In Your heart of hearts, you've always yearned for a one-ski quiver. That's right: one pair to go anywhere. In the East, that means a rig that holds fast on the hard-pack, shows some quickness (and forgiveness) in the bumps and still gives you a lift in powder-or whatever passes for powder on a given Eastern ski day. Around here, it's not unusual to find all three in a single run.
Seeking the ultimate "go-anywhere, do-all" ride for Eastern experts, we tested scores of skis, even dabbling in the race and freeride categories before settling comfortably back into all-mountain carvers of a certain width. These skis excel on harder snow, but are designed-typically with low- to midfat waists and ample sidecuts-to dial up the fun in a wide range of conditions. Here are 13 standouts-loosely organized by waist-width and including more (or less) muscular sibling models where appropriate-guaranteed to keep an Eastern expert smiling, no matter what the day brings.
1 Völkl Supersport 6 Star (114-68-99) It's the ski that launched a trend toward versatile all-mountain carvers with slightly wider waists. Often imitated but never quite rivaled (unless you prefer the lighter touch of Völkl's 5 Star or the race-ready heft of its Superspeed), the 6 Star scores high across the board. Its "aluminum Motion Rail technology" translates into unfailing edge-hold, because the binding is mounted to rails in a way that won't inhibit ski flex. It's loaded with rebound, stable at any speed and just hefty enough to hold up in the crud: a truly multitalented all-terrain vehicle. $1,115 with binding
2 Fischer RX 8 (115-66-98) Race-bred and proud of it, Fischer's RX Series offers something no other all-mountain carver can: They feel like Fischers. Which is to say, Cadillac-smooth and unshakably stable. The RX 8 is perfect for reformed racers who might still have a pair of RC4s in the rafters, while the RX 6 might be a better choice for lighter skiers and those ust warming up to Fischer's wood-core precision. $695
3 K2 Apache Crossfire (109-68-99) Picking up where the XT left off last season, the Crossfire feels like a happy marriage of the soft, fluid GS ski of old with today's hyperactive carvers, such as K2's 64-waisted Hellfire. It's built with a thinner layer of titanium alloy than the Hellfire, making it lighter and more forgiving. It's among the quickest-turning skis we tried, with enough potential energy to light a fire on any mountain. $785
4 Dynastar Skicross 10 (110-69-98) Long a tester favorite, the Cross 10 continues to sport Autodrive construction, which melds a supple, easy-turning cap in the tip and tail with stout vertical sidewalls underfoot for edge-grip. It's quick and nimble in slalom turns and bumps, but always game to air it out in big arcs. Lighter skiers and diehard bumpers might prefer the Cross 9, with its softer composite plate underfoot. $1,210 with binding
5 Nordica SUV 14 XBS (115-70-99) The genius of the SUV is its X Balance binding interface, a system developed with Marker that features two free-floating plates that distribute pressure fore or aft to accommodate balance errors. Promising to do for skis what Big Bertha did for golf, the SUVs are "self-regulating boards" that virtually end operator error. $975, with binding
6 Và–lkl 724 EXP (114-74-102) Amply endowed at both waist and tail, the Rubenesque yet precise EXP is billed as a ski for "skiers who explore both the front and the backside of the mountain." We call it another Völkl masterpiece: a true midfat that's as fun on the groomed as it is in powder. $650
7 Rossignol Zenith Z5 TP (112-68-98) Welcomes intermediates, but definitely has a higher gear for Type-A drivers. $729
8 Salomon Street Racer 9 Pilot (108-69-102) Racy GS feel with a strong finish, and the Pilot binding interface just loves to arc. $925 with binding
9 Head Monster i.M 75 Chip (114-74-103) Excels in big, fast arcs with Head-like calm and stability. $915 with binding
10 Elan Fusion M 666 (116-76-102) Plenty wide for powder days, but supple construction, metal laminates and vertical sidewalls make it invincible on hardpack, too. $1,025 with binding
11 K2 Apache Recon (115-78-105) Floats in powder, as you'd expect from its width, but surprisingly quick. Never hooky. $875
DESIGNED FOR WOMEN
12 Fischer Vi 50 (116-65-98) Deep sidecut and reduced weight make it a snappy short-turn specialist. $875 with binding
13 Nordica SUV 12 SLE XBS (115-70-99) A tester favorite: Stable, comfortable and preternaturally forgiving of fore-aft mistakes. $835 with binding