These are the least expensive beginner skis¿lightweight and designed for the entry-level skier looking to gain confidence and improve without overspending. Testers were coached to ski as if they were first-year skiers looking for a ski on which to learn.
Rossignol Bandit Jr.
$209-$239 80-160 cm 93-62-81
"I like the way this ski didn't go too fast or too slow and was easy to control," Allison said. This ski scored well in Rebound Energy and Long-Turn Carving. In the shorter lengths, Rossignol is careful to adjust the waist width to arrive at an appropriate sidecut.
Elan Team Carve
$150 78-158 cm 86-65-83
Tested in both the Recreation and Value categories, the Team Carve scored best here. It was ultra-friendly in wedge turns, and our testers thought it could instill confidence in novices. "It makes you feel weightless, like you're gliding in mid-air," Becca said. "I'd recommend it for beginners."
K2 Mod X Jr.
$125-$145 80-150 cm 91-67-83
This ski, with the most stable platform in the group, could do it all for a junior skier looking to get into the sport. It changed directions easily and was stable, comfortable and forgiving. "It did everything well, and did what I ordered it to," David said.
Head Carve Team
$155-$175 80-160 cm 98-65-88
With the deepest sidecut in the category, this ski would appeal to an older kid who has had time on the slopes and wants to take his skiing to the next level. "It made nice long turns at speed," Taylor said, "but it still skidded and side-slipped easily, which is good for an intermediate."
Atomic Race 6.22
$240-$260 80-150 cm 92-66-85
This entry-level version of the Atomic seemed to do all the work for the skier. "When I pressured the ski it did magic!" exclaimed Will. The 6.22's shape and weight were perfect, though probably better suited to intermediates than beginners. "This is for the skier who's been skiing for a while and is now ready to get serious," David said.
Elan MX Carve
$200 93-153 cm 92-62-84
At 103 cm, this was the shortest ski we tested, and at first the testers were skeptical. But once they tried it, they were amazed at its performance. "I could switch directions easily, and it forgave me if I made a mistake," Jack said. "I had confidence even though it was so short." Great for the beginner who wants to learn how to carve the right way.
Dynastar Team 4X4
$200-$225 80-160 cm 97-63.5-87
This ski made our testers feel like champions. "I felt like Tommy Moe," Will said. It handled all types of terrain well and was also well suited for entry-level skiers who enjoy skiing all over the mountain and challenging themselves.