Chasing UnicornsThis would be where I start listing all the skis on the market that can do all that, but the problem is, that one ski doesn’t really exist. A ski that claims to do everything well usually ends up doing everything just OK.
Some skis may come close to the desired perfection, but expecting any ski to perform in every type of condition simply isn’t realistic. The good news is that with the latest shapes and materials, skiing’s silver-bullet plank has been closer than ever to achieving the elusive “do everything” goal.
Checking the boxesThe first criteria includes skiing well not just in fresh powder (which almost any fat ski can do), but also performing well in tracked-up snow like that found after lunchtime on resort powder days. For this, we need our one ski to hit the sweet spot of 105 to 110 millimeters underfoot (not too fat, not too skinny!) with an early-rise tip for adequate flotation and easy turn initiation.
Next, we want a ski that can comfortably carve groomers with ample agility in bumpy terrain and moguls. Look for a turning radius of around 18 to 20 meters for the most playfulness (easier to turn) or 24 to 26 meters for superior charging capability (stable at higher speed). The best choice here for versatility is the five-point shape: regular camber and sidecut underfoot with early-rise tip and tails that taper in width.
Time for compromiseFinally, we look for utility and practicality in our one ski. The biggest factor here is the weight, especially if you intend to be hauling the ski up mountains in the backcountry. The balance here is between shedding enough weight without sacrificing the dampening quality of the ski, the latter being an important feature for harder and mixed conditions that’s usually solved with a heavy metal sheet in the ski’s laminate.
No one ski listed here does all the above at 100 percent, but, as mentioned, they come pretty darn close. Note also this is not an exhaustive list; many ski manufacturers have their own versions of these models. Remember, the best way to buy is to test the skis first, so line up a demo day at your local resort or check what the ski shops have to rent.
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