Featured The Most Pioneering Women's Skis of All Time

Discussion in 'Hardgoods: Skis, Bindings, Poles, and More' started by Philpug, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Pioneer Women's Ski 870 x 400.jpg
    @Dave Petersen Artwork​
    In our “Shrink It and Pink It: What makes a Women's Ski Different” article last season, we talked about women’s skis and how some manufacturers produce skis actually designed for women and others take their unisex skis and slap pink graphics on them. Here, we will talk about some of the most influential women’s skis ever brought to market, in chronological order.

    K2 LTP.jpg
    Dynastar Elle.jpg
    K2 LTP and Dynastar Elle

    If you build it, they will come

    This is where it all started, with the K2 LTP (Ladies Top Performer) and the Dynastar Elle. These skis showed that if you built women’s skis and marketed them correctly, they would sell. I am grouping them together because they came out about the same time in the late 1980s. They were "mom skis," good solid recreational skis intended to give mom (or sister) gear made especially for her and to eliminate any reason to not get out on the slopes. These two skis could have been the first serious women’s skis, serious in that they brought attention to the women’s ski market.

    RD Bad Bitch.jpg
    RD Bad Bitch
    The first chick ski

    Step forward into the late 1980s: the Bad Bitch wasn't just a women's ski; it was a chick ski. RD had decided to produce a complement to its top-selling ski, the Bad Dog, and call it the Bad Bitch. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the marketing meeting when they came up with the name. No, I wouldn't be surprised if the conversation was alcohol-induced. (In fact, my money would be on tequila and the use of the words, "I double dog dare ya.") Was the Bad Bitch actually a good ski? I don't know, and I don’t think it mattered: I doubt anyone bought it for its performance. A woman bought it to make a statement that she wasn't just a gal who skied, she was a skier chick. In doing this, RD paved the way for Armada to name a ski the VJJ.

    K2 Nine.jpg
    K2 T:Nine
    The ski that took a stand

    After the turn of the century, K2 made a stand and offered the T:Nine, the first women’s ski that was politically and culturally charged. The name T:Nine comes from Title IX, the legislation demanding in part that women’s sports were to be funded on the same level as men’s sports. Accordingly, the T:Nines were designed and built with as much thought and attention as their men’s counterparts. Before K2 even put pencil to paper in the design room, it built a team of the best women skiers of the day and not only asked them what they wanted and needed in a ski, but more important listened to the answers and actually built those skis. The women’s ski world was forever changed. The most popular ski to come from the T:Nine collection was the Burnin’ Luv, a ski that any competent intermediate to expert could use to ski almost any condition or terrain with control and confidence.

    Volkl Aura.jpg
    Völkl Aura
    The first tomboy of a ski

    Toward the middle of the 2000s, skis started getting wider. The Völkl Aura was the ski that said “anything you can do, I can do better” and empowered the best and most aggressive women on the mountain to ski a women’s ski when most of these women were skiing on men’s skis. These women were proud to ski the Aura. They embraced it even though they knew it was basically a Mantra with different graphics. The popularity of the Aura spawned two more significant women’s skis, the narrower Kenja and the wider Kiku. The Aura and Kiku have been calling cards of the best women on mountains like Squaw Valley and Jackson Hole, mountains where the men are men and the women kick their asses, drink them under the table, and still manage to act like ladies when they must.

    Blizzard Black Pearl.jpg
    Blizzard Black Pearl
    The ski with rawr

    As of today, the Black Pearl could very well be the best-selling women’s ski of all time. Granted, official sales numbers in the ski industry are not published, but for the 2016-17 season, Blizzard claimed that the Black Pearl was the best-selling ski in all specialty stores, for men or women. Since no one has stepped up to argue that claim, we will go with it. This is significant considering that it almost didn’t come to market in the form that we know it. The first year's graphics were bold -- a women’s ski with a purple bull on it? No woman would ever buy that, said the middle-aged men who order skis at most shops. Well, helped by the viral marketing of our own "Trekchick"(@Tricia), the Black Pearl hit the market with the fervor of bulls running through the streets of Pamplona and enabled Blizzard to build an entire collection that monetized and capitalized on the Black Pearl name.

    Head Joy.jpg
    Head Joy Collection
    Light weight + function = performance

    The current Joy collection is not the first series of skis designed exclusively for women, but it very well could be the best executed. Not only are the shapes of the Joys different from any of Head’s men's skis, but the construction is unique, unlike anything Head had ever built before. It is also the first time in recent memory that a design aspect was taken from the women’s to the men’s side of the wall, as Head used the mystery material Graphene in the Joy series before using it in its men's skis. Head viewed lightness not as a limitation but as a performance aspect and made the Joys some of the lightest yet still some of the highest-performing women's skis. The amount of technology and thought that went into the Joy series is on par with any men's ski.

    I am sure there are other opinions on the most groundbreaking, influential, barrier-dropping women’s skis. We welcome your views; please share them with the class. We enjoy comparing and contrasting all of the skis, so have at it.​
     
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  2. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    Atomic Sugar Mama
    Rossi Attraxion 8 and 12
    Dynastar legends
     
  3. vanhoskier

    vanhoskier aka Wendy Skier

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    That original Aura was one special ski. Those "Kill Bill" graphics were the best, too.
    I think the K2 One Luv (newer version of the T9?) was a game-changer for me.

