Best carving skis
Carving skis are skis which are designed for use on piste, on the hard, compacted snow. Carving skis can be as narrow as 68mm underfoot or as wide as 84mm underfoot. Carving skis are designed to allow quick transition from edge to edge, to make turning at high speeds easier.
Arguably the most important detail of any ski aside from the length of the ski, is the width underfoot. Any skier worth his salt knows the width of ski he or she wants on any given day, in any given condition. When someone asks you how wide your skis are, they're not asking for the width of your skis at the tip, they want to know the width of your skis underfoot. Skiers make their name on the slopes with the skis they ski on. If you commit to skiing a pair of racing skis at 68mm underfoot, or decide to splash out on a pair of Bent Chetlers at 120mm underfoot, you can guarantee you'll become the talk of the town!
What is carving on skis?
Carving on skis is skiing on the edges of your skis, and being able to shift your weight gracefully from one edge to the other between turns. Essentially, you will spend all of your time on your edges ie. in the turn, as opposed to quick turns for example, there it is much more of a start-stop motion and each turn is more of a skid across the snow. Carving skis are designed with a natural camber throughout most of the ski. Camber is when the ski is purposefully made with an upwards arch in the middle of the ski (as opposed to ‘rocker’ which is when the ski is designed to have the tip and tails of the ski naturally raising up off the snow. This is much more common in off-piste skis as it gives the skier more lift in soft snow, and allows for easier turning), to allow the ski to bend into each turn with the weight of the skier. This help to create more pressure on the snow and create more grip and stability through the carve.
What are the best skis for carving?
The best skis for carving will depending a lot upon your skiing ability and your personal preference. Some hardcore skiing enthusiasts who enjoy racing down the pistes at over 100 km per hour will prefer the latest edition of racing ski available, which will be around 70mm underfoot and the stiffest ski you’ve ever come across. Some of these high-end racing-carving skis have sheets of titanium grafted into them to help keep the ski stiff at high speeds, and help the skier to stay in control. Below are some of the best high-end carving skis designed for very good - expert skiers, and for skiing at high speeds. Though each of these skis below are not racing skis per se, they certainly lend themselves to skiing fast and carry the stability to suit very experienced skiers.
Rossignol Hero Elite ST TI review
As the most race-inspired and race-orientated ski reviewed here, the Rossignol Hero Elite ST TI delivers one thing above all else – speed. The Rossignol Hero skis have been around for a long time, and for good reason. This ski has been a front runner for elite skiers and those whose enjoy bombing down the mountain creating beautiful carved turns for many seasons now. When you see a skier holding a pair of Rossignol Hero skis, you know exactly what sort of skier they are, and to get out of their way on the piste. The Rossignol Hero Elite ST TI is a slalom-inspired ski with a 68mm waist, designed to allow you to turn from one edge to another as quickly as possible, and to allow you to maintain your speed between turns.
Edge control with this ski is near perfect both for short turns and for longer carving turns. With a turning radius of 12m for 162cm long skis, this ski is clearly designed with slalom like turns in mind, and will suit an advanced and agile skier best. One other thing to note about this ski is the stiffness of the tail. This is an attribute of race skis that helps the skier ‘pop’ out of turns to help initiate the next turn easier and quicker.
For a more in-depth review of the Rossignol Hero Elite ST TI, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: Rossignol Hero Elite ST TI full review
Salomon S/Force Bold review
Salomon have been at the forefront of ski design and winter sports in general for a long time. When you think of high-performance race skis, Salomon may not necessarily be the brand that comes to mind immediately, however the Salomon S/Force Bold skis certainly give you something to consider and to think about. With these skis, you can easily charge down the pistes of the mountain all day long no matter what how good the snow conditions are. These skis have been designed to withstand whatever is thrown at them, they are fantastic at holding an edge and have even been made that little bit more versatile to ski off-road so to speak (I don’t want to say off-piste because that is definitely not what these skis are designed for, but if you fancy doing a little bit of skiing at the side of the piste when the snow is unpisted and maybe a little rough around the edges, these skis will be happy to accommodate you).
Although this ski has been made slightly more versatile than a pure piste ski, such as a wider than normal width underfoot of 84mm, the skis stiffness and dampness mean that this ski has not been designed for the soft snow.
For a more in-depth review of the Salomon S/Force Bold, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: Salomon S/Force Bold full review
Stöckli Laser AX review
With a waist width of 78mm underfoot, don’t be fooled by thinking this or any other ski with this waist width is an all-mountain ski. Yes, the Stöckli Laser AX may have some characteristics that lend themselves to skiing all-mountain, but in essence this is a carving ski, and this is the terrain that this ski performs best on by quite some way. As Stöckli have decided to make this ski a little more versatile for example by making it a bit lighter and widening the tip of the ski compared to other high-end skis, this means it may not be quite a solid at holding an edge as other competitors, but the advantage this gives it that it allows you to more easily ski in bumpy or in off-piste conditions.
