Mens Ski Of The Year
The Ellis Brigham Men’s Ski of The Year is the result of extensive testing and knowledge of what has been on the market in past years and now. In addition to our core test-team, we involve as many staff and stores as possible.
But what is it that makes a ski special? The ones that really stand out, go beyond the areas where they are anticipated to excel; they perform in terrain and conditions past what they were designed for or possibly appeal to more than just their target audience. Skis like these are the award winners.
Atomic's Vantage 90 Cti is quite possibly the ultimate all-rounder. It has been doing well for a couple of seasons now but thanks to some little tweaks this latest version stands out as the ski to beat.
This is one stable ski, but it isn’t only about that. It has grip, power and is genuinely good fun on medium and long radius turns over hard snow. From the first few turns, you can tell that it that won’t let you down and this means you just want to push yourself and search out ways to test the ski.
It left all our testers (and that’s quite a range of abilities and styles) pleasantly surprised. Everyone commented on the stability, balanced feel and impressive grip.
Alex (Milton Keynes)
“Seamless transition from hard to soft snow. Just as comfortable leaving train tracks on a GS course as blasting through powder and crud.”
Simon (Fort William)
“The definition of an all mountain ski. Great at carving turns on hardpack, nice and grippy; smooths out the bumps and awesome edge hold on ice. Good flotation, and easy turn initiation.”
“Provides an unbelievably balanced blend of power, stability and all mountain competence. Ideal for Scottish conditions.”
“I didn’t find any terrain where I felt uncomfortable. Ample flotation off-piste and plenty of control meaning it doesn’t have to be worked too hard.”
- Radius: 16.8m (176)
- Waist: 90mm (176)
- Rocker: Tip/Tail
Carbon Tank Mesh
This is a layer of rigid material that replaces traditional fibreglass in a ski. It adds strength without adding weight, resulting in more grip and less fatigue for the skier. When flexing the ski (by hand) it feels firm, though not overly stiff. Atomic use the mesh to increase edge hold while retaining the forgiving properties of a less stiff ski.
Ti Backbone 2.0
Incorporated into the ski is an ultralight Titanal Sheet that runs the length of it. Much like the Carbon Tank Mesh, this improves performance while being lighter than comparative technology. The result is boosted stability and less unwanted flap, making for a more comfortable ride at all speeds.
This is Atomic’s take on a traditional sidewall; with the addition of extra material in the places it’s needed i.e under the binding area of the ski, but not under the centre of the boot. This helps to block unwanted vibrations and improves power transmission, giving the ski better grip.
Pros and Cons
If you own a pair of Vantage 90 Cti’s then the days of packing multiple skis for a trip are over. It’ll leave clean tracks on even the hardest pistes, and be happy doing it all day long. But if you’re lucky enough to get a decent snowfall then the dimensions, shape, and rocker will make the most of it. It’ll encourage less confident all mountain skiers to explore further and faster, and it won’t disappoint stronger, more experienced skiers.
As a ski that can be enjoyed in all conditions, it is hard to match, but this does mean it doesn’t have the reactions of narrower models when on the piste. It will hold an edge as well as most piste-specific skis, it just won’t feel as quick edge-to-edge. However, when the pistes soften or there is fresh snow it will leave the piste skis behind.
For skiers that want to ride deep snow, it won’t match the 100mm+ waist models, but no 90mm ski does, and the Vantage 90 Cti does offer stability way beyond what you would expect for its size (if 100mm is more your thing then look at the 90’s big brother, the Vantage 100 Cti).
Materials and Assembly
- As with every good ski, the core of the Vantage 90 Cti is wood. In this case, it’s ash and poplar. This helps the ski achieve its lightweight feel while improving performance and contributing to the stability.
- The previously described Carbon Tank Mesh and the Ti Backbone 2.0 build on this lighter performance focus, keeping weight down and power up.
- A lightweight top sheet continues the weight saving, but is still highly resistant; the edges are made from steel five times more wear resistant than standard steel, for strength and grip.
- A high-density sintered base is used for speed on any snow temperature, as well as toughness and ease of repair.
- The construction is the well-proven sandwich sidewall, with the layers built up in the ski press. It’s the most traditional way and still the best, producing skis that are tough and performance orientated. It also allows for the use of Atomic’s clever Firewall sidewalls that use more material under the binding for the best power transmission and grip, without making the ski over-responsive.
- The profile is 15% tip rocker, 75% camber underfoot and 10% tail rocker. This adds to the versatility of the ski. The turn initiation and completion is easy thanks to the tapered shape and rocker at the tip and tail, but the solid construction and decent camber ensure the ski has power and edge hold. This profile also ensures excellent control in all conditions without ever feeling hooky and provides excellent flotation if you strike it lucky with fresh snow.
Performance and Feel
With its dimensions and profile you know you’re riding an all mountain ski. The handling is every bit as good as you would expect in powder and chopped conditions. You don’t want to ski it short, that would be a waste of its ability. Stick to a longer length; it’s easy to ski and the stability it provides will be a huge benefit, especially in challenging terrain. The calmness and easy handling boost your confidence, making you ski faster and with greater control.
The big surprise, though, is how well it skis on-piste. It has a decent amount of energy but it’s the grip that really impresses. You can lay down deep, clean grooves on hard groomed runs as if you were riding a dedicated piste ski, all the time knowing that any point you can seamlessly transition off the piste and into whatever lies beyond the markers.
The flex is firm, but it never feels stiff, and matched up with the dimensions/shape/camber the ski is beautifully stable, right up to eye-watering speeds.
Who is it Designed For?
Skiers who really do want to go everywhere are the ones who will benefit from the Vantage 90 Cti. Your technique doesn’t need to be perfect to use it and confident intermediates with decent control will benefit from its versatility. However, it’s advanced skiers who’ll reap the rewards of the mix of woodcore, Tankmesh and Ti Backbone 2.0.
It’s the ideal choice for many British skiers who have a heart for skiing soft snow away from the piste, but a head that knows the reality is the conditions aren’t often perfect. Basically, it will perform wherever you want and not punish you when it’s time to ski slower.
This is an all mountain ski that is the very definition of its category. It will ski anywhere on the mountain and in any conditions. The ski has more grip and power then you would expect, yet it handles perfectly in tricky conditions. Whether skiing slow or fast, on-piste or off it’s quite possibly the perfect all mountain ski and the ideal choice for so many British skiers who need that one ski to do everything.