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Cruiser

For advanced-to-expert skiers who want easygoing performance. With 70–80 mm waists, these skis are achievers, but without the attitude. They'll let you do the driving. Perfect for mostly soft groomers, but comfortable venturing everywhere.

Drive

Nordica

2010

price$799

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.57 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.57 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.30 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.60 / 5
Quickness: 
3.43 / 5
Average Score: 
3.53 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

WAIST WIDTHmm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST123/76/106

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

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When we test gear, many manufacturers only have one test model, and it can be the wrong size. That was the case with the Drive, which our taller testers felt was too short. Still, the Drive excelled: It dived down the fall line, bit through ice, floated through pow and snapped back with great energy and predictability. Slightly wider than last year’s, the new Drive has a stable feel, and a go-anywhere attitude that encourages off-piste forays. “Delivers polished turns and a confident ride,” said Moscarella.

Free Luv

2010

price$750

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.37 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
2.90 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.40 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.64 / 5
Quickness: 
3.33 / 5
Average Score: 
3.34 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST120/76/104

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

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You may think you have to choose between a ski that does one thing exceptionally well and one that does everything fairly well. Enter the Free Luv, which should have its price marked up for saving you the deliberation. With solid scores across the board, it proves you can have it all. It’s easy, fun, strong, stable, energetic, playful and serious, with an ability to adapt to all input and terrain—except ice, where it washes out. “This ski inspires you to go more places by being so versatile,” said Thys. 

Exclusive Fluid

Dynastar

2010

price$820

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.53 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
0.00 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.09 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.36 / 5
Quickness: 
3.24 / 5
Average Score: 
3.27 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST120/68/102

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

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These are like your favorite sneakers: They might not shave seconds off your time, but they sure are comfortable. With an easygoing personality, the Fluid also makes a fine everyday companion: It listens to your input, never interrupts and is happy to accompany you anywhere. It’s not the best choice for aggressive East Coast ex-racer types—it prefers a mellow vibe—but for a quintessential cruiser, it’s fine. “Take it easy, slide them around, and let them do the work,” said Sheinberg.

Viva 7.6 IQ

Blizzard

2010

price$800

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.97 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.97 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.67 / 5
Forgiveness: 
4.03 / 5
Quickness: 
4.47 / 5
Average Score: 
3.96 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST122/76/105

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

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The Viva is extraordinary. With top scores in every criterion, Blizzard sweeps the Cruiser category this year. This ski zings with personality without ever being overbearing. It’s extremely easy to ski, but holds a line so unfailingly that you can’t help but go a little faster, a little deeper, a little steeper. And while it will energetically do your bidding—carve trenches or ease through bumps—on one account it won’t budge: This ski will make you have fun. Period. “You will ski well on these,” said Lewis.

Cloud 9

Atomic

2010

price$749

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.64 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.64 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.24 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.57 / 5
Quickness: 
3.50 / 5
Average Score: 
3.55 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST117/73/106

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

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This ski wants to chew up the hill. With classic Atomic bite, the Cloud 9 loves to corkscrew slalom turns down the groomed. It’s on the precise and stiff side, but not in a punishing way: Rather than smoothing over your mistakes, the Cloud 9 capitalizes on your strengths, edging you in the right direction. In other words, it may not be as easy to ski as some of the others in this category, but its rewards are that much greater. “Smooth and flowy, with good rebound energy,” said Forland.

Unlimited AC30 Titanium

Volkl

2010

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price$1065

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.89 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.67 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.38 / 5
Forgiveness: 
2.77 / 5
Quickness: 
2.42 / 5
Average Score: 
3.11 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST124/80/107

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

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If your definition of cruising begins at 30 mph, you and the AC30 will get along. Völkl touts its versatility in terms of both terrain and snow conditions, and despite its floaty width, testers were impressed by its edge-grip and confidence at speed on flat snow.  It can be ponderous in short turns and a little less playful than others in the category in powder and crud. But for swift, graceful arcs on corduroy—firm or soft—it’s hard to beat.  “Nicely balanced, with a good stable platform,” said Moffatt.

Avenger 82 TI

Rossignol

2010

price$1100

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.47 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.27 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.05 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.49 / 5
Quickness: 
3.16 / 5
Average Score: 
3.31 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST126/82/112

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

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The name seems misleading on a ski this fun-loving. In fact, the 82-mm-wide Avenger might be the most comfortable ski in the group—partly due to that broad, stable platform and partly due to its uniquely forgiving tip. With metal laminates and a strong tail, it’s as eager for speed as you are. But balance is its defining trait, and while it topped no single criterion, it put up high marks across the board. “Doesn’t demand huge effort to make great turns, but loves to ramp it up, too,” said Lewis.

Hot Rod Nitrous CA

Nordica

2010

price$1180

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.69 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.51 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.49 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.38 / 5
Quickness: 
3.60 / 5
Average Score: 
3.51 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

WAIST WIDTHmm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST121/78/105

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

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The tester favorite earns praise for its balance of performance attributes. Carbon-reinforced laminates give it outstanding quickness, and it’s eminently calm at high speeds. In fact, testers preferred the CA to the metal-reinforced and more expensive Nitrous TI ($1,249), which medaled here two years ago. With a wide, stable platform and a broad tip that dives obediently into arcs, it’s a natural carver with excellent soft-snow skills. “Makes you feel like a better skier,” said Hogen.

MX78

Kastle

2010

price$1180

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.55 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.20 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.15 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.03 / 5
Quickness: 
2.91 / 5
Average Score: 
3.12 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST121/78.105

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

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Kastle layups are classic: laminate construction, wood cores, metal top and bottom. The one difference is rubber—a full sheet beneath the topsheet, plus strips over the edges. The feel is distinctive—smooth and quiet—and particularly well-suited to comfortable cruising. Meanwhile, the tip cutaway reduces weight and further dampens vibrations. Damp is good, as long as it’s not lifeless, and the 78 puts up good scores for rebound energy. “Powerful, silky and dynamic,” said Hogen.

Apache Recon MX

2010

price$1185

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.87 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.07 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.37 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.58 / 5
Quickness: 
2.97 / 5
Average Score: 
3.32 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST119/78/105

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

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We hardly needed to test the Recon—longtime darling of the test and two-time Ski of the Year. Good thing we did anyway. As with the Apache Xplorer (see Freeride), last year’s addition of the Marker Inter-Pivot heel lends
a hard-snow integrity that earlier Recons didn’t have. Top scores in flotation and forgiveness come as no
surprise. But No. 1 in stability at speed? Like we said:
not your daddy’s Recon. “Does everything: long/stable, short/quick or medium/smooth,” said Rogan.

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