Everyone learns to ski on the front side of the mountain, so skis made for this well-travelled terrain embrace every ability level from never ever to world class. You don’t see the netherworld of the Frontside genre of skis reviewed as they’re bought and sold: based on price and cosmetics instead of a differentiated skiing experience. The focus here is on roughly the top third of the total category, the flower of the Frontside family. 

While this elite gear field is hardly homogenous, it does have one central obsession: to facilitate a continuous carve with two edges in the snow at all times. The category includes several Finesse models, made to assist those who are typically skiing with their feet more or less under their hips, that bow under relatively light pressure. But the vast majority of the genre consists of Power skis, geared to respond only when tilted to a high edge at a brisk pace. These skis aren’t meant to be training wheels but high-energy transportation that feed off speed and accurate edging. 

Most Frontside skis are systems, meaning the ski includes an interface that matches up with one, and usually only one, binding. Whatever pricing is shown for a system includes the binding. While there are several different means of connecting system bindings to the skis, all fulfill at least three functions: the binding interface increases damping, reduces the binding’s usual restriction on ski flex and increases the skier’s leverage over the edge. 

Several of the top skis in the Frontside genre are returning stars, but there’s a smattering of brand new models and a couple of brilliant upgrades. Among the debutantes are Dynastar’s Legend X 84, Salomon’s XDR 84 Ti, Nordica’s Navigator 80 and K2’s Konic 84 Ti, all biased to the Finesse side of the behavioral spectrum. Power skiers looking for something new have the pick of the all-new Fischer RC4 The Curv GT plus two classy renovations from Völkl, the RTM 84 and RTM 81, and an updated Atomic Vantage X 83 Ti. 

The men’s Frontside ski reviews are provided by our equipment experts at Realskiers.com, powered by MasterFit.