Comparing all mountain skis is essential to identify the one you like. Unlike slalom skis or giant slalom skis, all-mountain skis can have extremely diverse properties of bending and torsional stiffness distribution, which translate into a huge variety of feelings on snow. Reading the manufacturer's description or online ski reviews does not provide sufficient data to make good choices. In this article, we present 7 popular options, all different brands, in the 85 to 90 mm waist range, 171 to 180 cm length. In this case, the data that really matters is the bending stiffness distribution and the torsional stiffness distribution because all the other metrics, which are available on manufacturer websites, are too similar to make an informed choice.
All presented data is measured, not taken from the manufacturer website. Sidecut is presented as tail/waist/tip. Bending and torsional stiffness are average values in the table. The average value gives a rough idea, but the graphs presented below, showing the overall distribution, are the true data to consider.
Quick overview of measured specifications
Geometry & profile
Radius: 17 m
Weight: 1,65 kg
Radius: 17 m
Weight: 1,82 kg
Blizzard Brahma - 180 cm
Radius: 15 m
Weight: 1,99 kg
Radius: 17 m
Weight: 2,08 kg
Radius: 16 m
Weight: 1,86 kg
Radius: 18 m
Weight: 2,15 kg
Radius: 21 m
Weight: 1,95 kg
Four graphs are presented below, comparing the detailed measured properties. The first represents the profile of the ski. This is where you would see if the camber is regular, flat or reverse. You can also compare rockers and tip/tail shapes. The second graph shows sidecuts. The third is the bending stiffness distribution. That's what you try to estimate when you hand flex a ski. I dare you to try hand flexing the skis into the right order. Some differences are subtle! Finally, the most unique data we present is the torsional distribution stiffness. It's impossible to get this information by hand flexing a ski and no manufacturer or ski review presents this. Torsion is arguably the property that the skier feels the most - the pop you get at the end of a turn, the precise edge grip, the initial precision to turn... all of these are highly influenced by torsion. Connect and stay tuned. We'll be posting an article about torsion soon.
Comparing profiles is very important, especially when you have strong camber variations. Reverse cambers on piste will be unstable. Long rockers are fun in variable terrain, but affect on-piste stability as they reduce the length of the effective edge. Within our comparisons, Rossignol Experience 88 HD and Dynastar Legend X88 share the highest camber, while Blizzard Braham has the lowest. Nordica presents the Navigator as a 50% reduced camber. This is true, but it's not the lowest camber around! Alone, this information is not extremely useful. It becomes more useful when comparing with all the rest.
All of these skis have very similar geometry. An interesting fact is that many people will look for skis based on radius. Radius alone does not define how tight or how large your turns will be. Add angle to your skiing by separating the upper and lower body, and you will tighten those turns! In fact, turning radius depends on many factors. However, keep one important fact in mind : the angle of your ski versus the snow is responsible for the variation. It doesn't matter how much you "push" on your skis. Expert skiers don't push; they vary the angle and ski with resistance. Again, the Rossignol Experience 88 HD and the Dynastar Legend X88 share the highest average bending stiffness. Look at the graph (3rd one), and note that the Dynastar Legend X88 has a stiffer tail, which you'll definitely feel while skiing (more support in the back).
Bending stiffness distribution
This is where our measurements become very interesting. Generally speaking, the faster you ski, the greater the level of force applied to the ski. To manage this, the ski will require resistance to bending (stiffer in bending). If your ski is very stiff in bending, you need a certain speed to enjoy it fully. If you're more like me and like agility and playfulness on the side of the slopes, you'll probably prefer a softer bending ski.
Torsional stiffness distribution
The Völkl Kendo and the Dynastar Legend both share high levels of torsion stiffness. Contrarily, the Rossignol Experience and the Nordica Navigator are the softest. Interesting fact: as we all know, Dynastar and Rossignol are sister brands, so I would assume the designers have targeted different users because their skis (Legend and Experience) are at opposite levels of torsional stiffness. The Dynastar Legend would be more appropriate for those who enjoy precision and a dynamic edge release, while the Rossignol Experience would target the skiers who'd rather have a softer release at the end of their turn. As for the Völkl Kendo, it will feel quite different from the Rossignol Experience as their patterns are opposite. The Kendo is soft in bending, but stiff in torsion. Expect to feel good edge grip at slower speed and solid edge grip in bumps too (as we usually like skis to flex in bumps and the Kendo is soft in bending!).
In sum, I could go on for hours, but my goal is not to beat Blister Gear Reviews in length or articles. I think Jonathan and his crew can write better than I can. Our goal is really to show how we compare skis in the selector tool we are developing. Take some time to look carefully at the graphs. Try to test at least 2 of the skis we've presented, ideally skis that have good variations among them in their bending and torsion stiffness profiles. From here, we can direct you to what you will like the most in any kind of skis!
At Sooth Ski, we believe there are no good skis or bad skis. We don't give medals or prizes for the best skis. If they are on store shelves, we believe the team who worked on them has done a great job, and everyone deserves recognition. This being said, some skis ARE more suited for certain skiers than others. That's what our selector is based on. You like a certain feel? We'll redirect you to what feels similar!
Please help us develop more by dropping us a few lines in the comment section below. We need feedback! If you would like to see other comparisons, please let us know. We are measuring skis massively this fall.
I'm looking forward to reading your comments.