The question is fair to ask: “Why would I assign myself an almost impossible Top 5 list?” 

As a professional ski tester who’s been at it for almost three decades, I’ve tested more skis than I can enumerate, thousands perhaps… and picking five would be frankly impossible (although now that I think about it, I’m up for the challenge. Just maybe not this month).

So I’ve given myself a bit of an out and renamed my list: Top 5 Skis I’ve Ever Owned (that should cull the herd somewhat).

Full disclosure: I’m sponsored by Scott (although I’m using the word “sponsored” loosely here, let’s just say that my good friends Aaron and Andrew at Scott Sports Canada support me by throwing some gear my way when their budgets can afford it). The Mica Sports family is dear to my heart but not enough that I’d ski on their skis if they were crap. Don’t tell them but I’d likely still pay for my Scott skis if I had to. I ski on these skis because I love them and the fact that I quite like the folks that sell Scott is a genuine bonus.

JF Ravenelle at Mont Sutton | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

I’m going to do my best not to cheat, I’ll endeavor to keep it to five skis (although that may change). There are so many deserving of the mantle, so many wonderful skis that stick in my mind because as a ski collector I wish I still had them. Skis like my Hexcel HDS-1 Splitails, my Kneissl White Stars, my Nishizawa Formula Supreme LTD Factory Team SL’s, my Spalding Squadra Corse SL’s, my Kastle National Team SL and RX’s, my Dynastar Verticals, my K2 VO Slaloms, and my Salomon S9000 Equipe 1S’s … All of which would ski like shit compared to most modern SportChek Specials but all of which, unlike all the others, have managed to stay front-of-mind and close to my heart for years and years.

The same could not be said for the forgettable and downright terrible Atomic ARC’s or the truly shitty Dynastar Omeglass Course with the stupid antivibration puck, the bad, bad, bad Head Radials, the supremely shitty Kneissl Blue Star and Red Stars, and a litany of other crappy skis that need not be immortalized by typing their names here… But I digress, In no particular order, these are the skis that I’ve owned (or still own) that I loved above all the others.. and yes, I did cheat and manage to add 5 more honorable mentions.

JF Ravenelle at Mont Sutton on his Slight 93's | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

1. Scott Slight 93 (still own them) – For a guy who’s wholeheartedly adopted wide-skis as his go-to, it’s surprising even to me that these light and powerful 93mm front-side rocket ships have struck such a chord with me. I simply love them. I look forward to skiing on them at every chance I get and I honestly believe that they make me a better skier for a myriad of reasons, not the least being that they are an amazingly light, fast, and delightfully easy ski to ski at speeds where most other skis of that category are accepting terms of surrender.

JF Ravenelle at Burke Mountain, VT on his Mindbender 99 Prototypes | Photo Credit: Ocean Bélanger

2. K2 Mindbender 99 Prototype 177cm (still own them) – I met these babies at the end of the 2019 Ski Test at Avila, Quebec of all places and I immediately fell in love. I was blown away at how good of a carving ski it was for a 99mm waisted all-mountain ski and I marveled at how incredibly competent it was in the shittiest of conditions. I subsequently tested the Mindbender in longer, shorter, wider, and narrower, and just like Soft Cell and their song ‘Tainted Love’ in the ’80s, to me the Mind Bender 99 in a 177 is a bit of one-hit-wonder… But fuck does that song still make me smile every time I hear it. Great big thanks to Chris for getting me a pair, I will cherish them forever.

JF Ravenelle at Mont Sutton on his Scott Cascade 110's | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

3. Scott Cascade 110 (still own them) – These Scotts are what I like to call my hero-skis. So easy to ski, so surfy, so playful, the perfect ski to make the perfect turns that my buddy Bernard Brault likes me to make for our soft-snow photoshoots. A sweet big-mountain twin that can handle absolutely anything a mountain can throw at you, provided you’re not inclined to drop the hammer and try to hit warp nine. I’ve never skied a better ski in soft snow at medium speeds in tight or open trees. It hurt when I learned that they weren’t going to make it anymore. Like the break-up of Van-Halen… nothing but sorrow. Thank goodness I have a pair to play back when nostalgia hits.

JF Ravenelle at Mont Sutton on his Scott Powd'airs | Photo Credit: Bernard Brault

4. Scott Powd’air (still own them) – These things… God how I love these things. They are my go-to big-mountain speed weapons. Originally designed around 2012 as a no-compromise touring ski using all the latest and greatest ski technologies, these full camber 184cm all-mountain skis have stood the test of time and still can hang with the most modern big-mountain hard-charging skis of today… but at almost half the weight. Every time I put them on snow I think “wow”.

JF on Newport Express at Owl's Head, Qc on his Helldorado's | Photo Credit: Stéphanie Rodrigue

5. Nordica Helldorado: Why these crazy skis are on this list is beyond even me. The grandfather to the current Nordica Enforcer Free 115, these big, beautiful black skis came into my life in 2013 and accompanied me back to Owl’s Head for my 13/14 season where I skied every day Owl’s Head was open that season (and then some), all 134 days. Thank god I had the Powd’airs as back-ups because skiing on these 113mm wide metal-infused twin tips was not what anyone would describe as effortless… I say that but I nonetheless wish I still had them in my quiver. I wouldn’t use them often, but they were pretty formidable on those perfect days when I was at my best.

Honorable mentions:

  1. Dynastar Avant Premiere No2
  2. Stockli Rotor 109
  3. Dynastar Ski Cross 66
  4. Scott P4
  5. Scott Crusade

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