This article completes the list of “iconic all-mountain” skis published last week.

One reader comment on last week’s list stated that better options are available today. In the interest of clarification, skis listed last week and in this article weren’t necessarily the most innovative or game changing. But, at the time they were introduced, they were the best at handling all conditions.

Völkl Mantra

One could make a strong case that the Völkl Mantra served as the primary prototype for the modern all-mountain ski genre. Like the Snow Ranger preceding it, the Mantra pulled no punches when it came to integrating first class construction into a modern shape. Any ski with decent surface area will work in powder, but it takes a stout ski to subdue crud. The Mantra, in all its incarnations, has been pulverizing crud since its inception.

Kästle MX83

Dimensionally, the MX83 falls just outside the current definition of an all-mountain shape, but temperamentally it’s predisposed to dominate in any condition. Rather than float over fluffy pow, the MX83 rips it out by the roots, tearing through whatever lies in its path. What makes it deliriously well suited to off-trail skiing is its unique ability to flow over irregular terrain as if it were made of mercury.

Atomic Nomad Crimson Ti

The Nomad series focused on Frontside performance, but top of the line Crimson Ti, had the moxie to travel anywhere with aplomb. The only system ski among our dandy dozen, the original Crimson Ti was so stable at speed it inspired the confidence to roam all over the mountain, where it revealed a capacity for decimating crud with the same power it applied to carving up the groom.

Nordica Hell & Back

Many skiers are under the illusion that it takes a slab or two of Titanal to make a strong, powerful ski. Nordica laid that notion to rest when it concocted the Hell & Back, an all-glass construction with the grip of Gorilla glue. A fall-line charger without fear, the Hell & Back had a big brother, the Patron, which set the benchmark for powder performance for several seasons.

 Rossignol Soul 7

Strictly speaking, the Soul 7 was a tad too wide to make our list, but one can’t overlook top-of-the-heap sales success. A follow-up to the already popular S7, the Soul 7 hit the sweet spot on a slew of trends: lightweight construction, tapered tips and tails, and eye-catching cosmetics. But the key to its powder performance lay in an Old School property: rebound of the kind that coined the term, “porpoising,” describing the way the Soul 7’s coiled power lifted the skier up after every turn.

Blizzard Bonafide

I’d skied 1,000’s of models before I first stepped into a pair of Bonafides. All it took was one run and I was in love. As with any true love, all other contenders for my affections faded into the background for the Bonafide demonstrated that it could do anything at any time in any condition. I hear the quibbles that it requires speed and expert technique to extract its charms but dismiss them as hollow carping. As this list makes clear, when has it not been true that better skis reward better skiing?

 Postscript: 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.

However you feel about these selections, I invite you to chime in on the Facebook page, home of the discerning diatribe.

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  1. Paul Willmott says:

    Dynastars troublemakers are still a great ski. I use to go into my local ski shop year after year and based on recommendation buy skis. I had bought a pair of 1080’s and for a couple of years they said I had the best. when the troublemakers came out they were my last purchase and have held up well through bumps, deeper snow, ice etc. The guys at the shop used to go to Hunter Mountain for demo days and that was the rave of the year. The first year was the best according to them.

  2. Alice Walter says:

    I miss hearing about the women skiers best. I would vote for Volkl Kenja all mountain alpine, and Blizzards Black Pearl for alpine and tele. Awalter

  3. Wayne Ferguson says:

    I’m still enamoured of my Atomic Metron 11 B5C skis, The absolute best non-race skis I have ever owned. Great cruisers, good in powder, hold on hard-pack like a Dynamic slalom ski (when you could still get them.).

  4. Bruce Courtney says:

    I’ve done some reading about the Elan’s Amphibio and they sound absolutely incredible. However, I haven’t seen or read much of any feedback from the general public, and would like to know your take on this new technology.

  5. That old Mantra, like a German car, it waited for you to drive it. Reliably went and stayed where you directed it.

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