6 Best Skis For Intermediate Skiers (…and 1 to avoid)

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If you’re looking to level up your skiing and hit some more difficult slopes then you need skis that are able to keep up with your growing skills.

My top pick for intermediate skiers in the Blizzard Rustler 9. It’s a solid intermediate ski that isn’t too hard to handle but is also trusted by a lot of advanced skiers as well.

Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown and a bunch of other options that are great for intermediate skiers.

Top Pick

1. Blizzard Rustler 9

Blizzard Rustler 9 is a forgiving ski for an intermediate that handles a variety of conditions and will keep up with your improving skill level.

Available Sizes: 162, 168, 174, 180, 186
Radius: 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Blizzard Rustler 9 is a forgiving ski for an intermediate but you see a lot of advanced skiers charging it in every condition too. There is something about this ski that makes it shine and the reason that it appeared in two of our articles already, is the versatility of it. 

These skis offer a good balance of stability and maneuverability. They can be enjoyed by skiers looking to progress beyond the beginner stage or skiers who want to push their limits every time they can get a day off at their home resort. You can carve the firm morning groomers and head in the nearby off-piste trails in the afternoon when the sun softens the snow and they still won’t have enough, leaving you with that satisfied feeling of a day well spent.

The Rustler 9 is designed to handle various types of terrain and snow conditions. It’s a versatile ski that can perform well on groomed slopes, in ungroomed terrain, and even in some fresh topping.

The rocker-camber-rocker profile just ads up the quality of this all-mountain performer. With the construction, profile and medium radius, an intermediate skier can’t really go wrong with this skis. 

Blizzard Rustler 9 has been redesigned with a waist width of 96 mm instead of 94 underfoot like in the previous seasons, making them wide enough to provide good floatation in soft snow but not overly wide for on-piste performance.

Rustler 10, the wider brother with 102 mm underfoot has more float in the fresh snow, but lacks the stability of the Rustler 9 on the groomed slopes. The 10 being a little wider underfoot and meant for some softer snow will have more metal which provides stability at speed then the Rustler 11 but less then the 9.

You will also notice that the metal on these skis now runs along the edges from tip to tail which still keeps them playful while increasing the edge hold of these skis.


2. Salomon QST 92

The QST 92 is a versatile all-mountain ski, making it suitable for a wide range of skiers which makes it a great intermediate ski.

Available Sizes: 152, 160, 168, 176, 184
Radius: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

The Salomon QST 92 is part of the QST series, which is known for its all-mountain versatility and performance across various snow conditions. The QST 92 is designed to be a versatile all-mountain ski, making it suitable for a wide range of skiers.

It can handle groomed slopes, off-piste terrain, and variable conditions with ease. If you are more exploration oriented and will often wander off-piste, it is smart to consider wider models in the Salomon QST line, like the 98 model. 

With a slightly shorter radius and slender waist width than the Blizzard Rustler 9, the QST 92 can be more forgiving on groomed terrain and easier to make short turns with. 

I recommend this ski for any true or ambitious intermediate skier, with complete confidence that it won’t be overwhelming at slower speeds or leave more experienced skiers disappointed when pushed to higher speeds or on firm snow.

It is wide enough to handle choppy snow while still keeping the playfulness and quick edge to edge transitions.

Whenever you head off-trail for your own pleasure or just follow the kids through the tree bumps, you should not be worried that Salomons will slow you down for sure.  

Budget Option

3. Salomon Stance 80 + M11 GW Bindings

The Salomon Stance 80 is a remarkably affordable option considering the quality and is a great choice for the budget minded intermediate skier.

Available Sizes: 151, 161, 169, 177, 185
Radius: 10, 13, 14, 15, 17

The Salomon Stance 80, introduced in 2022, takes the construction and performance elements of the wider Stance ski and refines them into a narrower, more forgiving, and remarkably affordable option.

To be precise, calling it “affordable” might be an understatement, as the Stance 80 comes in at an impressive price point of $499, and this includes a Salomon M11 binding.

Starting with a poplar wood core as its foundation, Salomon enhances the ski’s performance by adding a single sheet of titanal just below the top layer. Like all Stance skis, Salomon strategically removes long rectangular sections of metal from the front and back of the ski, replacing them with carbon.

This ingenious design reduces the ski’s overall weight and its swing weight, making it easier to maneuver. However, these skis won’t feel as stable at higher speeds, but will be happy to progress with you while you build up your confidence.

The Stance 80 predominantly features a camber profile with subtle and smooth rocker in the tips and tails. With an 80mm waist width, the Stance 80 is primarily tailored for groomer use, although it does possess some capability for rare and light off-trail adventures on the side. It is not a very playful ski and you can not really ski switch with it, the traditional use is the name of their game.

