Ranked No. 1 in Rebound, the GS:11 "always has more power," says Brown. "It's very hard to max out." With titanium "Power Channels" running down its length and a dimpled, aerodynamic topskin, the GS:11 smacks of race-only breeding. But there's more to it. "Versatile," says MacConnell. "Takes very little effort to feel like the Hermannator," says Twardokens. That said, McGrath recommends "full-on, no-excuses, hips-in" technique to get the most out of it.
*Dimensions vary by length; these are for the 186 cm.
Armed with Dynastar's smooth-but-powerful "Autodrive" construction, the Course is a "gentle giant," says MacConnell. "Really easy to ski, but when you lay it out, it offers a rock-solid platform, too." Delliquadri recommends it for "racers looking for an easy-turning GS ski with no compromise in stability." The Course "lets you build up speed fast," says Lewis, "and change your turn radius with just a little pressure." And it's great all over the mountain.
GSX World Cup
Less of an "all-mountain" GS ski and more of a podium-seeking rocket, the GSX gets top scores in Stability at Speed. Reason: A "Torsion Plus" element keeps its edges in the snow. "Big-stick power," says Brown. "Feels like the fastest ski out of each turn," says Delliquadri. "Really nails GS arcs," adds McGrath, "but won't forgive you if you back off." The harder they push it, the more testers like it. "Solid as a rock," says Thys. "But it won't make you feel younger."
If Einstein was right, the faster you go, the slower you age. No wonder the Fischer Giant Slalom makes you feel younger. No. 1 in Stability and Hard-Snow Grip, it's "a flat-out race ski," says Bigford. "I lost 10 pounds on the way down." Masters and NASTAR champs will love it, says Lewis: "Full-on, rocket, triple-X GS race, baby! Attack, and the course is yours." MacConnell, like most testers, finds it "awesome, but strictly for the course." As Twardokens puts it: "Eastern racers now have their razor blades."
World Cup i.Race
If you want extra versatility, albeit with less power, consider the high-tech World Cup i.Race all-mountain GS ski. Packed with Head's "intellifibers," which contract and stiffen as the ski flexes, the i.Race "is a GS ski for easy hills and courses and all-mountain, high-speed carving," says Delliquadri. "A really nice one-ski mix of skills." Twardokens calls it"a light, easy-turning competition ski, perfect for the NASTAR racer and carving expert." Thys agrees: The i.Race "needs only a littlepressure, and it's carving."
No. 1 in Forgiveness, the Axis XR is well-suited to all-mountain carving, but it has a racer's heart within its damp, double-core MOD construction. Testers skied longer lengths for GS. "Not a World Cup race GS," says McGrath, "but fun in the course and on the trail." Morgan finds it "perfect for the racer who, by the way, likes to ski." Thys enjoys its "effortless rhythm changes."
$1,200 (w/ binding),
The Olympic medal-winning K12 GS has gel-filled modules in the tip to calm vibrations. The result: "Nice snow-feel, without sacrificing stability," says Forland. The K12's metal-reinforced wood core makes it "a great power ski with excellent snap," says Brown. "You've got to be strong, but if you use big angles, it'll fly." MacConnell's favorite approach to the K12: "Hammer! Serious technique yields serious speed." It's not a short-turner, but "it fires on all cylinders in long turns," says Thys.
World Cup 9X
Another long-turn specialist, the 9X feaatures Rossignol's proven Dualtec construction, which combines cap (for energetic response) and vertical-sidewall (for precision on rough snow) construction. "Very damp and always connected to the snow," says Lewis. "Capable of some very nice arcs," says Delliquadri. Morgan finds it best "when rolling from edge to edge; easy to initiate." Twardokens likes its "smoothness" and, like many testers, says NASTAR racers will love its user-friendliness.
*Dimensions vary by length; these are for 185 cm.
Equipe 10 2V Poweraxe Race
Here's a friendly GS ski with a barn-burner gene mixed in. The new 2V, with a 66-mm waist, is "truly modern," says Delliquadri, who recommends two-footed carving. "Stand strong on both feet and it's rock solid." The Monocoque Titanium frame and "Metaltex" topskin make this a "lightweight GS ski that is as forgiving (No. 2 in the test) as it is powerful," says Lewis. "Great for aspiring racers all the way up to World Cup pros." Morgan says the smooth and highly versatile 2V "gives you options. The sidecutdoesn't dictate your moves."
P50 GS Racing Piston Motion
$1,175 (w/ binding),
With Völkl's highly regarded energY construction (combined with a wood core and titanium cap that spans from edge to edge), the P50 GSbristles with new technology. With its integrated-rail binding interface and the Piston tip-flap dampener, the P50 masters many opposites: "Quick but powerful and very light," says Brown. "It's got an amazingbalance of skills." Delliquadri found the P50 "excellent as the speeds got higher. It's confidence inspiring." The P50 tied for No. 1 in Long Turns and No. 3 in Forgiveness. "It needs a lot of edge angle," says Morgan "but that creates incredible power."