The Future of Hardgoods

Tim Petrick, president of Rossignol North America, shares insight on the innovation of hardgoods.
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Tim Petrick, president of Rossignol North America, has worked with a variety of brands, consistently pushing innovation. He sees a future when skis and boots are as radically different from today’s stuff as today’s stuff is from what we used 75 years ago. Advanced materials and designs will fulfill the quest for a one-ski-quiver that improves performance to a point where bunny slopes are no longer needed.

SKI › What do you think the skis and boots and bindings of the future will look like?

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TP › Skis and boots and bindings and poles will all evolve dramatically, driven by new materials and construction techniques. Some things will remain the same—for instance, the tips on skis will always remain upturned. But boots will be substantially lighter through the use of highertech materials. The overlap plastic boot design that has been around since about 1970 will be a thing of the past. If not, I will be terribly disappointed! Let’s face it, even with the best bootfit in the world, boots are still cumbersome and not terribly warm. A portion of the boot will become part of the ski and binding so that you can detach and walk comfortably and feel less like Frankenstein.

SKI › How will our future gear improve our performance?

TP › We will have movement simulators that will allow us to acquire the skills of skiing without actually being on the slopes. People will be able to practice their sport virtually, in their homes and offices. That means the level of performance on the mountain will be much higher and we will see fewer struggling beginner and intermediate skiers.

SKI › Will ski technique change?

TP › The biomechanics of skiing will remain the same. You will still have to turn from edge to edge and remain in control. But the skis will become more forgiving and more versatile and easier to turn. The way your mass is distributed along the length of the ski will evolve, perhaps through electronics, so you have more mass underfoot when you need it. Future technologies could allow the base of the ski underfoot to extend out horizontally to create a wider and more stable platform to adapt to conditions. Essentially our skis will have shape-shifting abilities. The dream of the elusive quiverof- one ski that does it all, from hard and soft snow to crud and everything in between, will be realized.

SKI › What about boots and bindings?

TP › There will be no more weight penalty with battery-heated boots, as the batteries will be lighter and more reliable, allowing you to keep your feet in that tropical comfort zone. Electronics will also radically alter bindings. The two responsibilities of a binding are retention and control. They are a pin-spring analog system. Nobody yet has the confidence to rely 100 percent on electronics in bindings. That will change. Overall, the boots and bindings and skis will be more integrated as a system rather than individual pieces.

SKI › New materials and manufacturing technologies have allowed us to make gear that is increasingly lighter and stronger. How do you see that progressing in the future?

TP › Everything will be lighter and stronger. Vibration is always the nemesis of faster skiing. Currently, World Cup skis control vibration primarily with mass. In the future we’ll use advanced damping systems and materials, perhaps electronic, that eliminate vibration, making skis smooth and comfortable in choppy conditions. This will make skiing in the future much easier to learn and perfect, allowing people to make turns that only World Cup racers could do in the past.


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