The best piste skis for 2019/20

Al Morgan
Rip up the pistes on this winter's best skis - ROSS WOODHALL

Designed for those spending almost all of their time on the groomers. Models for intermediates are more forgiving, helping you to develop your technique and feel comfortable. Performance oriented skis can offer stability, power and grip on par with race skis. For this winter many brands are focussing on this category, bringing out wider piste skis and new technologies to make it easier and less tiring to enjoy this exhilarating type of skiing. 

If you spend most of your time on groomed runs, whether trying to carve or nonchalantly ripping graceful arcs, these are the weapons for you.  Models for intermediates are more forgiving, helping you to develop your technique and feel comfortable. Performance oriented skis can offer stability, power and grip on par with race skis. For this winter many brands are focussing on this category, bringing out wider piste skis and new technologies to make it easier and less tiring to enjoy this exhilarating type of skiing. 

Confused by all the lingo? Check out our jargon buster and learn what the specialist terms in our ski reviews mean.

For intermediate/advanced skiers
Best for a light, easy ride

Fischer RC ONE 73

£560*

fischer ski

Fischer uses a new Bafatex construction in the tip and tail to reduce weight and make it easier to initiate and exit turns, and it’s a technology where you immediately feel the benefit. These skis felt the lightest of all the men’s piste models we tested. They are so easy to use, thanks to the softer contact points, yet provide bags of grip underfoot. If you’re an upper intermediate to advanced skier wanting something to help you develop, then these are a superb choice.

+ Feel really light on your feet, very easy to use, great in short turns.
- Vivid green colour won’t be to everyone’s taste. 

Lengths: 153, 160, 167, 174 
Sidecut: 121/73/103 (167)
Radius: 14m (167)
fischersports.com


Best on test/ Best for carving practice

Nordica Doberman Spitfire CRX 

£450*

nordica ski

The CRX is the same shape as the Spitfire Ti, with a GS waist and an oversized tip, but without the metal inside. They handle easily and feel light and nimble on your feet. Even though they excel in short turns they still perform when you open the throttle. As you roll on to an edge they’re predictable and give you a real feeling for what’s going on, which inspires confidence. Ideal for anyone getting into carving; step into these beauties and you won’t be disappointed.

+ Value, ease of use, great feeling for the start of the turn, inspire confidence.
- Lack top-end performance.

Lengths: 150, 156, 162, 168, 174 
Sidecut: 121/71/101 (168) 
Radius: 15m (168)
nordica.com


For advanced skiers
Best for playing in varied terrain   

Faction Dictator 1.0 

£549

faction ski

The wide waist and big rocker shape creates quite a different feel to other piste models we tested. Due to the pronounced rocker, the tip doesn’t engage so well when you start the turn, so the bite comes a little further down the skis. Once engaged, the edge hold is strong and releases easily through the tail. If you treat the piste as a bit of a play area – carving, skidding, enjoying lumps, bumps and soft snow – then these are a great pair of skis.  

+ Fun and playful skis, easy to release from turn, work well in softer snow too.
- Poor engagement at start of turn. 

Lengths: 154, 162, 170, 178, 186 
Sidecut: 120/86/110 (178) 
Radius: 19m (178)
uk.factionskis.com


For intermediate/advanced/expert skiers
Best on test / Best for broad appeal 

Rossignol React R6 Compact

£425*

rossignol ski

The R6 may sit in the middle of the new React range, but it is one amazing pair of skis. Intermediate skiers will feel very comfortable on them, while advanced and expert skiers need not be deterred as you can ski them really hard and they never falter. So easy to turn yet hold an edge like they’re on rails, it’s incredible to get such depth in performance for only £425. The stand-out skis of the test.

+ Fantastic value, huge edge grip and energy, stable, accessible performance, very easy to turn.
- Hard to fault. 

Lengths: 149, 156, 163, 170, 177 
Sidecut: 126/74/110 (170) 
Radius: 14m (170)
rossignol.com


For advanced/expert skiers
Best for a solid, stable ride

Atomic Redster X9 WB 

£680*

atomic ski

The rod at the front of the skis isn’t just a gimmick; it helps to keep the skis stable when moving fast. It also helps turn initiation by pulling the front of the skis into the turn shape when the skis are rolled on to their edge. These skis have less metal in the core than the standard X9s and feel a lot lighter on your feet. A great pair for advanced skiers wanting something that’s manageable on easier days yet still smashes it when skiing fast.

+ Extra width can help in softer snow, masses of grip.
- Lacks the top-end performance of the standard X9. 

Lengths: 152, 160, 168, 176
Sidecut: 128/75/112 (176)
Radius: 14.2m (176)
atomic.com


Best for tight turns 

Salomon S/Force 11 

£760*

salomon ski

S/Force is a new range of skis from Salomon. We tested the flagship S/Force Bold and the second in command, the S/Force 11. The 11 is narrower, cheaper and, we felt, actually a better piste ski than the Bold. Salomon’s Edge Amplifier technology delivers incredible grip through the turn and the energy from the ski is enlivening. The S/Force 11 suits those with good technical ability who like to ski short to medium radius turns. The wider waist offers a little more flotation for those chopped-up days.

