Best downhill skis 2015

Tested: 10 Good Skis For 2015

Filed under: Skiing  Winter 

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Three people, a heap of skis and snowboards, and one day — we’re not complaining.

GearJunkie put as many skis and boards as we could to the test at Copper Mountain during the SIA On Snow Demo this week. Yes, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new rides that we didn’t have time to test in this short spree. But we chose to ride the boards we were excited about, and this is our take on 10 sweet rides for 2015.

The Test — Each ski or board was ridden for three runs at Copper Mountain — a powdery groomer down the front; a steep, bumpy double diamond in the Resolution Bowl; and back down to the base at Center Village. There was about 4 inches of fresh snow on a hard, icy base.

The Testers — None of us are pro riders, but all enthusiastic amateurs, probably a lot like you.

Sarah — Intermediate skier with three years experience who is stoked to ride anywhere on the mountain. 5’9” tall, she rips beyond her years but is still learning fast.

Sean — Expert skier/snowboarder with more than 30 years experience (God he’s old). Rides very fast and loves to pop off kickers. 5’8” and 150 pounds. He gets freaked out going backwards or upside down.

Yoon — Expert snowboarder with 10 years experience. Self described as “good looking, charming” and with a horrible habit of falling on his ass when he goes too fast. He says it’s intentional. 5’6’‘ and 160 pounds.

Kastle BMX 105 (starts at $1,000; available fall 2015) — Kastle’s new entry to the all-mountain category has progressive rise in the tip to chop through crud, a stiff tail, and it is light (and skin-compatible) for backcountry use. It’s available in metal or non-metal (tested) construction.

First Impressions — This is an amazing ski! Incredibly quick edge to edge, poppy, playful, light and yet able to mash over cut up powder to carve on ice. At first glance, this was my favorite ski of the day.

Blizzard Cochise ($750; fall 2015) — Blizzard updated this popular all-mountain model with carbon to the tip and tail for a lighter swing weight. The model tested was 108mm at the waist.

First Impressions — For a modestly fat ski, the Cochise carves icy patches incredibly well. It also handles soft snow, chopped up crud and even bumps, and it is very stable at speed. It is not particularly quick, but once on edge, hold on tight! It turns like it’s on rails.

Moment Tallac ($760; fall 2015) — Manufactured in Reno, Nevada, the Tallac is a touring ski that’s right at home in the resort. A 130-104-118 profile gives it an all-mountain look and a paulownia/ash core and carbon/fiberglass overlay make it light enough to tour uphill.

First Impressions — Quick, poppy and light, the Tallac is quick to turn and lots of fun on soft snow. It was great in trees, where its nimble nature excelled. But avoid icy patches if possible or be ready for some chattery turns. This is a ski for the western mountains — if you ride a lot of icy terrain, look elsewhere.

Liberty Skis Joe Schuster ($860; fall 2015) — This pro model is an interesting hybrid, with lots of rocker in the front of the ski and a stiff tail for powerful turns. It’s also the fattest ski we tested at 122mm at the waist. It has a bamboo/poplar/carbon core.

First Impressions — This was a hard ski to understand in just a couple runs. The front is really surfy, with tons of rocker that makes initiating turns a little tough in packed snow. The tail is powerful and helps carve on anything This ski really needs a powder day to show all its glory.

Atomic Vantage 100 ($850; fall 2015) — Carbon “tank mesh” and Titanium are used in the construction of this ski, which is available at 90 or 100mm under foot. A bit of tip and tail rocker and camber underfoot make for a lively and versatile model.

First Impressions — This ski likes to go fast, and when you let it rip it rewards you with stable GS turns with lots of rebound. Our tester found himself bounding between turns and grinning like crazy on open groomers. It handles powder and bumps fine and will serve as a single ski for all conditions, although those who expect lots of deep days (lucky you) may want to look elsewhere.

Head Monster ($800; fall 2015) — The high-tech material Graphene is used in the construction of this ski, which also uses titanal metal for a hard-charging carving ski.

First Impressions — This ski is at home on groomed terrain, where it easily carves hard-pack snow and ice. But I took it to the powder stashes of the back bowls and was not impressed. I found the ski a little unpredictable in the soft stuff and it kicked me around on crud. A heavier skier may do better with this model off-piste.

Women’s Skis

Fischer Ranger 98 W ($600, fall 2015) — With a 98mm waist, paulownia wood core and carbon fiber laminate tip, this is an all-mountain model for the western slopes.

First Impressions — The ski carved well and mowed over cut-up powder with great stability but took some power to drive. These are fun planks for aggressive riders looking for speed and control over any terrain.

Volkl 100Eight Women’s ($700; fall 2015) — Volkl took the technology developed for its high-end V-Werks models and removed the carbon to offer more reasonably priced models. The 3-D Ridge construction reduces mass, and the 100Eight has a full rocker design. It is light and has a fat 141-108-124 profile.

First Impressions — “I love these skis. I want to marry them,” were the words out of our tester’s mouth. She called them light, playful and stable. They trucked over crud thanks to the full rocker, but still carved ice with no hesitation. The 100Eight was her favorite ski of the test.

Icelantic Maiden 169 ($740; Fall 2015) — The Maiden is similar to Icelantic’s popular Nomad model, but with a softer and lighter construction for women riders. The 136-101-126 all-mountain model is made with a “fly weight” balsa construction.

First Impressions — They’re not as soft and forgiving as many women’s skis. Hard charging, pow hunting ladies will love the stiff tails and poppy camber underfoot. “It might be too much ski for me now,” said our tester, an intermediate skier. This all-mountain ski pushed her around a little in cut-up snow.

K2 Remedy 92 ($600; available now) — With new graphics for fall 2015, this current year model is designed with the whole mountain in mind. The aspen/paulownia/bamboo core is pressed with tip and tail rocker and taper to a 124-92-118 profile.

First impressions — The ski was stable and confidence-inspiring. The all terrain rocker helped eat up bumpy, chopped powder at the end of a long day, and it carved well on exposed hardpack.

Bonus! Snowboards

Voilé Artisan 156 Splitboard ($625; available now) —This USA-made directional twin is a splitboard with plenty of rocker in the tip and tail for the backcountry and enough camber to maintain stability on ice. Splitboards have come a long way since they were first introduced by Voilé in the ’90s.

First Impressions — The 2015 Artisan charged through crud surprisingly well and floated atop any pow we could find. The split feature just seemed like a nice side benefit of a well performing all-mountain board.

Burton Custom Twin 156 (Price TBD; fall 2015) — This is one of six custom models made this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the line. The symmetrical twin all-mountain board can be set back or forward as far as desired by simply adjusting a few screws.

First Impressions — Of the boards we rode in this review, this one took the least amount of time to set up and was delightfully responsive when transitioning from edge to edge at speed. As a result, we ended up spending most of the day on this board.

Sean McCoy
By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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