A versatile category, these skis excel in a multitude of conditions but are ideally meant for charging forward down the fall line. Stability at high speeds and powerful transmission from edge to edge make these the skis of choice for rowdy resort days or everyday East Coast shredding.
1. Salomon QST 99
Asserting utter dominance on any terrain challenge, the QST 99’s addition of another carbon layer to its basalt/carbon blend, complementing a core construction of poplar wood and titanium, gives the QST 99 more power and stability than ever before. Salomon implemented cork in the tip for dampening and altered the shape of the ski for premium turn initiation and flotation. This ski can take you from the frontside of the resort to its hidden powder stashes without missing a beat.
2. Salomon QST 92
Featuring the same updates as its bigger brothers, the QST 92 is back for 2020 and ready to rock the ski world. The new sandwich core construction with a blend of basalt and carbon fiber running the entire length of the ski gives the QST 92 a rock-solid platform to plunder chop and crud. No matter if you’re carving the hardpack, torpedoing through trees or blasting the bumps, this ski will instill confidence on each and every trail you choose. Don’t discount the QST 92 for its narrower width; the updated shape makes this a fun-as-hell option for a smorgasbord of conditions.
3. HEAD KORE 99
While the construction of the award-winning KORE series remains unchanged from last season, the 99-millimeter-underfoot plank is still rocking the freeride socks off of our testers. Its lightweight karuba wood core and use of Graphene–the Mighty Mouse of materials–make the KORE 99 a rowdy, reliable ride on everything from a new layer of fresh to sunbaked crud. A rockered tip and tail with camber underfoot provides the kind of versatility that could kill a quiver.
4. Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
All the gains without the grams, the Vantage 97 Ti checks all of the boxes for hard-charging skiers looking to play on anything from corduroy to crust, first chair to last. A super skinny chassis built around titanium mesh offers an incredible amount of power and stability without weighing you down. Added reinforcements in strategic points of the ski provide that extra boost of confidence at speed, as well. The Vantage 97 Ti will throw your perspective of the mountain for an alley-oop in the best way.
5. K2 Mindbender 99Ti
Brand spankin’ new to the K2 lineup for 2020 is the Mindbender series. In a creative use of metal, K2 implements Y-shaped Titanal in the Mindbender 99Ti for seamless turn initiation in the tip and top-notch stiffness, power and stability underfoot and through the tail. A 99 millimeter waist width gives you the freedom to play wherever the snow leads you, while still being able to lay over a helluva carve back on-piste, bending the rules of the mountain to your liking.
6. Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
The Ripstick 96 Black Edition is back by popular demand–and not just for its sexy facade. Underneath that gorgeous, all-black topsheet is an additional layer of carbon wrapped around the paulownia, birch and poplar wood core. This boosts rigidity and complements the already tried-and-true performance of the ski’s Amphibio technology–a cambered inside edge for superior grip and rockered outside edge for easy turn transitioning. You know what they say about going black…
7. HEAD KORE 93
An OG of the award-winning KORE series, the KORE 93 remains one of the shining stars of this category. Despite its svelte waist and nimble character, the 93 is an absolute race horse thanks to a Graphene, Koroyd and carbon fiber sandwich construction that shores up stiffness and stability. With the agility of a hummingbird and the power of a raging bull, you can lay these puppies over and put the entire mountain in submission.
8. Blizzard Rustler 9
The Rustler 9 from Blizzard is back unchanged for 2020, except for an updated graphic, and it’s ready to take on more than just frontside groomers. The ski’s rockered tip and tail with traditional camber underfoot increases maneuverability through the crud. Tapered Titanal underfoot with unidirectionally shaped carbon fiber in the tip and tail keeps the ski stiff and powerful in the gut, with a little give on either end for a playful ride, when needed.
9. Folsom TRN TEK
All tip and no turn, give your resort days a vibrant blast from the past on the TRN TEK from Folsom. A fully cambered ski underfoot with moderate rocker in the tip for a “touch” of float, the TRN TEK is the only new straight ski on the market. Its maple wood core is reinforced with carbon stringers for an extra boost in performance without adding any dad-bod weight and like all of Folsom’s skis, the TRN TEK can be customized to your exact liking for a bitchin’ good time.
10. Kästle MX99
A work-hard, play-hard kind of plank, the MX99 had our testers hootin’ and hollerin’ from top to bottom. Boasting a race-like sandwich construction using carbon, Titanal and fiberglass with traditional camber underfoot and early rise in the tip, the MX99 lays deeper trenches than you’d find in WWI and blasts through crud with total ease. Its 99 millimeter waist width also gives enough of a platform for lower-end pow days.
11. Völkl M5 Mantra
The Mantra series has been an all-mountain stalwart since it debuted in 2005-06 and in its fifth generation, Völkl has the construction dialed. Dropping a few grams in weight without sacrificing the stiffness of a full sheet of metal, the brand implements a carbon inlay in the tip with Titanal on the tip and tail perimeter for a smooth-as-silk ride. Combined with its rocker-camber-rocker profile, this ski is a beast in variable conditions. Buckle up, the M5 Mantra will take you from zero to 100 faster than you can say “yee-haw.”