Women’s Pick

4. Nordica Santa Ana 93

The Santa Ana is a popular women’s ski that is built to handle the intermediate skier that is venturing into harder terrain.

Available Sizes: 151, 158, 165, 172, 179
Radius: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

I have done quite a few seasons as a ski instructor and have seen Nordica’s Santa Anas on my coworkers’ feet as often as I have seen them in rental shops. This ski covers a big spectrum of female skiers; from ski instructors to intermediates on a ski holiday.

This made me try them out and as an expert skier I was not disappointed, this ski handles snow of all kinds exceptionally! They are not the best for charging down the mountain in big turns or straight lines, but oh were the short to medium turns fun. It is a very lightweight and playful ski to attack the steeps with some short turns or to play with it in the trees. 

The all-mountain rocker profile assures the edge hold on groomers and a decent amount of float in a reasonable amount of fresh snow, bumps are well absorbed by the rockered shape of the right materials in the ski tips.

Nordica Santa Ana 93 is part of the Santa Ana series, which is known for its all-mountain versatility and performance. There are wider models in the series as well as a narrower one, for your preference of the snow and terrain you enjoy to ski the most.

I would recommend buying the wider end of the Santa Ana series if you live on the West coast or you are lucky enough to powder hunt on a regular basis somewhere else.

Off-Trail Pick

5. Völkl Blaze 94

The Völkl Blaze 94 skis have a lightweight yet powerful design that makes them great for intermediate skiers that want to venture off-trail.

Available Sizes: 158, 165, 172, 179, 186
Radius: 13, 14, 15, 17, 18

The Völkl Blaze 94 is like a hybrid ski when I think about it and this is why I have put it on this list for you to consider, if you find yourself in the described scenario. 

In a perfect world you would wake up, look through the bedroom window and based on the weather conditions choose one of your many skis for that day. But skiing is an expensive game and we all have to eat so you have to reduce the number of pairs you own. Or your garage is just too small.

You often meet with people on the mountain to ski some frontside groomers or you work a seasonal job up the mountain which requires a daily driver. The decision is not so hard to make until you meet some friends who are into backcountry/ski touring and invite you to join them. This is where the Blaze 94 comes in. 

Völkl Blaze 94 skis, characterized by their lightweight yet powerful design, proudly lead the category, offering an ideal blend of weight reduction, edge grip, and nimbleness underfoot.

Whether equipped with a tech binding or hybrid frame binding, these skis eliminate concerns about long resort lines, as they serve as a blazing backup plan ready to tackle any terrain. They will make you happy while lapping the resort chairs or while descending a hardly earned run through powder fields or hard-packed tree runs. 

It is forgiving and versatile enough that ski instructors and people on annual winter holidays with skiing experience leave a lot of positive reviews all over the forums and on the chairlifts when I ask them about the long-term performance of their skis.

If you are on the heavier side or you feel like transitioning to advanced level with more powder oriented missions pretty soon, a wider brother in the Blaze family would be an even better choice, although it is a bit stiffer and demanding with its 106 mm underfoot when the conditions are not so fluffy.

Mogul Friendly

6. Völkl Blaze 86

The Völkl Blaze 86 is built to handle a variety of trails but also lets you ski moguls with ease.

What professional mogul skiers want is full camber, light weight, and narrow waist. Some bump skiers like stiff, others like soft. For intermediate skiers it is recommended to go with a lighter setup, making it easier to maneuver through and around the bumps.

The Völkl Blaze 86 Skis excel whether you’re carving groomers at the resort or ascending a ski track above town. Their remarkable versatility allows them to comfortably fit within the weight range for an alpine touring setup, especially when paired with the appropriate bindings.

The Blaze 86 is an excellent choice for lighter and less aggressive skiers, serving as both a superb hybrid ski and a reliable option for frontside adventures. 

The tail rocker is not exaggerated on this ski which means that you can forget about the feeling of the missing tails when you spin the skis through the moguls. I would recommend these skis to any intermediate who is struggling with attacking the bumps and is a lighter skier.

If you are experienced enough or on the intermediate/advanced level you could try mogul skiing with some race piste skis, like slalom or junior gs skis.

They can be fun to bring your mogul skiing on the next level with the responsiveness of a short turn radius, making the line choice easier and open to improvisation.

Popular Intermediate Skis To Avoid

You will see a lot of lists of best intermediate skis with skis of a 100+ mm waist width and a lot of metal in it. As an expert skier who raced GS I remember how hard it was to handle 20 m radius skis as a 12 year old when the slope was not closed for training or we would sneak a tree run in the lunch break.

I believe the feeling is similar for an intermediate skier who just started to ski blues if you put him on some Nordica Enforcer 100s on a busy day at the resort.

Unless the individual is very sporty, takes lessons regularly and committed to the regular powder hunting in the near future, I would not recommend wider skis with a lot of metal in it.

