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Future of ski shapes?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi. I just thought I would solicit some opinion on where ski design is heading. It seems that there are 2 camps forming for primarily (50%) on-piste skis: the Metron (75mm waist, slalom sidecut, short lengths) and the more traditional GS-type sidecut and feel: Dynastar Legend-like (16m radius, longer ski). (I know that many say that the Legend and Metron are "on-piste" skis, but I mostly see them on the groomers). I was curious as to what people feel will possibly withstand the test of time, and which may fade away, especially from a skill-level, instruction, and learning progression standpoint.

Some proclaim that the Metron is the "shape of the future" while others may prefer a more traditional shape. Normally, a 75mm waist ski would never be considered quick, but the Metron breaks those rules.It seems that the Metron makes up for it's wide waist from a quickness standpoint by being skied very short, and therefore becoming extremely easy to turn. Up until very recently, a "quick edge-to-edge" ski was one that was 66-69mm underfoot in a bit longer length than the Metron-type ski. Crud-busting width in a short, easy-to-turn ski.

Here is what I have noted:

The big downfall of a Metron-type ski, that I have personally experienced, is the short length is needs to be skied in. This short length is great on-piste and for mild crud, but when the snow gets excessively choppy, the short ski gets bounced around and becomes a liability. The same thing happens in a race course-a 175cm GS board is great for cruising, but just gets bounced around in GS ruts too easily. I found that, personally, the Metron-type skis I have tried weren't as versatile in all conditions as a longer ski. On the other hand, other skiers I ski with (especially those who primarily stick to the groomed) loved it for its ease of turniness and stability in such a short length. It may also not require as much technique (be more forgiving of skidding) than a narrower ski, and therefore suitable to more skiers who have trouble entering/exiting a turn cleanly.

So, where do these Metron-like shapes fit in? Do they replace the "cross" skis of the last 2 years? Companies like Elan are certainly pushing their Magfire 10 and 8 as replacements for the S10 and S8 (although the S8 will still be in production). Atomic has (obviously) started the trend, and will continue with a strong presence of short, turny, stable in short-length skis. Dynastar will stick to more traditional sidecuts, Fischer is going Metron-like with their AMC series (and leaving the RX series untouched) while toning down the turn radius of the AMC just a tad off of the Metron standard. Head is somewhere in the middle with the Monster 77: 15m radius, turny, but not as turny as a Metron, and therefore skied a little longer.

Is there room for all shapes of skis? Does it confuse the customer? Will the 68mm waist cross skis (Elan S series, Fischer RX, Volkl 5/6 star) go by the wayside? Do the 75mm skis fit in as part of a quiver, or the whole quiver, and for who?
post #2 of 4
You mention the Metron a couple of times. I had no idea a ski of this size could be as versitile is they are. As you said, they break the rules. The length issue had me concerned, IMO, you can go too short. I found this with the M:XI when I skied it in a 162, granted the B:5 is a stronger ski, but I found myself on more than one time tripping over the tips. At this point, the Metron is "pushing the envolope", but that has been done before with the likes of the SCX and Spatulas. In demoing it has become as important to try differnt lengths as it is to try different models.

Is a 120/74/110 shape better than a 128/76/115? Depends. Depends on the person, the terrain, application and what he/she wants out of the ski. And, how long he/she wants to ski the ski in. In trying many of skis, I now know(think?) that I do not want to ski anything under 170cm. But I have also said I wouldn't have a tip over 114mm. IIRC, the Metron is slightly more than that . What I have learned about these new shape skis is never say never, because it will come back to bite you.
post #3 of 4
I'm a Metron fan, own a pair of the M11's in a 162 cm and also believe that the short length thing can be overdone. Having to do over again I would go with the 172 cm.

Years back I had a pair of the ELAN SCX (the yellow ski with the plate) at the time ,the ridiculously short length of 183 cm. I wish I would have kept these skis for comparison purposes today. The thing with ski length at least for me, is that after taking several runs down the hill you can adjust to the length of the ski. I do find however that when skiing a short ski and then getting on something a little longer , that some engagement of the tip and shovel is necessary to start the turn versus what feels like to me skiing the short ski smack dab in the middle of the ski.

I don't know, it's all good and I'll jump on the next big thing that comes around next I guess that promises to amp up the fun meter. I'll be interested as well if the Metron design becomes the template of the future.
post #4 of 4
In the long term, think you will begin to see adjustability in skis. Characteristics such as tortional rigidity, lateral stiffness, and even the physical dimensions of the ski will be able to be modified to suit conditions and the skier's preference.

In the short term, I think many good skiers will arrive on the mountain with two (or more) skis: One that is a primary carver; and one that utlizes more traditional techniques. My Metron 10s are outstanding carvers; they just blow me away with their tenacious grip. However, if I had to ski all day on their flats, I would get rid of them before the end of the day. I find them almost scary at speed on their bottoms. Crank them over...and they are lot a slot car.

PS: And if they don't start getting lighter, we will be using wheels or a sled to transport them.
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