One ski to shred them all
Long have skiers desired the mystical “one ski to rule them all.” It’s great in powder, carves amazingly on groomers, responsive in the moguls, light enough to tour the backcountry yet stiff and dampened enough to ski aggressive lines in the resort.
This 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 okay. 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 boxes
The first criteria includes skiing well not just in fresh powder (which almost any fat ski can do), but also perform 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 millimetres under foot (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 metres for the most playfulness (easier to turn), 24 to 26 metres for superior charging capability (stable at higher speed). The best choice here for versatility is the five-point shape; regular camber and side cut under foot with early rise tip and tails that taper in width.
Finally, 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.
Time for compromise
No one ski listed here does all the above at 100 per cent, but as mentioned, they come pretty darn close. Note also this is not an exhaustive list, many skis 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.