    I'd seriously love to have a pair of those "Bad Bitch" skis. Hilarious. It brings to mind the name of my women's cycling team at the World Masters in the U.K....we were: Bitch Schlapped. It was awesome to see that name in lights on the scoreboard. :). But I digress....

    I always liked the name K2 gave to their women's tele skis:"She's Piste."
     
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  4. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    All of these are very good skis. What seperated them from other skis? What is the story behind each of them?
     
  5. VickiK

    VickiK Getting on the lift Skier

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    I have the K2 T:Nine skis, the puce colored ones (X model? 76mm waist). Quick to turn. They've seen a lot of seasons, but they're in good shape. Free to a good home. 152cm.

    Still love my sparkly pink-eyed purple bulls, although the updated 2018 model would be sweet.
     
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  6. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

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    Remember our Pack of Pearls at PowMow??!! I really regret selling my purple bulls. I sure had a lot of fun on them!
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    It's not a pack...it's a herd.
     
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  8. SallyCat

    SallyCat Getting on the lift Skier

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    I don't understand what makes a women's ski a women's ski, other than it being lighter and easier to flex for smaller skiers?

    Some MTB companies are moving away from calling bikes "women's" bikes, and just putting an extra small version (often without 29" wheels if it's a 29er) in their lines for smaller riders regardless of gender. Is there a reason ski companies can't do this?

    Is it just marketing, as in women will buy more skis if they're labelled "Women's" and look "feminine"? Ski graphics are pretty amazing these days; it's possible to have a beautiful topsheet that's gender neutral.

    I am perplexed. But I recognize that my perspective is that of a non-petite woman who doesn't need lightweight skis and hates "girly" graphics.
     
  9. Cheizz

    Cheizz Craving camber Skier

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    The best women's ski name (especially in relation to its uniseks equivalent) is the Armada VJJ, I think.
     
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  10. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    As to "what makes a woman's ski a woman's ski" has many answers, many of which are addressed in the Shrink It and Pink It link that is referenced in the original post. Take a read there and I think amny of your questions and concerns are covered but please feel free to revisit the questions that you don't feel you have answered or the additional questions that will arise.
     
  11. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    Just the ones I liked. The Attraxion 12's were actually a European only ski that didn't make it to the US market. 8S oversized in a different cosmetic. Sugar Mama was a tuned down version of a men's Metron, if I remember right. Dynastar made a bad chocie discontinuing that lines of Legends. Have to see if the new ones are similar.

    When women's skis first came out most were so whuzzy that advanced women didn't like them. I know Rossi had a really bad name till the Attraxion's came out. The Saphir series was just plain bad.
     
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  12. Nancy Hummel

    Nancy Hummel Ski more, talk less. Instructor

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    I was a new skier when the Atomic women skis came out, the R10 and CX9 (I think that was the name). These skis were great and helped me tremendously.

    The K2 Phat Luvs were also a stepping stone ski for me. Light and strong.

    The Nordica Olympia Victory and early generation Nemesis were both underrated, amazing skis. (IMO).

    I am not a crowd follower and my preferences are different than many women but the above skis stand out for me.
     
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  13. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Winner. Thank goodness I had just swallowed my last sip of coffee.

    Count my wife solidly IN for the Black Pearl Club, and well as her narrower Joys.
     
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  14. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    @Nancy Hummel - I think it was the C9. But I couldn't remember if it was just a women's ski. I had them and liked them too.

    I need to try the new Pearls, as I was NOT a fan on the original version. Tip flap drove me nuts. Couldn't wait to get them off my feet.
     
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  15. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    IIRC, the Balanz was the woman's Metron, The Sugar Mama was the ladies Snoop's.
     
  16. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

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    As a lighter-weight woman, I get why there are women's skis. Although, I HAVE had fun on skis that are essentially unisex (Kenjas, for example.) I do very much appreciate
    You really do! They feel much more connected to the snow (no more tip flap) with the new shape.
     
  17. vanhoskier

    vanhoskier aka Wendy Skier

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    I had a pair of Dynastar Exclusive Legend "Powders" (85 width) that were essential my first all-mountain skis. They were given to me by a friend. They were 165cm in length...a bit too short for me now, but their soft flex, poppy rebound, playfulness, lightness, and ease of use really became a stepping-stone for me to venture off the groomed. I wish Dynastar would bring that ski back in something that is not shaped like the Cham (as I *think*) the new Legends are.

    When I was instructing, I used a pair of 158cm Dynastar Exclusive Legends (78mm?) that were Orange Crush orange. Great for teaching beginners. The kids also loved them because of their bright color. When I sold them at a local ski swap, they were snatched up very quickly.

    The geometries of both these skis are still relevant.....tapered tips and a very modest sidecut that helps with navigating the ungroomed.
     
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  18. vanhoskier

    vanhoskier aka Wendy Skier

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    What about the Blizzard Crush? Methinks I remember some women raving about that ski....
     
  19. Philpug

    Philpug The Ski'er Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Yes, the Crush had a bit of a following especially since it was just prior to Blizzard exploding with the Black Pearl, which really replaced the Crush's little sister the Eos. But the Crush really wasn't a pioneer of a ski..it didn't change or pave the way for anything like the skis mentioned above..it was just another good ski, alternative....not a standard or reference ski.
     
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  20. VickiK

    VickiK Getting on the lift Skier

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    153cm used K2 T:Nine X is for sale for $130 at Liquidation Sports. 2001 skis! I retract that statement about mine being free to a good home.
     

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