2020 Men's Frontside Ski Comparison Lead Image

Ski Comparisons - Ski Reviews

2020 Ski Comparisons: Men's Frontside Ski Guide

What percent of the time do you spend on groomers? How many weeks out of the ski season are firm snow conditions and not much else? Do you live out east or in the midwest? Are you a western skier looking to round out a quiver with a carver? Ask and answer these questions for yourself and see if you belong on one of these front side skis. They pretty much all fall into the advanced and expert category, as most have metal for speed, stability, and edge grip. Some have integrated binding systems while others come flat so you can put a binding of your choice on them. Either way, these skis are your sportscars—if you’ve ever wanted to rip turns like the World Cuppers but want something a bit wider and more accessible, this is a great place to be.

AT A GLANCE


2020 Atomic Redster X9 with X12 TL Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

152, 160, 168, 176 cm

TURN RADIUS

13.5m @ 168 cm

SIDECUT

125.5 / 75 / 109.5 mm

CORE

Titanium / Wood

STRENGTHS

Stability, Dampness, Precision


Overview:

Kicking it off with a ridiculously stiff and stable ski, the Redster X9 WB (Wide Body) doesn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. They’ve basically taken their race construction and put it in a wider and more versatile shape. But make no mistake, the bones of this ski are straight from the race room floor. At 75 mm underfoot and with a 14.2-meter turn radius at the longest 176 cm length, these skis were built to be on edge. Keeping them stable is Atomic’s Servotec technology, which if you’ve watched Mikaela Shiffrin ski lately, she’s got this on her skis, too. It’s a rod that connects at the forebody of the ski and extends to just under the toe piece of the binding. This keeps the front of the ski stock-still and stable under duress, prevents the ski from counter-flexing, and as a result, keeps you on a straighter flight path down the hill.

Binding:

Atomic X 12 TL GripWalk

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AT A GLANCE


2020 Blizzard Brahma 82




AVAILABLE SIZES

166, 173, 180, 187 cm

TURN RADIUS

21m @ 187 cm

SIDECUT

121 / 82 / 105 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal / Carbon

STRENGTHS

Quickness, Versatility, Edge Grip


Overview:

As one of the more all-mountain skis on the list, the Brahma 82 is a new offering from Blizzard this year. They’ve done away with their higher-end Quattro skis, and split that older category into either the Brahma 82 or the Firebird series skis. The 82, with a similar build to the Brahma 88, has a wood core with two sheets of metal in a vertical sidewall construction. This gives the ski a very traditional feel, but in a narrower shape. The rocker profile as well as the turn radius are shallower and smaller than on the wider versions of these skis and makes for smoother turn initiation. The shorter radius follows, coming in at 15-meters in the 173 cm length, creating a turny ski that loves to be on edge. The Brahma 82 is one of the best skis on this list for moguls, trees, quick turns, and classic skiing styles and techniques. For mixing carved turns with quick turns, the new 82 is a great choice.

Binding:

Flat

AT A GLANCE


2020 Blizzard Firebird HRC with XCell 12 Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

158, 166, 174, 182 cm

TURN RADIUS

15m @ 174 cm

SIDECUT

126 / 76 / 107 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon / Titanal

STRENGTHS

Lightness, Quickness, Stiffness


Overview:

At 76 mm underfoot, the Blizzard Firebird HRC follows the trend of the wider beer-league ski that’s been pretty darn popular these past few seasons. The wider platform gives the skier a better balance point, and although it doesn’t have quite the edge grip of the World Cup shaped skis, it’s a better choice for civilians. From a build standpoint, the HRC is still all there. The wood core has two sheets of metal and two forms of carbon. The tips and tails have carbon, as does the spine. This material, combined with the normal race room construction, makes the ski very stiff and responsive. It’s also very light, giving the HRC a more playful character while still retaining the wonderfully high-performance nature that race-like skis are known for.

