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The gear evolution, what's taken so long?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

This is my first post and I'll apologize in advance if my curiosity seems trollish.

 

Old as dirt '62, native coastal Californian and an occasional skier since attending the Olympics at Squaw and watching Killy and Kidd on the tube. I've always admired the family orientated ski culture but the oceans lure was just a block away. 

 

Not long after the advent of polyurethane foam the 70's experimentation of surfboard shapes quickly evolved into the right tool for the condition. In the past twenty years surfboard innovation has been more tweaking on a personal level rather than any bold innovation.

 

Of course its much easier to shape a board than it is to produce a ski. Still, it seems the much larger ski industry has only recently reached the right tool for the condition level of innovation. The user reviews for my Salomon Scream Extra Hots contain the same buzz words and phrases as they do for todays 20mm wider designs. Has the industry simply been gradually ramping up the gear to prolonged their profits or is there some other reason for the gear reaching its present level of performance so slowly?

 

Its been six years since I've used my intermediate abilities on the mountain. My new equipment ( Dynafit, Knee, Ski Logik, Leki) has been a stunning revelation. I'm told this years snowfall has been epic but I've never skied so much nor have I ever had this much fun doing it.

 

Absolutly stoked, Squaw tomorrow. 

Vic

post #2 of 8

I am sorry, where is the question? There is more difference between a current ski and a first generation shape than there is between that first generation shape than a straight ski. IMHO there has been a huge evolution in the past 5 years let alone the past 15 years. 

post #3 of 8

Welcome back!

 

I'm just a young'un compared to you:  Billy was more or less an ambassador to the sport when I came around, I was cheering on the Mahre brothers while I clicked (snapped? slid?) into my spadermans as an ankle biter.

 

I took a few years off, just got back into it in 2011.  I don't have an appreciation for how long equipment has been this good, but it sure is good now.  I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that big companies only grudgingly accepted innovation, perhaps pressured by indie shops that infused their low-volume product with passion instead of profit.

 

Hmmm, that's a bit more aliteration than I like to write, sorry.

 

It seems like advancement is popular now, hooray for us.  Well, sort of; that means a guy like me that likes shiny things is going to be refreshing gear long before stuff is worn out...

 

Speaking of SkiLogik, I got to demo some 186 Howitzers recently, what a combo of fun and beauty!  Hang 'em on the wall when they lose their spring.  beercheer.gif

post #4 of 8

A combination of things. Old thinking on the part of the manufacturers.  Old thinking on the part of consumers--probably more important. It would be hard to imagine someone going from a 70's straight ski directly to a full rockered 130+ underfoot ski. People had to gradually get comfortable with wider and wider skis wih increasingly different shapes.  And technology--the availability at an affordable price of lightweight materials, like titanium, that would allow a wide ski  to be light enough, and stiff enough to be torsionally rigid enough to hold an edge, while still being short enough and flexible enough to turn, then learning how to best use zand combine these materials. Plus the wider the ski gets the more room for variability in sidecut meaning a lot of trial and error to see what combinations work. And the aging of the ski population with an increasing need for easier-to-ski-but-still-high-performance skis and with the money to keep buying new skis.  Ask a skier in the 70's what a quiver was and he'd think you were talking about Robin Hood.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vic Damone View Post

Of course its much easier to shape a board than it is to produce a ski. Still, it seems the much larger ski industry has only recently reached the right tool for the condition level of innovation. The user reviews for my Salomon Scream Extra Hots contain the same buzz words and phrases as they do for todays 20mm wider designs. Has the industry simply been gradually ramping up the gear to prolonged their profits or is there some other reason for the gear reaching its present level of performance so slowly?


I think part of it is that the consumer had to catch up to the skis. You could have built today's skis years ago, but very few people would have purchased them. Look at some gear threads from 2001, and see how many people are claiming 90mm skis are too fat for anything other than heli-skiing.

post #6 of 8

There seem to be two contradictory forces at work here.  On one hand, the ski manufacturers are flocking to serve back-country skiers, with fat skis and rocker.  On the other hand, resorts groom the crap out of anything that's in-bounds.  Living in SoCal, about 90% of the time, a WC SL ski is the go-to-ski.  An 88mm Kendo is my fat ski.  There are parts of the country where 88mm would be considered a skinny ski.

As I see it, there's more diversification and choice in the skis available today than ever before.  Rather than stagnation, I see a proliferation of so many designs that it's difficult to make a choice.

 

As many other skiers on epic, I have filled my quiver with a lot of skis (6 pairs as of now), but it would take me a second to trim it down to 2, and maybe a few seconds to trim it down to 1 pair.

 

My biggest complaint right now is that I don't have enough time to play on the snow, regardless of what ski I'm on.

 

 

post #7 of 8

I think there is lots of good points above...especially "oldgoat".  But there is a huge cultural factor too.  Skiing goes in waves between freestyle and racing.  Always has.  The 60s were the last glory time of the freestyle, 70s transition, the 80s, 90s pure racing, and 2000s became transition again, now we are back in full on freestyle period.  With this in mind, you can see why the gear hasnt evolved in the current direction...it was evolving, but in a different direction before, it was eloving to maximise hardpack performance.  Now the craze is freestyle orientated, with "big mountain freeskiing", so the gear is evolving to maximise the performance in that areana as that is where the market is.

post #8 of 8

I'm still waiting for wider bindings and boot soles for non racing/carving skis, like maybe 85 mm wide soles instead of 65mm.


Edited by crgildart - 5/20/11 at 5:48am
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