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2006 Gear Guide

posted: 10/27/2005

These mid-fats favor less agressive skiers who occasionally make mistakes-and don't want to get spanked for them. But what they lack in high-octane performance, they make up for in versatility. They'll carve any turn shape down groomers, hold their own through chunky snow, and with waists starting at 68 mm, they won't sink you on those deeper days.

$725; 114/74/102; 17 M

The 4800 has more energy than you'd expect in a ski that's 74 mm at the waist. It's a lightweight fall-line dancer that can also hold long, smooth arcs at moderate pace. GRIPES: You can reach the top end quickly, especially if conditions are a little rough and hard. PROPS: Forgiving and even-keeled, without gigantic power requirements. TESTER'S TAKE: "The 4800 makes it easy to feel like a legend." -Becky MacLachlan

$879 (WITH BINDING); 118/73/105; 15 M

You don't have to be big, fast, or powerful to tap into the energy of the forgiving AMC 73. It carves (and slides) a variety of turn shapes well, it's wide enough for moderate flotation in powder, and its lightweight carbon, titanium, and wood construction (borrowed from Fischer's award-winning RX series) lets you charge all day long. GRIPES: It's so light that the tip tends to deflect in crud. PROPS: A versatile, all-conditions board. TESTER'S TAKE: "This ski will make you better." -Andi Malboeuf

$895 (WITH BINDING); 115/68/99; 16 M

Because of its 68-mm footprint (narrow for this group), we were tempted to write off the X as a hardpack ski, but it muscles right through crud. More of a long burner than a quick turner, it's got a damp feel that cruising types will love. GRIPES: A little skinny for boot-deep powder days. PROPS: Stable cruiser that can slough off speed when you need to and rip when you don't. TESTER'S TAKE: "A long list of accolades; the X is all-mountain poetry in motion."-Peter Nestor

$975 (WITH BINDING); 123/78/108; 17.6 M

The wide (78 mm), stable, and torsionally rigid Nitrous stays on top of powder and crud and takes home the category's edge-hold trophy. GRIPES: Can feel more like a large-radius thoroughbred than an intermediate ski...not that that's a bad thing. PROPS: A trendsetting design-extra width plus deep sidecut-that seems to be the future of all-terrain skis. TESTER'S TAKE: "A can of whoop-ass for intermediates. A powerful platform that will propel you to the next level." -Gella Sutro

$650 (WITH BINDING); 116/72/103; 15.8 M

One of most well-rounded in the category, the AC2 scored evenly across all test criteria. Carve, float, slide; short, medium, long: Anything is possible. GRIPES: A hair slow in short arcs. PROPS: Inspires confidence on all terrain, in all conditions. It'll make you want to progress. TESTER'S TAKE: "All our analysts rate this one a buy." -Kevin Kaneda

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