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SKI Magazine's Best in Test

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I know, I know. Ski choice is personal. My yuk is your yum. Still, I always enjoy looking at the ratings compiled by testers in various publications. So here are Ski Magazine's Best in Test for 2022:

2022'S BEST IN TEST SKIS​

  1. Men's Carving: Stöckli Laser AR
  2. Women's Carving: Stöckli Laser MX
  3. Men's Frontside: Völkl Kendo 88
  4. Women's Frontside: Stöckli Nela 80
  5. Men's All-Mountain: Nordica Enforcer 100
  6. Women's All-Mountain: Fischer Ranger 94 FR
  7. Men's All-Mountain Wide: Nordica Enforcer 104 Free
  8. Women's All-Mountain Wide: Stöckli Nela 96
  9. Men's Powder: Blizzard Rustler 11
  10. Women's Powder: Fischer Ranger 115 FR
Gee, I'd really love to try those Fischer Rangers. I've heard before that they're a good ski. Anyone have any experience with them?
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I haven't tried the 94 FR (or 115), but this season I was lucky enough to catch a Fischer demo day and in my size they had the Ranger 102 FR and the Ranger 92Ti. I loved both of them and would happily own them, so I think Fischer is doing great things with their skis at the moment!

It's funny because the last time I tried Fischer skis a couple of years ago, I didn't like them and swore them off. They had a really funky mount point I assume because the fore/aft balance seemed really wrong. My knees were killing me after half a run even though I was fine with demoing arguably more advanced skis before and after. They've got rid of that line of skis since though, and their latest womens offerings seem way better.

Anyway based on all this I bet the Ranger 94 and 115 FR are great skis as well!
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Haven't skied them yet, but have helped a few friends decide on them. Really similar construction elements as the new Santa Ana line, and there's no shortage of fans there. (Not to mention, a cheaper MSRP). I really like that they swap between the Ti version with a flatter tail and damper ride and the FR versions with a little more surfiness and pop. Oh and @fgor - yes! They had the most insanely forward mount point for women that forced you to ski in the backseat. I have a year of sales data from that era and Fischer had one of the most lopsided sales split between men's & women's skis. The decision to make all of their skis unisex was a smart one.

I do have a little beef with their choice for the 115 for a powder ski. With the shortest size at 172, it really isn't that unisex friendly. Even the "men's" winner, Rustler 11, comes down to a 164. Sure, a 172 pow ski skis short and probably works for around half of women skiers (especially the types of skiers who buy in on a dedicated pow ski). But I wish they would've prioritized Line, Armada, K2, or Icelantic (or the Sheeva 11), where their options come down into the 160s and work for most women.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Haven't skied them yet, but have helped a few friends decide on them. Really similar construction elements as the new Santa Ana line, and there's no shortage of fans there. (Not to mention, a cheaper MSRP). I really like that they swap between the Ti version with a flatter tail and damper ride and the FR versions with a little more surfiness and pop. Oh and @fgor - yes! They had the most insanely forward mount point for women that forced you to ski in the backseat. I have a year of sales data from that era and Fischer had one of the most lopsided sales split between men's & women's skis. The decision to make all of their skis unisex was a smart one.

I do have a little beef with their choice for the 115 for a powder ski. With the shortest size at 172, it really isn't that unisex friendly. Even the "men's" winner, Rustler 11, comes down to a 164. Sure, a 172 pow ski skis short and probably works for around half of women skiers (especially the types of skiers who buy in on a dedicated pow ski). But I wish they would've prioritized Line, Armada, K2, or Icelantic (or the Sheeva 11), where their options come down into the 160s and work for most women.

I Looove the Sheeva 9 as my daily driver. Have never been able to find the Sheeva 11 for demo. Have you skied it, and if so what did you think?
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
Haven't skied them yet, but have helped a few friends decide on them. Really similar construction elements as the new Santa Ana line, and there's no shortage of fans there. (Not to mention, a cheaper MSRP).
I have the Santa Ana's, and I love them.
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I am a bit suspicious of a ski that only goes down to 172cm being suggested as 'best' in the powder category - unless that's 50% rocker with no effective edge to speak of for half the ski, it's not a ski that's accessible to me at all. I'd go mid 160s accounting for the rocker but it seems to reinforce the idea that powder is only for 'advanced' skiiers who would be fine on a longer ski...