Binding:

XCell 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 DPS Cassiar 79 Alchemist




AVAILABLE SIZES

160, 167, 174 cm

TURN RADIUS

12.5m @ 167 cm

SIDECUT

123 / 79 / 107 mm

CORE

Woodcore

STRENGTHS

Quickness, Precision, Lightness


Overview:

DPS calls the A79 their “Trainer” ski, as it is ideal for instructors and precision skiing enthusiasts who are looking to make very symmetrical turns all day long. Built with the Alchemist construction in the C2 shape, the skis have DPS’s signature wood core with two sheets of pre-preg carbon. By using Aspen wood in the core, the skis have a great combination of stability and quickness, and the carbon laminates really add a ton of stiffness without adding weight like metal does. At 79 mm underfoot, the skis have a good mix of carving and versatility, with a bit of a rounded tip and tail shape. The 12.5-meter turn radius at the 167 cm length is slalom-short, so these skis are built to handle the across-the-fall-line style turn more so than the more direct approach of some other skis on this list.

Binding:

Flat

AT A GLANCE


2020 Elan Wingman 86 CTI




AVAILABLE SIZES

160, 166, 172, 178, 184 cm

TURN RADIUS

15.6m @ 172 cm

SIDECUT

130 / 86 / 115 mm

CORE

Wood / Carbon Tubes / Metal

STRENGTHS

Smoothness, Stability, Versatility


Overview:

This was a surprising one. By utilizing Elan’s Amphibio profile, the Wingman is a totally unique ski. It’s the only one on our list that has a dedicated right and left ski based on construction and rocker shape. Like the Ripstick line, the Wingman has more rocker on the outside edge while the inside edge remains cambered. It doesn’t stop there, however. Amphibio Truline places more material over the inside edges giving the ski better edge grip and more power and precision, especially over the downhill ski’s inside edge. This allows the uphill outside edge to track true alongside the downhill ski, creating an unbelievably smooth ride. Turn transitions are a complete and total breeze on these skis, which is very impressive, especially considering they have carbon and titanium in them. We’re using the 86 CTI Flat for our comparison, but it also comes in a system, without the carbon, and in narrower widths, so there’s a lot of options in the Wingman line. But for their flagship model, the 86 CTI Flat is a unique and powerful ski like nothing else on the market.

Binding:

Flat (System Option)

AT A GLANCE


2020 Fischer RC One 86 GT with RSW 12 Power Rail Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

161, 168, 175, 182 cm

TURN RADIUS

17m @ 175 cm

SIDECUT

130 / 86 / 116 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal Stringers

STRENGTHS

Strength, Stability, Heft


Overview:

This is a burly non-race ski. A lot of the skis on this list are race-derivative, but the RC One GT 86 (long name, we know) is really its own type of ski. Fischer’s claim to fame with this model is that rather than the normal metal laminates (of which there are two in this ski), the GT 86 uses thicker metal—that which is usually found in World Cup race skis. When you pick them up, you can feel it. So they have to counteract that weight somehow, and they do so with the addition of a material called Bafatex in the tips and tails. The metal and the core taper to the middle at the ends of the skis, and in the hollowed out, thinner areas, Fischer uses this fabric weave that is normally found in high-end sails for boats. It’s light and stiff, so you get a touch more maneuverability and light weight feel without losing out on the precision or power of the ski. Underfoot and through the forebody, however, the GT 86 is all business. It’s a bit wider, so it has a solid platform to stand on. Just hold on for the ride.

Binding:

RSW 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Head SuperShape i.Rally with PRD 12 GW Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

156, 163, 170, 177 cm

TURN RADIUS

13.7m @ 170 cm

SIDECUT

135 / 76 / 114 mm

CORE

Wood / Two Layers of Metal

STRENGTHS

Smoothness, Edge Grip, Suppleness


Overview:

This model has been around for a few years now and has developed quite a following. With a true tip to tail effective edge, it’s one of the smoothest carvers on the hill. Built with some technological goodies and advanced materials, it’s one of the more futuristic skis on our wall. The wood core is reinforced with titanium and graphene. Graphene is also used in Head’s Kore models, and it’s billed as one of the lightest and strongest materials on the planet. This gives the ski almost endless energy and power. To harness that power, Head also uses KERS technology to kick up the performance a notch, or if needed, dumb it down a shade. It’s a Kinetic Energy Recover System that’s found on machines like a Formula 1 race car. In addition to damping the ski at higher speeds, it also softens it at slower speeds. If you think it’s a myth, give it a try! At 76 mm underfoot and with a 13.7-meter turn radius at the 170 cm length, these skis love to be on edge, and if they have a downfall, it’s that they don’t skid turns well at all. Gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.

