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Powder: Wide

These are for experts who want a specialized powder skis, but also value versatility. They're wide but manageable (90–105 mm underfoot), so they surf the deep but bust crud and carve on groomed, too. Best for resort powder days, out of bounds and crud when the hill gets tracked out.

Mantra

Volkl

2010

price$825

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
4.40 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.82 / 5
Crud Performance: 
4.22 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.62 / 5
Quickness: 
3.02 / 5
Average Score: 
3.77 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST133/96/116

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

MSRP: $825.00

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If you can admit that beating everyone to the bottom gives you satisfaction, here’s your ski. The Mantra, surely a classic by now, gulps powder- and crud-covered vert with shameless greed. As in other categories, there are lighter and less demanding skis than the Völkl, but here again, none more stable, smooth and predictable. The Mantra’s race-ready construction—wood core, vertical sidewalls, metal laminates—knows no speed limit.  “Solid and predictable, like an old friend,” said Howard.

Phantom SC 97

Rossignol

2010

price$900

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.80 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.76 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.80 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.58 / 5
Quickness: 
3.38 / 5
Average Score: 
3.65 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST130/97/115

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

MSRP: $900.00

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Dampness—the absence of vibration—can be a matter of taste. But testers were unanimous in their high opinion of the smoothness and imperturbability of the Phantom, which flows down the hill like mercury. It’s easy to get going faster than you normally do—the calm ride does it every time. But it handles all that speed nicely, and its forgiving tail won’t ever surprise you by over-finishing a turn. “Nice creamy feel that serves well in all conditions,” said Preston. 

Enforcer

Nordica

2010

price$899

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
4.22 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
4.00 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.76 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.56 / 5
Quickness: 
3.16 / 5
Average Score: 
3.78 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

WAIST WIDTHmm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST135/98/125

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS

MSRP: $899.00

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Like a lot of skiers we know, some skis can’t get excited if there isn’t at least a foot of fresh. Not the Enforcer. Even on hardpack, testers loved its tight, solid platform, which delivered a carve-greedy responsiveness that belies its 98-mm girth. Its sidecut is the deepest among medal-winners, and its wood-core, vertical-sidewall, metal-reinforced construction destroys crud and rips groomers. “Solid underfoot; excellent rebound; loves to be worked from tip to tail,” said Couperthwait.

Prophet 100

Line

2010

price$800

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.16 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
2.74 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.38 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.42 / 5
Quickness: 
2.98 / 5
Average Score: 
3.21 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST134/100/125

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

MSRP: $800.00

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Line doesn’t have to like it, but the one-time indy brand for cool kids (now K2-owned) is edging into the mainstream. No wonder, with skis like the Prophet, a perennial winner and one-time Ski of the Year. You don’t have to ski with 90-cm poles and a bandana to appreciate the 100’s easy fluidity, and you don’t have to be a 90-day guy to handle it. Testers deemed it reasonably forgiving. “Tremendous versatility; lively, yet surprisingly efficient on hard snow,” said Couperthwait.

MX98

Kastle

2010

price$1230

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.68 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.35 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.28 / 5
Forgiveness: 
2.77 / 5
Quickness: 
2.95 / 5
Average Score: 
3.19 / 5

YEAR2009/2010

TIP/TAIL/WAIST132/98/117

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS

MSRP: $1230.00

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It’s hardly a ski bum’s first choice at that price, but the MX98 lacks nothing for hardcore cred. Testers’ only concern was that it would be too much for some. Kastle sells it flat but designed it with the Marker Duke in mind and offers it that way as well ($1,599). The Duke gives its already powerful construction extra oomph, and the rubber layers Kastle integrates into the layup add a measure of mellow smoothness. “A good skier’s ski that does everything well,” said Woods.

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