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Let’s be honest: most of us here at Powder7 are in it for the gear. We like gear–buying gear, testing gear, talking about gear–and we won’t apologize for that. That’s why we’re always pumped when chilly November air arrives and it’s finally time for our first on-snow ski demo of the season, hosted by Loveland Ski Area.

When it comes to picking our favorite skis at a demo day, however, it’s impossible to choose just one. Even narrowing things down to the usual top 10 list feels too constricting for us. So, after testing out the latest gear and falling in love over and over again, we ended up with the following list highlighting a baker’s dozen of the best 2018 skis from the Loveland demo.

Rossignol Sky 7 HD

Justin – Rossignol Sky 7 HD: Though I’m listed on the official Powder7 gameday roster as a 6’2″ and 195lbs combo guard, I’m actually about 145lbs relative to Earth’s gravity. That’s probably why I tend to favor softer skis. That’s also probably why the various incarnations of this Rossignol model have always been good to me–from the original S3, to the Sin 7, the Sky 7, and now the Sky 7 HD. While this series has historically shined in bumps, trees, and soft stuff, the all-new, murdered-out Sky 7 HD has been stiffened up just enough to excel on firmer surfaces. And surfaces were firm at Loveland on this day, my friends. Still, the 2018 Sky 7 HD remained smooth, stable, and playful. Just like me. [Rossignol Sky 7 HD on sale]

Nordica Santa Ana 93

Kenzie – Nordica Santa Ana 93: What can I say about the Santa Ana 93?  Versatile as a Swiss Army knife, powerful as a V8, and smooth as a baby’s bottom, this ski was meant to show up the boys.  At 93mm underfoot, this ski is snappy edge-to-edge, yet has just the right amount of rocker and girth to bust through crud and float over the pow.  As stiff as this ski is, it still isn’t difficult to show it who’s boss.  Put it on edge or get a little smeary and this ski will show you a fun time.  And if you’re skeptical of a ski with pink and purple snowflakes, use it to your advantage.  Let them judge, but you’ll be the one laughing when you’re down the mountain while they’re lost in your dust. [Nordica Santa Ana 93 on sale]

Black Crows Navis Freebird

Matty – Black Crows Navis Freebird: With a resumè rich in hunting birchy New England powder stashes, I’ve long preferred skis on the softer side. But noodles don’t inspire confidence on big-mountain lines, and skiing more consequential terrain in more varied snow conditions has made me prefer slightly stiffer backcountry skis. The Navis Freebird skis smoother—and, just, better—than most touring skis. It snaps, pivots, and smears on a dime, and the 102mm waist width is ultra-versatile. Better yet: it’s got more cajones than I do. [Black Crows Navis Freebird on sale]

Kastle FX 95 HP

Sarah – Kastle FX 95 HP: Best. Ski. Ever. Made. Perfect precision. Lightweight and lively. Quick and responsive. Poppy and playful. Fast and stable. Fun! Fun! Fun! Groomers. Trees. Bumps. Chutes. Bowls. Powder. Ice. Crud. Slush. Crust. Corn. Chop. Pillows. This ski can go anywhere and do anything, all with the utmost stability. I never believed in a one ski quiver, but Kastle has proven it possible to have a ski that performs beyond well in any condition on any terrain. Best. Ski. Ever. Made. [Kastle FX 95 HP on sale]

K2 Marksman

Cody – K2 Marksman: The K2 Marksman was my favorite ski of the day during the Loveland Demo. With the asymmetrical shape turns were made effortlessly and it maintains a strong edge hold at any speed!  The Marksman soared riding switch and popped off little jumps which made for a fun ride! [K2 Marksman on sale]

Black Crows Vertis Birdie

Mia – Black Crows Vertis Birdie: The Black Crows Vertis Birdie was my absolute favorite ski from our industry demo day at Loveland. With the lack of snow for several days and overall hard pack at Loveland, the resort-oriented Vertis Birdie was perhaps the perfect ski for the day. It was incredibly fast and stable on edge and grabbed the ice like an eagle grabs its prey—and didn’t let go. I was pleasantly surprised with its quickness and edge hold for a ski sans metal. I stand at 5’2″ (first thing in the morning), and I skied the 152cm ski, it was very easy to turn and undoubtedly stable, however, if you are a more aggressive skier and about my size I would recommend going up to the 159cm. [Black Crows Vertis Birdie on sale]