Binding:

PRD 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Liberty V82




AVAILABLE SIZES

165, 172, 179, 186 cm

TURN RADIUS

16.5m @ 179 cm

SIDECUT

129 / 82 / 110 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal / Carbon

STRENGTHS

Smoothness, Stability, Versatility


Overview:

Overview: We’re not used to thinking of Liberty skis as front side carvers, but here we are. The V82 is in its second year and uses Vertical Metal Technology (VMT) to bolster its wood core. Vertical metal is all the rage these days, as it gives the ski an extremely stable performance without the weight of full metal horizontal laminates. Liberty added a third metal strut for 2020 in addition to two carbon stringers and a full carbon layup. The Liberty V82 is a pretty burly ski as a result, and in this width, loves to be on edge and in a carved turn. Just a bit of tip rocker combines with the wider and non-tapered tip to give you a smooth entry to the carve. It’s a seamless style of initiation that a lot of advanced and expert skiers will love. For a company that prides itself on its freeride skis, it sure makes a great on-piste ski as well. The low-profile tip is pretty flat, giving it a lighter feel, and when that’s combined with the carbon material and the vertical metal, the V82 is pretty darn maneuverable for how stable it is in the turn. We’ve been quite impressed with the character and personality of these skis, as the genetics are definitely freeride-oriented, but the stability and power are race-like in the best way possible.

Binding:

Flat

AT A GLANCE


2020 Nordica Spitfire 72 RB with XCell 12 Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

156, 162, 168, 174, 180 cm

TURN RADIUS

15m @ 168 cm

SIDECUT

122 / 72 / 102 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal / Carbon

STRENGTHS

Edge Grip, Power, Edge Grip


Overview:

As one of the closest skis to a real race ski on our list, it’s no surprise that the Dobermann Spitfire 72 is one of the strongest and smoothest skis on the wall. It’s a fairly traditional build, with a wood core and two sheets of metal, but the twist on this ski is the race bridge that connects carbon in the tips and tails to the metal laminates. This both lightens and stiffens the ends of the skis, allowing them to have more maneuverability than their World Cup brethren. At 72 mm underfoot, this is the narrowest ski on our wall, and just like a hockey skate, the narrower the blade, the sharper the turn. As far as hard snow capabilities are concerned, the Spitfire 72 is about as competent as it gets in a citizen’s ski. For ski bum racing, early-morning hardpack days, or just laser-like precision, the Spitfire 72 should be at the top of your list. Due to its narrow nature, it does have a smaller balance point, so it’s best suited for expert skiers and former racers. We’d hesitate to say it has any versatility to it, but what it does, it does really well.

Binding:

TCX 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Nordica Spitfire 80 RB




AVAILABLE SIZES

156, 162, 168, 174, 180 cm

TURN RADIUS

16m @ 174 cm

SIDECUT

130 / 80 / 110 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal / Carbon

STRENGTHS

Versatility, Quickness, Potential


Overview:

On the wide side of the Spitfire lineup is the 80 RB. We’re reviewing this one in its flat version, but it is also available as a system. We think the flat offers a lot of options for front side skiers, and when you put a regular binding on a ski like this without a plate, it becomes a lot more versatile. The plate not only raises you up for more leverage, but it also slows down the reaction time of the ski. The friction of distance between your boot sole and the base of the ski is smaller than that of a plated system binding, so it takes a shorter amount of time for your input to reach the edge of the ski. Built with the same construction as the 72, the 80 comes in a wider package for a more all-mountain personality. Yes, it’s still a stiff, burly ski with a high-end feel, but the flat nature of the ski opens up a world of possibility. From moguls and trees to groomers and steeps, the Spitfire 80 RB will satisfy the demands of former racers and expert skiers who are looking for precision and strength, but without a system or a plate. Feel free to install a race plate and a binding of your choice to make it more like a system ski, but we like the addition of this ski as an alternative to those burly setups.

