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.
When one of your hardest grading – and grumpiest – testers says, “Anyone who tries this ski will find a way to own it,” you know you’re looking at a potential Best in Class. With “Excellent,” to Favorite,” rankings on the majority of test cards, and only two testers ranking it a mere “Good,” (“Awful” is our lowest, and least marked overall ranking), you become very curious to see how the numbers add up. Spoiler alert: They’re right at the top. This ski soars with its ability to handle all Frontside terrain, all speeds, and a variety of abilities with a clean, exciting sense of response. It is more damp than lively, and needs to be on edge, in a carve (preferably medium radius) to perform at its best. But unlike most of the other skis in the Frontside Category, it doesn’t just reward a hard or lighter touch. In this case, the ski does both, giving standup style foot turners quick edge-to-edge capabilities, and deep angulating carvers the kind of race style arc they love the most. How’s the Experience 88 HD? Really sweet!
Atomic hit it out of the park with the Vantage 90 CTI, a ski that combines power, finesse, and lots of fun and excitement with a lightweight feel. It does prefer to be on edge all the time, and offers a little less float than some of the other skis in this class, but so what. The Vantage 90 owns lift-serve conditions and could easily be your go-to ski for all but the deepest days on the hill.
Elan’s 84 XTi 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, creating really smooth turn initiation that rolls into a short to medium radius arc with a smooth, buttery feel. Testers found this ski incredibly responsive and versatile on Frontside conditions at all but the longest turns and highest speeds. It doesn’t have as much Flotation as some of the other skis in the category, like the K2 Pinnacle 88 or Line Supernatural 92, and on the flipside, also lost some performance on hardpack. Its overall responsiveness and constant ski-to-snow contact does make it a wonderfully damp ski with the kind of strong edge hold a wide variety of advanced and expert skiers will appreciate.
Head’s Monster 88 wowed testers with its power and stability, with many calling it out as the most stable ski in the Frontside Category, if not in the entire test. This is a ski that rewards people who push it, especially at faster speeds, where it also exhibits some of the most bomber edge-hold in the entire class. It’s a lot of ski to ride all day or even all season. It will overwhelm anyone looking for a more poppy, lively feel, and especially anyone who isn’t an expert and looking for a ski to help them progress. For aggressive skiers who want to sink into each arc with authority, this is a great bet.
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.