The Best Frontside Skis
A frontside ski is for exactly what the name implies: skiing all over the front side of the mountain. You can start the morning on fresh corduroy, wiggle your way through a bump run, and carve your way down the firm (or if you’re lucky, freshly groomed) steeps. Skis in this category are slightly more versatile than a carving ski and will do best in well-skied conditions, but are not going to excel in powder.
Rossignol’s Experience 88 was the top ski in our Frontside test last year, and this year Rossignol improved it! The new 88Ti features something Rossi is calling ‘Line Control Technology,’ a World Cup innovation that basically includes a Power Rail down the center of the ski for stability and dampening—and no counter-flexing!—and Titanal construction for exceptional Edge-hold. The ski does have super silky edge initiation and some of the smoothest arcs in the category, yet with all of the slightly wider waist widths in the class this season, it’s still a bit more of a carver than the rest. Bottomline: The new 88Ti is one of the easiest arcing skis we’ve ever tested. It’s so easy to get ripping right away on this ski, that you’ll be forgiven for shattering the speed limit.
Dynastar continues to upgrade its Legend series, with a new generation of Powerdrive construction—with a progressive rocker profile and five-point sidecut—to provide better on-snow contact, Titanal laminates for power, tip and tail for ease of initiation and hook-free carving, and poplar core for great liveliness. Last year, the brand offered the Legend X84 for the Frontside category. This year, the Legend X88 provides even more all-terrain capability without sacrificing the ski’s great quickness and awesome edge grip. The ski also has a lighter feel and more energy than a lot of other boards in the Frontside Category. For many testers, the increased maneuverability and enhanced rocker can make the ski feel more active and alive in a slalom turn than it does in a GS.
The Elan Ripstick 86 is one of the purest carvers in the Frontside category, with wonderfully smooth turn initiation and excellent edge-hold. It features the brand’s Amphibio Technology, with dedicated left and right skis. Amphibio has more camber on the inside edge and rocker on the outside edge of each ski, resulting in really smooth turn initiation that rolls into a short to medium radius arc with a buttery feel. It doesn’t have enough float to handle more than almost exclusively hard snow conditions, and also felt like it had a bit softer flex than other skis in the category, resulting in a desire to ski at more moderate speeds, and in a medium turn radius. Testers did find this ski incredibly responsive and versatile on Frontside conditions, and also appreciated its ‘pop’ and sense of energy underfoot.
Blizzard’s Brahma has earned its place in the pantheon of great hard snow skis, with a penchant for arcing high speed, medium to long radius turns on groomers. It is easily one of the most stable skis in the Frontside Category, and one of the most thrilling skis for people who like to go very fast. The damp feel and great edge control invite you to keep turning up the heat on each arc. Slow down or go too deep off-piste, however, and that high level of performance gets a little harder to find. This is a ski that’s best for advanced to expert level carvers who have the skills to really drive a turn.
As the middle model in Blizzard’s freeride, all-mountain Black Pearl line, the Black Pearl 88 is a versatile ski ideal not only for a variety of terrain and snow conditions, but also for a wide range of skiers. Versatility and a huge sweet spot result from a balance of lightweight construction and wide frontside shape, which creates an easy flexing ski with enough torsional rigidity so that it can handle high speed, aggressive turns. To some testers, the less than shapely sidecut means a lack of snap out of the turn as well as mediocre float from the relatively narrow tip. However, high marks from testers appeared across the board for all criteria including Stability, Edge-hold and Carving Pleasure, with the exception of slightly lower scores for Turn Shape Variability and Float.
Best Combo of Grace and Grit
Dynastar Legend W 88Frontside Skis, Ski & Snow, Skis & Women's Frontside Skis
Got cruisers? The Dynastar Legend W 88 is a smooth, damp, easy ride with a big sweet spot. Testers favored the ski’s stability and carving pleasure, particularly in long turns. Slightly lower scores were tallied for variability of turn shape and flotation, where testers felt the dampness and shape created a slightly sluggish feeling in tight turns and powder snow.
Best Blend of Lightweight Construction & Performance
Head Wild JoyFrontside Skis, Ski & Snow, Skis & Women's Frontside Skis
The Head Wild Joy has a construction that balances lightweight properties with performance. The 90 mm waist width sits on the higher end of the spectrum for the category, but the sub 14 m turning radius means it behaves like a super shaped ski. In fact, the wide tip both engages easily well as providing flotation in soft snow. The Wild Joy received it’s highest scores for Edge-hold, Carving Pleasure and Flotation, with lower marks for Turn Shape Variability and Stability, due to slow edge-to-edge response as well as a wandering tip on steep and icy slopes.
A quick-turning ski with a short turn demeanor, the Fischer My Pro MT 86 has an emphasis on Frontside and less on all-mountain ski. It has traditional carving ski elements, such as a sandwich sidewall construction and a wood core, with some weight-reducing technology such as Air Tec and Razorshape. The 86-mm-waisted ski received its highest tester scores for Carving Pleasure and lower scores for Turn Shape Variability and Flotation.