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From cruisy rides to true carving machines, we've picked out the best piste skis for the 2021 season to help you find the perfect pair.

Piste skis are for those who dream of crisp mornings in corduroy heaven on marked and groomed runs.

Spanning from absolute beginner level right through to a highly tuned speed machines, the one thing these skis have in common is that they should be able to turn and hold an edge in hardpack snow.

Above and beyond that, a piste ski might be amazing at GS carves, super playful, great in moguls or a good all-rounder.

Even within this well-defined category there are hundreds of different ski models available across loads of different brands, which of course makes the task of choosing your downhill slaying weapon somewhat baffling and overwhelming.

Before you begin the task of choosing the best piste ski it’s wise to whittle down the options using our handy buyer's guide.

Ski Length

Piste skis should come up to between chin and eye level. Your skill level will also affect the length to an extent, with shorter skis usually being easier to handle than their longer counterparts. Also consider that if you're particularly heavy or light for your height you should go up or down a few centimetres in ski length to compensate.

Radius

A piste ski will usually have a shorter sidecut radius than an all mountain or freeride ski, as you look down the length of the ski there will be a pronounced curve between the nose and tail. This makes for quick turns, but the resulting narrow waist doesn't provide much float in powder. The length of the sidecut radius will influence how the ski feels from edge to edge, so think about whether you like long carving GS style turns or quicker, shorter turns.

Camber profiles

If you lay a ski down on the floor or a table and look at it side on, you'll notice that the base rises and falls along its length. Imagine a banana balanced on its side. If the ends of the banana are touching the surface it can be said to have a traditional or positive camber profile, if the middle is touching it has a rocker, or banana, profile.

As a rule of thumb the best piste skis will have a positive camber profile which provides maximum contact and therefore control along the length of the ski.

Below we've picked our absolute favourite options for the 2021 season, whittled down from over 80 pairs that were thoroughly put through their paces on the slopes.

Volkl Flair 79 

Women's best piste ski

Volkl Flair 79 skis.jpg

This year’s Volkl Flair 79 is slightly wider than last season’s, bringing it more into all-mountain terrain. However, we found that its talents really lie on the piste. It is a dynamic ski for intermediate to advanced ladies wanting to shred the whole resort. The 3D ridge construction comprises of steel and a centre sidewall gives the Flair its sporty riding style, stiff and powerful with great edge hold for ripping the groomers. A steel layer in the ski provides durability and performance at speed, and a stiff tail helps the Flair to really perform on piste, placing it in premium territory. The sintered P-Tex base also improves the longevity of the ski, making it a sustainable investment.

  • Best for: Intermediate to advanced skiers sticking mostly to the piste.
  • Verdict: A good value, sporty, all- mountain ski for charging on piste and, occasionally, off it.
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £575

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amazon$599.86

 

K2 Disruption SC 

Men's best piste ski

K2 disruption SC skis.jpg

If anyone’s going to shake up the piste category then you’d probably bet on K2 to be the ones to do it. The all-new Disruption family claims to be “the new standard in high-speed piste performance” with the Disruption SC being described as the ‘gateway’ to this addiction. This is certainly a gateway when it comes to price, which will suit the intermediates these are aimed at. These encourage carving without punishing poor technique - more in the mould of the cool young teacher than the stern headmaster. But they’re not just for learners. They’re a model designed for agility at high speed which will suit more advanced skiers too. The carbon adds a feeling of latent energy - like you could turn on a sixpence. 

  • Best for: A wide range of piste skiers, from those learning to carve to advanced.
  • Verdict: Nobody marries performance and fun quite like K2. This brings it to the piste in spades. 
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £525

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amazon$699.95

 

Rossignol Hero Elite ST

Rossignol Hero Elite ST skis.jpg

Designed for hard charging skiers, the Hero Elite ST takes the best of trickle-down technology from Rossignol’s race skis and puts it into an accessible piste package. And we say accessible because this could turn an intermediate skier into a slalom skier with the right amount of slope time. Super responsive with a massive sting in the tail, the Hero Elite ST is as nimble and agile as a cat and edge hold through short and long turns is exceptional. The tail is stiffer than expected which adds to the pzazz but this makes it unforgiving if caught backseat. The Hero Elite is stable and precise but if you’re tired of pushing the pace it will happily amble along the piste making it the perfect race ski for recreational skiers.

