Are splittails more show than go?

Ask Dr. Flake

Save for the Hexcel Split Tail, circa the '70s, splittail technology is just now breaking out. The most dramatic such ski, Salomon's AK Rocket Swallowtail has generated tons of buzz. Salomon claims the following: A 13.5- centimeter-long V-cut—just behind the effective edge—allows this 195-centimeter board to feel like a 185. The length makes for stable straight-lining and landings; the missing 'V' means the ski is lighter and nimbler than a nonsplit 195. A swallowtail also sinks a bit in powder, so you can take a more forward stance in big-mountain conditions, rather than leaning back to lift the tips. Dynastar employs a smaller swallowtail (basically, an inch-deep notch) on the back of its Intuitiv Big; it also aims to provide rear-end sinkage in deep stuff. On the hardpack, splittails are "not that different from any other ski, says pro skier Shane McConkey (who has a nonsplit signature model). Mmm, but they look mighty bitchin'.