That being said, with what everyone upthread is saying about the Fischer Rangers I feel like I need to jump on them back-to-back with the Santa Anas and my own Kenjas to see what they're like...sounds like a fun line to ski!
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Oh, I love the new Santa Anas too, ended up buying the 2021 SA88 after demoing a similar width - great skis for me. Makes sense that they have some similarities to the Fischer Ranger skis then, since I thoroughly enjoyed those as well!

Yeah, that shortest length of the 115 is definitely still too long for me. I didn't notice that it only came in long lengths. I'd demo it for fun but I wouldn't buy such a long ski (it's +12cm over my height!). Quite unusual for them to not include a mid-160s option for a ladies ski.

Oh and @fgor - yes! They had the most insanely forward mount point for women that forced you to ski in the backseat. I have a year of sales data from that era and Fischer had one of the most lopsided sales split between men's & women's skis. The decision to make all of their skis unisex was a smart one.
That makes PERFECT sense based on my experience. Love hearing it's not just me! I wasn't even consciously aware that I was being forced into the backseat but my knees were absolutely killing me and I felt like I struggled to find my balance. Really glad they came to their senses, because their unisex ski offerings are great now.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I took out a pair of the Ranger 102FR last winter on an early load powder day. They were a tad long at 172 (I think??) and surprisingly, I LOVED them on groomers! Keep in mind, the groomers were buttery soft from being groomed after the snow fell. But I really liked them.

The Nela 80 is on my radar as my daily ski this year, but the lengths are not right for me. After skiing the Nela 88 in 2020 testing, I was in love. But I'm wanting my daily ski to be narrower this year.

Such first world problems...
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
I took out a pair of the Ranger 102FR last winter on an early load powder day. They were a tad long at 172 (I think??) and surprisingly, I LOVED them on groomers! Keep in mind, the groomers were buttery soft from being groomed after the snow fell. But I really liked them.

The Nela 80 is on my radar as my daily ski this year, but the lengths are not right for me. After skiing the Nela 88 in 2020 testing, I was in love. But I'm wanting my daily ski to be narrower this year.

Such first world problems...

I sooooo wanted to try the 102, except that there were no demo days around here last year. Can't wait until we actually get a demo day again, hopefully this year!
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
I've always taken SKI Magazine's reviews with a grain of salt. In the past they've been a "pay to play" review site, where ski manufacturers pay a good chunk of money to get reviewed. Ski Magazine has also always taken into account the availability of skis into their reviews as well...e.g. Volkl or Nordica will tend to rank higher than Line or Icelandic because they are found in a lot more shops. They've claimed that this is because "there's no use reviewing a ski if a skier can't actually buy it". I disagree with this, especially with the internet these days...a ski will always be available (unless it's sold out).

However, now that they are owned my Outside, I am curious if they have the same philosophies, so I dug into their site to try to gain some insight. However, their "How SKI Magazine Ranks Skis" article is behind a paywall. Anyone have a membership that cares to summarize? https://www.skimag.com/gear/ski-reviews/how-ski-ranks-skis/
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Did anyone catch that they included the BD Impulse in their Top 6 Women's Pow Skis roundup? The smallest size is a 181. Insanity.

Totally agree with @fgor that powder skis have an image problem with women skiers. They come in longer lengths & are all marked "experts." I definitely got the impression that I should learn to ski powder on all mountain skis and powder skis were for experts who skied powder well. There are tons of women trying to ski Cascade Concrete on a pair of barely rockered Vantage 86s that internalize the fact that they're struggling. The industry could make a lot of money by reframing the way we talk about fat skis.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Did anyone catch that they included the BD Impulse in their Top 6 Women's Pow Skis roundup? The smallest size is a 181. Insanity.

Totally agree with @fgor that powder skis have an image problem with women skiers. They come in longer lengths & are all marked "experts." I definitely got the impression that I should learn to ski powder on all mountain skis and powder skis were for experts who skied powder well. There are tons of women trying to ski Cascade Concrete on a pair of barely rockered Vantage 86s that internalize the fact that they're struggling. The industry could make a lot of money by reframing the way we talk about fat skis.

