A Brief History of the Female Specific Ski
Over the past few years, the subject of the female specific ski has been heavily debated, mainly in the vein of 'are brands patronising their female customers?' by making skis which are shorter, lighter and more flexible than their male counterparts.
Maybe a little while ago, that would have been the case, with many brands marketing their women's skis as easier to use with girly things like flowers and butterflies on them.
It was assumed that tall girls and girls who wanted to ski hard would go for a unisex ski and that was that. But with the rate of progression female freeskiing has seen over the past couple of years, and the amount of female athletes who have been throwing down as hard as the boys, brands have had to up their game.
This means longer, fatter, stiffer skis for girls who want to charge.
So what makes a female specific ski different from a unisex ski, anyway?
The main three components are the materials used, the binding position and the flex.
Using lighter woods or carbon compounds to make the core means that skis are lighter and more flexible, because whether we like it or not, most of us girls aren't as strong as guys so having a ski that's easy to manoeuvre is a big plus.
We also pack a bit more weight in our lower bodies so female specific skis are often shaped to have the bindings mounted a bit further forward in order to balance out our weight effectively.
Even though these don't seem like massive differences, (especially as most female specific skis are modified versions of specific unisex skis), there must be something to it or there wouldn't be such a huge market for women's skis today.
While a lot of girls still prefer to go for a unisex ski, it's always good to know what's out there.
We felt a bit spoilt for choice when we looked at just how many awesome girls' skis are out there this year, but we've managed to condense it down to ten of the best powder, park and all-mountain skis for 2015...
Line Pandora - Super Fun Powder Ski
The powder ski for 'girls who want to have more fun' and one of the Freeskier Editors' Picks for 2015, the Pandora follows Line's usual MO of being light and flexible but also being able to rip when the time comes. It's got regular camber underfoot and early rise at the tip, for being a brilliant powder flotation device, but it's also great for smashing through the crud and the sidecut means it performs well on the piste, too. Its waist measures in at 110mm so you'll always have fun in the powder, no matter how deep it is.
Check them out or order a pair at lineskis.com.
Scott Vanisher - Super Versatile All Mountain Ski
The female version of Scott's award winning and long standing Punisher, the Vanisher is the ultimate all mountain ski. It's wide enough to stay afloat in the powder while also having a bigger base edge angle for optimum performance in the park. Add a three dimensional side cut and you get a ski that Scott claim can go anywhere and do anything, which is a pretty tall order, but we think they're right with this one! It's the perfect ski for taking on a season, or even just cutting down on baggage costs for holidays.
3. 4FRNT Blondie - Super Smooth Park Ski
Independent US brand 4FRNT have been making this park ski since 2011 and haven't needed to make many changes to it since. Lightweight but stiff, it excels in the park but its traditional shape and camber makes it a great piste ski, too. The core is weighted towards the rear of the ski to balance the different weight distribution of a girl, so all in all, it's a pretty sick ski!
4. Volkl One W - Super Full Rocker Powder Ski
Finally we're seeing more women's powder skis with a full rocker! The Volkl One W is new for the 2015 winter but has already been named an On The Snow Editors' Choice, a Freeskier Editors' Pick, a Skiing Magazine Official Selection and has a Ski Magazine Gold Medal Gear stamp. Phew. At 116mm underfoot it is truly a deep powder ski but the added stiffness underfoot means it will also charge on the piste and the softer tip and tail make it nimble and playful wherever you're riding.
Check out more of what Volkl have to offer at Volkl.com.
5. Atomic Vantage Elysian - Super Fun All Mountain Ski
The fattest of the Atomic Vantage series at 95mm, this is also an award winning ski. It has a carbon backbone and a wood core which makes it as light as it is strong, and the tip and tail rocker are perfectly suited to powder days, as well as the odd day in the park. A great first-season ski that allows you to do everything without being too clunky, and it looks sweet, too.
6. Armada ARW - The Park Ski to Rule All Park Skis
Probably one of the most popular girls' park skis ever, the ARW from Armada is always a good choice. Ridden by the likes of Maude Raymond, Lisa Zimmerman and Maggie Voisin, they prove to be a stable ski that can handle going big, going fast and carving it up on the piste. As a traditionally cambered ski, it will always be in good contact with the ground for super stable landings and quick response.
7. K2 Remedy 112 - Super Fat Powder Charger
Marketed for girls who rip, this is a seriously fun powder ski. Its fibreglass and wood core make it super strong but still light and flexible for smashing cliffs and steep faces, and it has inbuilt skin grommets for touring. Another On The Snow Editors' Choice and Skiing Magazine Official Selection, we're stoked on this ski built for charging, and tall girls will be happy to know that lengths go up to 179cm.
8. Salomon Q-103 Stella - Super Fast All Mountain Ski
Described by Salomon as an everyday powder ski, the Stella does exactly what it says on the tin. At 103mm underfoot, it's just fat enough to float around in the powder without losing any of the responsiveness on piste. Early rise in the tip and tail but camber underfoot keeps the edges in contact with the snow for complete stability on piste, but increase manoeuvrability and stop nose dives in the powder. It also has a special honeycomb tip, reinforced to stop flappage when you're going really fast.
9. Faction Ambit - Super Sweet Park Ski in a Class of its Own
Faction have risen to the spotlight over the past few winters with their host of super stylish riders, like Candide Thovex, Adam Delorne and Olympian Anna Willlcox. Not wanting to 'dumb down a man's' ski' Faction have created the Ambit, a fully symmetrical, central park ski that's stiff underfoot and softer at the tip and tail; perfect for hitting big features as well as playing around. And it looks as good on the top as it does on the base, sweet!
Check them out on the Faction website here.
10. Black Crows Ova Birdie - Super Solid Piste and Powder Ski
Part of Black Crows' much anticipated new female specific range, the Ova Birdie is a great piste ski that can hold its own in the powder. Featuring a flat tail and good sidecut, it provides all the stability you need to charge around the pistes, but also has early rise in the tip for agility and floatation in powder. Another good ski for tall girls, sizes range from 162m to 178cm, and we love the geometric graphics!
Check out the rest of the Birdie range on the Black Crows website here.