The best all-mountain skis of 2023

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Your mind goes in two ways: Endlessly playful and forever committed to the turn. You choose both, depending on the day, and have a ski ready to compliment the mindset. Sometimes you opt for metal. For deep, slicing sidecuts and all of the camber. Corduroy is the new black. Laying turns at speed never gets old. Some days, though, you want to flex and press and switch it up. You want to land backwards, try something new in the park. You want to spin and spin and spin; but always close the day with a full crew lap from top-to-bottom.  High-flying or well-grounded, you take the mountain by storm. The frontside won’t look the same.


Rossignol Sender 94 Ti

Nearly a decade ago Rossignol released the ever-popular Soul 7—an all-mountain ski that helped popularize the freeriding movement. The Sender line, the brand’s updated collection based on the Soul program was previously offered in just two models—the 104 Ti and 106 Ti. But it grows by one this season with the introduction of the piste-focused Sender 94 Ti.
Surveying the market, Rossignol knew it needed a mid-90s underfoot ski that did way more than just carve—something with the energy to be able to ski just about anything, anywhere. The outcome is a well-balanced ski that can arc with the best of them but is also playful and maneuverable through bumps and mini-golf style terrain. An expert can really push this ski, but can also enjoy the forgiveness it offers when your dogs start barking.

READ THE FULL DEEP DIVE REVIEW — [ CLICK HERE ]


Blizzard Rustler 9

According to our testers, Blizzard’s Rustler 9 has one speed—Mach 10. “It feels like a Super G ski in disguise,” says East Coast tester Adrian Bouthot. “Any skier will think they can run gates, if they click in here,” adds John Weir. Featuring the brand’s Dynamic Release Technology, coined D.R.T., which increases the ski’s strength and stability without compromising on weight or maneuverability, the limit truly just doesn’t exist here. A 94-mm waist makes this ski ideal for hardpack, frontside laps but the Rustler will do just about anything you want it to. Slice through fresh groomers for breakfast, enjoy the bumps and trees for lunch and hit a little air time for dessert. The Rustler 9 is your ideal all-mountain freeride platter for serving up incredible skiing, no matter the conditions.


J skis The Fastforward

Beefing up its category of planks designed to charge the frontside, J skis has created its most carve-oriented ski to-date. Simply put, The Fastforward rails turns at high speeds. The 92-mm waist is paired with a maple wood core that is sandwiched between narrow Titanal sheets running down the center of the ski, providing grip and power when the ski is laid on-edge, without sacrificing the playful characteristics J skis is known for. Subtle tip rocker keeps moving through the next turn and, unlike The Hotshot or The Masterblaster, The Fastforward doesn’t require you to put every ounce of energy in to get the power out; it wants to do the work for you. Tester Ian Doherty calls The Fastforward “a wicked playful ski you can trust—stiff with loads of pop.” 


Head Oblivion 94

Designed to compliment your personal style,  the Oblivion 94 can (and will) to take on the entire resort. A modest 94-mm waist adds all-mountain versatility to the twin-tip design, whether there’s a new layer of fresh or it hasn’t snowed in weeks, while a sandwich construction wood core charges through beat up crud and provides a friendly landing pad when you want to go big. Reinforced sidewalls and a scratch-resistant topsheet add “bulletproof” to the list of characteristics of this ski, too. Tester and up-and-coming competitive freeride skier Kaz Sosnowski calls the ski, “the perfect ride under 100 mm. Solid through the chunder, stable at speed and playful when you want it to be.” 


Atomic Bent 90

As part of the Bent Chetler family, the Bent 90 delivers the same frisky freeride elements its wider siblings are known for, with a touch more competence on hardback. HRZN Tech in the tip and tail makes floating a possibility on this skinnier platform but it also helps this ski shine when it hasn’t snowed in days. “It easily initiates turns and the tail release is predictable and fun,” says Eric Germann of the Boston-based retailer, The Ski Monster. If you’re someone who carves up the mountain and swings through the park before getting back on the chair, the Bent 90 will deliver day-after-day. Tami Razinger was also excited to get on this ski, commenting “the Bent 90 is super versatile; from sending side hits to charging through powder and variable snow, this ski does it all!”  


