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The 5 Best Carving Skis of 2020-2021 - Men's & Women's

Listen, you’re not ever going to find us bemoaning having to ski freshly fallen powder because overnight it covered up the corduroy on our favorite groomed runs. But there’s something to be said about the days when the sun is out, the slopes are wide and smooth, and the cord is uncut. And it’s the best carving skis that let you make the most of these days.

Carving a ski is a fragile marriage between centrifugal forces trying to pull you downhill and the ski edge preventing them from doing so. A decent skier can easily generate gravitational forces - held up by that thin edge and their quads - 1.5x their bodyweight with a 45 degree lean into a turn. Expert skiers can lay it over closer to 60 degrees, which yields a g-force of 2, and World Cup Giant Slalom athletes routinely hit a 70-degree tilt and a g-force very close to 3. Nerdery aside, the takeaway here is g-forces are fun, especially inside the perfect arcs modern skis give you the ability to carve. And what’s the little gift that physics gives you for thwarting it in the depths of a well-carved turn? It’s that glorious, split second of weightlessness as you transition from one turn to another. You’re flying for a moment, over and over as you go down the hill - and that’s super fun.

Every ski is capable of carving and a good skier can even get 125mm-waisted powder boards up on an edge. Carving skis built specifically with the turn in mind, however, will initiate the process faster and easier, hold on to an edge like super glue to skin, giving you a gravity-defying grin as you rocket from one turn to the next. We’re all in favor of having a bit of a quiver when it comes to skis. With the ratio of good powder days and good groomer days heavily tilted towards the latter, adding a tool specific to the turn will always serve you well throughout the season. With that in mind, here’s our picks for the best carving skis for 2021. And while there may be some more carving-specific models on the market, we chose to focus on versatile shapes that can still hold an edge with the best of them.


Line Skis Blade - Men’s & Women’s

Best carving skis of 2020-2021
 
 

Early reviews are rave for the all-new Blade from Line, which comes in a men’s and women’s iteration. The fact that they are making a carving ski at all lends a good amount of street cred to the carving category, and - just like we’d expect from Line - the Blade goes way outside of the box on shape and design.

The Blade is pretty wide underfoot and just massive in the tip and tail. Line doesn’t even specify a turning radius, they just call it “tight.” The huge shovel on the Blade means you need only think about making a turn and the ski is already pulling you into the next one. Line gave it two independent tip and tail pieces of ribbed Titanal that have cutouts, so the Blade gets the dampness of metal while still remaining quite playful on the snow. Looking at the ski you’d think the dimensions would lock you in a turn, but with the aid of some early rise in the tip and a touch in the tail it’s delightfully easy to release the edge for all the slashes and slarves you’ve come to expect from a Line ski. Both the men’s and women’s version of the Blade have a forward, more progressive mount point than you’d expect from a directional carving ski, which also helps in keeping it playful. Testers can’t stop talking about how stupid fun the Blade is and how it’s made them rethink groomers. So, if you’ve been scratching your chin about the idea of picking up a carving ski for between storms, the Blade might just be your next weapon for out on the mountain.

Dimensions Turning Radius  Original Price
154-95-124 (Men's)
140-92-114 (Women's
"Tight" $749.95 (Men's)
$699.95 (Women's)

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K2 Disruption 82Ti Skis w/ MXCell 12 TCx Quikclik Bindings

The best carving skis of 2020-2021
 

For 2021, K2 wipes the slate clean for their carving ski lineup with the all-new Disruption series. The flagship - Disruption 82Ti - has the widest waist at 82mm and is targeted at the skier who wants on-piste performance they can occasionally take off the groomers and have just as much fun.

Despite its name, the Disruption has a fairly traditional shape for a ski in this category. Where it does go a bit off the proverbial rails is in construction. A rib of Titanal running up the center of the ski lends torsional rigidity and that textbook K2 dampness, and does so without making it too heavy. Oversize ABS sidewalls under the bindings add edgehold you can push into as hard as you want in the middle of the turn. The pièce de résistance of K2’s engineers, however, is found in the tip and tail. “Dark Matter Damping” is a polymer sandwiched between layers of carbon - seen as the black squares towards the edges of the tip and tail - that eliminates high-frequency vibrations. Basically, these knives make all rough terrain and firm snow underfoot into butter, which is nice when you’re hauling down a still-frozen groomer first thing in the morning. The Disruption 82Ti has a longer turning radius than most skis in this category, making it a great choice for skiers who like arcing big GS turns or wider.

