Gear 2000: Giant Slalom

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To fully enjoy a modern giant slalom race ski, you need to be unfettered by caution, a glint of insanity in your eye. After all, these are the Ferraris and Lambourginis of the ski world. They just begin to hum at velocities above 35 mph. If you provide them with tender, loving care (i.e., religious tuning), they thrive on icy slopes and racecourses. And, they reward you with amazing security at speeds above the red line.

Where can you use a GS ski outside gates? Anywhere the snow is smooth. How about early in the morning, well before the crowds have arrived, on a surface of freshly tilled packed powder? How about later in the day, when the crowds have begun to thin, scared away by a burnished hill with gnarly slick spots? GS skis are ideal anywhere you can open the throttle without fear of reprisal from the ski patrol.

This is not to say that all GS skis are made from the same mold. At this year's test at Breckenridge, our testers (a mix of ex¿U.S. Ski Teamers and collegiate racers) found some skis with astonishing high-speed performance and precision handling that begged for a racecourse to show their muscles. But, they also found skis with impressive versatility.

So you do have choices in this group. The only thing you don't have is a prayer of holding your speed in check once you jump on them. Unexplained by modern science, or even the engineers who designed them, GS skis can talk. They say, "Crank it up, dude."

Buy this kind of ski if:

you're addicted to speed;

you want awesome edge grip;

you make mostly medium and long swooping turns;

your insurance is all paid up.