Designed for versatility, these skis perform well in a variety of terrain and conditions. As a group, they tend to be a bit softer than the Expert/Race skis, and many have wider, more stable waists. That doesn't mean they're inferior skis; on the contrary, these will allowjunior skiers access to more of the mountain and more fun. They'll also double as excellent race skis for 8- to 12-year-olds.
Elan MX Carve Jr.
$200 93-153 cm 92-62-84
Versatility is this ski's strong suit. "I think a skier who likes to ski all over the mountain and have a good time would like this ski because it's fun everywhere," Allison said. All agreed they were easy to turn and comfortable in all conditions and terrain, and would help novice skiers develop skills. "They forgive you like a nice friend," Becca said.
Fischer Freeride Jr.
$250 128-158 cm 97-64-84
"This ski did nothing wrong," Skip said. "It was great for short turns, long turns, bumps, jumps, carving and crud." The Freeride Jr. lives up to its name as a Freerider ski¿great all over the mountain, especially in ungroomed conditions. "This ski is for real rippers," Chelsea F. said, "or for young racers who want to have fun."
Head Cyber Team
$295 140-170 cm 101-62-90
The Cyber Team appealed to testers of all ability levels and would work well for a wide variety of kids. They gave it rave reviews for everything from wedge turns to high-speed carves. "I liked the weight and feel of this ski," Allison said. "I also liked the way it carved through crud and powder."
K2 Patriot Jr.
$220 120-150 cm 94-65-82
"A fun ride," Katherine said. "Its rebound energy and flexibility made it ski everything well." Testers liked the look of Patriot (important at their age), and took it all over the mountain with confidence. Its stable waist and moderate shape are perfect for juniors. "I especially liked how it skied bumps," said Becca. "It just told the bumps what to do."
Völkl FunCarver Jr.
$240 118-148 cm 100-65-90
This ski ruled the cards of younger testers. "It's for anyone who loves to ski," Will said. "I felt like I was in heaven." It topped the charts for fun and friendliness and will make any young skier feel on top of the world. "I was way ahead of my friends on this ski," David said. "It did the work for me. Felt like a Porsche."
Atomic Race 8.14
$300 130-150 cm 89-62-74
Atomic's toned-down race ski works as more of a recreational ski, without giving up too much. Softer and less demanding, with a sidecut that isn't overly aggressive, it nevertheless holds long clean arcs well and is stable at speed. Who would like it? "A good skier who likes to go fast," Allison said.
Rossignol Mtn. Viper Jr.
$279 120-160 cm 93-62-81
Rossi does it again: The Viper is forgiving yet stable and performance-oriented. It was great at ripping up the crud and powder, yet could also carve deep arcs on the groomed. "An All-Mountain ripper who likes control and knows how to turn a ski would like this," Pat said.
Salomon X-Scream Team
$255 120-160 cm 95-64-83
"It's great on everything," Chelsea M. said. "Young racers and free-skiing rippers would love this ski." Testers agreed: A young skier could take the lightweight X-Scream straight from the woods to the course. "It made me feel like I was riding fast in my Dad's car," Becca said.
Salomon 1080 Grom
$425 129-145 cm 102-70-94
Testers couldn't wait to get on the wild-looking twintip. "Great for tricks and going backward!" Gabby said. But it's no one-trick pony. With a generous waist (great for landing big air), it isn't made for the gates, but it surprised everybody by how well it carved and held on firm snow.