Best Carving Skis 2023
Are you looking for a pair of carving skis that have a secure grip on ice and great carving properties? We have rigorously tested many of this year’s new alpine skis intended for the slopes. Here you can read reviews and ratings.
If you’re going to stick to lifts and groomed runs, then a piste ski is the ultimate companion for your boots. A good piste ski is a pure joy to make wonderful carving turns with, whether you’re going to the Rocky Mountains, Norway, the Alps, or somewhere else.
Great grip on ice, stability at high speeds, and quickness from edge to edge are some of the features that make a piste ski stand out compared to other categories of alpine skis, such as the slightly wider all-mountain skis.
If you want to know more generally about ski buying, we’ve made a comprehensive guide on buying skis. Under the test of piste skis below, you’ll also find a specific Questions & Answers section about carving skis.
In the past, and still by some, these are referred to as slalom skis. Today, people usually call them piste skis, which refers to the category of skis intended for groomed runs. Within the piste ski segment, you’ll find slalom skis, which have a very short radius and provide short, fast turns, as in the alpine discipline of slalom, while giant slalom skis have a longer radius.
- About the Carving ski test
- Best carving skis 2023
- Comparison Of Carving Skis
Buying Guide For Carving Skis
- What Is A Carving Ski?
- What's Good About A Carving Ski?
- What's Bad With A Carving Ski?
- How wide is a carving ski?
- Why shouldn't I just stare blindly at a carving ski?
- Why shouldn't I just stare blindly at skis in general?
- What bindings should I have on a pair of carving skis?
- What are these plates everyone is talking about on piste skis, what are they supposed to be good for?
- Do I have to buy new carving skis?
- How is a carving ski constructed and what materials are used?
- What is the difference between carving skis for women and men?
- What is the difference between carving skis for beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers?
- Are real racing skis sold to consumers?
- How long should my carving skis be?
- What ski turn radius should I have?
- Rocker and camber, what does it matter?
- But rocker and camber is nothing to think about on the piste, right?
- What is flex and what is the difference really?
- How do I take care of my skis over the summer?
- How often should I wax and sharpen my skis?
About the Carving ski test
Freeride was on site in Vemdalen early in February 2022 and tested five exciting new piste skis that will be available in stores and online retailers this fall. The test also includes four piste skis that we tested last winter in Sälen and Kungsberget, these skis are still available in the same construction and graphics, with the exception of the K2 Disruption 78 Ti which has new graphics.
Before you buy skis, we always recommend that you test them yourself and/or read more ski tests. Without further ado, here are some of this year’s best piste skis! The skis are sorted by ratings from our testers, best first.
Best carving skis 2023
1. Fischer RC ONE 78 GT
Lengths: 157, 164, 171 and 178 cm
Tip: 123 mm
Waist: 78 mm
Tail: 110 mm
Radius: 16 m (@ 171 cm)
Weight: 2050 grams (@ 171 cm)
About the ski: The Fischer RC One 78 GT is designed for easy and smooth riding with a new two-part plate that has minimal weight and should provide perfect power transfer. The ski has a solid poplar wood core and Fischer has also included the following features in this ski:
- Bafatex, a lightweight material with a great strength-to-weight ratio and excellent durability, which adds strength and smoothness to the ski construction.
- ABS sidewalls that support the steel edge for best stability, strength and durability.
- Triple radius that allows for better power and control throughout the turn.
- Turn zone technology, a technique that involves a mixture of specialized materials in the critical flex area of the ski to reduce mass. This enables much easier steering and turn initiation, and minimizes vibrations.
- According to Fischer, this ski is for intermediate to advanced skiers, and the GT series is slightly wider with waist widths of 78 and up to 86 cm, and also has a slightly longer rocker than the narrower segments Ti, S and X.
