Atomic's new Vantage series features Backbone technology, which looks like vertebrae under the topsheet. In the case of the Theory, the spine-inspired layer is made from lightweight, yet strong carbon, designed to increase edge grip and stability while adding smooth flex. "It feels light, but very forgiving in the bumps and stable at slow to medium speed," said Ertl. Tip and tail rocker and a 95 mm waist add maneuverability while Atomic's Step Down Sidewall construction adds hard snow performance. "It's a lively ski that gives back what you put in," said Mahon. "There's minimal chatter on hardpack and it holds a line through the crud."