There are two major trade shows in the United States each winter, and our sister publication, the Snow Show Daily, is gearing up for the 2017 Snow Show in Denver, Colorado in late January. Here are a few trends in skis. Check back for the latest and greatest from the show starting Thursday afternoon.
Carbon, titanal, wood…it doesn’t matter: Manufacturers are experimenting with materials more than ever to increase performance, shed weight and otherwise make skiing a better experience for the masses. It’s manifested itself in carbon stringers, compound weaves running tip-to-tail, and multi-material cores playing off each other to maximize performance. “Material advancements are making skis more responsive than ever,” says Geoff Curtis, marketing director for Marker/Dalbello/Völkl USA. Vive le material!
Versatility a Virtue
Skis that do it all, equating to a one-plank quiver, are becoming as common as goggle marks. “Skiers want skis that excel in every type of condition, whether on-piste or off,” says Salomon Alpine commercial manager Chris McKearin. “They’re no longer buying multiple pairs for different conditions. They want skis that work on groomers as well as they do in powder, and modern technology is allowing that.”
Specificity Still Sells
While all-arounders are all the rage, ski specificity also has its place, continuing manufacturers’ attention on skis that carve, cut up crud and rip in the park. “There are many different types of skiers out there and one product doesn’t fit all,” maintains Blizzard Marketing Director Jed Duke. “We’re specifically designing products to meet the needs of each target customer group." Case in point: Blizzard’s new Freeride All-Mountain collection, which now comes in hard-charging Traditional and more forgiving Progressive styles.
Steering is Believing
Float is fine and all, but many manufacturers are forgoing increasing rocker experimentation to instead focus on what really matters: turning. After all, what good is a ski if you can’t get it to go where you want it to? “It’s all about maximum agility and precision in turns and stability at speed,” says Atomic Brand Manager Sean Kennedy, touting the company’s quick-flexing Servotech as “power steering for skis when you need it most.” At high speeds, he adds, the material tightens, making steering stable when the consequences are the highest.
Blurring the lines
All-mountain, freeride – what’s the diff? That’s the take of some manufacturers who are tired of the marketing minutia. “Over-segmentation is confusing dealers and consumers,” says Dynastar Marketing Manager Nick Castagnoli. “With better technologies balancing performance and playfulness, the all-mountain and freeride categories are blurring. Resort-based skiers are confused by all the products out there with different waist widths and rocker profiles. It’s making it harder to distinguish which ski is right for them.”
Geoff Curtis, marketing director, Marker/Dalbello/Völkl USA
Grip Walk is the story to watch. If you live East and shred on Grip Walk boots, you can bring your boots West and say, ‘Do you have Marker rental bindings?’ If yes, all the shop has to do is adjust the release and forward pressure setting.