Review: The RC ONE 78 GT is a ski that is easy to turn, stable at high speeds and performs well on the slopes. The ski may feel light as Fischer attempted to manipulate the material of the ski and, perhaps due to Bafatex, has succeeded in reducing the weight of the tip and tail while not compromising too much on the torsional stiffness. The ski was tested on relatively groomed conditions which is evidence that the 78 GT works perfectly fine on late afternoons when the slopes are more groomed, the rocker construction is there and helps initiate the turn but it’s not something that you reflect especially much about. This is an incredibly complete ski that is responsive with good feedback. The turn zone technology and triple radius? Yes… the edges hold on the surface and that’s what counts! An incredible consumer ski that also is not too expensive with a reasonable price tag.
2. Stöckli Laser WRT PRO
Lengths: 162, 172, and 180 cm
Tip: 118 mm
Waist: 66 mm
Tail: 100 mm
Radius: 14.8 meters (@ 172 cm)
About the ski: This ski is a piece of Swiss craftsmanship. The wood core is reinforced with double layers of titanal and also has longitudinal integrated carbon fiber that should provide even better performance on the slopes. This is a piste ski in its purest form, equipped with technology from the World Cup, including a higher percentage of sintered base for maximum glide. The price tag including binding and plate.
Review: The Stöckli WRT Pro is a stable at high speeds ski that is sharper than a Swiss Army knife. The ski performs well in both big and small turns and all testers agreed on how fun and competent this ski is when it comes to hard piste skiing. Enough said!
3. Salomon S/Race GS
Lengths: 170, 175, and 180 cm
Tip: 115 mm
Waist: 68 mm
Tail: 97 mm
Radius: 18 meters (@ 175 cm)
Weight: 2115 grams (@ 175 cm)
About the ski: The Salomon S/RACE GS 12 is designed for advanced skiers who want to make giant slalom turns (GS = Giant Slalom) on the slopes and is released in a limited edition. Salomon has included what they call “Blade technology” in the skis, which consists of a titanium layer that is partially cut out and replaced with flexible polymer inserts that are supposed to make it easier to bend the ski and turn without losing speed. The ski is a lightweight version of what the competition skiers race on in the World Cup, which is advanced ski for regular skiers. The ski has an ash wood core, two layers of titanium, and a sandwich construction that provides “excellent conditions to crush all resistance” according to the French ski manufacturers at Salomon. The base is also ready for speed, as it is race base.
Review: This is an easy-to-ride and playful piste ski that can handle a significant amount of speed without turning too much. In comparison with the Fischer RC4 CT that had the same average rating (see below), some of the testers consider this ski from Salomon to be more easy-to-ride.
4. Fischer RC4 CT
Lengths: 165, 170, 175, 180, and 185 cm
Tip: 113 mm
Waist: 65 mm
Tail: 98 mm
Radius: 15 meters (@ 175 cm)
Weight: 2350 grams (@ 175 cm)
About the ski: The Fischer RC4 CT was released to the market three years ago and for 2023, the ski has been updated. Among other things, they added plexiglass in the cutout of the ski to prevent snow from getting in your face (which apparently has been a problem in previous models). Otherwise, this is a ski that turns a lot with full performance, constructed with double layers of metal and reinforced with carbon fiber. The price for the RC4 CT is including plate and binding.
Review: This is a ski that looks fast – and is fast. The Fischer RC4 CT is a challenging, hard, torsionally stiff, and heavy ski with good grip on ice. “I had to fight a bit but it was fun,” says one of the testers, which is a telling review of these race skis from Fischer.
5. Völkl Deacon 76 Master
Lengths: 171, 176, and 181 cm
Tip: 124 mm
Waist: 76 mm
Tail: 104 mm
Radius: 17.6 meters (@ 176 cm)
Weight: 2420 grams (@ 176 cm, including binding)
About the ski: Völkl has brought race standard to the consumer scene with a solid ash wood core used in the World Cup circuit along with two full layers of titanal. The Deacon also has a carbon fiber reinforcement to reduce vibrations and increase torsional stiffness. It comes with a race plate from Marker at 10 millimeters. The Deacon 76 Master has a camber construction with some tip and tail rocker. Material choices have been reduced to one thing – maximum performance.
