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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.

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.

PRICE (MSRP): $825.00
Product Specifications | How We Test
Year2009/2010
LevelIntermediate, Advanced, Expert
MSRP$825.00
GenderMale
Tip/Waist/Tail133/96/116
Rating: Powder Performance3.62 / 5
Rating: Stability at Speed4.40 / 5
Rating: Short Turns3.02 / 5
Rating: Hard Snow Grip3.82 / 5
Rating: Crud Performance4.22 / 5
Rating: Moguls Performance3.02 / 5
Rating: Forgiveness3.62 / 5
Rating: Quickness/Bumps3.02 / 5

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. 

PRICE (MSRP): $900.00
Product Specifications | How We Test
Year2009/2010
LevelIntermediate, Advanced, Expert
MSRP$900.00
GenderMale
Tip/Waist/Tail130/97/115
Rating: Powder Performance3.34 / 5
Rating: Stability at Speed3.80 / 5
Rating: Short Turns3.38 / 5
Rating: Hard Snow Grip3.76 / 5
Rating: Crud Performance3.80 / 5
Rating: Moguls Performance3.38 / 5
Rating: Forgiveness3.58 / 5
Rating: Quickness/Bumps3.38 / 5

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.

PRICE (MSRP): $899.00
Product Specifications | How We Test
Year2009/2010
LevelIntermediate, Advanced, Expert
MSRP$899.00
GenderMale
Tip/Waist/Tail135/98/125
Rating: Powder Performance3.76 / 5
Rating: Stability at Speed4.22 / 5
Rating: Short Turns3.16 / 5
Rating: Hard Snow Grip4.00 / 5
Rating: Crud Performance3.76 / 5
Rating: Moguls Performance3.16 / 5
Rating: Forgiveness3.56 / 5
Rating: Quickness/Bumps3.16 / 5

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.

PRICE (MSRP): $800.00
Product Specifications | How We Test
Year2009/2010
LevelAdvanced, Expert
MSRP$800.00
GenderMale
Tip/Waist/Tail134/100/125
Rating: Powder Performance3.38 / 5
Rating: Stability at Speed3.16 / 5
Rating: Short Turns2.98 / 5
Rating: Hard Snow Grip2.74 / 5
Rating: Crud Performance3.38 / 5
Rating: Moguls Performance2.98 / 5
Rating: Forgiveness3.42 / 5
Rating: Quickness/Bumps2.98 / 5

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.

PRICE (MSRP): $1230.00
Product Specifications | How We Test
Year2009/2010
LevelAdvanced, Expert
MSRP$1230.00
GenderMale
Tip/Waist/Tail132/98/117
Rating: Powder Performance3.28 / 5
Rating: Stability at Speed3.68 / 5
Rating: Short Turns2.95 / 5
Rating: Hard Snow Grip3.35 / 5
Rating: Crud Performance3.28 / 5
Rating: Moguls Performance2.95 / 5
Rating: Forgiveness2.77 / 5
Rating: Quickness/Bumps2.95 / 5
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