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Gear

Samba

Blizzard

2015

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Gold Medal Gear

rating3.78

price$800

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
4.09 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.71 / 5
Crud Performance: 
4.01 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.29 / 5
Overall: 
3.78 / 5
Flotation: 
3.47 / 5

YEAR2014/2015

WAIST WIDTH98mm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST131-98-116

LEVELExpert

LENGTHS152, 159, 166, 173

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MSRP: $800.00
RATING: 3.78 / 5

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Holy Blizzard sweep-the brand topped four categories for women this year (including Value; see the october issue for our review). The Samba wowed testers again this year for its winning combination of power when it's on edge and supple steering when it's not. It doesn't shine in pow-its 98-mm waist is on the slender side of this category-but when the hill gets tracked, this ski will crush it. It's a true one-ski quiver. It's best for experts but isn't as punishing as a ski this fast should be. No. 1 scores in Crud, Balance of Skills, and the all-important overall Impression. "This is a skier's ski," said Kelli Gleason.

Black Pearl

Blizzard

2015

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Gold Medal Gear

rating4.14

price$750

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
4.08 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.94 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.66 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.56 / 5
Overall: 
4.14 / 5
Flotation: 
3.16 / 5

YEAR2014/2015

WAIST WIDTH88mm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST125-88-110

LEVELAdvanced

LENGTHS152, 159, 166, 173

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MSRP: $750.00
RATING: 4.14 / 5

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The Black Pearl is so versatile, it's almost a shapeshifter, transforming into whatever you desire: damp super-G ski one minute, agile tree slalomer the next. It's powerful yet forgiving, knifey yet smooth, responsive yet stable. It has the same shape as the men's Brahma-gradual rocker tip and tail for float and ease, flat underfoot with sturdy sidewalls for grip-but with a significantly lighter core. It also boasts Flip Core, which takes advantage of the wood's natural bow so there's no need to force it into rocker. "Just like an Audi A4: fast and sporty but with AWD when you need it," said Tracy Gibbons.

Yumi

Volkl

2015

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rating3.43

price$650

Ratings
Stability At Speed: 
3.58 / 5
Hard Snow Performance: 
3.21 / 5
Crud Performance: 
3.12 / 5
Forgiveness: 
3.68 / 5
Overall: 
3.43 / 5
Flotation: 
2.44 / 5

YEAR2014/2015

WAIST WIDTH83mm

TIP/TAIL/WAIST125-83-103

LEVELIntermediate

LENGTHS147, 154, 161, 168

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MSRP: $650.00
RATING: 3.43 / 5

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This ski prompted testers to wish for a split in the category: Groomed Snow East and Groomed Snow West. The latter is where the Yumi prefers to dwell. It's softer in flex and shorter on fang than some of the others, earning a No. 1 in Forgiveness. Makes sense: Volkl created this ski to be fun for mortals. It politely delivers what you demand with the perfect amount of snap, and its connection to the snow is magnetic. Light and quick edge-to-edge, it laughs through the bumps and is the most versa- tile for soft snow (No. 1 in Flotation), but for blue New England ice, look for more torsional rigidity. "Easy peasy!" said Kelli Gleason.

How We Test Ski Boots

How We Test Ski Boots

Jamie Kingsbury tests boots for SKI Magazine at Stratton, Vt.

To get the best ski gear, start at the bottom and work up.

To test boots, we returned to Mt. Bachelor, Ore., in the spring, as we have most years since SKI magazine created the first on-hill boot testing program more than 25 years ago.

Cochise Pro W

Tecnica

2015

price$700

YEAR2014/2015

LEVELAdvanced

FLEX105

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH98

MSRP: $700.00

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The cuff is tall and upright, and the flex is a true 105, so our taller, heavier women liked this one a lot. It skied strongly and comfortably everywhere on the hill—a boot doesn’t have to be bone-crushingly tight to be right when all the angles line up. It’s billed as a narrow fit (98 mm) but thicker feet won’t have any problems. Gettmann: “Finds the new edge quickly, like the next turn is its sole purpose in life.”

Mach1 105W C.A.S

Tecnica

2015

price$660

YEAR2014/2015

LEVELIntermediate

FLEX105

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH100

MSRP: $660.00

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Testers said the name is apt. They found themselves skiing faster and harder in this boot than most others in the category. Its athletic, balanced stance, honest 105 flex, and lateral strength combine to drive a ski with authority. Yet it’s plenty comfortable: All key fit zones are roomier than the average medium-width boot’s. Kennaday: “Perfect for women who want a little extra room but don’t want to give up the power.”

Quest Pro 100 W

Salomon

2015

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price$600

YEAR2014/2015

LEVELAdvanced

FLEX100

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH100

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MSRP: $600.00

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This agile, all-mountain ripper has tricks up its sleeve. The tongue and cuff are just right for off-piste exploration (a little tall, a little upright, a little long-flexing). The cushioned liner dampens bumps and jumps. Testers loved the big-buckle hike-mode mechanism for its ease of use and solid lockdown. And the heat-moldable shell fits a huge range of foot widths. Theren: “Good dynamic bal- ance fore and aft.”

X Max 110 W

Salomon

2015

price$700

YEAR2014/2015

LEVELAdvanced

FLEX110

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH98

MSRP: $700.00

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A yawning calf-size adjustment and the shell’s heat-moldability give this boot great fit flexibility. It works well with a variety of foot types, skiing styles, and even sizes. Bigger testers felt the flex was a little soft. Lightweights with low-volume feet and average to slender calves liked the snow-handling capabilities and gave it high agility scores. Goldsmith-Rahill: “Once I sized down it was solid underfoot and snug.”

Alltrack Pro 110 W

Rossignol

2015

price$700

YEAR2014/2015

LEVELAdvanced

FLEX110

GENDERFemale

LAST WIDTH100

MSRP: $700.00

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Testers loved the way this boot stands and skis. It’s tall and upright but with a long- travel flex that let them get over the ski for silky turn transitions. They said it felt more like 100 than 110. There’s more toe and forefoot room than in most medium fits, for a toenail-trauma-free experience. The tequila sunrise cosmetics and the fur liner were popular. Elling: “Puts you where you need to be—great balance.”

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