Dimensions Turning Radius  Original Price
125-82-111 17.8 M $899.95 (with bindings)

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Armada Declivity 92 Ti Skis

The best carving skis of 2020-2021
 
 

Okay, okay - you’re not quite in a place to justify having a carving-specific ski in the quiver, but you want something that’s darn fun on groomers and a crusher on the rest of the hill? Armada is really showing their maturity as a ski brand this season by bringing to the table the all-new Declivity series, which is designed to be just that. With a full-length sidewall and full-length Titanal construction, they are not messing around. The Declivity 92 Ti sits squarely in the middle of the lineup as the most versatile shape, and for how burly it is on paper and on snow, it’s relatively lightweight.

In the wild the Declivity is fast, furious, and can handle anything you want to throw at it. Since we’re here to talk about carving, you’ll be happy to know it holds its own in the edge hold department. Like the Disruption above, it’s got a longer turning radius than a lot of carving skis, which means it loves medium to long turns at speed. While it’s surprisingly easy and enjoyable on lower-angle groomers, it really shines when the slope angle gets steep. It likes going fast, but you don’t have to be afraid of getting in over your head, because it’s really easy to flick the tails out to ditch speed wherever you need. Despite being fun and completely able on the corduroy, the Declivity is wide and damp enough to rage all over the mountain when the next storm finally hits. All in all, the Declivity 92 is one of the best carving all mountain skis for 2021.

Dimensions Turning Radius  Original Price
132-92-118 (180cm) 17.5 $649.95

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K2 Disruption MTi Alliance Skis w/ ERC 11 TCx Light Quikclik Bindings

The best carving skis of 2020-2021
 

Where the men’s Disruption 82Ti can be considered partially an all-mountain ski, the Disruption MTi Alliance - with a narrower 72mm waist - is made to rail on groomers. And. Go. Fast. It’s a powerful, damp ski in a lightweight package, which makes it ideal for crushing corduroy from bell to bell.

Like all the skis in the all-new Disruption lineup, the real story for the MTi Alliance is in construction and K2’s new, mythical Dark Matter Damping technology. Visually, it’s the six square-ish shapes at the tip, and four at the tail, that are strategically placed at the edges of the ski to reduce high-frequency vibrations. DMD smooths out the ride at speed and keeps the edges in contact with the snow. Better edge contact means better control, which lets you go faster, especially in firmer snow conditions. A Titanal rib running the length of the ski and oversized ABS sidewalls underfoot further enhance power when you’re deep in a turn. For all this talk of power, however, the MTi Alliance is very predictable and forgiving on snow. They’ll equally let a former racer reclaim their glory, but also be the vehicle to usher an intermediate skier into the exciting world of arcing perfect turns down the frontside of the mountain.

Dimensions Turning Radius  Original Price
115-72-103 14.7 M $899.95 (including bindings)

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Faction Dictator 2.0 Men’s & 2.0X Women’s Skis

The best carving skis of 2020-2021
 
 

It’s not often a ski company keeps the same construction in the men’s and women’s version of a ski - especially one as burly as the Dictator - but aside from the stark difference in topsheet colors you can assume anything written below holds true for both the 2.0 and 2.0X. These skis are bombproof, sturdy, and made for strong skiers who like to go fast.

Faction sandwiched a lightweight poplar wood core with two - count ‘em, two - full-length layers of Titanal metal. This makes the Dictator extremely stable and damp over variable snow and terrain. The good news for charging groomers is it makes this ski want to get up on edge. The Dictator has an ideal turning radius for carving medium to long turns, and the 96mm waist puts it squarely in the all-mountain category, so aside from the deepest powder days you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck out of this ski. While the Dictator is built to hold up to the demands of the most aggressive expert, it’s got “surf zone” technology - a bit or rocker and taper in the tips - to make pivoting easy. A strong intermediate skier who likes going fast could look to the Dictator to achieve total mountain domination on- and off-piste.

Dimensions Turning Radius  Original Price
127-96-117 19 M $679

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