For expert and elite-level skiers looking for unsinkable flotation in the deepest powder. These are niche skis with massive waist-widths (105-plus mm), so they're meant for backside powder days, out of bounds and heli/catskiing.
Still not a major ski brand, Scott keeps bulling its way into the thick of the medal results. Don’t be fooled by the American name; the brand is French-manufactured and rooted in the progressive freeskiing culture of the Alps. There’s always been a distinctively surfy/smeary feel to its skis, and it’s only more pronounced in the rockered Stunt. It was a tester favorite for making broken snow easy to ski and one of the tops for flotation. “Fun ski. Floaty, stable, reliable, likes to go fast,” said Woods.
Interesting: The widest ski in the category ranks No. 1, by a lot, in forgiveness. Naturally it’s tops in flotation, too. But while the subtly rockered S7 may indeed be a cheater ski for those who need a little help in deep powder, that’s not what made it a tester favorite. Its sidecut, for one thing, gives it a quickness—especially at turn’s end—that belies its fatness, working in perfect concert with its slight rocker. “As much skateboard as ski. Super maneuverable and easy in deep snow,” said Preston.
We don’t know what (who?) a Girish is, but we know this model used to go by the name Blower. By any name, it’s still loved by testers, though they warn that it’s best suited to an aggressive expert. It’s not the most nimble ski in the group. It prefers long turns, rewarding speed-loving powderhounds with confidence-inspiring solidity and a traditional (i.e., non-twin-tip) feel. And it’s a competent carver on the soft-pack. “Definitely a powder pig, but will get you back to the lift in style,” said Preston.
The Sidestash inhabits K2’s new Backside collection of frontside/backside boundary-blenders, and like the Coomback (see Powder: Wide), it comes preconfigured to accept K2-brand climbing skins. It’s built for adventure, not liftline posing. A hybrid construction combines the power of sidewalls underfoot with cap softness fore and aft. It’s quick for a ski its size, and moderate tip rocker gives it buoyancy and forgiveness. “Tip floats well, but you can still power that flat tail,” said Larsen.
Lots of skis feel great in powder; fewer succeed in broken snow as well. And since the latter is rule more often than exception for most of us, it’s a joy to find a ski that doesn’t just tolerate crud but enjoys it. The 1010, with its fluid yet powerful feel, loves to mach through bumpy stuff and make you look good doing it. To be sure, it’s a big-boy’s ski, and it prefers aggressive input, but it’s not an unrelenting taskmaster, either. “Power to spare, but you don’t have to be on it all the time,” said Larsen.
Testers have always loved the XXL for its power but warned that it’s too strong for most. This year there’s a twist. A touch of rocker in the tip makes it a different ski. The construction is still as stout as it gets, the almost nonexistent sidecut still prefers way-long turns, and the XXL is still generally built for speed in deep snow. But that floaty new tip gives it playfulness and a greater willingness to drift and smear. “Solid, balanced, powerful: great powder ski,” said Woods.
Question is, where lies the balance between the loose, surfy freedom of rocker and the reassuring carveability of traditional edginess? Blizzard may indeed have the answer. The big, subtly rockered twin-tip with moderate sidecut flows through crud smoothly, even as you gather speed, yet it doesn’t mind hard snow. Powder, of course, is its favored medium, and there it’s a perfect blend of flotation, agility and muscle. “Looks beefy, skis like a dream; I was totally at ease,” said Couperthwait.
Atomic makes a huge rockered ski, the Atlas (125 mm), but figured the more versatile Coax would be a better bet for the test. Good call. It’s hard to imagine wanting anything wider, even in the 14 inches of Snowbird powder we enjoyed. The Coax is a wood-core construction with relaxed sidewalls (think half cap, half vertical). And while it wasn’t as popular as the Snoop (see Powder: Wide), testers loved its enthusiasm. “Great in tight trees, floats well; cuts crud with minimal effort,” said Larsen.