Rating: / 5
Waist Width: 68
Lengths: 150 155, 160, 165, 170
The 2017 Head World Cup Rebels i.SL is the slalom-ready model in Head's three-model Race collection of precision hard-snow carvers. The longest length is just 170 cm, and its sidecut radius (at 160 cm) is a super-tight 11.5 meters. As with the long-arc version, the i.Speed, the i.SL's stiffness, dampness, and ultra-narrow waist (68 mm) provide uncompromised edge-to-edge quickness and ice-biting edge grip. Head's Race collection features three models of recreational (or "cheater") race skis. With super-deep sidecuts, they don't meet FIS standards for competition, but they're built for race-like performance-stiff-flexing, powerful, damp and calm at high speeds-which makes them likely candidates for town-series (or "beer league") racers as well as speed-loving groomed-snow carvers on the hardest snow. All are built with Head's Graphene World Cup Sandwich Cap construction, which features a vertically laminated wood core, edgy full-length/full-height vertical sidewalls, and top-and-bottom metal reinforcement for ultimate hard-snow grip and high-speed calm. A layer of graphene-the super thin/strong Nobel prize winning material-allows Head to redistribute thicknesses along the length of the ski in order to fine-tune the way the ski's flex and sidecut work together for smooth, intuitive carving performance. Head's high-tech KERS technology is designed to add a turbo-charged rebound-energy boost at the end of the turn: piezoelectric materials turn mechanical energy of the ski (vibrations) into electrical energy, which is stored in an embedded chip and then released on demand, in real time, to stiffen fibers in the tail for a booster effect across the hill into the next turn. Similarly, Head's Intelligence fibers, laid at 45-degree angles in the tip, automatically stiffen as needed to provide extra torsional rigidity, and thus extra edge bite, in extra-deep and higher-speed turns. Together, Head says, KERS and Intelligence fibers allow the ski to be supple and manageable at slow speeds then progressively stiffer and edgier to meet the demands of higher speeds on harder snow. Full-length traditional camber maximizes hard-snow grip and rebound energy. All Rebel skis feature Head's fastest base material. Head Skis is owned by a Dutch company that also owns Tyrolia bindings. Its factory headquarters are in Kennelbach, Austria; U.S. headquarters are in Boulder, Colo. Head was founded in 1950 by American recreational skier and aeronautical engineer Howard Head, who is acknowledged as the first ski designer to successfully combine metal and plastics in ski design. -J.C.