stomp your every hit! Super fun freeride ski that can maneuver tight turns but also blast through anything at full speed.” This burly rider is one of the best powder skis, and is best suited at high speeds in deep snow; a more aggressive skier will have their best days out on these sticks, we guarantee it. And with art work as tasteful as the ski itself, you’ll be pleased with this Rossignol classic.