TEST: THE RIGHT SKI FOR EVERY OCCASION

Slalom? All round? Or perhaps a race carver? And when that’s decided, then what model? We took ourselves off for a consultation with Benni Walser at Silvretta Sports. And now we know which ski we really want. Or rather, which skis – you always need more, after all. The race carver: the right ski for speeding on the piste
If you want to give it some welly on the piste and at the same time have skis that stay flat on the snow and don’t chatter or flap, then a giant slalom racing ski is a good option. They have a modest sidecut, needing around 16 to18 metres for the curves with a length of 1.75 to 1.80 metres. That’s quite ambitious, and on a full piste it can get really tight – but if the piste is free and well-prepared, race carvers are great fun. The professionals use a body-length ski, incidentally, in other words one that is as long as their own height. Race carvers are only fun on the piste, though – off piste, they are a real handicap.

There are three models to choose from in this category at Silvretta Sports: the Head Super Shape iSpeed, the Atomic G7 and the Fischer Curv. By far the most professional of these is the Fischer. At a length of 1.75 metres, it needs a radius of 19 metres because of its sidecut. So it’s really ideal for quick, long turns above all, which it manages with an impressively smooth running. The model from Head is much better on the turns, needing only a bit more than 14 metres for the curves at the same length as the Fischer. So it’s ideal for people who want to have a shorter turn from time to time. The Atomic offers a compromise between the two other models: it is a bit better on the turns than the Fischer, but runs more smoothly than the Head. The slalom ski: nimble on any piste
A noticeably stronger sidecut, but nimbler, and you also normally need a model which is a lot shorter than your own height: slalom skis are the best for turning, which is good news on the piste. At ten or eleven metres the curve radius on the top models is still big, and if you get the edges really polished by racing service, the slalom ski has a powerful bite. As soon as you put it on its side, it bites and pulls in the curves. And how! A slalom ski is really good fun on a full piste, too, especially for people who can ski well technically. It’s not so suitable for higher speeds, however, as even amateur skiers will notice early on that a slalom ski doesn’t lie flat on the snow and chatters when going fast downhill. On the other hand, you can also ski on the edge of the slope, and tackle a hillock or two if the piste isn’t as flat as it was in the first hours of the morning. A whole day with a slalom ski is exhausting, though, especially if you want to ski cleanly on the edges. Because, of course, the short radii you ski with a slalom ski means you make twice as many turns as with a giant slalom ski. And that makes a difference!

Silvretta Sports have the Atomic S7, the Rossignol Hero Elite, the Salomon Race Shot and the Fischer RC 4 Worldcup in this category. The Fischer is the most aggressive model here with the narrowest radius. The Atomic is perhaps the most user-friendly because its radius is a little bigger, so the ski lies more quietly on the piste. The Salomon and the the Rossignol are somewhere in the middle. The all-round ski: fun off piste as well
Cruising sensibly over the slopes, but sometimes taking off into deep snow or onto a mogul piste: this is what all-round skis are all about. They are body-length, the sidecut is not as aggressive as with the slalom ski, and the all-round ski is in general relatively wide. It’s about 80 millimetres or more even at its narrowest point, which gives it lift in deep snow or salty, soft conditions. You do have to lower your sights in terms of turns, however, and anyone with a giant slalom racing ski will always be better when it comes to ski course downhill races – because they’ll have the power and technology to put the skis quickly on the edges, and keep them there.
There are four particularly high quality all-round skis available for hire at Silvretta Sports this season: the Fischer RC One, the Atomic Vintage 79 TI, the Völkl Deacon 80 and the Head Super Shape Magnum. The Head Magnum is the most classic of all the models – you can go off piste with it too, although it’s really designed for a comfortable day skiing on the piste with one or two slopes taking you into the deep snow. The models from Völk and Atomic are almost as good off piste as on the prepared slopes, because they have a lot of lift but keep a sidecut. Of all those on offer, the Fischer model is the best suited for deep snow, with a central width of 86 millimetres making it definitely the best off piste wonder.