At Jans, we take an atypical approach to selecting the skis that end up on our wall. Instead of carrying every ski under the sun, we offer a limited selection of skis—each of which has been hand-tested (and scrutinized) by our expert buying team. What’s left is a premium selection of top-performers from each of their respective categories, leaving you, the skier, with the proverbial cream of the crop when it comes time to purchase a new pair of skis.
To further ensure you end up with the right pair of skis for your individual skiing style, our ski test program gives you the ability to demo different models, lengths of a specific model, and even mount points on a particular ski. What’s more, we’ll even deduct your demo fees from the full retail price of any ski you decide to buy. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at how we’ve categorized our ski wall for the 2021/22 season.
The phrase “all-mountain” is general enough that it doesn’t actually mean a whole lot to most skiers. After all, you can take just about any ski anywhere on the mountain and have a reasonably good time. Because of this, it has become something of a catch-all within the industry, and you might even notice that different retailers and manufacturers will slot wildly different skis within the all-mountain category.
To complicate the issue further, what is considered an all-mountain ski will vary based on geographical location. For example, what someone considers an all-mountain ski back east will be significantly narrower than what a skier out west would call an all-mountain ski. At Jans, we take a more traditional approach to the category by putting skis between 81 and 90mm wide in the all-mountain category. This is similar to what some might consider eastern all-mountain skis. Our philosophy is that all-mountain skis should deliver the maximum amount of fun and carving capabilities on-piste, while retaining a respectable degree of off-piste performance—whether that be in the trees, moguls, or a few inches powder. If you spend about 70% of your time on groomed terrain and 30% exploring back mountain bowls and glades, this is your category.
All-Mountain – Wide
The all-mountain wide category is similar to what other retailers or manufacturers might refer to as all-mountain western skis or more broadly as mid-fat skis. With waist widths ranging between 90 and 99mm, the all-mountain wide category is arguably the most versatile on our ski wall.
These are true 50/50 skis in terms of on- and off-piste performance. The beauty of skis in the all-mountain wide category lies in their ability to be relatively easy to roll over on edge when carving a turn on-piste, albeit slightly less effortless than their narrower counterparts, while maintaining the necessary width and effective edge you’ll be grateful to have when skiing steep, technical terrain in either boot-top powder or on hardpack. Basically, if you’re looking for a ski that will perform regardless of the terrain or snow conditions, and you are willing to sacrifice some on-piste performance for the sake of off-piste prowess, the all-mountain wide category is where you’ll want to look for a new ski.
We reserve the carving category for skis between 70 and 80mm wide. These are dedicated frontside skis that thrive on-piste and carve like they’re on rails. If you love to drop your hip as low as possible while carving high-speed turns down steep groomers, or you have a background in ski racing and still have a penchant for speed, you’ll want a dedicated carver in your quiver.
Don’t be intimidated, though—you don’t have to have spent years on the race circuit to appreciate these skis. Just as any other classification of ski, there are more accessible options within the carving category, catering to us mere mortals who might enjoy a stiffer carving ski, but don’t necessarily want to be punished if we slip into the backseat from time to time, or tire out towards the end of the day.
There really are no bad days spent skiing, but these skis are intended for the best days. We classify skis over the 100mm benchmark as powder skis, and nearly every ski we carry in this category is intended to keep you smiling from the first powder run of the morning to that last skied-out lap of the afternoon. Skis in this category typically tout generous rocker profiles and minimal camber underfoot to help maximize float in deep snow and give the ski that surfy, easy-to-pivot feel you want in deep snow. Many will have more playful freestyle-inspired shapes, but there are also more directional chargers in the category for aggressive skiers who take more of a seek-and-destroy approach to powder skiing.
The touring category has seen something of a renaissance in recent years, and skiers stand to benefit from the slew of recent innovations. Traditionally, weight sat at the top of selling features in this category, with performance and overall downhill performance taking a backseat. Today, downhill performance has increased drastically without tacking on too much weight to the ski. This is thanks to the incorporation of carbon laminates and blended wood cores that cut weight without sacrificing too much for the descent. When shopping for skis in the touring category, keep in mind that downhill performance often comes with weight, so while a touring ski might perform well for its weight, it still won’t perform as well as its heavier, downhill-specific counterpart on firm snow or tracked-out conditions.
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By: Jeff Sorenson, Senior Editor & Content Manager