Since 1955 Atomic has been making skis with a distinctive triangular star logo in Salzburg, Austria, building a venerable international reputation on R&D, race skis, and consistent podium results. In 2007 the company moved its U.S. headquarters from New Hampshire west to Ogden, Utah, and adopted a new mission statement—We Are Skiing—to proclaim that while racing always will be an important constituency to serve, henceforth Atomic would consider all the constituencies of skiing to be equally important.
Jake Strassburger, Atomic USA Product and Marketing Coordinator, who gave us a complete tour of the 2012 product line on the morning of the last day of the SIA Show, was careful to steer us away from words like “reinvent” and toward words like “evolve” to explain why Atomic, in particular Atomic USA, is dedicating itself to being the one stop shop for all skiers.
The analogy that Jake used to describe these constituencies was that of a pyramid, where the bottom segment (Motivation = Enjoyment) is the recreational skier who enjoys skiing maybe 10 days a year; the middle segment (Motivation = Achievement) is the customer who skis a lot, probably has a season pass, and likes to be on the latest gear; and at the top (Motivation = Performance) are the elite competitors and expert skiers who need equipment to enable them to compete and win—and in some applications, to stay alive.
Sponsored athletes have always been a big part of Atomic’s marketing and product development and testing. Alpine World Cup champions like Benjamin Raich (AUS) and Erik Guay (CAN) ski on Atomics, as do Freeski champions and TGR stars Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Daron Rahlves, and Chris Benchetler—whose namesake ski the Bent Chetler was so popular that they gave it a little bro called the Blog.
Whether your playground is Powder, All-Mountain, or Groomers, Atomic has three different profiles to fit: the Powder Rocker, the Adaptive Rocker in All-Mountain models, and Active Camber for the groomed. Regarding shape, a characteristic of Atomic skis that I found interesting is that for all skis but the Atlas, the waist size of any given model remains constant in all lengths, while the tip and tail dimensions increase incrementally in each length.
The Powder Rocker comes in two types, the Pop rocker with 10 and 20mm tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot and the Power rocker with 10 and 20mm tip rocker to the widest part of the ski and full camber aft—for skiing technical lines where you don’t want pop out of the turn and need edge purchase for control. In the Powder line, the muscle ski is the Atlas with a 125mm waist and a 20mm Power/Powder Rocker. The Bent Chetler (123mm waist) has the 20mm Pop/Powder Rocker; the Blog (110mm waist) has the 10mm Pop/Powder Rocker; and the Access (100mm waist) has the 10mm Power/Powder Rocker. The Century, the sister ski of the Access, has a 10mm Power/Powder Rocker and 100mm waist. These skis have step down sidewall construction (full sidewall underfoot) and a wood core.
The All-Mountain and Nomad collections have the Adaptive Rocker, which the company describes as “slight rise of the tip when the ski is weighted” combined with traditional camber so the ski “delivers full contact length” when edged. The new ski in the All-Mountain group for 2012 is the 95mm waist Theory for advanced skiers. On either side of the Theory are the Coax (105mm waist) and the Panic (87mm waist). The sister ski to the Theory is the Elysian, which is all new for 2012. These skis have wood cores and step down sidewall construction with full sidewall underfoot for durability.
The popular Nomad series is unchanged for 2012, with tip-to-tail woodcores and two layers of titanium, step down sidewall construction, and the Protrak binding plate that allows for smooth energy transfer, which are on all but the value priced Smoke. These skis are available with system bindings or flat.
The Doubledeck construction (D2) Vario Cut (VC) and Vario Flex (VF) constructions are in the Vario Series and race skis. The Vario Cut is the “world’s first ski with self-adapting radius and flex.” The Vario Flex is the elastomer-mounted connection between the upper and lower deck which allows the ski to flex softly at slower speeds and more dynamically at higher speeds, so the rebound is greater as speeds increase. This makes the skis very easy to control at slow speeds and very responsive at higher speeds.
The price point of the Patent and Punk Park skis has been lowered to make them more attractive to the youth wallet. The retail stock is the same as the sponsored athletes are skiing.
New for 2012 are the women’s All-Mountain Affinity skis (Storm, Pure, Air), which are made from proprietary molds and come with a heel lift built into the binding plate. The skis can be purchased flat.
A couple of boots that aren’t new for 2012 but have interesting design features worth mentioning are the Tracker and the Live Fit series.
The Tracker is Atomic’s high end boot for freeskiers in a 98mm pro last with 5mm of lift in the sole (called the Enduro chassis) for improved leverage on the wider skis. It is available in 130 flex with an Intuition liner or 130 and 100 flexes with a stock ASY Pro liner. The sole is a high grip rubber and there is a cuff release for hiking. The power strap features a cam buckle for traction around the shell and a secondary strap to snug up the liner. They also have carabiner buckles, which are way cool.
The Live Fit series has a last that can stretch from 102 to 106mm. because it has polyurethane inserts bonded to the shell of the boot that give it “soft spots” at the 1st and 5th metatarsals, the predominant trouble spots for boot-fitting. There’s a Live Fit boot for men and women from flexes 70 to 120.
To provide the range of products for all three levels of aspiration and all the different playgrounds, Atomic has had to evolve from only making precision tools for a demanding elite to also making skis for 10 day a year skiers—by dedicating their famous R&D to developing great products for all customer segments, up, down, and sideways. The Atomic Star on every pair of skis, which stands for Performance, Passion, and Innovation, is on a range of products so extensive that it doesn’t seem all that extravagant for Atomic to say, “We Are Skiing.”
Edited by nolo - 3/8/11 at 12:00pm