What's new, what's worthyby Josh Rhea
Everyone has an opinion. SKI Magazine hands out Gold Medals to carving skis, and POWDER Magazine treasures the all-mountain fat, scoffing at anything so subjective as a ranking. We won’t tell you what to buy—we’ll let the magazines do that. Instead, we’ve compiled a run-down of the best new technologies and trends that will make your ’03-04 season better than the last.
- Fatter, softer skis like the Volkl Gotama and K2 Kahuna are a step down from dedicated big mountain skis—they’re responsive and less-punishing in powder, but are less-than-capable on hardpack.
Manageable powder skis
The K2 Kahuna, 137/108/127. Available soon at BackcountryStore.com
- The park design spreads even further into all-mountain category skis. A moderate twin shape allows for easy maneuvering in tight spots (you can back up), an easier release at the end of your turn, and a huge rooster-tail to spray your buddies with—real benefits you’ll notice without ever stepping foot in a park.
The Line Maverick, a true all-mountain twin.
- K2 pioneered electronic damping technology with their Piezo chips in the late ‘90s. Head grabbed that torch and ran with it with their Intelligence Chip technology. The chip in the Monster i.M 75 Chip simultaneously dampens the ski and adjusts torsional rigidity to the terrain at hand. Look for electronics to play an increasing role in ski construction.
The Head i.M75 Chip.
- Salomon introduces the AK Rocket Swallowtail, a ski with a 13.5cm-long swallowtail, allowing the tail to sink in powder so you can control the ski from a forward stance. Volant puts the controversial V2 Spatula on the market—a ski with reverse sidecut and reverse camber (like a water ski) capable of smearing, versus carving, huge powder turns. Believe it or not, it works.
Radical fat ski designs
The Atomic SX:11. Atomic was one of the earliest pioneers of a free-flex binding plate.
- These pre-drilled mounting plates, compatible only with a particular binding manufacturer, are more prevalent this year. They promise a smoother, more even flex across the entire length of a ski during the turn. The downside? For those of us attached to a certain binding, our ski choices just got extremely limited.