Each new season brings exciting developments in ski technology. This winter brands focus on width, weight and rocker – but how does that translate to your ride?
Jock Dun, founder of guide2skiing.com, tells us what’s rocked up for Winter 15.
Once again, this year’s skis are wider all over. New technology means that skis 100 millimetres or more underfoot are more versatile and perform better on-piste.
Lighter weights make all-mountain skis in particular easy to manoeuvre in softer and deeper snow.
And as for rocker; you’ll have to look pretty hard to find anything on 2015’s ski racks that doesn’t have some element of rocker – it’s firmly here to stay.
Salomon focuses quite heavily on its Q range of backcountry skis, featuring the light and easily manoeverable Honeycomb Tip. A light tip can tend to chatter but Salomon use Koroyd for excellent shock absorption and increased ski-snow contact. During testing I particularly liked the Q105 as it’s light, easy to throw around and very forgiving for a ski that wide (105mm).
Last season’s all-mountain Enduros have been replaced by the X Drives. The lower end models are pretty much last season’s skis in new clothes but the 8.0, 8.3 and 8.8 are all new skis. The 8.8 in particular is very stiff indeed so it needs a strong and technically proficient skier on board.
Out go the Myas and in come Head’s new range of lady skis, the Joy. From the beginner level Pure Joy, right up to the off-piste orientated Big Joy at 110mm underfoot, Head’s big focus is ‘Light Done Right’. The Joy range uses Graphene – pure carbon in a sheet so thin (just one atom thick) that it’s nearly transparent, yet 100 times stronger than steel. This makes the Joy 20% lighter than similar traditional skis.
The i.Supershape range features 10% rocker in the tip only, making these high end piste carvers just a little more accessible for slightly lower level skiers too. All seven World Cup Rebels full-on race skis stick to a full traditional camber for maximum drive and power.
Atomic race skis are always among the best and their range for 2015 is no exception. The main new development in the Redsters is the third-generation Doubledeck 3.0 with a new upper layer for better shock absorption. The forward contact points have been softened for quicker turn initiation, while the rear ones have been stiffened for maximum acceleration out of the turn. The top Redster, the Doubledeck 3.0 XT, has no rocker at all, while the others use a tiny 5% tip-only rocker to ease turn initiation without having a noticeably detrimental effect on anything else.
The 2014 Mantra was one of my favourite skis, so I was sceptical when I heard the 2015 model would be a full rockered ski rather than the previous tip only version. In fact this is not a re-jigged 2014 Mantra, it’s a totally different ski. As long as you aren’t expecting it to be just an improved version of the old benchmark, the 2015 Mantra shapes up to be another classic in a few years’ time. The full rocker means there’s virtually no camber underfoot – so this ski doesn’t charge through chopped up stuff, or hold on for grim death on ice the way the old favourite did. The payback comes in softer and deeper conditions.
Rossi’s new Heros look great! It’s a huge range with 15 models in total, and they all feature Prop Tech – a new technology brought down from World Cup whereby the Zicral reinforcement layer is split longitudinally in front of the bindings for more effective pressure transmission to the edges. They also all use 10% Power Turn Rocker for easy and quick turn initiation, combined with a traditional camber and tail for power, drive and rebound.
The Experience and Temptation have been totally redesigned with a lighter, extended tip and a new overall profile – so now they tick all the boxes and do everything a great all-mountain ski should.
Last season’s Outlands are replaced by the Powertracks; an all-mountain ski similar in many ways to the popular Cham. The long nose of the Levitation Profile, common to the Powertracks and Chams, is certainly making an impact on all-mountain skis and is much more suitable for a proper all-mountain ski than the snub-nosed style we’ve seen in recent years. Rocker at both tip and tail means great flotation in soft snow and makes even the more advanced models in the Powertrack range quite user-friendly for a less advanced skier.
|Camber = the upward curve of an unweighted ski in the middle section. For precision, power and ‘pop’.|
|Rocker = camber in reverse; the upward curve of the tip, or tip and tail. For superior float and turn initiation particularly on wider skis.|