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Gear Guide Sampler: Big Mountain

Award-winning big mountain chargers from Skiing's 2013 Gear Guide.
posted: 09/28/2012

You're probably living in the West. You want float and extreme versatility: skis that are playful in powder, nimble in trees and bumps, and knifey on groomers. Shop here. You'll get to have your cake and... well, you kow the rest.


Volkl Shiro


2013 Ski of the Year (among skis over 100-mm in waist width)
2013 Official Selection 

Dimensions:  151/119/135

MSRP: $825

Perhaps it was the snow conditions, or the shorter test length than last year, or our maturing sensibilities, but this season’s Shiro—a model unchanged from last season—blew us away. Winner of the coveted Ski of the Year award for skis above 100 millimeters underfoot, it allowed testers to approach any line with confidence and imagination. Powder? Simple and surfy. Crud? Fearless. Hardpack? Yes. Even with full rocker? Surprisingly enjoyable. Charge on it or downshift and enjoy the scenery. “This is what a fat ski should be,” said one tester. “Click in and go get some.”


K2 SideSeth


2013 Testers' Choice
2013 Official Selection

Dimensions: 147/118/135

MSRP: $1000

Seth Morrison’s new pro model, the Side-Seth, was a clear tester favorite. Now part of K2’s Backside Adventure series, it nimbly sliced through glades, choppy snow, and peppery chutes. Yet with a little forward pressure, the plentiful tip rocker—though lower than that of last season’s Seth—chewed up broken snow and rough terrain while maintaining surprising groomer performance. Fast or slow, “every turn was executed with ease,” said one tester. While its touring influence is noticeable—lighter construction, available precut skins—ultimately, it hasn’t lost a step within the resort. Skin track or lift line: The SideSeth is happy exploring both.


Atmoic Automatic


2013 Official Selection 

Dimensions: 130-117-119

MSRP: $929

“So fun and easy to ski,” said one Colorado tester of the Automatic, a new ski from Atomic that clearly lives up to its name. A broad, rockered shovel eats up powder, while a stiff but slightly rockered tail provides a stable backseat for speed through the chop and the occasional air. Add a lightweight construction and a shorter turn radius and you get a “ski that makes exploration exciting.”




Rossignol S7 W


2013 Testers' Choice
2013 Official Selection

Dimensions:  140-110-118

MSRP:  $800

The S7 W returns with the now classic shape and feel that have kept it at the top of the game for several years. “Dependable, comfortable—and downright cheating,” said one tester of this Testers’ Choice winner, referring to its effort-less yet exciting approach. A perfectly tuned blend of rocker and camber allows it to flirt with all imaginable conditions, from wind-scoured groomers to snorkel-mandatory storms. It’s one of those rare skis that can appeal to the hungry intermediate as an entry-level pow board or to a dedicated expert as a one-ski quiver. Good luck finding a weakness.


Nordica La Niña


2013 Official Selection 

Dimensions:  143-113-132

MSRP: $949

Testers leery of La Niña’s 185-centimeter test length were cooing by the third turn. It’s a rock-solid, powerful ski that excels in wide-open terrain, soft or groomed. Generous rocker had it slarving, pivoting, and bailing out of turns, and the huge shovel proved fearless off-piste. Shaped like Nordica’s unisex Patron and Helldorado, it had no problem keeping up.

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