Atomic Skis 2001-02
Atomic has always been a big player among ski makers, but these days the Austrian company is growing into the industry's newest 300-lb. gorilla. On the World Cup, it's not uncommon to see all three podium steps occupied by racers on Atomic Beta Technology skis. At retail, Atomics are selling through quickly, and, according to the company's PR agency, Atomic's margins are among "the best in the industry."
But while Atomic has been hugely successful with skis like the Beta Race 10.22 Titanium (which returns to the lineup unchanged) and the 9.18 (updated this year), the Austrian company's Freeride and big-mountain skis have sometimes been perceived as lacking suppleness. So into the breach comes a new technology and a new marketing strategy for this category.
First, marketing: Atomic has just launched a two-tiered freeride program, sponsoring global and national freeride teams.
Next, technology: Atomic's new textile-based topskin, called Texalium, is infused with vaporized aluminum and comes in varying stiffnesses, depending on the number of stitches per centimeter. The result, according to the company: More user-friendly freeride skis.
Always pushing the technological envelope, Atomic has a new fourth-generation Beta Technology called B4. The Beta lobes are situated closer to the edge of the ski, or "out-boarded," as the company calls it, putting more power over the edges.
Atomic purchased Device snowboard bindings this year and has created a new system called ClickIn by Device, which is comprised of a pre-mounted module onto which Atomic bindings slide into place. Tightening one center-mounted screw completes the entire mounting procedure. "This will be a big plus for the backroom guys," says product manager Ed Guzman, "and for the customer, too. It's a simple system to put together, and it makes whatever ski it's sitting on very easy to use." Atomic says the system allows for totally free flex.
Finally, Atomic's 11, 10, 9, 8, and 7 series skis have been distilled down to five categories: Race, Ride, Carv, Smart Zone, and Free Zone. Within each series, you will see 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11 model numbers, signifying the level of technology within each ski. For example, there are three 9-series Race models, two 9-series Ride models, and one 9-series Carv model.
New in the group is the 9.12, a very short slalom ski for club-level racers and World Cup women. It has a super-deep 12-meter sidecut radius, and the longest length is 170 cm. One other change in the race category: Carbon power channels have replaced the standard Beta Technology in the Beta Race 9.20.
New: Beta Race 9.12 (slalom).
Modified: Beta Race 9.20 (giant slalom).
Unchanged: Beta Race 9.16 (slalom), Beta Race 10.22 (giant slalom).
This category is for the more aggressive frontside/backside skier looking for versatility in one ski. It features the new B4 Beta Technology. The new signature ski in the group is the Beta Ride 11.20, which has the new Texalium 200 topskin for more suppleness and flexibility, plus the B4 construction and titanium power channels. The Beta Ride 10.20 returns with modifications, including a Texalium 200 topsheet, carbon power channels, and B4 construction, all for a more supple feel. Its dimensions are identical to the 11.20. Other modifications in the group: The Beta Ride 9.22 and Beta Ride 8.20 both get carbon power channels and new geometry, and the 10.ex powder ski gets carbon power channels and the Texalium 200 topsheet.
New: Beta Ride 11.20.
Modified: Beta Ride 10.20, Beta Ride 10.ex, Beta Ride 9.22, Beta Ride 8.20.
Unchanged: Beta Ride 9.20, Powder Ride.
This group is for the groomed-snow seeker who likes laying down trenches or just making easy carves. All the skis in this category are new. The Beta Carv 10..16 is for experts and high-speed cruisers. It has all the bells and whistles-Texalium 100 topsheet (softer than Texalium 200), B4 construction, and titanium power channels. For advancing intermediates Atomic has the new Beta Carv 9.18 Device (and women's version) with B4 construction and the Device binding interface that allows an Atomic binding to slide right on without the need for drilling. For budget-conscious intermediates there is the Beta Carv 8.18 Device (and women's version) with optional Device interface.
New: Beta Carv 10.16, Beta Carv 9.18 Device (and women's version), Beta Carv 8.18 Device (and women's version), Beta Carv 7.18 (and women's version), Beta Carv 6.18 (and women's version).
Smart Zone Series
These are all-mountain skis for the new generation freeskier (not necessarily for the pipe or park). Both models have 70 mm waist for float in powder.
New: Beta Smart Zone PC (with carbon power channels and Device interface), Beta Smart Zone, a twin tip with Device interface.
Free Zone Series
This group is all park and pipe equipment for the youthful tricksters. The new model in the group is the Free Zone Rodeo, which is meant strictly for the terrain park. It replaces the Free Zone Bump.
New: Free Zone Rodeo. Unchanged: Free Zone 120, Free Zone 99. The 120 can be used in the halfpipe by kids or as a ski school learning tool. The 99 is a skiboard with non-releasable bindings. -P.H.