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Women's Intermediate Ski Guide

Posted September 22, 2022 @ 1:01pm | by Sam Barry

Here at TSM, we have a badass group of gals, affectionately known as The Lady Monsters, who help us test gear every season. They are ferocious skiers, honest reviewers, and an integral part of making guides like these possible. Lots of internet bandwidth has been dedicated to reviews and buying guides for unisex skis, but we wanted to take a moment and show the ladies some love. So, with their help, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 favorite women’s skis for intermediate shredders. 

Our definition of an intermediate skier is someone who spends most, but not all, of their time on groomed blue runs; and can get down any blue trail pretty comfortably. An intermediate skier can navigate their way down black diamond trails, even if it doesn’t look quite as pretty. If this sounds like you, we think these skis would not only let you have a blast on the mountain but also give you some room to grow your abilities. 

Whether you’re looking for a groomer cruiser or a beginner backcountry navigator, we hope this guide helps you find you’re perfect pair of new skis. 

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Let’s start at the top, with the Blizzard Black Pearl 88. Like the rest of the ski industry, we have put a lot of skiers on the Black Pearls over the years. In fact, you probably have three or four friends who own them. The reason the Black Pearl is so popular is its versatility. Skiers have been searching for years for the elusive "one-ski quiver," the single pair of skis that will perform well in any conditions. While there probably won't ever be a ski that truly gets there, the Black Pearl 88 is pretty darn close. It grips super well on firm snow, giving skiers of any ability the confidence they need while maintaining a lightweight feel. The 88’s little sister, the Black Pearl 82, has all the attributes as the Black Pearl 88 but is slightly lighter and more geared towards spending most of your time skiing groomers. Having a ski that’s easy to ski and as versatile as the Black Pearl is a pretty hard-to-beat combination. Everyone knows that the Black Pearl is a great ski, and honestly, there are some other skis just as awesome as the Black Pearl that just don't get quite as much hype. Read on.

TSM, The Ski Monster, skiing, skis, Elan, Elan Ripstick 88W, Ripstick, women's skis, women's intermediate skis

The narrowest ski of Elan’s Ripstick series, the Elan Ripstick 88 W, is easily one of the best and most approachable women’s skis on the market. It's going to turn heads when you’re out on the hill. With the same construction as the men’s Ripstick 88, the Ripstick 88 W isn’t going to float as well as her older sister, the Ripstick 94 W, but at 88 mm it will initiate better edge-to-edge. Quicker edge-to-edge means that it will hold up better on-trail, so if you spend between 60-80% of your time on groomed runs you’ll absolutely love the Ripstick 88 W. By inserting two carbon tubes into its core, Elan made a ski that still has tons of pop in it but at a fraction of the weight of other skis with heavier metals. If you thought that having a softer and easier ski meant that you could no longer throw down laps on the iciest New England slopes, the Ripstick 88 W is going to make you think again. Finally, due to its light weight and the shape of its tails, the Ripstick 88 W is an awesome choice for a New England ski-touring setup or as a hybrid resort/touring ski if you think that some backcountry adventures are in your future. 

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If you haven’t already, the Nordica Santa Ana 88 is a ski you’re going to want to throw on your radar. Built in the same factory as its sister, the Black Pearl 88, the Santa Ana 88 shares many qualities. It’s a versatile, lightweight ski that's slightly easier to handle than the Black Pearl 88. This comes into play for the type of skier who appreciates stability on firm snow, but also really enjoys a mellow ski day cruising down blue groomers. The Santa Ana is great at initiating turns at slower speeds, meaning it will feel nimble and very approachable. The Santa Ana may not have as much power as the Black Pearl 88, but this ski can easily hold its own on firm snow. Skiers will love the Santa Ana for its lightweight versatility, on and off the trail.

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The Black Crows Captis Birdie is an all-mountain ski with a playful style and an easy-going feel. Checking in at 90mm, the Captis Birdie is narrow enough to hold up well on firm snow while being wide enough to handle a variety of terrain if you decide to get a little adventurous. The ski has a light, quick and nimble feel to keep your skiing exciting in tight terrain and it rolls edge to edge with ease. For a more playful ski, it feels relatively composed at higher speeds but is also one that prefers a more laid-back skiing style. The tails are easy to release, allowing you to pivot easily and it will allow you to feel confident descending some terrain you may not be the most comfortable on. The Captis Birdie has no metal underfoot, so it is not as powerful as other skis mentioned, but that’s not what they’re built for. The Captis Birdie is easy to balance on and offers good maneuverability and enough versatility to handle a variety of terrain. This would be a great option for skiers who want something that has a mellow feel, like softer snow, and isn’t difficult to drive.

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The last ski we want to mention here is the Atomic Maven 86C. At 86mm underfoot, the Maven 86C is designed for effortless ski-ability, slicing, and dicing all over groomers. It’s a snappy and energetic ski with a quick edge-to-edge feel that grips very well on firm snow. Any beginner to intermediate skier will appreciate how balanced the Maven 86C feels in a variety of snow conditions. The older sister of the 86C, the Atomic Maven 93C, is slightly more demanding and may require a little more zip to get the ski on edge — whereas the Maven 86C will be more automatic in regards to turn initiation. Also, the C stands for carbon so, as you may have guessed, this ski is also super lightweight!

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There you have it: 5 of our favorite intermediate skis for women. As you can see, there is a lot more to this category than just the Blizzard Black Pearl (although it is still a pretty awesome ski). The name of the game in skis these days is lightweight and versatile, and all five of these accomplish that super well. We love to get nitpicky with some of the details that distinguish one ski from another, but honestly, all five of these skis are a ton of fun and pretty similar – you're not gonna go wrong with any of them. Check out our blog on How to Choose the Correct Pair of Skis for a deeper dive on how to find the perfect ski for you. 

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