  • Best for: Athletic intermediate to advanced piste skiers. 
  • Verdict: An epic balance of speed, edge hold and responsiveness.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £750

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amazon$1200.00

 

Head SuperShape E-Rally 

Head Supershape E-Rally skis.jpg

For winter 2020 Head have re-imagined their whole Supershape line of piste performance skis. The core of five models all retail at the same price point - £615 with bindings – which leaves the buyer to focus on which features they need rather than which they can afford. The e-Rally iteration on test here includes their EMC technology, hence the “e” prefix in the name. This converts flapping energy into electricity, helping reduce vibration and giving a smoother ride. This is enhanced by the slightly wider dimensions (78mm underfoot) of the e-Rally, and the extra rocker relative to other models in the family, which combine to make it a more all terrain capable ski. But it is still very much a piste ski, despite some more optimistic marketing claims.

  • Best for: Piste performance. 
  • Verdict: The EMC tech really works - this is stable, and turns like a dream on piste.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £615 

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amazon$749.99

 

Atomic Cloud 12 

 Atomic Cloud 12.jpg

Coming in at the top of the already established Atomic Cloud range, and with the same technology as their Redster racing line, the Cloud 12 is the perfect choice for confident skiers that want to rip up the piste. Some of Atomic’s World Cup technologies have trickled down into this hard-charging model, like the premium base finish. A rod and elastomer fixture hold the ski in a pre-stressed position, making it responsive and dampening vibrations. The Cloud 12 also has a full sidewall for precision steering at speed. Like most piste and racing skis it has a full active camber giving maximum edge contact, providing grip on hard, icy pistes.

  • Best for Advanced women looking for a high-end piste ski.
  • Verdict The Cloud 12 is a powerful piste machine punching well above its weight. 
  • Overall rating 9/10
  • RRP £560

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Salomon S/max 8

Women's best budget piste ski

Salomon S-Max W8 skis.jpg

If you like to use all the runs on a mountain then the S/max W8 is a damn good choice of ski. Equally at home carving gentle turns on a blue run as navigating moguls on a tricky black, the W8 is as versatile as it is pretty. This is a ski for the fun-loving skier too, it feels energetic and playful way before you put the serious face on to schuss back into town. Stability, responsiveness and turn initiation are all excellent so you can really ride the W8 hard, but then it’s also very smooth and forgiving at both high and low speeds making it the perfect tool for intermediates and playful advanced skiers.

  • Best for: Playful intermediates wanting fun AND performance.
  • Verdict: The piste ski of your dreams, sharp agile, precise and a whole lot of fun.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £460 

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Salomon S/Force 7 

Men's best budget piste ski

Salomon S Force 7 skis.jpg

The S/Force range from Salomon impressed last season and is back for another winter, offering groomer-focussed performance for everyone from beginners right through to experts.The ski itself is the same as last years, but Salomon have altered the binding on the S/Force 7, to make it a little lighter and more responsive in the toe piece – both welcome improvements with no discernible downsides. The S/Force 7 is a ski that doesn’t feel totally reliable at high speeds, but given its target market is beginner and recreational skiers, that’s to be expected. 

  • Best for: Anyone looking for their first piste ski – one they won’t outgrow too soon.
  • Verdict: Easily our best budget ski of the year - capable of catering for a range of piste skiers.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £360

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amazon$399.99

 

Rossignol Nova 6

Rossignol Nova 6 skis.jpg

The Nova 6 is a solid recreational ski for progressing intermediates or those looking for something fairly forgiving to cruise the pistes a week a year.

We found the Nova 6 to be excellent in low speed, long radius turns typical of a beginner skier not looking to push the envelope. At higher speeds, experts may find that the light weight and relatively low tech approach means that stability suffers, but that’s not this skis market.

The soft tip and tail make the Nova 6 relatively playful and easy skis to handle, although they aren’t particularly smooth over chopped up snow at times.

What they offer is excellent value for money - and we think they have plenty of rack appeal too.