Review: This is a true charger ski that requires its rider to be able to use its full potential. A ski for bigger turns that suits you who likes speed. If you want the same type of ski but shorter turns are recommended, the Deacon 72 Master instead, because it has a shorter radius. The race plate together with tip and tail rocker make the edge transitions lightning fast. A strong wood core and two layers of titanal were appreciated by the test rider who likes to go fast and relatively aggressive. With a strong construction, the ski adapts very well to the terrain, providing incredible stability. At the exit of the turn, all the accumulated energy is released, and the ski flexes beautifully back, providing an incredible acceleration out and into the next turn. Three things that impress are: the ski’s precision, strength, and how it is perceived as very responsive. The model is likely to do best and most justly in the company of an advanced rider. Starting with carving and buying this ski is not recommended as it requires a relatively committed rider with a race inclination.
6. Elan Voyager
Lengths: 160, 166 and 172 cm
Foldable length: 90 cm (@166 cm)
Tip: 127 mm
Waist: 78 mm
Tail: 110 mm
Radius: 13.7 meters (@ 166 cm)
Weight: 3400 grams (@ 160 cm)
About the ski: Elan Voyager is the world’s first foldable (and possibly strangest) ski for downhill skiing. It is folded and unfolded with the help of a rotating plate in carbon fiber. Otherwise, the wood core is reinforced with titanium and the rocker profile looks different on the right and left ski (more rocker on the outer sides of the ski).
Review: The Elan Voyager is an easy-to-use and fun downhill ski that is quick in turns without being overly aggressive. It is surprisingly versatile and works relatively well even when it is packed down, making this ski a good option for those who primarily ski on groomed slopes and want a ski that is easy to travel with. However, the technology comes at a cost, and these original skis retail for around 1399 USD.
7. K2 Disruption 78 TI
Lengths: 156, 163, 180, 177 and 184 cm
Tip: 124 mm
Waist: 78 mm
Tail: 109 mm
Radius: 17.8 meters (@ 177 cm)
Weight: 1886.6 grams (@ 177 cm)
About the ski: The K2 Disruption 78 TI is a slightly wider piste ski that tends to fall into the all-mountain category. It has an aspen wood core, which makes the ski behave calmly and smoothly against the terrain. I-Beam is a new concept from K2 which involves reinforcing the middle part of the ski with titanium. I-Beam is intended to help make the ski stiff enough but as the metal doesn’t extend to the sides, the ski remains relatively light and easy to maneuver.
The Disruption 78 TI also has Power Wall technology, which means a thicker side wall that is integrated with the wood core under the foot, which together with the I-Beam, provides extra torsional stiffness primarily under the binding. Dark Matter Damping, which is a mix of carbon fiber and rubber, helps to absorb vibrations without having to add a lot of weight in the form of other materials to the ski. In general, it has a traditional camber, a rocker in the tip, and tail.
Review: Here we have a ski that shines when it comes to higher speeds, where the ski is calm and composed. Vibrations are absorbed, which in turn generates an incredible edge grip. The ski is perceived as slightly slow and needs to be worked to get the power out of the turn. The Disruption 78 TI, like the Fischer RC One 78 GT, has a rocker construction that makes the ski able to handle an afternoon when the snow is a bit more uneven and difficult to handle, together with the fact that the ski is slightly wider than usual carving skis.
The ski is not particularly easy to maneuver and is relatively difficult to influence through the turn, but very stable well on edge. A summary assessment is that it is a speed-stable ski that is easy to turn, i.e. easy to handle – but unfortunately, the ski lacks flex.