Unless a skier’s home resort gets a lot of snow regularly, an Intermediate who will mostly ski groomers and occasionally ski some powder next to the slope should be fine in the all-mountain mid 90mm range, having quick edge to edge transitions on the firm snow.

What Intermediate Skiers Should Look For When Choosing Skis

As an intermediate skier, you’re looking for skis that strike a balance between performance and ease of use. It’s essential to find skis that match your current skill level while allowing room for improvement as you progress.

To choose the right skis at this level, you need to decide which terrain you are planning to ski the most so you can get the right ski for the terrain or even keep multiple pairs of skis so you always have the right skis for the day.

Keep in mind that all skis within a ski type vary in radius, stiffness, width, profile, flex pattern and weight because of the shape and the materials they are made from. Everyone has their own preferences but as an intermediate you would usually not love to own a very stiff and heavy pair of skis with a larger radius.

Which type of skis is the right one for you? 

Piste skis

If your preference is to dedicate the majority of your skiing time to well-groomed slopes, with a primary focus on refining your technique, then a set of Piste skis would be the ideal choice for you. These intermediate skis feature a narrower waist, typically measuring between 68 and 80 mm, and are equipped with a camber profile.

This design enables the skis to effectively grasp the compacted snow surface, providing exceptional control as you navigate the slopes. I would suggest not to go over the 17 meter radius mark if you are not very comfortable with skiing fast, since the skis above that radius tend to start turning with a decent amount of speed and are considered advanced level skis.

All Mountain skis

All Mountain skis offer an ideal blend of versatility for those who relish a mix of both on and off-piste skiing experiences. While they excel in on-piste skiing, they possess the added capability to navigate softer off-piste terrain. These skis provide the assurance of a full day on the slopes without fretting over changing snow conditions.

However, it’s worth noting that while they perform well across diverse snow conditions, they do not specialize in any single terrain type. One defining feature of All Mountain skis is the rocker tip, which elevates the front of the ski from the snow’s surface. This feature enhances their maneuverability and adeptness in handling uneven or bumpy conditions. If you’re seeking a single pair of skis that can do it all, All Mountain skis are the ideal choice.

A wide spectrum of All Mountain skis is available, each offering distinct performance attributes on various snow surfaces. A primary factor that aids in the selection process is the ski’s waist width.

Typically, All Mountain skis waist widths are from 80 to 100 mm. The closer to 80 mm, more piste oriented the ski is. Wider skis closer to the 100 mm in waist have better float on the off-piste or fresh snow. 

One of the reasons All Mountain skis are popular among intermediates is the combined camber rocker profile or the twin rocker profile. This mix of rocker with camber is a very popular profile due to its versatility, rocker assuring the float and providing bump absorption and camber providing that strong edge hold for carving the firm snow. 

Freeride skis (Off Trail Skis)

Freeride skis cater to enthusiasts who prefer to devote the majority of their skiing endeavors to off-piste adventures, particularly in powder-laden conditions. With a generous width typically falling within the 90-120 mm range and the inclusion of an early-rising tip (known as tip rocker), these skis excel at effortlessly floating atop the powder and facilitating smoother turns.

Skiers decide to get a freeride ski when they feel comfortable skiing all kinds of groomers and want to spend time off the slopes.  

Intermediates who want a freeride ski which handles hard conditions between the storms well, should seek for skis wide 90 to 100 mm. They offer more maneuverability and excel on off-piste forest trails next to the slopes. 

Park skis

If you plan to dedicate your skiing time to snowparks, throwing tricks on boxes, rails or jumps, you need to consider investing in your main park skis. The standout feature of these skis is the twin-tip profile, they have a sharp upward curve at both ends. This design enables skiers to execute take-offs and landings in switch (backward) mode without the risk of the tails catching in the snow. Typically, bindings are positioned closer to the center of the ski, facilitating more balanced weight distribution during spins and jumps. This mounting point makes traditional skiing on slopes a bit harder, often felt like the tails are catching too much edge and it is hard to maintain balance while carving.

Park skis waist width can be from 80 to 100 mm. If you want more stability on rails and boxes, a fatter and a softer flex ski can be your friend to lock your first slides. If you lean towards jumping bigger kickers with more speed, a narrower ski would be more suitable for you. 

Mogul skis

Mogul skiing is a form of downhill skiing through bumps which can be naturally formed or man made. Mogul skiing has been a medal event at the Winter Olympics since 1992 and it demands a totally different technique and skis than traditional skiing when you dedicate most of the skiing time to it.

Of course, intermediate skiers do not have all the skills to conquer the Olympic technique of mogul skiing and the bumps can be skied like obstacles, around or over them. Skis for moguls are significantly skinnier in the waist than the all-mountain skis and are usually lighter, easier to maneuver at low speed.