It has been a few
weeks since the ISPO and next to finding some nice lines and braking my
clavicle again I did think a lot about the equipment we will be using
in the future. Everyone who has been riding powder for a while and found
that getting to the best of lines ment a little, or a lot, of hiking
knows that weight is an important factor. Our, oh so superb float skis,
unfortunately don`t fare all to well in this department. That said there
is a trade off to be made. Nothing comes for free.
This and the next article I will briefly go trough the novelties of some of the brands that I found to be very interesting. To spice it up I am going to put a established ski brand next to an outdoor brand. As you all have undeniably heard… the double digit growth is now in the outdoor/trekking market. Now lets see how some of the ski companies try to take a shot at that. I`ll start of with my all time favourite.
This year with nice designs 😛
Truth be told I have been a avid Salomon fan for a while. It started with my first Park ski, the old Salomon Foil, derived from the legendary Salomon 1080 that went into an all mountain direction. Hell I even rode my first freeride competition with those and on crappy hardpack days I still take them out for a spin. So quality wise they are top. Same can be said about my current powder ski… the old CZAR. All in all durable and good for any powder conditions.. in short said, they work very well.
That is why I was a little surprised when I walked into the booth and got a little tour from Andreas there product manager. Most in the admirable big mountain range had been replaced by one Line. The Rocker2s. Now being a somewhat of a marketing guy myself I found that to be a little puzzling. Except for the Bamboo based Shougun, none of the other Skis had survived. The differentiation and the similar yet wonderful designs will probably cause quite a problem for the average customer. Andreas told me that these are not actually targeted at average customers and later you will see why. The Rocker2 range is differentiated by the underfoot width and a twintip or none. Basically you decide weather you need a twintip for powder and go to the underfoot with from there. The concept seems nice thou the tradeoffs between the skis are well thought trough, in short.. none of them seems to be an all in one. The 108 seems like the all round contender .. but without trying them its hard to say. Also as with most skis these days they also come in special versions for the ladies. Weight is reduced to.. but not all to spectacularly
All skis of the range include : Rocker 2 122, Rocker 2 115, Rocker 2 108, Rocker 2 92, Rockette 115, Rockette 92, Shogun, Rocker 2 90 and Rockette 90. That’s quite a list 😛
The Rocker2 line – new fresh with wolf and deer
Next up was the BBR line. Salomon introduced this surfer designed shape last year. When I first saw it I thought it was a joke. But the joke turned out to be quite a profitable one. The entire season I keept seeing moderate skiers running the mountain with these babies. And my suspussion was that this thing was very popular in the rental space. It had a sort of coolnes factor regardless of performance. Andreas confirmed that and showd me this:
The BBR Line for 2012/2013
He told me that they found out, that the shape was actually very good for the intermediate skier who tires to take a few turns in powder next to the slopes… As it turns out the shape gives you good float with a standard carving like riding stance and so allows even these kind of riders a little powder action. Since the ski was a bit to expansive for retail and so successful in rental space salo decided to diversify it so that there is a model for every price range. Now starting at 299 at your local Hervis. And a ladies version is available to…The first thing that sprang to mind when hearing all this was a problem that kept me thinking for a while the day befor ISPO.
At that time we were at Obertauern. I wrote a little article and made a short edit about it a few weeks back. What I didn`t go into was the implications of these skis. While being in the avalanche prone terrain we found a father with his son looking for fresh lines. Without any safety equipment. If you read the article you know that the danger was level 3 and they at least should have had beacons. What upset me was not the kid. He seemed to ride ok. But the father really didn`t. The only thing that kept him afloat was the BBR. Rented undeniably.
The Rest with the Park refreshes
If this trend continues I see a lot of possible dangerous situations where inexperienced skiers get into trouble. The ski will work.. but will the skier.. I strongly doubt it.
Next up where the park skies. Truth be told there is not much to say here except that the line is trimmed and the top sheets look a lot nicer then last year. With Salomons push for the rise of the Ride and Hike trend, and the stiff competition in the park market it remains to be seen if Salomon tries something here next year. Thou seeing a lot of there riders depart for the newer brands, I don`t see that happening anytime soon. Well have to wait and see for next year.. You might ask yourself why I didn`t mention the Guardian binding… Since that is one of the mayor innovations this year I`ll have an article devoted to that in the near future.
Dynafit – Silvretta
Coming from a skiing background rather then mountaineering, this company was somewhat unknown to me. I did see a few of my trekking buddies with there super light bindings and boots. Well turns out they don`t do just that. I knew Dynafit and Silvretta but did not connect the two until a came to the booth. Turns out this is all about ultra lightweight. Bindings of 300g and skis with 1780g.. it`s like having feather on your feet. I got the whole presentation and am going to go into there binding offering when I put them up against the new Ride and Hike stuff from Salomon/Atomic and Tyrolia/Elan but there skis are not to be excluded.
The Hauscaran – Top of the line
The Hauscaran is the top of the line powder monster here. Ultralight high performance named after a 6000m peak it promises a lot. It has a multi radius sidecut that helps in all kinds of conditions. The design is nice and I liked the shape. No twintip action here. But since you will be hiking your back will love it with only 1.7kg. The only thing that I question with this kind of lightweight is the durability. Would this baby survive two to three seasons. I`m somewhat inclined to put this one side to side with the Salomon Rocker 108. It would be interesting to see how these two concepts perform next to one another on a normal powder day. If it does well.. who knows I might even get a pair for myself.
Of course it doesn’t stop here. Dynafit has an entire line. Covering some of last years with improvements and a few lady versions. Like with most of the Companies, it`s all about diversification and price point. Like with Salomon earlier it`s all well covered. There is last years king of the hill the Stoke and the Manaslu in male and female variant. All of course are cheaper then the Caran while adding some weight.
The Stoke and the Manaslu
By now all of you have heard of the little snowboard company with the floaty powder shape. One of my Rider buddies, Petra from Vertical Adventures has been testing this little toy for the entire season and she loves it.
Now they are back with skis.. and they are similar to the board. While looking at them you might think Salomon BBR but these are a completely different beast. How they ride I cannot tell… but they did get a design award 😛 if that counts for anything.