  • Best for: Skiers content with riding pistes and enjoying the scenery.
  • Verdict: Excellent value skis that do everything well if you’re not looking to push the envelope.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £415

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amazon$479.99

 

Head Power Joy 

Head Power Joy skis.jpg

Coming in at a premium price you would expect the Power Joy to do a lot, and it just about pays its way. Although perhaps not as stable as others in the category it carves like a dream, offering excellent edge hold and responsiveness, especially in short radius turns where the ski whips from edge to edge effortlessly. All this leads into the playful feel, these skis just want to take you for a ride - the only thing holding you back is ability. Although marketed at intermediates we would say that high performance ladies would get the best out of them, not necessarily advanced skiers, just those looking to ski hard all day showing off their carving prowess.

  • Best for: Hard carving intermediate piste skiers.
  • Verdict: Does everything you want it to do with ease, but you pay for the privilege.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £620

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Salomon S/Force Bold 

 

Salomon S Force Bold.jpg

 

The Salomon S/Force Bold is the perfect match for good skiers who are looking for top-notch stability and speed, combining the power and precision of a pure piste performance ski with the versatility of a wider all-mountain model. The construction is very much geared towards power and responsiveness on the piste, with Edge Amplifier technology helping to transfer energy straight to the edges and giving outstanding hold. A 15% tip rocker profile helps initiate the turn quickly despite the slightly wider waist and a 16mm sidecut is ideal for juicing out mid-radius turns. The S/Force Bold is very stable and keeps good snow contact throughout, even in slushy or cruddy spring snow.

  • Best for Great for a skier who likes to charge hard all day long in all conditions.
  • Verdict The best of the best on-piste ski that will let you ski hard all day long - if you can afford it. 
  • Overall rating 10/10
  • RRP £820

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amazon$399.99

 

Volkl Deacon 74

  Volkl Deacon 74.jpg

The Volkl Deacon 74s are the perfect skis for hard-charging on-piste advanced skiers who are happy carving up the groomers. The great thing about these bad boys is you don’t need to put too much effort in to get a whole load of response out of them. The list of technology that has gone into the Deacon 74 is long and impressive, and all in all, adds up to make for a quality pair of skis. The best aspect is that even with all of their responsiveness, these skis don’t punish bad technique. Whether you are taking on short quick turns on a steep slope or blasting long powerful carved turns, these skis never seem to get away from you – perfect for an advanced skier who is looking to build their confidence further.

  • Best for Good on-piste skiers who like to get their money’s worth.
  • Verdict Amazingly responsive, hard-charging skis that won’t judge your technique.
  • Overall rating 9/10
  • RRP £800

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amazon$429.99

 

Blizzard Firebird CA 

Blizzard Firebird CA skis.jpg

Blizzard’s Firebird range of racing skis has won fans and accolades for years, but you don’t need to be a fearless pro to take advantage of the brand’s know-how in this regard. The Firebird CA takes Blizzard’s top skis and distils their essence into a piste ski that is accessible to all. With a full wood core and carbon topsheet this is much beefier than its designation as a “recreational” piste ski would suggest. Of course it’s way less stiff than most of the Firebird range, making it easier to learn on. But this is still good in quick linked turns. It won’t kick your butt, but if you push it you’ll be rewarded with good feedback from it - you can really feel the pedigree in the responsiveness of the carve. And it wants to go fast!

  • Best for: Intermediate resort skiers who fancy a taste of the racing life!
  • Verdict: A very accessible ski with good turn initiation, that’s still impressive at higher speeds. 
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £470

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Atomic Men's Redster X9 S 

 Atomic Redster X9 S 2021.jpg

As soon as you clip in to the Redster X9 S you can feel its race pedigree - ideal for anyone who likes to ski hard and carve turns like Marcel Hirscher, no matter how icy the piste. You do need to know what you’re doing to get the best from these skis - if you let them get away from you at the end of the turn, you’ll soon be in the back seat. The wood core, made from a combination of beech for strength and lightweight poplar, gives the skis real pop at the end of the turn. The Redster X9 S also uses Servotec, a design innovation from the World Cup race skis, which makes them more agile when initiating the turn and means they power up smoothly. This feature also makes them more stable when straight-lining.

  • Best for Skiers who like to create big edge angles.
  • Verdict If you’re prepared to put the effort in and really blast on the piste, these are for you. 
  • Overall rating 9/10
  • RRP £780

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