Philpug

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So what is it that makes a woman’s ski, a woman's ski?

Pink 1170x538 with shadow.jpg


Artwork by @Dave Petersen

For some manufacturers, it is a complete change in build philosophy; for others, it is different graphics; for still others, it is that plus a forward mount point. Are any of these right or wrong? Since not all women are built the same, why should we expect their skis to be designed identically? Not all women even need women's skis, not all women have a lower center of gravity and need a forward mount point, and not all women ski differently. To assume so would be sexist. It still comes down to each skier's individual needs.

Every season Tricia and our women testers get on 50 to 75 pairs of women's skis. Our three main female testers are small, medium, and tall; they are proficient skiers with different needs and desires in the ways that skis perform. SkiNurse at 4’13½” is lighter on her skis and can have a tough time demoing because her size is often unavailable; such sizes need the most refinement and tweaking in order to scale the core and flex for lighter skiers, so they are usually the last to get produced. SBrown, at 5'9" our tallest tester, can run into a similar (but opposite) problem because the longest length in the women's models is also often unavailable. At least she can test the skis that are unisex in construction because the only difference is the topsheet. Tricia is the reference size for the typical woman skier: 5’6” and perfectly built, she gets to try most everything.

womentesters.jpg

Now, what are the differences between women's skis and what should you look for? First, some skis have no male counterpart, such as the Head Joy collection, which was designed from the ground up for women. These light and nimble skis not only have their own constructions, but they also have their own molds that Head uses nowhere else.

Armada does a very good job in scaling its skis to make sure all skiers have the same experience; this goes for both men and women. For example, the women's Victas are the same as the men's Invictus skis. Even though the model numbers differ, the Victa 83 is the same as the Invictus 85, the 87Ti is the same as the 89Ti, and the 93 is the same as the 95. The names change because Armada uses a shorter length for the women's skis as a reference size than the men's offering.

K2 was one of the first manufacturers to heavily promote women's skis way back when with the LTP in the 1980s, the T9 series around the turn of the century, and eventually the Luv collection (twice), which many feel is the reference series of the ski industry. The current Luvs share molds with their unisex brothers, the Iconics and Pinnacles, but their constructions are significantly different.

Rossignol's freeride skis are basically the same except for graphics and a "W" added to the name. That's all just fine, but I do have an issue when a manufacturer thinks the consumer isn’t paying attention. The Rossignol Sky 7 for men is a 164; for women, it is a 162. Yet not only is it the same ski, it is exactly the same length; does Rossignol assume that a man cannot ski a 162 or a woman cannot ski a 164? Is it marketing? Either way, there is no reason the same ski shouldn't be described the same. The Experience (men) and Temptation (women) lines are mostly the same except for graphics and a slight difference in construction: the women's collection does not incorporate the HD construction.

Some manufacturers, such as Kästle, don’t even offer women's skis, and that's not bad either. Kästle feels a skier is just that, a skier, neither male nor female.

None of these methods of design is absolutely right -- or wrong -- but it is nice going into the buying process with a bit of education. In many cases, women have a choice of graphics, either specific for women or simply unisex. What it comes down to is that just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you are limited to a women’s ski, or that you really even need one. So when shopping, examine each ski, take a look at the men's counterpart, and figure out if they are the same or different and if so, the ways they are different. Ask questions, and if you don't feel you received a satisfactory answer, please feel free to ask here. We will either validate what the salesperson is telling you or maybe provide a different opinion, based on what our testers have actually experienced
 
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pete

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Tricia is the reference size for the typical woman skier: 5’6” and perfectly built, she gets to try most everything.
no special bias here or setting up a lovely evening at home? ogwink

nice overview. As you noted I've seen where a manufacturer softens the flex (less metal or such) for women specifics.

Have you had lighter guys try out the women's ski's for review? Seems some may be well tuned albeit perhaps graphics, but I'd guess too men's (or neutral) options are plenty. Plus, likely little gained other than being able to map comparisons/similarities between women and men skis for selection options.

Too, I noted many kids ski's blend up to women's sizes and offer similar builds.
 

Monique

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K2 was one of the first manufacturers to heavily promote women's skis way back when with the LTP in the 1980s, the T9 series around the turn of the century, and eventually the Luv collection (twice), which many feel is the reference series of the ski industry. The current Luvs share molds with their unisex brothers, the Iconics and Pinnacles, but their constructions are significantly different.
My first "shaped" ski was a K2 Power, and I was told it was like the women's version of the IV; was that part of the T9 collection? (Red with black accents; I think I still have it at home. Piezoelectric doodad.)
 

Monique

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One comment on "same ski, different graphics" - when I was interested in the Line Sick Day 110, the stats were listed as identical to the Pandora, just different lengths - but the Sick Day 110 was $50 more expensive. The longest Pandora was 172; the shortest Sick Day 110 was 172. The only plausible difference anyone could think of was where they printed the suggested mount point, but I never put the two side by side to compare.
 

