Most skiers wish they could ski like the guys in the movies, airing huge cliffs, and skiing faces that are almost too steep to hold snow. Ski technology in the past several years has definitely helped us mere mortals catch up a bit, but has also pushed things to the extreme. After years of reaching for bigger, badder, and fatter skis, technology is beginning to come back to focus on you, the skier, and the way you actually ski, mortals and pros alike.
Shedding the pounds, or grams in the case of skis, is a tricky balance, trying to retain adequate stability and control. This year, lower weight is a clear emphasis with companies going to great lengths to maintain hard charging performance. As the lightweight trend expands into bigger, stiffer skis engineers have been forced to come up with creative and highly technical ways of preserving big mountain performance. New woods, techy laminates and intricate profiling techniques are being mixed and matched until the perfect combination of weight savings and performance is reached. Salomon, Rossignol and Elan, for example, are utilizing non-traditional materials in the tips and tails to create feather light swing weights, combined with new laminate technologies through the body of the ski that stabilize and stiffen the ride.
Instead of full sidewall to sidewall sheets of Titanal (a metal alloy used for rigidity), many ski makers have realized that smaller amounts in critical zones works just as well, all while reducing weight. The (Titanal) Ti Backbone used by Atomic on many of their freeride skis is a great example of this technique.
Blizzard and Volkl continue their legacy of forward thinking ski design with three dimensional, carbon-based constructions in the Zero G line and the 100Eight and 90Eight skis. French megaliths, Rossignol and Salomon, are also debuting new space-age laminate layers – the Carbon Alloy Matrix from Rossignol, and Carbon Flax Superfiber from Salomon – that foster a smoother, more powerful ride without the added weight.
While these may all sound like pieces of a NASA shuttle, they all have one goal in common: save weight without sacrificing performance. This allows you to ski harder longer, and have more control while doing it. If you’re looking for the cutting edge, this is it. This evo-curated cross-section of all-new skis are guaranteed to represent the upper echelon of ski development.
The QST 106 is the pinnacle of ski development in the Salomon lineup. Utilizing a Titanal insert, Koroyd Tips – thermally welded miniature tubes that cut swing weight – and the revolutionary CFX Superfiber (the wood core is profiled to just the right depth in order to inset this carbon/flax laminate), the QST is an ultralight powder ski that arcs on hardpack and won’t burn out your legs on those big days in the mountains. Plus, they ring in at a saucy 1900 grams per ski in the 181. Not bad for a chargy big mountain stick.
The S-Series might have been the go-to effortless powder ski for the better part of the last decade, but with the addition of a Carbon Alloy Matrix, these skis mean serious business. This carbon and basalt weave improves the Super 7 HD’s technical and high speed skiing by adding a layer of dampness and power, while Air Tips and Tails lighten the load without losing the hard-charging feel.
For the uphill-minded pow shredder, the Blizzard Zero G 108 rings in at an ultra-light 1760 gram per ski in the 185 – which for a ski of this width is practically unheard of. Blizzard accomplished this through Carbon Drive Technology: a 3D unidirectional carbon frame that runs the entire length of the ski and cuts weight while ensuring a stable and reliable skiing experience.
Armada brought out the Kufo two years ago to glowing reviews, thanks in large part to the Tour Ultra-Lite Core made from Karuba wood. It merged uphill performance with downhill stability. We liked the core so much that we commissioned an evo exclusive, the Armada TST evoAIR – the award-winning shape of the TST paired with the lightweight and backcountry-ready Kufo-style core. Plus, it features a unique topsheet from PNW-based artist Kyler Martz.
During our demo days this past spring, the Elan Ripstick 106 was the sleeper ski that blew all our tester’s expectations out of the water. Lighter and snappier than expected for a ski with this much power, the Ripstick 106 sports TNT Technology – light composite Vaportip inserts at tip and tail, along with a Tubelite core with tip to tail carbon tubes inside of the wood laminate. Top it off with Elan’s radical Amphibio® rocker profile, which gives you camber on your inside edges with subtle rocker on the outsides, and you’ll find yourself railing more confidently than ever before.
Curious to see what else is coming down the pipeline? Be sure to checkout our entire lineup of 2017 ski gear, arriving daily and available for pre-order.