The Best Women's Carving Skis

The Gear Institute Women’s Ski test took place over three days at Snowbird, Utah, in February of 2018. Six female testers skied each of the skis in the test and completed a detailed test card after each test run.

Carving skis are designed to arc turns on hardpack or corduroy, specifically on frontside or on-piste terrain. Skis in this category perform similarly to high-performance cars, putting a premium on precision, grip, responsiveness and a tight turn radius. It’s here that skiers can find race skis for the masses—that is, softer-flexing versions of World Cup GS or slalom skis. This is where beer league skiers can look for skis that perform in a race course or a regular day arcing up the groomers. Many manufacturers offer a variety of models here in order to suit a variety of ability levels, with the highest performing skis often constructed with metal while the more recreational-leaning models omitting metal (titanium) and instead using carbon or other weight-saving materials.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Stöckli Laser MX
Best in Class
Responsiveness 10
Stability 7
Edge Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 8
Turn Variability 5

Excels at slalom turns

Lighting fast edge changes

Dynamic and energetic

One-trick pony

Tails hold on in long turns

Feels short, only comes in 162 cm or shorter

Fischer My Curve
Responsiveness 7
Stability 7
Edge Hold 8
Carving Pleasure 9
Turn Variability 4

Spirited and full of energy

Solid edge hold

High marks for carving pleasure

One-trick pony

Low scores for turn shape variability

Tip wants to hook up in long turns

Small sweet spot

Atomic Cloud 12
Responsiveness 7
Stability 7
Edge Hold 7
Carving Pleasure 7
Turn Variability 4

Good stability even for its lightness

Nimble and dynamic

A pure Frontside ski that favors speed and long tu

Skis short

Short turns are not its forte

Less versatile than other Frontside skis in the ca


What is a Women's Carving Ski?

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The narrowest ski in the Gear Institute Carving category, at 65 mm underfoot, is considered narrow in the North American market. In Europe, carving skis are closer to race skis. The North American market trend for 2019—similar to last season—signals a pendulum swing from wider waist widths to more narrow widths, heading closer to a European taste for carve-friendly sidecuts. Call it realism for dealing with climate change, but having a carving ski in the quiver means you have a great tool for hardpack days and to work on your ski technique.

While evaluating Carving skis, testers looked for ski traits that contribute to accuracy and arcing turns, including Responsiveness, Stability, Edge-hold, Carving Pleasure and Turn Shape Variability. The narrower the ski, the tighter the turn radius, and it’s here that savvy skiers can look to turn radius designations to suit their skiing style of either tight slalom turns or fast, GS arcs. Built for speed, construction in this category is often inspired by World Cup racing skis, with design elements that reduce weight, increase edge grip and smooth out the flex. It’s common to find sandwich sidewall construction with full vertical sidewalls, a wood core, and a sheet of metal or some amount of metal integrated into the core. Many models have some type of dampening system to absorb bumps at speed. In terms of tip and tail design, some models have slight rocker in the tip for ease of entry into the turn, as well as a flat tail, which helps with quick turn exit.

All in all, testers feel that skis in this category are “fall line seekers” and “quick-turning workout tools.” They also consider skis here as “one-trick ponies,” meaning that they are designed specifically for the frontside, with very little all-mountain versatility. Some Carving skis feel stiffer than others, and some models may, in fact, be marketed as women-specific (with a women-oriented topsheet), but may come from the same mold and have the same layup as its unisex sibling. Other models have women-specific cores that are lighter and softer-flexing than the male counterparts, in terms of core construction. Adopting a “try before you buy” action plan is the best course of action before purchasing a high-performance carving ski.