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Ski & Snowboard Ratings Explained

Ski & Snowboard Ratings Explained

With the launch of our 2021/2022 ski and snowboard line, you may have noticed a new infographic that became standard to our whole line. This rating system was designed to make your shopping experience even better.

We know it can be hard to navigate all the technical terms that help to explain where a ski or board will perform best, so we took the stress of that away and rated reach of our line in eight categories: Groomers, Ice, Trees, Bumps, Big Lines & Speed, Steeps, Chowder (variable), and Park & Pipe. This system also includes a measure of the best snow depth for each product. Our hope is this system will help you to determine what will fit your shred style the best. 

Not everyone shreds the same, so being able to visualize the most optimal conditions for each board and ski can help to make the world of a difference once the lifts start turning. Someone who tends to stick with trees, steeps, and bumps may not want a ski that performs best in the park, as it just doesn't fit what they prefer on the mountain. We are all bad asses out on the hill, so let's make sure our gear helps us to feel confident with every turn, wherever we may go. 


To start, let's talk about groomers. For those who may be new to snowsports, groomers are trails that get ‘manicured’ each day to maintain a smooth, consistent snow. These trails tend to be labeled as groomers on most trail maps, and they show up at all skill levels. You will have greens, blues, and blacks that are groomed, ensuring there is a groomer to fit your style! If a ski or board performs well on groomers, then it's going to be pretty stable, and it will hold edges well on the nice freshly groomed snow. Most of the Coalition lineup will perform well on groomers, aside from the Sojourner Splitboard, as splitboards aren’t designed for downhill. Our SOS, Rebel, and Bliss skis perform best on groomers. You also can count on the Myth and Queen Bee snowboards to carve well on groomers. 

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Although this one sounds scary, knowing how a ski or board will handle ice is a huge benefit! For products that perform well in icy conditions, their edges are going to really dig into that cold slab and keep you from slipping. This is nice, especially for those east coast folks that handle dust on crust for most of the season. If something is not rated well for ice, then that means it will be more difficult to make those edges hold when you're fighting a frozen run. This doesn’t mean a ski or board can’t do it, it simply means it was not designed specifically for these conditions. Our Rebel skis perform best on ice. We'd recommend the Myth snowboard because of the dual camber underfoot for icy conditions.

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Now most of us may have a love-hate relationship with trees. Some conditions, you love em’. Others…? Not so much. Having a board or ski that handles the quick turns needed for trees can help to make those relationships lean more to the love side. For those that are rated highly in the trees category, the ability to turn quickly, and make quick edge changes will be greatly increased. These also tend to be a little wider in the ski category, because more width will help you to float better in loose powder. Those quick turns will also help you to flow through and float through the trees, rather than chop. To help make this even better, tip and tail rocker will help to keep you from getting stuck in that deep tree pow. We love the Rafiki in the trees; the shorter turning radius makes it a breeze to navigate tight turns. Both the Myth and Queen Bee snowboards handle well in trees, and the Sojourner Solid is the star of the show when playing in powder filled trees.

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Bumps, moguls, half circles of death, leg day, or whatever you’d like to call them, you get the gist of what I’m talking about. Often described as a skier's heaven and a snowboarder's nightmare, bumps attract a wide array of people. If rated well in this category, the ski or board will provide better balance and control when handling turns. Skinnier ski profiles also tend to help on these bumps as well. This helps you to fit better through each turn without slicing into the mogul next to you. Sorry snowboarders, our gear will always be traditionally wider than skiers', but that doesn't mean we can’t enjoy bumps too. Actually, we take that back. Bumps on snowboards are dumb. But if want to ride them, go for a little tip and tail rocker. This helps to increase control, especially if there is an underfoot camber which generates more snow to board/ski contact. We recommend our Rebel and Bliss skis for bumps. The Queen Bee snowboard is your best tool for bumps.

Big Lines & Speed: 

If you’re a fan of big lines and speed, you want something that is stable, wider, and generally stiffer, with rocker in the tip and tail. A longer turning radius, along with the stiffer flex, mean the ski will maintain stability at speed, hold an edge when you need it to, and will respond to your turn initiation when you need to dig in and change direction. Since you will most likely be in variable and/or deeper snow, the rocker combined with the width underfoot and throughout the length of the ski, means it will charge through tracked out lines and float through deep powder. The Sojourner Solid was built for big lines and speed, as is the SOS.

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Where are my steeps folks at? Get the butterflies when hitting the steep and deep? Love face shots and technical shredding? Then let's talk about what makes that happen for you. For our products that rate well in the steeps, you're going to see an increased width (for skiers) to help you float. For you boarders, you might see a slightly more directional shape that helps to float through pow and makes technical turns easier to initiate. You also will get a pretty decent edge hold. This will help when making quick jump turns on terrain with a harsh incline. While we don't make a ski specifically for steeps, our wider skis like the SOSRafiki, and Nieve backcountry skis perform better on steeps than our skinnier skis. The dual camber on the Myth snowboard makes it a solid ride in the steeps. 

Chowder (Variable): 

First, let's break down what chowder even is. This is snow that can be hard, soft, crunchy, and icy all at the same time. This type of snow is difficult to ski fast in, as you never really know what's coming. You may hit a patch that appears hard, but then sink down the second you go over it. With that being said, here, a rockered tip and tail with an underfoot camper will help you maintain solid contact with the snow, regardless of how the snow decides to act. The higher rated skis for these conditions will have a slightly wider waist. This helps to break up the chowder and helps you float on top, rather than nose diving when the snow decides to give way mid run. With snowboards, a directional shape is helpful to stay on top of the chowder without sinking through to the crud that lies underneath. Our SOS skis handle variable terrain the best. Both the Myth and Queen Bee snowboards handle well in variable conditions.

Park & Pipe: 

Park and pipe require a ski and board that can absorb a heavy landing, while still jibbing, spinning, and flipping to your heart's content. In order to rate well in this category, your ski will have a smaller width, and a rockered tip and tail. This smaller width creates a quick edge to edge transition and the twin tipped design allows for confident skiing both forwards and backwards. These skis will also be more playful than most, perfect for jibbing and jumps without sacrificing stability. For boards, a true twin design will rate higher, as it makes spins easier and riding and landing switch much easier as well. The playful flex will also help with a solid park rating here, as the playfulness helps with jibs and ollies. The Bliss is the perfect park ski! And we like the Myth in the park because it's flexible and spins easily but it also handles well in between features.

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Snow Depth: 

This rating is indicative of the way each ski and board will handle powder. A narrower ski will have a harder time in deep pow than a wider ski, just as a directional board will float more than a twin, with less strain on your legs. This rating is to help you decide what ski or board will best fit the conditions you ride most. Pow days should be filled with laughter, and faceshots. Certain gear will help you achieve this with significantly less leg strain. If you find yourself riding deep pow the majority of the season, then trusting our snow depth rating will help to make all the pow dreams come true. You'll notice for our backcountry specific skis and snowboards -- the La Nieve backcountry skis and the Sojourner Splitboard -- the powder rating is through the roof.

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Whether you are hard charging the steep and deep terrain or taking hot laps on the groomers, Coalition has the ski and or board for you. Our hope is that this rating system enhances the shopping experience for you, and makes navigating the world of snowsports just a little easier. Every ski area has its own unique terrain, so it's important to match your gear to the terrain you enjoy most! Shred what you love, and do it with confidence, comfort, and style!


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