This is exactly how I feel! I stink at powder skiing being on the East coast, and the thoughts of trying a way longer powder ski in the conditions I really struggle in.. is scary.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@MissySki - I have tried the Sheeva 11, but spent a lot more time on the 10. And haven't skied the 9. But from my understanding, the 9 is less rockered and has more metal throughout the body of the ski to make it well rounded and improve its hard snow performance. Mount point sits a little further back. And the 9 is as heavy as the 10 in the same sizes.

The 10 adds more tip & tail rocker, softens the extremities, and bumps that mount point forward. I wrote a review of the 10 as part of a reviewer application process that I'd be happy to share. Essentially, I wish I owned this ski as I was learning to ski off piste. Versatile enough to be a OSQ, but it really excels a tight turns off piste. I could ski at slow, conservative speeds, but do so with connected turns and a fluid style. They definitely ski short (I first tried them in a 164 since I was looking for something longer than my 162 Pandora 95s and they felt way too short, and I liked them much more in a 172. Today, I wish they came in something like a 174 or 175, and I usually land on skis around 170). Huge sweet spot and very forgiving. They definitely reward you for getting more forward and into a confident stance, but they're still plenty compliant if you're in a hesitant stance with your weight back. They don't like to hang out in the fall line. All the construction elements lend themselves to easy turning, and when you get them in the fall line, they just keep turning and cross the fall line. Soft tips plane well in fresh snow, while the weight and metal in the midsection helps mute out vibrations if you're in crud or get tip flap.

The 11 similar to the 10. But the radius gets longer and the mount point pulls back a bit. They remove a little bit of camber from underfoot. It's more amenable to different sized turn shapes and hanging out in the fall line.

Definitely think it's a low-risk starting point if you ski the 9 and either option is well rounded enough to make a good travel ski. I'd say that the Liberty Genesis 106 or an outgoing clearance Yvette Alchemist would probably be 2nd tier recs if you love the Sheeva 9.
 

Bookworm

Angel Diva
I have the Kastle FX96, which I love, but they can be exhausting. I am looking to replace my old BP88s with something similar. The BPs became too soft for me as I progressed. I really want to try a pair of those Nela 80s.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
@MissySki - I have tried the Sheeva 11, but spent a lot more time on the 10. And haven't skied the 9. But from my understanding, the 9 is less rockered and has more metal throughout the body of the ski to make it well rounded and improve its hard snow performance. Mount point sits a little further back. And the 9 is as heavy as the 10 in the same sizes.

The 10 adds more tip & tail rocker, softens the extremities, and bumps that mount point forward. I wrote a review of the 10 as part of a reviewer application process that I'd be happy to share. Essentially, I wish I owned this ski as I was learning to ski off piste. Versatile enough to be a OSQ, but it really excels a tight turns off piste. I could ski at slow, conservative speeds, but do so with connected turns and a fluid style. They definitely ski short (I first tried them in a 164 since I was looking for something longer than my 162 Pandora 95s and they felt way too short, and I liked them much more in a 172. Today, I wish they came in something like a 174 or 175, and I usually land on skis around 170). Huge sweet spot and very forgiving. They definitely reward you for getting more forward and into a confident stance, but they're still plenty compliant if you're in a hesitant stance with your weight back. They don't like to hang out in the fall line. All the construction elements lend themselves to easy turning, and when you get them in the fall line, they just keep turning and cross the fall line. Soft tips plane well in fresh snow, while the weight and metal in the midsection helps mute out vibrations if you're in crud or get tip flap.

The 11 similar to the 10. But the radius gets longer and the mount point pulls back a bit. They remove a little bit of camber from underfoot. It's more amenable to different sized turn shapes and hanging out in the fall line.

Definitely think it's a low-risk starting point if you ski the 9 and either option is well rounded enough to make a good travel ski. I'd say that the Liberty Genesis 106 or an outgoing clearance Yvette Alchemist would probably be 2nd tier recs if you love the Sheeva 9.

I would love to see the review you wrote if you could share it!