8. Rossignol Hero Elite MT
Lengths: 1159, 167, 175, and 183 cm
Tip: 123 mm
Waist: 74 mm
Tail: 109 mm
Radius: 15 meters (@ 175 cm)
Weight: 1850 grams (@ 175 cm)
About the ski: The Rossignol Hero Elite Multi-Turn is built for those who want to ski on the piste on a race-inspired ski but is simpler in construction (including less metal) which should provide an easy to handle and cost-effective ski. The Hero Elite MT is constructed with carbon fiber, basalt, and titanium and also has an On-Trail Rocker, which should provide a more forgiving ski that is easy to initiate turns.
Review: Rossignol Hero Elite MT is a soft ski that probably suits beginners to intermediates. Some testers on this ski feel that it is too soft and that the kick out of the turns is missing, however, they add that there is nothing wrong with the ski, but it doesn’t suit them.
9. Elan Ace SCX Fusion X
Lengths: 155, 161, 167, 173, and 179 cm
Tip: 113 mm
Waist: 67 mm
Tail: 100 mm
Radius: 15.9 meters (@ 173 cm)
Weight: 2360 grams (@ 173 cm)
About the ski: The Elan Ace SCX Fusion X is a piste ski that is supposed to make it possible to combine short slalom turns and longer giant slalom turns. This ski is built for intermediate and advanced skiers and is reinforced with double layers of titanium and Fusion X, which is Elan’s binding system, where the binding itself is mounted on a carbon fiber and composite plate. The Elan Ace SCX Fusion X in the 2022/2023 model year is exactly the same in construction and graphics as the previous year. If you want a pure slalom variant of this ski, the Elan Ace SLX and giant slalom is called Elan Ace GSX.
Review: The Elan Ace SCX Fusion X is a ski that suits skiers who don’t require too much and want an easy-to-handle ski without surprises. The testers from Freeride unfortunately found that this ski didn’t handle speed and aggressive skiing sufficiently well. All in all, still a cozy carving ski.
Comparison Of Carving Skis
|Brand & Model||Dimensions (tip-waist-tail)||Radius||Weight per ski, without bindings||Rating|
|Fischer RC One 78||123-78-110 mm||16 m (@1717 cm)||2050 g (@171 cm)||5|
|Stöckli WRT pro||118-66-100 mm||14,8 m (@172 cm)||–||4,9|
|Salomon S/Race GS||116-68-97 mm||18 m (@175 cm)||2115 g (@175 cm)||4,25|
|Fischer RC4 CT||113-65-98 mm||15 m (@175 cm)||2350 g (@175 cm)||4,25|
|Völkl Deacon 76 Master||124-76-104 mm||17,6 m (@176 cm)||2420 g (@ 176 cm including binding)||4|
|Elan Voyager||127-78-110 mm||13,7 m (@166 cm)||3400 g (@160 m)||4|
|K2 Disruption 78 Ti||124-78-109 mm||17,8m (@166 cm)||1886,5 g (@177 cm)||3,5|
|Rossignol Hero Elite MT||123-74-109 mm||15 m (@175 cm)||1850 g (@175 cm)||3|
|Elan Ace Scx Fusion X||113-67-100 mm||15,9 m (@173 cm)||2360 g (@173 cm)||2,7|
Buying Guide For Carving Skis
What Is A Carving Ski?
A carving ski is explained briefly with the name. The construction, i.e. the way it is designed, means that the ski performs at its maximum if the edges can have clinical contact with the surface. Underlying in this case must consist of a firm, well-prepared, even before.
And where do you find such an optimal relationship, well, on the slopes.
What’s Good About A Carving Ski?
Unabridged the carving technology itself!
The ski can, given the opportunity, create round and symmetrical turns thanks to its deeper cut and hourglass-like shape. Carving is a fun riding technique for people who like speed. Depending on the slope and the shape of the day, the skier can also challenge himself by turning more on some runs and less on others.
What’s Bad With A Carving Ski?
The wrong piste ski for the wrong skier can mean that the ski is perceived as generally difficult to control when it comes to being able to maneuver the ski into a turn. While it could be the other way around, that is to say that the ski is perceived as too easy to turn and soft. This usually depends on two things, the rider’s technical level and weight.
