Manufacturers aren’t tapping into newly discovered materials and compounds to produce this season’s most innovative skis, but rather, they’re incorporating creative thinking and engineering during the construction process to strategically boost on-snow function and performance. It’s the industry’s age-old tradition of tweaking a little here and a little there to give consumers the edge they seek.
— Blizzard TrueBlend | Blizzard fans might be familiar with Flipcore technology, the process in which the manufacturer installs the core upside down so the ski’s natural shape doesn’t resist rocker. For this season, the Lebanon, N.H.-based company has enhanced that feature in its popular all-mountain lineup with TrueBlend Wood Core flexing technology.
TrueBlend is a new way of strategically layering various woods in the core, not only down the length of the ski but also across the width. Stringers of denser wood are placed underfoot where skiers want the ski to be stiff, while less-dense material is woven into place at the tip and tail for more forgiveness and responsiveness.
This technology, included in the Bonafide 97, Brahma 88, Black Pearl 97 and Black Pearl 88, also delivers an optimized ski flex as the stringer pattern is customized for each length of ski. This means that shorter skis will not feel stiffer than longer skis, i.e. the 171 cm Bonafide 97 will flex the same as the 185 cm Bonafide 97.
“Each of the skis in this collection have been thoughtfully designed for a specific skier, taking into consideration the terrain they ski, how they ski, where and when, et cetera,” said Jed Duke, director of product marketing for Blizzard. “But one commonality they all share is the reality that on most days, regardless of where they ski, conditions will vary throughout the day. They may start out ideal, but by mid-morning it’s chopped up and only gets more variable as the day goes on. Or maybe it hasn’t snowed in weeks. Whatever the situation, we wanted to design skis that remove conditions from the equation. We just want skiers to get out there, stay out there, and ski with confidence.”
— Head EMC | Head has produced the only electronic ski dampening system in the industry with its EMC (Energy Management Circuit) technology. The innovative circuitry has been installed in its new race and performance products, including Worldcup and Supershape skis.
EMC is a unique and innovative electronic circuit that is embedded inside the ski to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy that filters out unwanted vibrations when riding. Fewer vibrations means more stability and better grip when you are pushing your limits, the company states. It also means the ski runs smoother and is more stable so you can ski at a higher level all day long.
EMC features ceramic piezoelectric plates incorporated into the front and rear of the ski. Electricity generated from these plates pass through a circuit consisting of a resistor and a Graphene-infused carbon layer embedded in the ski’s construction. The circuit harnesses the electrical energy and filters out negative vibrations.
Also new from Head in 2020-21 is its first line of Masters Skis available in four different lengths. The skis have the same construction and technology as the FIS-certified model but feature a wider center width, which makes the setup less aggressive while still delivering full performance. A smaller radius enables easier and more playful handling.
— Nordica TSM | Sometimes less is more. That’s certainly the case when talking about Nordica USA’s revamped Santa Ana women’s all-mountain ski collection for 2020-21. By incorporating Terrain Specific Metal, the company was able to remove one of two layers of metal in the core to produce a lighter, more responsive ski while retaining flex integrity and edge performance.
“Since its inception, the Santa Ana line has been the go-to-choice for advanced- to expert-level women looking for best-in-class performance,” said Sam Beck, Nordica USA’s director of marketing. “However, two sheets of metal with a full wood core can be a lot of ski for the everyday skier. The new line uses one layer of metal, the TSM layer, for that confident feeling, power and edge grip that metal provides, combined with a new carbon reinforced wood core to make them lighter, more forgiving, and even more fun to ski.”
The TSM layer extends to the edges of the tips and tails for stability, while layers in the mid-ski are varied to control the flex and edge hold specific to each model in the line. On narrower models like the Santa Ana 88, the metal is closer to the edges to enhance precision and power on firm snow. On wider models like the Santa Ana 104 Free, the metal is farther away from the edges for a more playful and flexible ride.
The new construction also includes a lightweight carbon-reinforced wood core for a smooth ride, and Nordica’s True Tip Technology, which reduces the boost maneuverability.
— Eco-tech | Ski manufacturers — like the winter sports industry as a whole — continue to sharpen focus on sustainability as biopolymer materials and substances are replacing petroleum-based materials in more and more products.
Rossignol’s all-new freeride-focused Blackops Sender TI is one example. New this season, and winner of a 2020 ISPO Award at the Munich Convention, Blackops skis are constructed using PEFC-certified poplar or FSC-certified paulownia wood cores combined with recycled topsheet, base, and edge materials to help reduce their environmental impact. The all-new Rossignol line achieves rates of recycled materials in topsheets at 15 percent, bases at 30 percent and edges at 100 percent.
The ski maintains powerful downhill performance inspired by the brand’s race division with features like 2LCT (Double Line Control Technology) and Diago Fiber integration. Freeride tech like Damp Tech and an Extended Core profile give the Sender TI the perfect blend of precision and progressive freeride performance.
A new company on the scene, WNDR Alpine, also is turning heads for its eco-conscious approach to building skis. Founded in 2019 as a brand under the umbrella of advanced materials company Checkerspot, WNDR Alpine has produced the first-ever ski to include algae as a core ingredient.
The Intention 110 features Algal Core, a ski core using high density, algae-derived polyurethane stringers to increase torsional rigidity and stability without adding weight to the skis. The brand’s inclusion of algae-derived materials not only helps boost the ski’s performance but also decreases the use of petroleum-based materials.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity for more people to discover WNDR Alpine,” said Matt Sterbenz, a ski industry veteran and GM of Checkerspot Wintersports. “We know the consumer demand is building, and our story of eco-innovation in the skiing industry is resonating and becoming more and more relevant. The upcoming few months will mark a huge next step for us, because the volume of interest in our skis and our volume of production has increased steadily. I am especially excited about growing our WNDR Alpine community and for what’s still to come through our AlgalTech ski materials platform.”