I ski the Sheeva 9 in a 164, and that is usually around my sweet spot for ski length being in tighter trees and bumps in the East. Would the advice be to bump up to the 172 size for the 10 or 11 for fresh snow? For reference, I'm 5'4" and ~120 lbs, and I'm not a very aggressive skier. I like to go on aggressive terrain, but my skiing style is much more finesse than powerful. I have skis up to 168 in length that I own and feel fine on, but for some reason the idea of passing the 170 mark has always been my self imposed limit..
 

FayGoneAstray

Certified Ski Diva
I took out a pair of the Ranger 102FR last winter on an early load powder day. They were a tad long at 172 (I think??) and surprisingly, I LOVED them on groomers! Keep in mind, the groomers were buttery soft from being groomed after the snow fell. But I really liked them.

The Nela 80 is on my radar as my daily ski this year, but the lengths are not right for me. After skiing the Nela 88 in 2020 testing, I was in love. But I'm wanting my daily ski to be narrower this year.

Such first world problems...
Nela 88 is on my list ... any reviews or feedback re. them? (yes I know every ski is different for each skier but I"m trying to narrow down my would love to demo and look into more list!!) I'm worried they might be too much ski for my level but Ski Essentials and Stockli (I wrote to them) said they are totally great for intermediates and to also grow with my ability. However I am aware both places obviously are in the business of selling skis. The shortest length of 152 seems good for my size.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@MissySki - sure thing! I've got it attached.

For sizing, I spent most of my days on the Sheeva when I was shopping for something wider and longer than my old Pandora 95s in a 162. As I mentioned, the 164s felt shorter. I also ski the Atris Birdie (169), old 2-sheets-titanal Santa Ana 110 (169), Ripstick 102 (170) and Yvette Alchemist (168). And I tested the QST 106 (174) and Backland 109 FR (175) during the same testing period. I'd say the Sheeva 10 is on par with the Atris & Santa Ana length wise, and but is more forgiving than both. Felt shorter than the Ripstick. And I found the Backland and QST too long. Oh - and I share your same build (and boots).

I've been toggling back and forth between the Rustler 9 & 11 on Ski Essentials review trying to see if the rocker profile is dramatically different, and they seem a little deeper in the tips and a fair bit deeper in the tails. But idk if it makes for 8cm worth of effective edge. The other good way to ballpark is where the size range starts and ends. The Rustler 9 runs from 164-188. The 11 shares all the same sizing, but then adds an extra half size at 192. Definitely gives the impression that the 11 skis shorter, but not a whole size shorter.
 

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bsskier

Angel Diva
Nela 88 is on my list ... any reviews or feedback re. them? (yes I know every ski is different for each skier but I"m trying to narrow down my would love to demo and look into more list!!) I'm worried they might be too much ski for my level but Ski Essentials and Stockli (I wrote to them) said they are totally great for intermediates and to also grow with my ability. However I am aware both places obviously are in the business of selling skis. The shortest length of 152 seems good for my size.
I got to demo the Nela 88 (and 96) prior to their release last year. Incredible ski. The Nela line is very approachable so don’t let any write up deter you.
 

NZfarmgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've not skied on any of these, but my rec for a high performance carver, is the Volkl Deacon 74.
Especially if you need to ski dynamic turns for an exam, or just want great stability. Nice response to pressure management. Zero chatter at speed.

Short or medium radius turns, very good. Strong, heavy, damp, but agile. Great in crud, really fun off piste, variable snow, bumps. Sort of does everything. These are my everyday go to. I can ski them in medium powder fine, but they are not designed for that of course.
Best for an advanced skier, who uses edging, in round shaped turns, rather than sliding/skidding to turn.
Negative. -heavy to carry around.
I ski the 163. radius 14
I am 168 centimetres tall weight - 65kg, Advanced skier.
Love love love.
 
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AJM

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have the Kastle FX96, which I love, but they can be exhausting. I am looking to replace my old BP88s with something similar. The BPs became too soft for me as I progressed. I really want to try a pair of those Nela 80s.
I've just purchased the 2022 BP 88's and I feel they are stiffer than the previous model, felt like I was on a totally different ski.
 

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