Skis once served the single, simple purpose of sliding on snow. Now the best skis are designed for specific conditions and particular performance levels, giving you much to consider when equipping yourself for the slopes but also offering a more customized skiing experience.
To aid in the ski-selection process and ensure a harmonious union of body, ski, and snow, some manufacturers have established online matchmaking services, such as Atomic’s atoMike. While choosing a ski is not as complicated as choosing a mate, the process can be arduous. First you have to decide what type of skier you are—aggressive ski-it-all, aspiring expert, intermediate, or beginner—and then determine how you spend most of your time—carving groomers, making your own paths, or launching off cliffs.
Those unsure of their slope persona—the freerider, the cruiser, the racer, or the powderhound—need not fret; ski makers have dedicated a large portion of their offerings to the indecisive skier. Among the best of these all-terrain skis is Atomic’s new Metron B5 ($1,090), which challenges the notion that you need one ski for powder and another for hard pack. The Metron, designed to maximize ski-to-snow contact regardless of the conditions, pairs the surface area of a powder ski with the length and sidecut of a race ski. Atomic, like the majority of ski manufacturers, now outfits its skis with bindings, and the Metron is equipped with Neox EBM (Electronic Binding Management). Step into the ski, and the system runs a diagnostic safety check to determine if the bindings are closed properly, if the forward pressure is correct, and if maintenance is needed, and then displays the results on a small screen.
For those obsessed with speed, Salomon’s new Streetracer 10 ($880), which includes a built-in binding, has been designed with oversize tip and tail and a thin waist to maximize performance when carving at high speeds on hard, fast snow.
Skiers who hit the groomers only on their way to lunch or at the end of the day will enjoy Völkl’s 7 24 EXP ($990), which is built for the varied terrain found on the backside of the mountain. The ski’s lightweight core construction is designed to deliver a lively and resilient ride.
If you enjoy confronting the most extreme conditions, you can now do so in style. Bogner, known for its luxury skiwear, has introduced its first line of skis. Featuring a stylish surface of bamboo, a lightweight and rigid material, and an easily adjustable binding system, Bogner’s Bigmountain ($3,000) is ideal for heli-skiing trips to the Chugach range. The Bigmountain comes with a one-year insurance policy that guards against theft and a cushy silver ski bag with a tool kit, ensuring that your skis will be well cared for even when they are not on your feet.