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Will Ski Design Follow the Same Trend as Tennis Racquets Did?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm putting this out as just a general topic of discussion.   The observations are my own only and probably totally off the mark.   But here goes ...

 

I started playing tennis at the age of eight.  From high school until now I have (mostly anyway) maintained at the upper end of the aggressive/competitive recreational category.

 

I've been skiing since the late 70's including several years after college virtually living on the slopes from lift open to lift close time.   Never competition, but as with tennis, I do reasonably well and ski strong. 

 

In my late 20's through 30's, mogul skiing was the rage.   Back then, almost all of my time ski days were in the moguls.

 

Last week, the moguls on Northstar's "The Rapids" run, under the Backside chairlift, softened a bit from the predominantly ice conditions that had prevailed for most of January. 

 

I took a couple of runs down them on my 2010 K2 Recons.  OK result.

 

Anticipating maybe better mogul conditions that day, I had also put in my car some older generation "intermediate" level skis that I had somehow picked up during the 2004/2005 season.  ($49 might have been the reason!)   They are Dynastar's Agyl+ 178cm.  I hadn't used them since maybe the 2006/2007 season

 

I went down the same run this time on the Agyl's  Wow!  What a difference ... For The Better. 

 

Later, skiing again on-piste, the Agyls seemed to want to dance from edge to edge compared to the K2 recons (and also the Volkl AC30's I've skied a lot this year).  Seemed like I was doing twice as many turns.  I skied with both a narrow and a wider stance.  Although the Agyl+ edge grip definitely wasn't as strong as my newer "all mountain carving" skis, they weren't skidding radically either. All-in-all, this was fun.  Did I say these are supposed to be intermediate skis?

 

That evening I decided to Bing "mogul skis".   Hart's F17 Classics popped up.  For 180cm length and 103/66/89, this site's radius calculator yielded a 20.9 turning radius.   I put in the 103/68/91 specs for my 178 Agyl+'s.  Turning radius is 21.2.   Not much of a difference.  

 

On Hart's website, they describe the F17's:  "By its design, the F17 Classic can also be skied all mountain as well, thus making it a great value. You won't need to own two separate skis – one mogul specific ski and one all mountain ski. It is two skis for the price of one!"

 

Now I know that my Agyl+'s aren't a true all mountain ski.   Just too narrow to do well in powder and crud compared to today's skis.  And the Hart F17's will have more advanced and mogul specific flex and torsional twist resistance characteristics.   But, I suspect that Hart has maybe exaggerated the F17 "all mountain" description a bit.

 

Anyway, back to Tennis.  I can't help but wonder about equipment trends in respect of my tennis experience.   About 15-20 years ago, super large head size, extremely wide beam, and head heavy tennis racquets became the rage.  Intermediate level players loved them.  As long at the ball hit somewhere on the string bed, the ball would go back.  But more advanced players with full strong strokes found these racquets to be much too explosive and unpredictable.   Starting several years ago, tennis racket manufacturers have gone back to more traditional designs.   Improvements in material and technology of course have been made.  The result is a more classic feel, but with more power and "old fashion" control. 

 

I am wondering -- is a similar return to a more classic design (sweet spot) likely for skis?

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 7

The Agyl's were better in the moguls simply because they are very soft in flex compared to an "all-mountain carver" for instance.  As we all know, the softer the ski, the better in moguls generally speaking.  It also doesn't hurt that it is pretty narrow underfoot.  And the Agyl's would do fine on say a soft snow or corduroy day.  It's when ice is in the picture that you would notice a big difference.  Intermediate skis are always softer so their respective skier can flex and turn them.  Also, they are mostly lighter for added manuverability (skidders don't like heavy skis). I would like to hear your input after a hardpack/ icy day on the groomers, as well in crud and pow (where the Recons will help you).  

 

As far as the tennis comparison, I would say a return to previous designs isnt likely, as 1) experts are very happy with the equipment put out each year (besides the fact that people are beginning to realize that a true one-ski quiver doesn't exist, and likely won't) and b) skis in general are getting bigger in width, not smaller.

post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by rardi View Post
Starting several years ago, tennis racket manufacturers have gone back to more traditional designs.   Improvements in material and technology of course have been made.  The result is a more classic feel, but with more power and "old fashion" control. 


Hmm. I play, gear freak there as here, not sure anyone has "gone back" to traditional designs. No one except Federer still hits with a stick even close to Pete's in size, and commentators are now saying it's time for him to upsize if he wants to ever regain #1. So the outcome of the "oversize" revolution was to make typical tour players move from high 80's to 95-101 square inches. That's a lot in tennis. Club level seems to live in the 98-102 range, except for the old guys who like hitting with 107's.

 

As far as materials, it's been graphite and maybe a bit of kevlar or metal bits for 25 years or more. Tennis had titanal (which is alu, no Ti) and real titanium long before skiing. Refinements to the way the graphite is laid down, a touch of nano tech in some brands, but even the best known OS's like Andre's were just pure graphite. Just like most skis have remained wood core, whatever happened for a few years with foam.

 

What's funnier to me is how tennis tech funnels down to skiing a few years later and everyone gets hot and bothered as if it were innovation all along for skis. You want to know what materials will be hot in two or three years? Go check out Tennis Magazine ads...

post #4 of 7


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

 You want to know what materials will be hot in two or three years? Go check out Tennis Magazine ads...


I like the Maria Sharapova ones.

post #5 of 7

I know nothing about tennis, but I still have a pair of Rossi 7M's (200cm, beat to hell, blown edges) from about 15 years ago and they kick ass over any other ski I've skied since. I'm talking about agressive zipper-line mogul skiing, not carving or powder or anything like that. Sooner or later technology/design evens out and  the only reason to really go on from there is to sell more skis to people who need some new doo-dad. I think mogul skis have reached this point.

post #6 of 7
Interesting discussion. As has been mentioned in other threads, when newer and often radical technologies are introduced the initial models are radical (by comparison) and then a series of refinements toning down the designs come in as the technology is readied for the masses. We are seeing that now with rocker. The early adoptees became beta testers for the manufacturers and what we are seeing now are their suggestions to make them better and more accessible.

Though I am not that familiar with tennis, I think you can see some of the same parallels in equipment evolution.

Rick G
post #7 of 7

The problem with this analogy (which works to a point, but that's all) is that the sport of tennis has very few variables. The court is the same size, the net is the same height, the rules are the same, the weather is generally the same. The surface changes but only a little: grass to clay to hard is nothing like ice to powder to moguls.

 

So, if you skied the same slope with the same dimensions in the same weather over and over again, yes, you would find a sweet spot with skis and stay pretty close to that, like they've done with racquets. But skiing isn't like that.

 

The biggest revolution in tennis in the past years is string technology, much more than racquet tech.

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