Binding:

Flat

AT A GLANCE


2020 Rossignol Hero Elite Plus with SPX 12 Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

160, 167, 174, 181 cm

TURN RADIUS

14m @ 174 m

SIDECUT

130 / 78 / 110 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal

STRENGTHS

Stability, Turn Shape, Stiffness


Overview:

Rossignol is another proponent of the vertical strips to gain traction and stability. Their Line Control Technology (LCT) is found on a majority of their skis these days, and especially in their higher end carving skis like the Hero Elite Plus Ti. Built with an Ash wood core like their higher end race skis, the Hero Elite Plus is stiff to start, and when two metal sheets are added, it takes the ski to another level. The LCT is made up of metal, and it does a fantastic job of keeping the ski on your intended track, preventing counter-flexing, and maintaining control through the carve. At 78 mm in the waist, the skis claim a 14-meter turn radius at the 174 cm length. This is nice and short, and the skis will really react instantly to each and every ounce of energy that you put in. Tip to tail, these things rip. It’s pretty incredible how well the LCT works and is certainly the signature aspect of these skis. They have a nice width to them, giving them added stability and balance. Overall, a great option from Rossignol for advanced and expert skiers.

Binding:

SPX 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Salomon S/Force Bold with Z12 Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

170, 177, 184 cm

TURN RADIUS

16m @ 177 cm

SIDECUT

132 / 84 / 116 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal

STRENGTHS

Power, Stability, Power


Overview:

The Salomon S/Force Bold is a new ski for 2020 and does a good job living up to its name. Whether you’re focusing on the Force or the Bold aspect of the moniker, it holds up to both. As a wider choice for a front side ski, the Bold measures 84 mm underfoot, giving the ski an added layer of stability and versatility for a variety of skiers. While we wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a versatile all-mountain ski, it is on the more well-rounded side of the skis in this comparison. Remember when 84 mm underfoot was a fat ski? Now, with the build and the tip to tail camber of a race ski, they hook up and deliver a ton of power and precision. They’re not the lightest or the quickest skis in this comparison, but that coin has a flip side, and in this case, it’s sheer power and stability. They are unflinching on the groomers regardless of speed, so feel free to hammer on the gas and let these things rip. They don’t bounce, vibrate, or chop no matter what. They’re available with two different binding system choices for a bit of customization as well.

Binding:

X 12 TL GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Stockli Laser AR




AVAILABLE SIZES

154, 161, 168, 175, 182 cm

TURN RADIUS

16.5M @ 175 cm

SIDECUT

130 / 83 / 112 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal

STRENGTHS

Versatility, Flexibility, Quality


Overview:

Stockli makes a nice set of skis. The Laser AR, at 83 mm underfoot, is marketed by Stockli as an “all-mountain” ski, but we feel like there’s better shapes for that application. Rather, it’s an amazing example of a wider front side ski that lays down some mean arcs. Everyone who skis on it is blown away with the precision and stability and the on-trail capabilities, that we don’t think it even occurs to them that they could take it off-trail. Most of this versatility is due to the Torsion Racing Technology, which consists of lengthwise cuts at the tips and tails to make the metal more flexible and accessible in the core. With a 16.5-meter turn radius at the 175 cm length, the Laser AR loves to be on edge making shorter and quicker turns but can also be opened up thanks to the slight tip rocker. Skis of this caliber without tip rocker can be squirrely at speed, but the Laser AR stays calm and collected, even in the face of adversity. This is one of the most well-rounded skis on our list, and the quality is simply off the charts. There’s a loyal, die-hard Stockli following out there, and it’s skis like the Laser AR that make it so.

