Excerpted with permission from realskiers.com where the full article was published March 20, 2017.

All-mountain skis — those that purport to do everything reasonably well – started appearing in the mid-90’s. 

Following, listed roughly in order of their debut, are the iconic models that emerged since the term “all-mountain” came into common usage. My picks aren’t necessarily the most innovative or game changing, but they were, for a while, the best at handling any condition the mountain might dish out.

Völkl Snow Ranger

Völkl didn’t invent the fat ski – that distinction goes to Atomic – but they were the first to make an expert powder ski using elite construction. When fat skis were first making a dent in the market, no other model was as powerful and versatile as the original Snow Ranger, which still holds its own as an all-terrain ski today.

Volant Chubb

From today’s perspective, it’s hard to believe that the Chubb, born in the first generation of fat skis, had a 90mm waist. When Shane McConkey began to straight-line steep couloirs on the Chubb, any lingering resistance to fat skis as cheater sticks evaporated. Applying the Chubb’s construction to a water ski’s shape resulted in the Spatula, creating new dimensions in ski design that endure to this day.

K2 Four

K2 wasn’t an early adopter of shaped skis, but once the brand put their marketing prowess into promoting the concept, there was no turning back. A young Bode Miller started to win races on the funky red, white and blue skis, validating the technical capabilities of the deep sidecut. America followed suit, setting the table for K2’s run of dominance in the U.S. market.

Dynastar 4×4

Shaped skis were still by and large a carving club when Dynastar debuted the 4×4 as an unabashed off-road ski, inspiring comparisons to SUV’s for their all-terrain adaptability. Although absurdly narrow by today’s standards (a shade under 68mm underfoot), the first 4×4 would later morph into the 4×4 Big, one of the most popular fat skis of its era.

Salomon X-Scream

Like the 4×4, Salomon’s X-Scream was one of the first shaped skis that wasn’t intended as an on-piste carving tool but as an all-terrain implement. The first X-Scream earned instant acclaim when it rolled out in 2001, spawning a string of successors that made the X-Scream family the most popular in Salomon’s history.

Stöckli Stormrider XL

Stöckli tends to build all-terrain skis with DNA extracted from Super G race models, making their Stormrider series among of the burliest all-mountain skis. The Stormrider XL, sporting a waist of 75mm, was an ancestor of the current crop of Stormriders, which range in width from 83mm to 115mm. The one constant has been a stout, wood and metal lay-up that takes no prisoners as it slashes through any and all snow conditions.

NOTE: This highly unscientific exercise isn’t meant to identify the very best skis, nor the most popular and not necessarily the most innovative or influential. The common thread is that they epitomized versatility in their respective eras.

Six other picks will appear next week.

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6 Comments

  1. Elaine Frankle says:

    No mention of women specific skis!

    • Jon Weisberg says:

      Elaine, I’ll forward your comment to the author. Earlier in the season Jackson evaluated the new skis for those best suited for older skiers. That listing breaks out his recommendations for women. You may have seen it. If not, click “Community” on the menu bar and then “Subscriber Only Content” in the drop down menu. Jon

    • Quite so. “Women’s skis” didn’t really become a viable category until the industry had already multiplied the expert skier categories 7-fold. It’s also muddy water in that many women’s skis – certainly most in their relatively short history – were actually men’s models in a shorter size range. That said, your comment has obvious merit and I should put some effort into formulating such a list.

  2. Carol Cook says:

    I’m with Elaine- another ‘senior woman’ looking to spend time on the mountain!! Living in SLC gives me best terrain and super access!!

  3. I cover the current women’s ski and boot market as thoroughly as any ski publication. I commend to you “The Wacky World of Women’s Equipment,” on our public site (www.realskiers.com) for an overview of the women’s market. Not much has changed since it was composed 2 years ago. I provide dozens of reviews of women’s models every year, along with detailed scores for Recommended models (on the members’ site).
    Missed you when I was at Snowbird 2 weeks ago. You do indeed have great options at your fingertips!
    BTW, 45% of my subscribers are women…

  4. scott Colesworthy says:

    May I ask what the current top three might be? I’m looking to upgrade to something lighter in the all mountain ski category. Thanks so much.

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