Völkl Revolt 95

If you’re someone who loves to play all over the mountain, but find yourself in the park time and time again, Völkl’s Revolt 95 was made just for you. The twin tip design allows for switch takeoffs and landings and more butters than your doctor would like for you to consume but a multi-layer wood core of light and playful poplar, combined with strong beech, provides the stability and strength to lay these puppies over—on groomers or in the pipe. Adrian Bouthot couldn’t help but notice this ski “rips and roars over everything. Poppy and playful but can still lay trenches and offer a stable platform.” Sporting a new graphic, the Revolt 95 looks fresh but still sports all the characteristics aggressive freestyle skiers want, from one of the most trusted builders in the industry.


4FRNT MSP 91

4FRNT’s MSP family gained a little sibling for the 2023 season in the all-new MSP 91. Featuring the same hard-charging capabilities and intuitive ride of its bigger brothers and sister, the MSP 91 is made for those who live and die by the chairlift. This ski shines on the resorts surrounding 4FRNT’s home in Burlington, VT, and is ideal for crushing in-bounds laps on groomed slopes. The 91-mm waist is paired with an aspen wood core and reinforced with maple stringers while Titanal laminates ensure it’s a carving machine. And, a tighter turn radius makes quick-pivoting your new favorite thing to do. The energy of this ski just cannot be tamed. “One thing’s for sure,” says tester Phil Maslow, “these things rail on hard snow with a very solid hold through the turn.” Welcome to the fam, MSP 91.


Majesty Vandal

As part of Majesty’s freeski range, the Vandal is engineered to be the most stable, reliable ride no matter where you decide to play. A modest 95-mm waist provides enough versatility to enjoy low tide days between storms, but its true twin tip design makes the Vandal just as capable skiing switch when you’re bashing the resort. Camber underfoot gives the ski enough grip to lock into firm snow while a rocker profile in the tip and tail provide float and release for a fun, consistent ride even when the conditions are uncertain. Veteran ski tester, Dan Grund, describes it as “park ski for the entire mountain… poppy and playful with relatively good float and managed well on-edge.”


Atomic Maverick 95 Ti

There’s the saying, “it’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.” At Atomic, the brand believes there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two. Utilizing an O-Matic core of poplar wood, lightweight fiberglass and Titanal inserts to create a balance of stiffness and flex the entire length of the ski, the Maverick 95 Ti is the tool for those with a pension for laying impressive, arching tracks all over the mountain. The combination of shovel taper, tip rocker and HRZN Tech means this ski hooks up and holds on in hardpack but can also float should Mother Nature drop a new layer in the middle of the ski day. “The most playful carving ski I think money can buy,” says George Michaelson of The Ski Monster. “Turn initiation is super smooth and easy and the power underfoot is unreal.”


J skis The Joyride

Another rookie on J’s lineup, The Joyride is the newest shred stick on the block with the intention of being the most fun ski for riders of all skill levels. Whether you’re brand new to the sport or you’re training for X Games, The Joyride’s maple wood core reinforced with carbon stringers creates a lively flex that will pop you in and out of turns like you’re Giray Dadali romping around Brighton’s mini-golf hits. A slim, 90-mm waist accounts for the ski’s pension for carving and an extended camber with minimal rocker locks into firm snow. Available in the largest size range ever offered by the brand, J skis is committed to getting everyone out on the mountain. “Buttery soft, would probably swipe right,” says Jackson-based tester Christian Johansen. “Straight up smearing your favorite cream cheese on a bagel,” adds Michelle Cox. 


The mountain looks different every day. You notice those nuances and you witness those slight changes: A shift in the wind, clouds forming on the horizon, the touch of a snowflake on the back of your hand. By the afternoon you’ve skied all of your favorites. Your legs don’t tire, though. You train to be all-terrain. You think about moving somewhere new, just for shits.

