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From surfing the powder to carving into groomers, here's our verdict for the the best skis of 2020-21. No matter which part of the mountain you roam, find your perfect skis here.

 

Volkl Flair 79 | All Mountain

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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Salomon Stance 96 | All mountain

 Salamon Stance 96 skis.jpg

A full poplar wood core incorporating carbon flax and a double Ti construction seems to tick all the boxes of a solid all-mountain ski, and goes some way to justifying a relatively high price point.

The performance on the mountain goes the rest of the way, and more than justifies the cost. The Stance 96 hits the absolute all-mountain sweet spot in terms of dimensions, stiffness and turn versatility. It can charge through chop but remains soft enough to be fun and lively. It’s wide enough for powder but narrow enough to be responsive thanks partly to the flex and the progressive sidecut.

It just rails all types of turns, making for a cracking good time.

  • Best for: A one-ski quiver for chargers and carvers alike.
  • Verdict: High performance both on and off piste making for a genuine all-mountain ski.
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £580 

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Rossignol Black Ops Sender | Freeride

Rossignol Black Ops Sender skis.jpg

The Sender Ti is Rossignols flagship freeride ski, but the non-Ti Sender comes in £65 cheaper, without titanal beam and is significantly lighter.

These construction elements make the Sender more accessible, and although both skis would be worthy of Freeride Ski of the Year, this one edges it.

The Sender is poppy and forgiving, smooth in cruddy snow and ultimately a lot of fun. The air tip makes it super manoeuvrable and lively, while ‘Line Control Technology’ adds torsional stiffness making it playful and responsive to varying pressure on the edges.

All this adds up to an incredibly confidence inspiring ski that wants you to lay out big open turns, and ski as fast as your abilities allow.

  • Best for: Freeriders of all ability levels. 
  • Verdict: A near-perfect freeride ski which is accessible to mere mortals.
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £585

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Faction Agent 3.0 | Touring

Faction Agent 3.0 skis.jpg

The Agent 3.0 is a descent focussed touring ski meaning all the fun hasn’t been rinsed out chasing lightness. Stable at high speeds they suffer at lower speeds, typical of a touring ski. They aren’t particularly lively or playful but hold an edge on long radius turns and are relatively smooth through chopped up crud.

These skis are agile enough to ski gulleys with confidence and despite decent downhill ability, they climb okay, although on longer tours you will start to feel the burn due to the relatively high weight. If you’re skiing firm snow you may be surprised by their ability where the dampness, stiff flex and weight really comes into play.

  • Best for: Descent focussed ski tourers and freeriders.
  • Verdict: Great for what they’re designed for, touring with an emphasis on descents.
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £600

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Volkl Yumi 84 | All mountain

Volkl Yumi 84 2020-21 ski

The recently updated Völkl Yumi now features a 3D sidecut, along with an 84mm waist width, designed to help it float a little easier in powder, without sacrificing any of its carving potential. Despite Covid kyboshing the European Ski Test last winter, our team was blessed with powder at the replacement event in Scotland, where this was one of the top performers. “Super stable on anything,” was one verdict, with quick edge to edge performance. This is a perfect ski for an intermediate skier to progress and gain confidence skiing all-mountain - and the price makes it a clear winner. 

  • Best for: Advanced intermediates who don’t want to break the bank. 
  • Verdict: There’s a lot of tech for the price here. This is a ski that will help you step-up a level.
  • Overall rating: 8/10
  • RRP: £525

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Scott Superguide 95 | Touring

Scott Superguide 95 skis.jpg

The Scott Superguide 95 scored highly in last season’s tests, and this years’ model is unchanged apart from updated graphics. Designed as a do-it-all backcountry ski, the Superguide range is very similar to the lighter Speedguides, but with the beef to keep up with a more freeride-oriented skier. After the surprise of how light the ski is for its dimensions, it completely out-skis expectations, being both lively and solid for its weight. The straight sidecut is not such a bad thing on the uphill, but it does mean it’s not great edge-to-edge – until you open it up, that is! At speed  it will swing beneath your feet while giving the feedback of a much more precision-focussed ski. 

