Hands-on Gear Review

4FRNT Madonna Review

Price:  $510 List | $356.61 at Amazon
Pros:  Good in soft snow, durable bases, in-expensive
Cons:  Unstable on firm snow, un-durable top sheets
Editors' Rating:   
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Tested Length:  172
Weight per Pair:  7.72 lbs
Available Lengths:  158, 165, 172, 179
Manufacturer:   4 Frnt

Our Verdict

The Madonna has the look and dimensions of a park ski, but is marketed as 4FRNT's women's all-mountain ski. This ski can do everything pretty well, but nothing with excellence. It is somewhat stable at speed, but does not hold an edge on hard pack and prefers to slide out rather than carve. We think the Madonna is fun and responsive in soft snow and powder, and likes to make broad, buttery turns. It has significant rocker in the tip and tail, with camber underfoot.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's All-Mountain Skis of 2018

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist, Nicole Deaver, and Renee McCormack

Last Updated:
Saturday
November 26, 2016

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Hands-On Review


The Maddona does well in most off-piste conditions. We particularly enjoyed it in chalky bumps and soft slush.
The Maddona does well in most off-piste conditions. We particularly enjoyed it in chalky bumps and soft slush.

Stability at Speed


Our testers found this ski more stable than the Armada ARVW in most conditions. The Madonna has some flop in the tips at speed on groomers, but is decently damp on choppy chalk. Our testers were terrified speeding down hard, icy terrain as we watched its tips flop around and were hesitant to gain speed on hard pack and icy terrain with this ski because it feels like it could slide out from under you.

The 4FRNT Madonna lacks sidecut  and therefore prefers to smear and slide on-piste rather than carve.
The 4FRNT Madonna lacks sidecut, and therefore prefers to smear and slide on-piste rather than carve.

This is 4FRNT's version of an on-piste ski, but it is better suited for powder and park skiing than carving turns.

Carving Performance


For a ski that has a medium turn radius of 17M and the least sidecut in this whole review, it is surprisingly able to turn well on soft groomed runs. The Madonna is not particularly turny, but you can engage the edges and carve a large radius turn with minimal effort, although it prefers to smear rather than carve. The Armada ARVW takes more effort to turn and get on edge than the Madonna. The Head Great Joy has the most sidecut and shortest turn radius in our test, and is the most carvy ski we used this winter. The Madonna's 98mm waist and lack of sidecut make it sluggish from edge-to-edge, favoring slow, long turns.

This ski prefers to butter and smear turns. But when you really rail into them, it holds an edge surprisingly well for what looks like a park ski. The Volkl Aura has excellent edge hold and stability on-piste, and we generally prefer it as a more versatile model.

Jessica Haist putting women's all-mountain models to the test at Kirkwood Mountain.
Jessica Haist putting women's all-mountain models to the test at Kirkwood Mountain.

Powder Performance


The Madonna floats above untracked powder effortlessly, and is a joy to ski in these conditions. It's mid-fat, 98mm waist and soft rockered tips and tails help keep it above the deep.

Crud Performance


This ski handles the crud relatively well. In fact, our testers would seek out the crud and bumps on the sides of firm groomed runs because that terrain felt easier to ski with this model than icy steeps. The Maddona does well in most off-piste conditions. We particularly enjoyed it in chalky bumps and soft slush. 4FRNT has moved the weight of the Madonna's core rearwards (5 cm) to accommodate for women's more centered skiing style. This allows ladies to stay on top of the ski in more variable conditions. The only conditions where we found ourselves nervous in were very hard, icy ones. We would rather have the Rossignol Temptation 88's great edge hold in firm, icy conditions.

Women have more posterior weight in their athletic stances  so it helps to have a more centralized mounting point for greater control. The 4FRNT Madonna's mounting point feels more centered.
Women have more posterior weight in their athletic stances, so it helps to have a more centralized mounting point for greater control. The 4FRNT Madonna's mounting point feels more centered.

Playfulness


We have fun pretending we are park rats on this ski, and making the most of the twin tips practicing riding switch. It's more forward mounting point makes the ski feel easier to turn, similar to the Fischer Ranger 98 Women's. The Madonna is also extremely fun in powder. However, we can't give it full marks for playfulness because of its lack of sidecut and edge-to-edge quickness.

The Madonna's Rockered tip and tails provide a smooth ride off piste.
The Madonna's Rockered tip and tails provide a smooth ride off piste.

Bumps Skiing Performance


As with most of the skis in this all-mountain category, the Madonna's bucked and tossed us around in the bumps. Because they are not super quick to turn and are soft and floppy we flopped our way through any mogul field we encountered - that being said we did enjoy ourselves in soft and chalky forming bumps way more than skiing anything groomed on these skis.

Best Application


This ski could be a good choice for a skier who is interested in getting into the park, but still wants something that they can ski on the whole mountain. It is good for about 40% on-piste and 60% off-piste.

Value


The Madonna is one of the least expensive skis in our review, as well as on 4FRNT's website at $510. This ski is decent value, but we think our Best Buy Award winner the Atomic Vantage 95 C is a better value for a much more versatile and fun ski.

4FRNT is known for durable base materials, and we noticed no major gouges at the end of our season. Although cosmetic, we noticed significant chipping on the top sheet of this semi-capped ski.
The Madonna's top sheets are not very durable. The have many large chips and scratches after a season of use.
The Madonna's top sheets are not very durable. The have many large chips and scratches after a season of use.

Conclusion


Like the Nordica Wild Belle the Madonna is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It is a relatively versatile ski but we found it unremarkable in most conditions. The 4FRNT Madonna likes to butter and smear its way down the mountain. It can handle most conditions that are thrown at it, but prefers to be in the bumps and crud over the groomers and hard pack. This could be a fun ski for someone who wants to spend time both in the park and skiing the whole mountain.

This ski has a lot of rocker in its tip and tail, and so we sized up in anticipation of this fact. We would recommend you do the same, it skis a little short for its length.

Other Versions


The Madonna is part of 4FRNTs Identity Series, which is their all-mountain ski lineup. 4FRNT has added a 179cm length to the Maddona for the 15-16 season.
Jessica Haist, Nicole Deaver, and Renee McCormack

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Most recent review: November 26, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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