How you might learn the subtleties of a new place. But here (or there or anywhere) you still feel drawn to the many dimensions of a resort lap; the snaking trees, the groovy bumps, the smoothed groomer. So much can happen in one run. You bounce from edge-to-edge and back again, thinking five-steps ahead. A path downward reveals itself. You are nimble. Your mind is free of thought, but fully engaged in your body’s movements. Every turn, nuanced. 


Elan Ripstick 96

Looking through our tester reviews for the Ripstick 96, there’s one word that comes up time and time again: versatile. But don’t think this is just the same old Ripstick from Elan. Sporting an updated design, the 96 still features the signature Amphibio Profile—rocker on the outside edges and camber on the inside—for a designated left and right ski that creates easy turn initiation and superior edge hold. But it now receives Carbon Line Technology on the inside edge of the front half of the ski for better stability at high speeds. A Tubelite wood core paired with carbon rods on the edges create a lightweight yet powerful feel and 96 mm underfoot provides a wide enough platform to enjoy a new storm layer.  “Extremely stable and resilient,” says FREESKIER’s Gunter Jones, “felt totally in control of these puppies.”  


Nordica Unleashed 98

Nordica skis are routinely a tester-favorite at FREESKIER’s annual Ski Test, often earning top marks from our tough-to-impress crew of skiers. But, for 2023, Nordica debuted a new line of skis, called Unleashed, in Jackson Hole and the response was lively. The Unleashed line is the more playful side of the Enforcer and gives true meaning to versatility. What’s unique about the Unleashed 98 is it can be perfectly at-home with someone who likes to jib around the mountain and hit the park given its twin tip, yet it’s also a perfect match for someone who wants to slash around powder stashes, bumps, and groomers. With a wide size run and a 19-m turn radius it will accommodate most skiers in its all-around waist width. Our testers loved this ski, calling it an all-around ripper with no speed limit, likely thanks to its construction layup. It’s intended for the North American freeskier, so you can ride whatever you’re looking for, whenever you want, and without swapping skis midday.

READ THE FULL DEEP DIVE REVIEW — [ CLICK HERE ]


J skis The Masterblaster

J’s number-one selling all-mountain ski, The Masterblaster, comes into the 2023 season with subtle design tweaks that make a world of difference. A wider, 99-millimeter waist and slightly increased rocker makes The Masterblaster even more of a multi-tool than before, with more play in the soft snow and precision on the hardpack. “This is a damn fun ski that does a lot of things well,” says New Hampshire boy, Matt Berkowitz, “I found it to be confident in all conditions.” The brand’s tried-and-true Titanal-laminate construction provides power and stability when the ride gets rough but keeps swing weight low should you want to get a little airtime. Boasting the same front-side prowess as years’ past, the updated Masterblaster begs to be taken down the trail less traveled. 


Faction Dancer

While some skiers simply link uninspiring turns together to get from one chair to the next, Faction understands there is a breed of snow sliders moving to the tempo of their own tune—pun intended. For that reason, the brand introduces its Dancer series to give freeriders a tool that’ll have them boogieing down the mountain from first chair to last, day after day. The wood core of the Dancer 2 is sandwiched by two ultra-thin sheets of metal for the ideal blend of energy and stability without making the ski too heavy. Generous tip and tail rocker, combined with a 96-mm waist, creates enough float to enjoy the latest storm but also bust through crud when Ullr decides to take a day off. Trusted ski tester John Weir describes the Dancer 2 as “a surprisingly versatile ski with easy engagement, a forgiving tail and plenty of pop.” 


Rossignol BlackOps 98

The skiers who ditched race gates for rails and jumps will have the absolute time of their lives on Rossignol’s Black Ops 98. When the snow isn’t deep enough for the 118, the partial twin tip design with tip and tail rocker and a 98-mm waist makes it the ideal ski to turn the entire mountain into a natural terrain park while still being able to slice through groomers and frozen crud, alike, thanks to traditional camber underfoot. Designed in collaboration with Parker White, this ski can hold up to high speeds, big airs and landings taken all the way to the bottom. “Stiff enough to execute a white knuckle bombing raid on powder-piled piste, but reactive enough to deploy covert missions through the thick glade,” says tester Derek Depiero. 


