Originally Posted by Ghost
Is the width trend a new thing, or an eother example of things coming around again? I seem to recall arguing with my dad about 30 years ago. He seemed to have the opinion that my skis skis wre too skinny be be any good. I think he got learned to ski and formed his intransigent opinions knowledge during WWII.
The really wide skis are a relatively new trend. The technology and materials hadn´t allowed for today´s width even 10 years ago. The experience building wider and wider shaped skis has helped a lot. The popularity of off-piste skiing (probably always present in America but much less in Europe) has contributed.
The 68-70 mm width, now so enthusiatically accepted in Supersports, is nothing but "back to the roots" on a higher level.
About 100 years ago old Zdarsky derived his "alpine" skis from the skier´s height and weight. Waists around 70 mm had been standard for many decades. Funny is that the first "animal" Volkl Zebra of 1969 had (if I rememeber well) 69 mm, the legendary skis like Rossis STs and SMs also had about 68 mm. Even in the late 80s there were GS skis with waist 67 mm (e.g. Dynamic VR27 Equipe Geant and Equipe Team 27 GS 1988/89: both 86-67.5-80/210 cm) but at the same time some SL skis already had waists 62-63 mm. Many recreational skis were in the range of 65-67 mm.
In 1994 GS skis got more sidecut than slalom skis and 1995/96 brought the first generation of shaped skis following the Elans and Kneissls. Narrow waists helped decrease the radius and make the skis more radical, the more so because wider tips were still a torsion problem. 62 mm became standard, I even remember having measured a Dynamic ski once (1996 or 1997) with 58.5mm waist.
(The 45mm Elans Stealth and Phantom we like to remember were one extreme endeavour of this trend.)
Thus, IMO, the 68-70mm waists for basically groomer skis are both a logical consequence of better constructions allowing very wide tips without sacrificing torsional rigidity and an "example of things coming around again" as Ghost writes. As soon as the 66-69mm waists were adopted by the new fashionable "skicross" skis the "new norm" has been established.