The Flair 81 from Volkl is the widest ski in their women’s carving collection and the only one that uses both the 3D.Ridge and 3D.Glass construction. This construction technique is seen in a lot of Volkl’s skis and is designed to offer a responsive, powerful feel while remaining at a lighter overall weight. With its 81 mm waist width, the Flair 81 is a little more versatile than traditional carving skis, although its focus is still on firm snow performance. Tip and tail rocker smooth out turn initiation a little bit, while also making the ski more maneuverable at slower speeds. We know from experience, however, that this construction technique delivers impressive torsional stiffness, which means the ski holds up to pretty aggressive skiing.
Danielle Nichols loved skiing the Flair 81 in the 163 cm length. She did comment that it felt a little short for her, but thought it was the “best Flair,” due to it having the “most versatility.” Danielle is a pretty aggressive skier that typically spends time on skis with two sheets of metal, so her feedback was valuable on the Flair. She seemed most impressed by its maneuverability, commenting that it was “easy to maneuver and adjust to different terrain and snow conditions.” That’s a big compliment to a ski that’s designed predominantly for frontside carving performance.
Katrine Wolfgang, on the other hand, focused more on the ski’s firm snow performance than its versatility. She also skied the 163 cm length and commented that it felt like it was “more on the aggressive side,” which corresponds well to her high scores for stability and torsional stiffness. Typically skis with this level of edge grip are best suited to relatively aggressive skiers. Katrine agrees, as she mentioned this “isn’t a ski to ski with a hangover, you need to be ready to ski this one.”
Elissa DeGolyer, who also gave the ski 5 out of 5 for torsional stiffness, seemed to agree with Katrine’s assessment. Elissa was also on the 163 cm Flair 81 and was impressed by the ski’s stability and its willingness to ski as hard as you want to. “The more on it you are, the more stable it feels.” Elissa did add that she felt there was “no room for mistakes,” suggesting that the Flair 81 is best suited for a relatively advanced skier who is comfortable driving a ski. If you’re looking to sit back and relax, the Flair 81 might not be for you.
Kristi Brown gave the Flair 81 a series of high scores, with none of our criteria receiving anything lower than 4.5 out of 5. Okay, she did leave flotation blank, so that’s not entirely true, but we don’t expect an 81 mm frontside ski to float particularly well anyways. Kristi thought it was a “sweet ride” and felt it definitely fell into the “fronstide carver” category. Kristi also skied the 163 cm length, and although she is often found skiing longer lengths, she didn’t seem to find the Flair 81 was lacking stability or torsional stiffness. She also mentioned that it has more “complexity” than traditional carving skis and that it’s a “well rounded” ski.
If you’re looking for a ski with solid frontside carving performance, but is a little wider and a little more versatile than traditional carvers, the Flair 81 should definitely be on your list. Our testers were impressed by both its power and its versatility. It doesn’t have a strong focus on soft snow performance, but can still handle more variable snow conditions while being a strong frontside ski.