How wide is a carving ski?
It varies from ski to ski, but in my personal opinion, skis under 90 millimeters in the waist can call themselves piste skis.
A piste ski that is narrower in the waist goes faster to edge compared to a wider ski, as it requires a shorter movement to angle the ski to the edge.
A narrower ski works better under optimal conditions, while a wider piste ski also works, but is better when it gets choppy and messy, which it can easily do during the afternoons.
Why shouldn’t I just stare blindly at a carving ski?
For the skier who doesn’t just stick to the piste but values skiing all over the mountain, a dedicated piste ski may not be the best choice. Why? The ski is often heavier but, above all, narrower, which makes it difficult to maneuver in deeper snow. The ski is built to go on edge and grip on harder surfaces, and will feel like two submarines outside the piste.
Skiing off-piste is then more favorable with a wider ski that gives better support, while this type of skiing requires a completely different type of ski technique.
Why shouldn’t I just stare blindly at skis in general?
Skis, like so many other things in life, such as golf clubs, cars, fishing rods, are good at different things. There is no ski today that is best at everything, so when choosing a ski, you should primarily choose a ski that tends to perform best where you will be skiing and that suits you as a skier, both in terms of experience and/or weight.
What bindings should I have on a pair of carving skis?
A binding that can handle your weight and level of skiing.
The heavier or more advanced skier you are, the greater the stress on the binding.
A lightweight beginner should not have too hard a setting on the binding’s spring, as the binding’s primary purpose is to secure the ski on the foot. The ski should never release unexpectedly during the ride, only in situations where it can cause greater damage if the ski stays attached, that is, in a crash.
What are these plates everyone is talking about on piste skis, what are they supposed to be good for?
Plates can be good for a variety of reasons. For example, when you want to move the binding without having to drill more holes in the ski, the skier will get higher off the ground and can therefore edge the ski more and also increase the power in the turn. It can improve the flex or stiffen the ski.
There are different types of plates with different functions, materials and height.
Do I have to buy new carving skis?
It depends on how much you ski and how well you take care of your skis.
A person who skis on the skis two weeks a year and only grooms the skis, will be able to have the same skis for a very long time. While a skier who skis twice a week and then sharpens the skis’ edges between each pass, needs to change skis because there are no steel edges left in the end.
Another aspect can be that you as a beginner buy skis to learn to ski carving. Skis that over time can be experienced as too soft and flappy.
Then it can be that you need to buy a pair of more advanced skis that fit your developed skiing style better.
How is a carving ski constructed and what materials are used?
Skis are today constructed differently, but the most common technique is a bit like a sandwich with different layers, i.e. a sandwich construction.
This includes reinforced plastic or fiberglass, the ski’s center, i.e. the core often consists of a type of wood and there are a wide variety of types, such as al, birch, beech, spruce, poplar or ash.
For extra reinforcement, one or two layers of titanium is often added.
To reduce unwanted vibrations, it has become more and more common to use rubber in skis. On the side of the ski, we find steel edges which on piste skis are naturally a bit wider so that they can withstand more sharpening and last but not least, the bottom of the ski is made of polyethene.
What is the difference between carving skis for women and men?
There is no astronomical difference between women’s and men’s skis, the most common differences are length and exterior design. There may be differences in materials as a women’s ski often needs to be softer because the difference between women and men tends to be that men generally weigh more.
A heavier skier automatically has different conditions for bending a piste ski compared to a lighter skier.
What is the difference between carving skis for beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers?
The main difference lies in the material of the ski. A beginner who has not fully learned the technique will not be able to bend the ski as much as an advanced skier. Therefore, some skis are softer and “more forgiving,” which helps the skier learn the basics.
An advanced skier who rides tougher, faster, and builds more power in the turns therefore needs a ski that is stiffer and more speed-stable.