  • Best for: Skiers who split their time between skin, powder and piste.
  • Verdict: One of the most versatile touring skis out there - a true quiver-of-one. 
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £525

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Nordica Santa Ana 93 | Freeride

Nordica Santa Ana 93 skis.jpg

Nordica’s true tip technology makes the Santa Ana stable but playful, with a lighter wood tip than traditional ABS plastic. It also has a blunt nose profile and partial twin tip which is great for impromptu backwards skiing.

Full ABS side walls from tip to tail give enhanced edge hold in any conditions and the ski is surprisingly responsive, making for fun short and snappy turns.

The Santa Ana’s sympathetic profile make it ideal for off piste fun but with the bonus of high-performance features for harder conditions.

  • Best for: Women wanting to have a lot of fun on a mix of terrain.
  • Verdict: Women wanting to have a lot of fun on a mix of terrain.
  • Overall rating: 10/10
  • RRP: £500

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K2 Disruption SC | Piste

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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Salomon S/Force 7 | Piste

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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Black Crows Navis Freebird | Touring

Black Crows Navis Freebird skis.jpg

The Black Crows Navis Freebird is aimed at off-piste skiers looking for the liberation of backcountry touring but without the weight of a typical freeride ski. The genius of the Navis Freebird is in shedding that weight while keeping the playful construction and flex – if not quite the power. The pop and ability to launch off hits is fantastic, and to feel so much potential energy crackling beneath your feet in a lightweight touring ski is exciting. This ski would score similarly highly even if it were tested in the freeride category, and given that some skis in the touring category don’t tend to inspire downhill confidence, this is quite a feat.

  • Best for: A versatile ski for a versatile skier.
  • Verdict: The newest incarnation of Black Crows’ Navis Freebird is simply superb. 
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £635

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Scott Slight 83 | All mountain

Scott Slight 83 skis.jpg

With a design taken from a touring ski, the Scott Slight seems a strange all-mountain model at first sight. They’re lightweight, but still so much fun in all terrain, doing everything we asked of them, from easy piste cruising to full charge mode. We were surprised by how well the Slight skied in variable snow, these are stable skis in mixed terrain. Crud can upset the balance, but excellent responsiveness means it’s easy to get out of trouble. Edge hold on piste is fantastic, holding a strong carve is effortless but there’s still plenty of pop and playfulness to get airborne. Recommended for a progressing intermediate skier.

  • Best for: Intermediate skiers progressing to advanced.
  • Verdict: Ideal ski for intermediates wanting to mix hard charging with piste cruising.
  • Overall rating:10/10
  • RRP: £650

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Atomic Redster X9 S | Piste

 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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Salomon QST 106 | Freeride

Salomon QST 106  skis.jpg

With strong competition in the freeride category this season, the QST 106 needed to perform. And it did. A light poplar wood core and the addition of cork in the tip and tail, make for a fun, floaty and classically Salomon type of ski. The cork keeps the swing weight down and helps hugely with dampening. It’s difficult to avoid direct comparisons with the Rossignol Black Ops Sender Ti, not least as we skied them back-to-back, and particularly as the former has scored so highly. The QST 106 is as different to the Rossi as can be, but is just as awesome.

  • Best for: Playful, fun-loving freeride skiers.
  • Verdict: Great fun, and the soft, light tip makes for incredible turn initiation on hard pack.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £550 

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Blizzard Bonafide 97 | All mountain

Blizzard Bonafide 97 skis.jpg

For 2021 Blizzard have re-classified the Bonafide as an all-mountain ski, and made changes to its core, which now involves a complex ‘mesh’ of stringers made of different densities of different woods. For the skier, that should result in a more smooth, progressive flex – stiffness should taper off towards the tips and tails. In practice the flex pattern should make the ski a little more accessible and versatile (hence the re-classification as an all mountain ski, rather than freeride). However, this still retains much of its freeride character; it’s a superb, go anywhere ski, with a forgiving flex. The on-piste performance is superb, but this still flies in soft snow. 

  • Best for: A freeride focussed skier looking for something versatile.
  • Verdict: A very versatile ski, which handles narrower than its waist width would suggest.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • RRP: £600

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