Mark

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Phil,

Any recommendations for my 15 year old daughter, former U14 racer, turned freestyle aerialist (USST-EADP). Last year we dumped her race skis (150 FIS slalom tweeners and 162 GS skis) and got her a pair of Völkl Kenja's. She hates them. They are too wide underfoot. She is a very aggressive skier who has been skiing since 10 mo's. Would the Head Joy or Rossi 88's be a suggestion? She needs something that will carve and hold well on groomed runs, but can also be taken all mountain. Her skiing is mostly in Park City, Lake Placid and Mt. Rose when home in the spring. Performance is critical as she rips when she is not training. She is 5'4" 125 lbs.
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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So, at 15, she is about done growing. How tall is she and how light is she (see what I did there)? So, being a racer and coming off of race skis..we know that there are not different race skis for boys and girls and I wouldn't rule out a unisex ski. A 162 GS sounds pretty short for a 15y/old, usually GS's are 20cm above the SL's. The Head and Rossi (but in the 84) are viable options if she wants a ski that is frontside and hard snow biased. Actually the first ski that comes to mind is the Blizzard Latigo, with the 78mm base and is pretty strong and still is fun off piste. With a little more info, I could come up with more options.
 

AmyPJ

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The fact that the Soul/Savory 7 are the identical length was kind of frustrating to me, since the 162 in the Savory was too short, and the 170 was too long (actually a 172.) I would have loved to try them in an actual either 170 or 164.

The current Völkl offerings I actually prefer the men's graphics for most of them. I'm one of those who does not care for pink skis.
 

cantunamunch

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Is there any system ski with measurably different deltas in the mens' and womens versions?
 

Yo Momma

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One comment on "same ski, different graphics" - when I was interested in the Line Sick Day 110, the stats were listed as identical to the Pandora, just different lengths - but the Sick Day 110 was $50 more expensive. The longest Pandora was 172; the shortest Sick Day 110 was 172. The only plausible difference anyone could think of was where they printed the suggested mount point, but I never put the two side by side to compare.
How are you liking the Sick Days? My GF has a pair and we're waiting for some pow to play in.......... She's small so we picked up the Jr's, not sure if that was the right move? We'll see!
 

Monique

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How are you liking the Sick Days? My GF has a pair and we're waiting for some pow to play in.......... She's small so we picked up the Jr's, not sure if that was the right move? We'll see!
Well, I'm not small, not the juniors, not sure how similar they are. Honestly, as excited as I was by them (okay, by the treehouse graphic) - they ended up being too floppy for my tastes. Didn't charge through crud, didn't float me as much as I'd hoped. Were pretty great on groomers, which ... wasn't really the point. I've since realized that for the most part, I prefer sidewall construction to cap, which was a pretty big "ahah" for me in terms of narrowing down skis.
 

pete

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My spouse defaults to my recommendations which are somewhat blind buys. However her first really loved skis were Dynastar Exclusive 11's which she stated as great crud busting skis. Her more recent Fisher KOA's are wider, in they're a bit "softer" but she loved skiing them last season.

Using my calibrated flex test, it seems little difference but I'll presume the Exclusives are torsionally more rigid ... but I may be out of calibration.

Seems overall soft or rigid flex simply depends on ones conditions. She of course is nearly perfect like Tricia ... just less snow time
 
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Jilly

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JSkis had a nice homage to that collection
Not enough pink on the bottom. That was thing about those Atomics. You knew what side was up when you were upside down. All pink bottoms!

I have women specific skis in my quiver. But they are really unisex skis in disguise. The Attraxion 12 is the 8S oversize in pretty blue, the Temptation 88 is very similar to the Experience 88 (I have the 2013 model). But I know of women that need a softer, lighter ski. And for years I skied the second model in the fleet of unisex skis....Z5 instead of the Z9 for example. Even my Hero's are the Carbon. A little softer flex.

I don't need flowers. In fact I like clean simple lines and don't really like the flowers on my Temptation 88's. But 1/2 the time they're covered with snow, so who cares!
 

Jilly

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Probably not. But you need to remember that the ski needs to meet stats, like your DIN. Height, weight and ability. SkiBam isn't even 5'0 tall and a very light weight. She has the Temptation 88's too. They are year newer than mine, so I think the core is a little different. But she can ski those skis in the right length.
 

cantunamunch

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This entire thread makes me think we need dealer specials in skis - sort of in between the two poles of current bootfitting and Yenko Chevys.
 

Don in Morrison

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Would it make too much sense to build the same ski in a continuum of sizes from very short for children up to something that would handle the biggest and burliest adult skier? There wouldn't be men's, women's and children's designations. Everyone could be fitted to the ski that best suits their height and weight and skiing style. It wouldn't be hard to imagine a family where everyone is on the same ski, but Mom is on the longest ones, the teens in the middle and Dad is on the shortest ones.

There is considerable overlap in sizes between adults and kids and between men and women. The special designations of men's, women's and kid's skis seems more of a marketing gimmick than a practical solution.
 
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