The Best Women's Carving Skis

The Gear Institute Women’s Ski test took place over three days at Snowbird, Utah, in March of 2017. 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
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Elan Amphibio 14 TI
87
Edge Hold 8
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 8
Stability 7
Carving Pleasure 8
Value 8

Smooth ski

Really good edge hold

Easy to initiate

Great frontside ski for a wide variety of skiers

Responsive and stable even at mid-speeds

Gets pushed by anything that isn't groomed

Have to stay centered

On-piste only

Needs to be on edge

Not for race ski fans

MSRP
$950.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Fischer The Curv
87
Best in Class
2016
Edge Hold 9
Responsiveness 8
Turn Shape Variability 6
Stability 9
Carving Pleasure 7
Value 8

Super damp

Speed hungry

Loves long arcs

Fantastic edge bite

Very solid underfoot

Not versatile

Doesn't do slow turns

Or short

Requires your full attention

Prefers to fly down every slope

MSRP
$1,200.00
BEST DEAL
Fischer My Curve
85
Best in Class
2018
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

MSRP
$899.00
BEST DEAL
evo
Atomic Cloud 12
82
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

MSRP
$950.00
BEST DEAL

What is a Women's Carving Ski?

by: Last Updated:

The narrowest ski in the Gear Institute Carving category, at 70 mm underfoot, is considered narrow in the North American market. In Europe, carving skis are closer to race skis and 70 mm is considered wide. The North American market trend for 2018 signals a pendulum swing from wider waist widths to more narrow widths, heading closer to a European taste for carve-friendly sidecuts.

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  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’s-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.