The narrow waist and minimal rocker at the front of the ski ensure that you get plenty of edge to carve into your turns, and an exciting rebound out of your turns to start your next one. If you are a very advanced skier or are a heavier skier, you may find these skis are not quite as sturdy as you need them to be because of the decrease in weight for the sake of versatility, however this by no means takes away from how excellent a carving ski these are, if you are able to ski them. The 2021 season edition of this ski is exactly the same as the 2020 season, it has simply been given a new print. If anything, this shows you how popular and successful this ski has been, even with the relatively high price tag.
For a more in-depth review of the Stöckli Laser AX, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: Stöckli Laser AX full review
Head SuperShape e-Speed review
The Head SuperShape E-Speed is one of newly developed skis in the EMC range made by Head. What does EMC stand for? This is a brand new, ground-breaking technology that has not been used in the skiing world before. A carbon circuit board has been placed in each ski, which uses kinetic energy gained from the ski’s movement to dampen the skis vibrations and help to stabilise the skis at high speeds. Head have been making the SuperShape range for many years now, adding to and replacing technology most seasons to optimise their skis. This season’s upgrade is arguably one of the largest changes/ upgrades they’ve made to the range. A few seasons ago Head added Graphine to SuperShape skis to give it extra stability and better carving, and adding EMC techology to the range this year is another step in that direction, of increasing stability at high speeds.
Head have introduced this EMC technology to a number of different skis this year such as the e-Rally, the E- Magnum & the e-Titan. While I would say all of these skis appear to be designed quite similarly, and while there are some differences between them, only a very experienced skier might be able to recognise them at first. The reason I think the Head SuperShape e-Speed is geared that bit more for expert skiers, is that it helps you to go that bit faster, and is more suited to skiing groomers rather than being designed to be more versatile, such as the e-Rally, the e-Magnum & the e-Titan.
For a more in-depth review of the Head SuperShape e-Speed, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: Head SuperShape full review
K2 Disruption MTi Alliance review
The womens K2 Disruption MTi Alliance ski is probably the best piste ski K2 have ever made. Targeted towards ladies who want to ski fast with precision and stability, this skis will allow you to gracefully carve your way down any groomer, and with a waist width of 72mm, the ability to shift between turns has never been easier. These womens skis are the counterpart to the mens K2 Disruptions series which has also only been launched new this year, and are both equally ground-breaking. The only main difference between the men's and the women's skis is the stiffness of the ski, which accounts for the extra weight that men tend to carry, meaning the skis need to have that extra bit of push back. This is often achieved by adding a layer of titanium through the ski.
The added technology in this ski compared with other K2 models is the Dark Matter Damping, which as you might expect, does a fantastic job of absorbing vibrations. Normally this is achieved in skis by adding more weight, however K2 have pushed the boundaries of research with this technology to damped vibrations without compromise.
For a more in-depth review of the Head SuperShape e-Speed, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: K2 Disruption MTi Alliance full review
Kästle MX84 review
Let me introduce you to my own personal favourite skis. Kastle are world renowned for making high-end, high-performance skis, and the MX84’s are no different. Extremely stable and very prcise carving skis at higher speeds, these skis are certainly not to be picked up by anyone other than experienced skiers. These skis are not forgiving, with a stiff tail and only a small rocker at the front, these skis have a very powerful edge on them. If you are not an experienced enough skier, you may find it difficult to control these skis and to get the most out of them.
I would describe these skis as versatile carving skis. Like other skis reviewed in this article, many carving skis have been designed to make them more versatile, and make them more suited to what skiing is really like. Rarely do skiers spend their entire day skiing beautifully pisted groomers and never venturing off the side of the piste or skiing down less than ideal slopes. With a waist of 84mm the Kätle MX84 allows you to do just this, while giving you the stability and speed that you are looking for on the piste. Don’t think that just because I have described these skis a versatile means that they can be used in the deep powder – they cant. Your skis will sink and you will struggle to turn properly. The skis are just too heavy, too stiff, not wide enough and without enough rocker in the tip to ski off-piste. You cant have it both ways!
For a more in-depth review of the Head SuperShape e-Speed, or if you are interested in purchasing these skis visit: Kästle MX84 full review
Are wider skis harder to turn?
The short answer to this is yes, wider skis are harder to turn. While there is no strict definition for the exact width of carving skis underfoot, carving skis generally come in the range of 68mm to 85mm underfoot. The narrower the skis are, the easier and quicker it is for a skier to be able to shift his or her weight from one side to another with every turn they take down the slope. For anyone who has been skiing before, you will know how much more difficult it is to carve and shift your weight from one edge to another on a steep slope, for fear of losing control and picking up speed before you have a chance to complete your turn! This becomes exponentially more difficult on wider skis. This is more difficult on wider skis because it takes longer to get from one edge to another.
What length carving skis do I need?
The length of carving ski required depends a lot on your height, your weight & your skiing ability. Generally speaking, you should aim to have carving skis which reach to somewhere between your shoulders and your eyes. The smaller your skis are, the easier they will be to control and the easier it will be to turn.