+ Incredible energy, excel in shorter turns, grip that’s hard to beat.
- You’ve got to work them hard. 

Lengths: 163, 170, 177, 184
Sidecut: 128/80/112 (177) 
Radius: 16m (177)
salomon.com


Women’s skis

For intermediate skiers
Best for entry-level skiers

Roxy Kaya 72 

£349*

roxy ski

These were the cheapest skis we tested all week, and offer incredible value at under £350 with bindings. Their forte is ease of use, being squarely aimed at intermediates. However, they still ski surprisingly well at speed, meaning they’ll keep working as you progress. They don’t have the top-end grip on hard snow of more expensive performance-orientated models, but for the money and skier level they’re aimed at these are accomplished skis.

+ Incredible value, easy to handle, surprisingly good for entry-level skis.
- Don’t offer the upper-end performance of more expensive skis. 

Lengths: 140, 150, 155, 160, 165
Sidecut: 120/72/101 (155)
Radius: 12m (155)
roxy-uk.co.uk


For intermediate/advanced skiers
Best for a smooth ride

Head Super Joy

£630*

head ski

The Super Joys have an incredibly smooth flex, they’re light, very easy to use, and great in short turns. The tail of the ski is a lot softer than many other models. This helps it release from the turn and is forgiving if you make a mistake. If you want a pair of skis you can use for easy days, to hone your technique, feel relaxed, and for the odd blast, these must be on the list.

+ Ultra smooth flex, forgiving, ease of use, excel in short turns.
- Less convincing when you really ramp them up.

Lengths: 143, 148, 153, 158, 163, 168
Sidecut: 129/75/108 (163)
Radius: 12.2m (163)
head.com


For advanced skiers
Best for all-round performance 

Völkl Flair SC

£600*

volkl ski

These skis deliver masses of grip and you can feel the performance pedigree when pushing hard. If you lay down big edge angles and carve at high speed the energy and drive is exhilarating. The really pleasing thing is when you rein things in and want to take it easy, then the skis are really manageable, aided by the slight tip rocker. Ideal for advanced and expert skiers that stick to the groomers and want something to perform across the turn shapes.

+ The grip, power and energy is infectious, equally versatile in long and short turns, friendly at lower speeds.
- Pricier than some of their rivals. 

Lengths: 153, 158, 163
Sidecut: 122/73/103 (163)
Radius: 14.3 (163)
volkl.com


For intermediate/advanced/expert skiers
Best on test / Best for a range of abilities 

Atomic Cloud WB

£550*

atomic ski

WB stands for Wide Body, and the extra width makes them easier in softer conditions. On firmer snow the skis are less twitchy than some of their narrower competitors, which gives you bags of confidence. They’re still really quick edge to edge with plenty of grip and lots of power from the tail as you exit the turn. Impressive skis for a broad range of ability levels, from upper intermediate right through to expert, this versatility is why they’re one of the best women’s piste skis we tested.

+ Stable, great for long and short turns, easy at low speed, powerful for high speed.
- Hard to fault.

Lengths: 152, 160, 168
Sidecut: 123/75/107 (160)
Radius: 13m (160)
atomic.com


For advanced/expert skiers
Best for punchy short turns

K2 Anthem 74 HS 

£475*

k2 ski

The 74 is the only new shape in the Anthem range, which replaces the Luv series. The tip profile provides an incredible sensitivity for turn initiation at low speeds; roll on to an edge and it does the rest for you. These skis excel in short turns and as you increase the speed they’re stable, grippy and fire you out of one turn and into the next, similar to much more expensive skis. The downside is that they aren’t as refined for bigger turn shapes.

+ Value, tip engagement, performance at speed, suit short turns.
- Less convincing in longer turns. 

Lengths: 146, 153, 160, 167
Sidecut: 121/74/107 (160) 
Radius: 12.4m (160)
k2skis.com


Best on test / Best for accessible performance

Rossignol Nova 10 TI 

£565*

rossignol ski

Rossignol tailors the flex of its Nova skis for the ability level they’re aimed at, and it’s spot on with the Nova 10. At high speeds these performance-orientated skis are incredibly stable. At lower speeds the shape and construction make them easy to turn. They’re built with a short radius, so tight turns are a cinch. The surprise comes in bigger arcs, where they’re competent and composed. Superb skis for advanced to expert skiers wanting a stable, powerful ski they can also use when going slower.

+ Stable, masses of grip, strong rebound out of the turn, good value.
- Hard to fault.

Lengths: 153, 160, 167
Sidecut: 123/74/109 (160) 
Radius: 13 (160)
rossignol.com