Binding:

Flat

AT A GLANCE


2020 Volkl Deacon 76 with XCell 12 Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

171, 176, 181 cm

TURN RADIUS

18.3m @ 176 cm

SIDECUT

122 / 76 / 103 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal

STRENGTHS

Turn Shape Versatility, Dampness, Traditional Feel


Overview:

This ski has gone through a few names over the years, and now that Volkl uses its Deacon moniker to represent their front side skis, the 76 seems to have found its home. Sold both as a system and as a “pro” version with a race plate, the Deacon 76 is Volkl’s ultimate GS cheater ski. It’s got the same build as the race room skis, but in a more friendly shape. At 76 underfoot and with both tip and tail rocker, this ski is both ready to rip and relatively accessible for most advanced skiers. The rocker really makes the ski stand out in this crowd, as it has the build of the World Cupper, but the shape and profile of a more friendly ski. As a result, turn initiation and completion is very easy but the middle of the ski is all business. The Deacon 76 is still clinging to its UVO vibration damping system, ensuring completely stable skiing at any speed. The other nice thing about that rocker profile is that you can let the skis run flat (or flatter) and at higher speeds. Some other skis are a lot more interested in one type of turn, while the Deacon 76 has a more versatile turn shape profile. We love it for its classic and traditional feel combined with its more modern profile.

Binding:

XCell 12 GripWalk

AT A GLANCE


2020 Volkl Deacon 84 with Lowride XL 13 GW Bindings




AVAILABLE SIZES

162, 167, 172, 177, 182 cm

TURN RADIUS

16.9m @ 177cm

SIDECUT

132 / 84 / 115 mm

CORE

Wood / Metal / 3D.Glass

STRENGTHS

Versatility, Poise, Quickness


Overview:

We’ll round out our comparison with an amazing new ski from Volkl. It’s hard to replace a legend like the RTM 84, but the Deacon is up to the task. By combining a lot of elements that are found in both race skis and their all-mountain line such as the Mantra’s Titanal Frame, the Deacon 84 is carving out a niche all its own. Volkl has taken their multi-layer wood core and added both titanal frame as well as 3D Ridge and 3D Radius for an extremely versatile carver. The metal frame gives the ski tremendous edge precision while the 3D Ridge keeps the central portion of the ski on the straight and narrow. The tail is energetic and responsive but not abusive. Skiers who love the RTM 84 in the past will definitely settle right into the Deacon. Additionally, the 3D turn radius found in the Deacon 84 allows the skier to make any turn shape at any point. We’ve tried it out and it works. This same technology is found on other Volkl skis for this year such as the Kendo 88 and the Mantra 102. For skiers looking in the ultimate in on-trail versatility, check out the all-new Volkl Deacon 84.

Binding:

Lowride XL 13 FR GripWalk

2020 SKI COMPARISONS:


Men's Frontside Skis


SKIS

SIDECUT

RADIUS

CORE

RETAIL PRICE

2020 Atomic Redster X9

13.5m @ 168cm

125.5 / 75 / 109.5

Titanium / Wood

$999.99

2020 Blizzard Brahma 82

21m @ 187cm

121 / 82 / 105

Wood / Metal / Carbon

$599.95

2020 Blizzard Firebird HRC

15m @ 174cm

126 / 76 / 107

Wood / Carbon / Titanal

$1,049.95

2020 DPS Cassiar 79 Alchemist

12.5m @ 167cm

123 / 79 / 107

Woodcore

$1,299.00

2020 Elan Wingman 86 CTI

15.6m @ 172cm

130 / 86 / 115

Wood / Carbon Tubes / Metal

$649.99

2020 Fischer RC One 86 GT

17m @ 175cm

130 / 86 / 116

Wood / Metal Stringers

$899.99

2020 Head SuperShape i.Rally

13.7m @ 170cm

135 / 76 / 114

Wood / Two Layers of Metal

$999.00

2020 Liberty V82

18m @ 182cm

135 / 105 / 125

Wood / Metal / Carbon

$749.00

2020 Nordica Spitfire 72 RB

15m @ 168cm

122 / 72 / 102

Wood / Metal / Carbon

$899.95

2020 Nordica Spitfire 80 RB

16m @ 174cm

130 / 80 / 110

Wood / Metal / Carbon

$699.00

2020 Rossignol Hero Elite Plus

14m @ 174cm

130 / 78 / 110

Wood / Metal

$999.95

2020 Salomon S/Force Bold

16m @ 177cm

132 / 84 / 116

Wood / Metal

$899.99

2020 Stockli Laser AR

16.5m @ 175cm

130 / 83 / 112

Wood / Metal

$1,250.00

2020 Volkl Deacon 76

18.3m @ 176cm

122 / 76 / 103

Wood / Metal

$899.00

2020 Volkl Deacon 84

16.9m @ 177cm

132 / 84 / 115

Wood / Metal / 3D.Glass

$999.00

2020 Men's Frontside Ski Test Results Image
 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 11/22/19

10 thoughts on “2020 Ski Comparisons: Men's Frontside Ski Guide

  1. Well done, solid and comprehensive review. What binding would you suggest for a more front side and forgiving use of the Liberty and the DPS. I am 5'8" 200lbs, advanced skier.

    1. Hi JP!
      We've had great success with the Marker Griffon on those skis. I find the Tyrolia Attack toe piece to be a bit wide for those models while the Griffon sits nicely in there. Hope that helps!
      SE

  2. Interested in a new set of skis. 52 year old male that still likes to go fast but needs to be able to ski bumps and backside powder with the kids. Therefore would love to still have control/stability but in a lighter ski. Thoughts about new ski and binding. Currently ski K2 AMP Rictor.

    1. Hi JB!
      I'd look to the wider skis of this group like the Volkl Deacon 84. Tons of carving power and a good deal of versatility. For a slightly wider option, if you open yourself up to the 88's you'll find a lot more options (for better or worse). The Rossignol Experience 88 sticks out as a strong overall option. What you lose in carving/edge grip versus the Deacon, you make up for in versatility and flotation. Have fun!
      SE

    1. Hi KG!
      Which one is better for you? The Fischer is heavier and more stable while the Deacon is lighter and more versatile. Depends on where you ski and how fast! Have fun!
      SE

  3. Hey Guys! Looking for some recommendations from you. First off - I’ve been through every one of your comparison videos (multiple times) and they’re awesome! I appreciate the informative and straight-forward approach you both take. Here’s my situation. After many, many years of renting demos, I’m looking to buy the right pair of skis. I’m 56 years old - learned how to ski in the Bavarian Alps about 46 years ago - but have lived in Florida since my teen years and have basically skied one week per year at Vail/Beaver Creek for the last 20 years. I’m 5’8”, weigh 200 pounds and mostly ski fast, steep, groomed blues during my annual pilgrimage to the Snow Gods! I ski aggressively, and when I’m not skiing fast, steep, groomed blues, I’m a fairly intense carver. I rarely ski bumps - I play in the powder for a little while when we get it. What ski should I buy?

    PZ

    1. Hi Patrick!
      In the front side category, it sounds like you're a Deacon 84 skier to me. Just has a bit more versatility than the rest of the narrower, more race-oriented skis. ON the more carvy side, look to the Stockli Laser AR, but the Deacon should take care of all your needs. Have fun!
      SE

  4. Hello,

    I am 5'8" and 132 lbs and last three days I've spent at least 20 hours in total reading, reading, watching YT reviews and more reading. I still don't know what to pick, but I think I've narrowed down my choice. It's not set in stone, so I am also taking other suggestions though!

    I like to think I am advanced skier who likes to ride aggressively (high speed and sharp dynamic turns), but considering my weight I am not sure if I want to take overly stiff skis.

    I was thinking between these:
    - Atomic Vantage 90 Ti
    - K2 Mindbender 90 Ti
    - Salomon S/Force Bold

    Which one of these (or some I didn't mention) do you think would be best for me?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Anthony!
      I think your weight puts you as a solid contender for the Vantage 90 Ti. The K2 is great, but on the heavier side, and the Salomon has more of a race like feel to it. The Atomic blurs that line between front side carver and all-mountain versatility. When combined with the lighter weight of the ski, I think you've got a great choice. Have fun!
      SE

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