Are real racing skis sold to consumers?
Yes and no.
Not all sports stores carry racing skis in their inventory.
These skis are more robust for the reason that they have more material, advanced bindings, and a flat which makes the skis also more expensive. The general public does not have the equipment (boots), technique, or leg muscles to bend through these skis and do just fine in a segment that targets regular consumers and in some cases amateurs.
- How to make better turns: 5 classic carving mistakes
How long should my carving skis be?
When it comes to carving, it is known that a shorter ski turns more than a longer ski.
For a beginner, it may be tactically better to choose a shorter and more easily ridden ski rather than a longer one.
The experts disagree on this topic but generally, the recommendation for adults is somewhere between 0-15 cm shorter than yourself.
A rule of thumb to keep in mind is a few centimeters shorter for beginners and if you are experienced on skis or just want to make bigger turns, a slightly longer ski. Learn more about how long skis should be. Read more about: How long should my skis be?
What ski turn radius should I have?
A low radius means a smaller turn and a longer radius means a larger turn.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having a too short or too long radius.
With a too short radius, turns can become very sharp and skiing in long fine pistes can become quite demanding over a longer period of time.
With a too long radius, it can be difficult to maintain speed control in steeper slopes as the turn tends to become larger which also builds more speed.
In competitive contexts, slalom has relatively short radius to more easily get around the closely placed gates, while in Super G they have longer skis that don’t turn as much but enough to get around the gates that are placed much farther apart.
Rocker and camber, what does it matter?
Assuming you know what it is, yes, it matters.
Place the skis flat on a table, if the middle of the ski is in the air, the ski has camber, if most of the front and maybe even back of the ski is in the air, it’s rocker construction. In carving and pure piste skis, it is less common to have a lot of rocker technology, most ski manufacturers today use both tip and tail rocker on carving skis for consumers. The reason for this is that the skis become easier to maneuver and more responsive. Rocker is most commonly found on all-mountain skis, which not only helps the skis float better in deep snow, but also helps in the piste, making wider skis more manageable and versatile. Camber is important when you’re skiing on especially hard snow, which you often do with carving skis. It has to do with the weight being more evenly distributed, which gives better contact with the surface and better edge grip.
But rocker and camber is nothing to think about on the piste, right?
With carving skis, it’s important to create conditions that make the ski turn.
If we have the skis straight under our body and completely flat, the ski will not be able to turn.
This means that we need to move our body in order to make things happen.
You should be aware when buying carving skis, and especially more advanced skis, that these will require more from you as a skier. Not only mentally, but also physically.
What is flex and what is the difference really?
The difference in many skis is stiffness and torsional stiffness.
A stiff ski has better conditions to create more power, which can give better grip in turns but especially acceleration.
Flex is very individual and factors that are decisive in the choice of ski are weight, style of skiing, and technique. This means that a light but advanced skier can experience a ski’s flexibility in the same way as a heavier and less experienced skier.
How do I take care of my skis over the summer?
Wax the skis before they are stored for the summer so that the base gets a good coat over the summer and store the skis in a cool place, that’s where they’ll do best.
A tip is to release some of the spring by turning down the pressure on the binding a bit.
There is no study on this as far as I know, but having a spring under constant pressure seems unnecessary as it is quickly fixable with a screwdriver in a matter of seconds. Next time you see someone clicking both skis in the third turn of the season you will understand why. Learn more about taking care of your equipment over the summer.
How often should I wax and sharpen my skis?
You should wax your skis for two reasons:
- To prevent the base from drying out
- To achieve a good glide.
If you also ski all winter long, the snow conditions will naturally vary throughout the winter. In this case, it can be helpful to wax your skis for different temperatures to get the best skiing experience possible. It can be wise not to ski all the way to the car with your skis so that rocks and gravel don’t wear away the wax and dull the edges.
Sharpening the edges of the skis should be done if the edges feel dull or if the snow is icy and the skis don’t grip well.