Völkl M6 Mantra

Other than the topsheet, the M6 Mantra is unchanged for 2023 but continues to land on the pages of our Buyer’s Guide for good reason. Featuring the brand’s proprietary 3D radius sidecut—longer radii in tip and tail and a shorter radius underfoot—this speed machine can make long, drawn out Super G turns but can also snake together quick slalom turns. Tailored carbon fiber in the tip and a Tailored Titanal Frame make the M6 more amiable than its predecessor at slower speeds; but don’t let its approachability fool you, this ski wants to rip. Whether it’s ice, chewed up pow or a total refresh, the M6’s rockered tip and tail keep you floating on top while traditional camber underfoot hooks and holds on for dear life. “An absolute missile,” says Pit Viper’s Mike Filander. 


Line Blade Optic 96

Pulling from two of its award-winning skis, Line has developed a radical, new way to approach freeride ski construction with the new Blade Optic series. Combining the freeride capabilities of the Vision with the power of the Blade’s “Gas Pedal Metal” construction, the new Blade Optic can slice, dice and serve up an entire day of frontside dominance. The Blade Optic 96 is the narrowest ski in the brand-new category that features Titanal across the width of the ski for better edge hold and torsional stability when you’re hitting mach speed in blown up chunder. “Holy shit did it hold up to the hype,” says tester Christian Johansen. “Unbelievably stable at high speeds, absolutely blasted through chunder and super responsive with very little input.” Those pining for a freeride ski with guts, Line’s Blade Optic 96 will completely change the way you look at the mountain. 


Season Eqpt. Kin

Season Eqpt. believes in creating timeless products to promote mindful consumption and if there’s one ski in the brand’s lineup that can truly kill a quiver, it’s the Kin. The love child of race, all-mountain and freestyle skis, it shines in all conditions. A short sidecut with tons of effective edge means you can lay these dogs over and charge while a forgiving flex accounts for its pension to play all over the mountain. 97 mm underfoot provides enough of a platform to float in the bumps and trees but still slaps in the park, while a poplar wood core will have you effortlessly flowing from one turn to the next. “As an aged park skier, this is my new everyday ski,” says tester Travis Heyer. “It floats in resort pow, rips through on-piste packed powder and is playful enough to spread butter all over the mountain.” 


K2 Mindbender 99 Ti

Back by popular demand, K2’s Mindbender 99 Ti graces the pages of our coveted Buyer’s Guide with a few notable improvements to the already adored collection. The most well-rounded of the bunch, the 99 Ti features a do-anything waist width—with enough of a platform to float in a few new inches.  The inclusion of K2’s Torsion Control Design and Titanal Y-Beam construction bring this ski’s performance to the next level in unfavorable snow. By placing lightweight metal the full width of the ski underfoot, fanning it out in the tip to cover only the edges and condensing it in the tail, the 99 Ti can initiate powerful turns just as easily as it can release from them. “Way more approachable than its predecessor,” attests Andrew Plourde of The Ski Monster. 


Zag Harfang 96

Adaptability is the name of the game for the updated Harfang 96 from Zag and the new, Heavy Duty construction caught our testers off guard for how confident it charges in variable conditions. Utilizing a poplar wood core combined with a double layer of multi-axial fiberglass, the Harfang 96 doesn’t sacrifice flex for stability or float for edge hold. A ski that truly does it all, tip and tail rocker add room to play and shut it down when necessary while camber underfoot locks you into the turn regardless of what the snow looks like underneath you. “Where there’s hidden ice and crud underneath new snow, this thing shines,” comments Dan Grund, “[and it’s] ready to tackle whatever mountain goat descent you’ve been eying.”  

This article was originally published by Freeskier.com. Read the original article here.

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