Race skis are awesome! They are fast and stable at higher speeds, generally have an amazing edge grip, even on ice, and they are very responsive. But keep in mind that race skis are for expert skiers only. Race skis are stiffer than your regular ski and need a skier with good technique because they are not as forgiving as other skis on the market. While giant slalom skis are intended for long, high-speed turns, slalom race skis are best suited for quick, short turns. Slalom race skis are generally lighter than their giant slalom counterparts and have a more pronounced side-cut. They are also shorter in length and are relatively narrow underfoot, which generally ensures reactive performance and tight, snappy turns. Good, competitive slalom skis, like the ones listed in this review require a high level of skill to use effectively and safely.
There are many people who think that buying the most expensive, fastest ski will get them or their kids to become better skiers. I have seen it over and over again: Beginner and intermediate students come to my classes sporting a top-of-the-line race ski. If the ski is better than they are, they usually have a tough time progressing, as the ski isn’t forgiving of their initially sloppy technique.
The main reason for buying a race ski for your youngster should be that he or she is racing and/or training in the gates. For any other purposes (styles and types of terrain) there are more specialized skis out there that will do a better job (e.g. all around, powder, bump, or terrain park skis). However, if junior is ready for the gates, any of the skis reviewed below will do a great job in helping him or her get to the top! The five skis in the Best of the Best section are favorites among the youth racers’ coaches I talked to throughout the making of this review.