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EpicSki › Buying Guides › Front Side Carving

Front Side Carving


Generally skis in this category have waist widths in the 70's to low-mid 80's. These skis tend to be strong on groomers and ideal for skiers who spend most of their time on packed snow. This category is popular with East Coast skiers, Midwesterners and occasional Westerners who don’t care much for powder skiing but enjoy making a signature in corduroy. These are often the ski of choice for skiers who are highly technical and may have a background in racing, ski instruction or coaching.
Lengths: 160, 168, 176, 184
Dimensions: 127-84-11 / 128-84-112.5
I will preempt this review by saying I have never been a fan of Nordica's XBS binding system, I always felt a disconnect between the boot and the ski. Fast forward to 2013. Holy ****. I will say that the new Fire Arrow EDT 84 is a sure fire finalist for "Frontside Ski OTY" for 2013. It has been a while since I have demoed a ski and was so shocked by how superior it skied that I had to go back and demo it not only a second time but a third. I thought, No, a ski cannot be this different and head and shoulders above the rest of the class, it has to be the tune or pixie dust or unicorn tears that are making this ski so well, so I tried two different sizes at Winter Park (176 and 168) and then the a different pair of 176's at Mt. Rose for the Epic demo. Dammit, they ALL didn't ski fantastic. I think I will need to have Nordica send me a pair to test for the whole season just so I can be 134% positive that the skis are that good. 

Very well the best new ski for 2013, a masterpiece of design.
Lengths: 158, 168, 178, 188
Dimensions: 128-83-113
Is the MX88 in a 178 too long (or too short) for you? Well Kastle split the difference with offering the MX83 in sizes in the "3's" where the MX88 is offered in the "8's", so....If the 178 MX88 is a bit long for you and the MX88 in the 168 too short – wallah! The MX83 is offered in a 173! But all that aside, what does it mean? Well forget that the MX83 is 83 underfoot and focus on the fact that it’s a MX. That’s right, Kastle has done a remarkable job creating an instrument that belies its dimensions and the MX83 is no different.

If Porsche made a ski, it would be a Kastle.
Lengths: 159,165, 171, 177, 183
Dimensions: 121-72-105
I stumbled upon the Course Ti a few years back at the Stratton Demo Days. I had finished testing all that I needed to test and had a couple of runs to kill so I took out the Course Ti. Hmmm. Race graphics, but a rounded tail? Was this going to be a sheep in wolves clothing? After just two turns I was pleasantly surprised that we have an actual wolf – yee-HAH! Each turn got progressively faster and smoother, while it wasn't as quick as a slalom ski and wasn't as fast as a GS ski, it fit right in the middle and was just a ton of fun. Each year I will get on the Course Ti for a couple of days and ask myself why I don't own a pair, they are just a hoot to ski.

Dynastar’s perennial winner as a race inspired hard snow carver.
Lengths: 168, 176, 184
Dimensions: 121-75-102
Want the performance of a race ski but not the demand of having to work it all the time? Well you can get all that…but at a price. The price is a Kastle RX12. There hasn't been a doubt that Kastle has been producing some of the most refined skis in recent years, the RX12 is no exception. Well, maybe exception IS the right word, because this Kastle is one of the most exceptional skis on the market. From it's low slung tip to it's simple refined graphics to Kastle's commitment to performance, all of it makes the RX12 one of the, if not THE, most complete hard snow ski offered today, or any day.

The RX12 is one of the smoothest skis in its class.
Lengths: 140, 146, 152, 158
Dimensions: 124-75-104
Realizing who this ski is built for, which isn’t necessarily my target group, I skied the Ilumina for the purpose of information gathering. What I didn’t expect was taking it for a second run because it was so fun. I think I heard someone call the Ilumina a Cougar Cruiser, which may not give it enough credit, yet completely makes sense. It was super easy to ski, yet felt like it was okay to push it without being punished, almost like a hero ski where you couldn’t do anything wrong. This ski can make a Cougar look good while she’s on the hunt and bring a smile to her face even if she doesn’t catch her prey.

This ski can make a cougar look good while she’s on the hunt and bring a smile to her face even if she doesn’t catch her prey.
Lengths: 156,164,172,180
Dimensions: 127-82-109
I first tried the LX82 last season and loved how nimble it felt.  This is a ski that’s underrated.  Built for the lighter weight, finesse skier who likes the performance feel in a ski that is a tad nimble.  When it’s a groomer day and you’re arcing turns, it’s hard not to find yourself grinning from ear to ear on the LX82.

The Kastle performance is unmistakable. There's little more to say than this ski is truly special.
Lengths: 148,156,164,172,180
Dimensions: 124-74-107
This is the second year in a row that I've gotten on the Cinnamon Girl and for good reason. This is a ski that makes great transitions in turn shape, and just like grandma's apple pie, it gives you the bite you're looking for on groomers.  She's responsive and sassy just like you expect her to be. Go ahead, spice up your slope time!

It’s easy to spice up the front side with Cinnamon Girl.
Lengths: 142,149,156,163
Dimensions: 122-76-105
This ski is one that seems to suffer from the middle child syndrome, yet when I skied it, I wondered why I didn't have it in my quiver. The Viva 7.6 performs great on groomers and has just enough power so you don't feel unstable when the ski runs get skied out and choppy.

The Viva 7.6 IQ is like the little black dress that every girl should have on hand. 


Comments (7)

From an East Coast perspective, I'm not too impressed by this list, I own the Fire Arrows, have skied both the Kastles, and even the Black Pearls. The Kastle RX12 and the Dynastar Speed Course are the only real carvers in this group. The others are competent skis, but I would classify them more as East Coast All Mountain or mixed snow skis. But the real question is where are the Fisher Progressors, the Head Supershapes, the Blizzard G-Force, the new Rossignol Pursuits, and the various Volkls.
Yeah, I know, we can all carve on any ski, but a true carving ski is a joy on a, ahem, "firm" day. When it's a rock hard day, I'll reach past my Fire Arrows and grab the Progressors every time.
srbarry, I'm a little perplexed why the BP is in the carving category. I'm guessing that it was my mistake when I put it in the columns for the article. It is also listed in the All mountain category, which is where it belongs. As for the others on the list, for your average skier these are pretty solid front side skis.
Perhaps we need a new category for the next edition for Expert Carver.
Just looked at the carving ski section.

One key piece of info left off the initial presentation is carve radius. This should be displayed under length/dimensions. Granted, the radius is presented deep down in the details of the individual ski links, but it is too deeply removed for quick mental filtering.

Also, I don't see how an 18m radius ski makes it's way into the front side carver category. That seems to be more all mountain.

Just my observations.
Cougar Cruiser. Thanks, you made my day!
I also agree that your list is a tad short. I own the speed course and it is a great carver, but there are many Volkl's, Fisher, Kniessel and Head skis that are not even mentioned that are also excellent front side skiis that are not even mentioned.
ULLR Rips, I believe I included TR in most of the selections I posted, however, that is something to re-emphasize in the future.

Hey Trekchick - great job on a fun list! The reviews are enjoyable and informative. Since we're a vendor neutral site, I would enjoy comparisons to other reference skis in the group. Occasionally in the forum posts the "skis a bit like this, but different" is a good reference point to get a handle on what's coming... especially while still on the mountain bike ;-) !
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