Women’s Ski Round up: Three Skis Built to Fulfill Your Freeride Fantasy
By Krista Crabtree
Photo Credit: Tom Winter
When you’re looking for a ski, the entrance into any conversation should be, “how wide do you want to go underfoot?” Groomers, for example, are best arced up by skis with a narrow waist. Unless you’re a ski racer needing sub-70 mm underfoot, frontside enthusiasts should start looking at skis with waist widths between 70 to 88 mm underfoot. The wider the waist width, the more versatility you’ll have, but the turn radius gets larger, too. It you’re an all-mountain skier looking for a one-ski quiver, aim for a waist width between 88 and 98 mm underfoot. Skis in this arena are generally wide enough to handle variable snow, but have enough sidecut to carve on the groomers. The best width for powder skis varies according to your ski location, but generally a good bet in the Colorado Rockies is to aim between 100 to 106 mm. The wide platform helps you surf the fluff and gives you stability in wind-blown or cut up snow.
Freeride skis can fall into the all-mountain or powder category, with varying waist widths. Rossignol and Black Crows arguably dominate the freeride market this season. Here are three freeride-focused models to consider if the answer to “how wide do you want to go?” is wide enough.
The image of black crows on snow has created a lot of buzz lately—and not just from Game of Thrones. Born in Chamonix as the brainchild of two pro freeride skiers, Black Crows is an independent French ski company with a penchant for performance and freedom on the slopes.
The Black Crows Atris Birdie is classified as a big mountain model, but in North America, that translates to a powder ski. An ample 108 mm waist plus tip and tail rocker add flotation, while the semi-cap construction adds performance underfoot. The poplar wood core adds stability and Black Crows says the Atris Birdie is slightly softer flexing than the unisex version. Ski testers (at Snowbird, Utah) noted that the soft tip added float and helped create “surfiness,” however, they called the Atris Birdie “burley” and “stable at speed.” They suggest the ideal customer is the aggressive freeride, all-mountain skier, and warn backseat skiers to stay forward. “This ski is heavy on the powder and light on the all-mountain,” says one tester. “It’s a surfy ski with a small side of frontside performance.”
Rossignol has been manufacturing skis and other winter sport gear for over a century. The iconic French company, born in the Alps, holds the distinction of being one of the top-selling brands in both North American and Europe. Rossignol’s award-winning, freeride-focused 7-Series has been redesigned this season with the introduction of Air Tip 2.0, which lightens, strengthens and better integrates the honeycomb-shaped tip and tail technology.
The Rossignol Soul 7 HD W is constructed with a lightweight carbon alloy and paulownia blend, which results in a strong and versatile ride for a variety of skier types. This season’s model will feel more maneuverable, thanks to Rossignol’s Air Tip 2.0, designed to add stability and reduce swing weight. The Freeride rocker profile includes a low tip and tapered tail for flotation, plus camber underfoot for hard snow performance. Though some detected tip chatter at speed, testers called the Soul 7 HD W “a do-anything ski” and praised its versatility. “This ski is versatile in all mountain conditions,” says one tester. “Basically any woman who can ski the whole mountain will find a stable, dynamic companion here.”
The Rossignol Sky 7 HD W is the slightly narrower sister to the Soul 7. The Sky 7 has a 96 mm waist and lacks the layer of reinforcement in the carbon/alloy and paulownia construction that the Soul 7 has. The Air Tip 2.0 is designed to increase maneuverability and reduce swing weight and the 5-point sidecut adds a level of playfulness. The minicap sidewall reduces weight at the tip and tail while still maintaining some edge grip for frontside performance. Some testers felt that the Sky 7 lacked rebound energy out of the turn, however, all noted its easy maneuverability and quickness underfoot. “This ski is for a wide range for resort skiers looking for good performance and sluffability.”