12. Fischer Ranger 99 Ti
The “limit” does not exist on the new Ranger 99 Ti from Fischer. Updated from last year’s 98 Ti, these planks sport the same beloved features–poplar and beech wood core, carbon tips and titanium inserts underfoot–but the slightly wider waist width and altered tip shape up the stability and carving ante on these bad boys. Hit warp speed and drop your hip confidently and with absolute power on the all-new Ranger 99 Ti.
13. J skis The Masterblaster
The fun uncle of this freeride category, The Masterblaster is back for another season of raucous partying. A maple wood core with a layer of Titanal running down the middle of the ski from tip to tail gives it a powerful, stable ride without sacrificing any playfulness. Carving S-shapes into fresh corduroy, weaving your way through the trees or poppin’ off the bumps, you’re guaranteed a good time on The Masterblaster.
14. 4FRNT MSP 99
The MSP 99, introduced last season, quickly became 4FRNT’s most award-winning ski and continues to blow our testers away. Designed after the brand’s flagship ski and named after its founder, Matt Sterbenz, the MSP 99 is an aggressive, energetic ski that only takes one turn to feel right at home on. A poplar wood core and early rise in the tip and tail make this a playful plank in pow while camber underfoot and a Titanal laminate help it stand up and hold a wicked edge at speed for top-notch all-mountain performance.
15. Line Vision 98
So light it’ll have you doing a double-take on the way down, the Vision 98 from Line takes lightweight, all-mountain performance to a whole new fun level. Boasting the brand’s heady THC construction–a combination of aramid, carbon and fiberglass laminates–the Vision 98 offers a far-out, dampened ride that’ll blow through crud and lay down a thick line, man. Its 98 millimeter waist width makes this a hybrid skinny/mid-waisted option for skiers looking to get elevated.
Near-symmetrical shapes, softer flex and significant rocker increase playfulness and maneuverability. Skiers who turn the whole mountain into a terrain park, look no further.
1. 4FRNT Vandal
Known for its snappy, buttery, stompy attitude, 4FRNT’s Vandal continues to be the go-to choice for hard-chargin’, airtime-seekin’ skiers who covet their time exploring the entire mountain. Finding this ski at the top of its class for the second year in a row is no surprise; its classic profile, featuring a mild tip and tail rocker in combination with a more pronounced camber underfoot, makes for a familiar and lively ride. Inside, poplar and birch wood provide a boost of energy and help maintain the ski’s low weight and balanced flex pattern. Take the mountain by storm with everyone’s favorite Vandal.
2. Faction Prodigy 2.0
All-new for 2019-20, the Prodigy 2.0 seamlessly merges functionality and style, focusing on promoting progression in an easy-to-ski, all-mountain package. At first glance, the topsheets—created by Paris, France-based Parade Studio and inspired by “iconic music media”—certainly turn heads. Beyond looks, however, this ski offers a lightweight, playful poplar wood core and directional twin tip construction, which are complemented by an elliptical-radius sidecut. The combination of these features allows riders to take control of the size, shape and angle of every turn, and still ride switch without a problem. Feel free to Dance Yrself Clean on these badass sticks.
3. Fischer Ranger 94 FR
The newest offering in the Ranger FR series, the 94 FR utilizes the same Aeroshape technology—a slightly convex topsheet that increases torsional stability, durable sandwich sidewall construction and a chatter-reducing carbon nose—as its acclaimed bigger brothers. This narrower ski will get any on-piste enthusiast’s blood boiling for its ability to hold an edge, but should also intrigue skiers eager to add a tinge of friskiness to their daily frontside routine. In Fischer’s FR series, additional tip and tail rocker and near-symmetrical dimensions give an added boost of freestyle feel, maximizing every skier’s ability to transition between groomed and ungroomed snowpack.
4. Lib Tech UFO 95
Inspired by team athlete Lucas Wachs, the all-new UFO 95 excels at railing turns on hardpack and jibbing manmade features but can be ridden with confidence anywhere on-hill. With the UFO, it’s hard not to immediately notice the uniquely shaped tips and tails, which provide an extra bit of surface area for nose and tail presses, as well as an added bit of float in deeper snow. Meanwhile, Lib Tech’s patented Magne-Traction serrated edges and an extended rocker profile help plow through crud, so getting from your first hit to your next is as easy as taking a hot scooper to a tub of ice cream.
5. Rossignol Black Ops 98
The Black Ops project is so damn secret, Rossignol won’t even tell us the design specs for the skis you’re reading about. But that was no problem for our ski testers, who took this Chris Logan and Parker White-inspired set of twigs around Aspen Mountain to figure out how these special soldiers perform when pushed to the limit. Even without all that number crunching, our testers were able to rank this ski at the top of its class for stability, noting that it performed best in variable conditions and at high speeds and could certainly stomp a landing. Rossignol fans, rejoice at the weaponized Black Ops… it seems some secrets are worth keeping.
6. Völkl 90Eight
Simply said, the 90Eight is one of the most approachable skis in Völkl’s lineup. The fact that this ski’s highest rankings are in stability and carving is no surprise; inside, a stable, lightweight and responsive poplar and ash wood core is reinforced with carbon stringers running the length of the ski, while extremely thin, folded layers of glass improve power transmission and edge-to-edge transitions. More of a cruiser than most of Völkl’s skis, our testers noted that it managed bumps, trees and tracked-out powder with ease—and wasn’t squirrelly at speed. All in all, this ski encompasses Völkl’s premier technologies and incorporates them into an inviting, all-mountain package.