Icelantic Pioneer 96

Jake – Icelantic Pioneer 96: The second I clicked into this ski until the second I stepped out was non-stop fun. With the 96mm waist, the Pioneer provides absolute versatility. Decent camber allowed incredible performance on hard pack while holing an edge at speed. Mixed with a wide shovel and ample rocker, this ski will strive in crud, and float with ease in the powder. The Pioneer 96 could be your go to western resort ski, or your east coast powder ski. [Icelantic Pioneer 96 on sale]

DPS Wailer A99 Alchemist

Emily – DPS Wailer A99 Alchemist: Even on early season hardpack, the DPS Wailer A99 Alchemist had a distinctive personality.  The ride was as lively as Madison Square Garden, yet smoother than a shave from Schick Quattro.  She was rowdy and fun, but dependable enough to bring home to your parents.  The Wailer A99 is exceptional precision in a glorious orange polyamide package.  What more is there to say except that I can’t wait to take it out again. [DPS Wailer A99 Alchemist on sale]

Blizzard Bonafide
Zack – Blizzard Bonafide: The Bonafide has been a staple in the industry for many years, yet somehow before today, I had never had the pleasure of skiing it.  For a November day at Loveland the conditions were quite firm and even icy in spots.  The metal laminate in the Bonafide allowed me to grip and rip, never once losing edge hold.  One ski quiver—I think so. [Blizzard Bonafide on sale]
Fischer Ranger 98 Ti
Tim – Fischer Ranger 98 Ti: I found the Fischer Ranger 98 in the 180 to be the most surprising.  Most of the other skis I rode were great, and had their strengths and weaknesses, but the Ranger 98 is the one I was most surprised by.  When I first put them on and was standing in line the tips just seemed so floppy as I would stomp on the flat ground.  That did not last long.  Once I started skiing them and turned up the speed they got much more stable and were a nice smooth ride.  They edged very well and held that edge nicely. On the other hand, when not edging them they were poppy and playful and had a nice lively feel. I’m looking forward to skiing these away from the groomers. [Fischer Ranger 98 Ti on sale]
Line Sir Francis Bacon
Josh – Line Sir Francis BaconThe most surprising ski of the day! With soft snow in some spots and ice in others 104 under foot seems very wide. The Sir Francis Bacons did not care one bit. You can put them on edge and they will track. Instead of washing away on ice as many narrower skis did, this pair of skis flexed down to make contact under foot, while the tips and tails just kept going. You would expect these skis to be slow side-to-side, but they prove that’s just a stereotype about wide skis. This energetic ski can handle any terrain you want to throw at it! [Line skis on sale]
 Faction Prime 2.0
Mike – Faction Prime 2.0: Everyone obviously knows the Candide series from Faction, due in part to the ridiculous POV videos by the legend himself. However, Faction has a bunch of other killer skis. One of those being the Prime 2.0, which is new for this season. Carefully crafted with woven carbon and a flax/balsa core, these sticks are light! Paired with the Dynafit binding, this ski would be a dream as a backcountry-mission weapon of choice. Not to mention it tears up the frontside of the hill with just as much precision. [Faction skis on sale]
 Volkl RTM 86
Chris – Volkl RTM 86: The new 2018 Volkl RTM 86 continues to be a great all-mountain ski that can carve fabulously, bust through crud and still be quite playful. This year’s ski seems much lighter and more maneuverable for those quick turns in the trees and bumps. This ski hasn’t changed much over the years, and for good reason—it can literally ride the whole mountain. [Volkl RTM 86 skis on sale]
Powder7 team at Loveland industry demo event
You can’t go wrong with any of these choices, but if you want to get an expert opinion go ahead and give us a call at 303-237-7547. When we say you can speak to an expert, we really mean it. Get us on the horn or send us a line, and we can help you figure out what the best 2018 ski is for you!

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