EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Gear Improvements Slowing?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Gear Improvements Slowing?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
For years I've felt Ski Boots had peaked, in terms of major advances.

Sure, minor changes are trumpeted each year, and evolution still continues (thermo liners are now commonplace). But, the basic style and function of modern ski boots appear largely unchanged since the 90's.

Now, I'm wondering if progress in ski design has also slowed.

After the "shaped ski revolution", we became accustomed to huge leaps in technology and design every year. Ski shapes transformed each season as manufacturer's dialed-in optimal lengths, widths and sidecuts for new categories of skis. Exciting stuff!

At the same time, polymers and adhesives evolved dramatically, allowing impossibly severe sidecuts with enhanced structural integrity. Both racing and rec skis benefited with a revolution in slalom skis (ultra short) and new shapes in rec skis (Atomic Metrons, Rossi Zenith, Nordica's).

Over the last 2 years, though, breakthroughs appear fewer.

Since the advent of "integrated systems", bindings also seem to have changed less (ski magazines no longer even review them).

Have we hit a relative lull in the evolution of ski equipment?
post #2 of 18
I don't think so. I think skis are still getting better and better every year. Everytime I think I am on hte best ski ever..I try the next years version and it is better. I am close to saying "I give up, here is my credit card, just send em a new pair every year". But I know I won't..because I AM Phickle Phil.
post #3 of 18
I don't think there is a lull. I think there is just a slow pace - a slower pace than there needs to be. I suspect it is less because there's no progress in thinking/design/manufacturing - and more because consumers, the instructional world, and channel are limited in their ability to consume innovation.

How many older design (even pencil) skis do you still see on the mountain? Or even being bought on ebay because they are cheap? How many people using modern gear with notably non-modern technique? How many instructors behind the curve with respect to both gear and technique? How many sales people on the floor with no comprehension of what much of their merchandise is capable of relative to the other things on the wall?

In this environment, economics works against big companies taking risks on innovation. They can tweak a midfat or change its topskin and know they'll sell many, many thousands of units. Maybe hundreds of thousands worldwide? With no investment in educating channel, consumers, or PSIA. Or even retooling a production line. Read The Innovator's Dilemma for some insights into this phenomenon.

Other companies did not exactly rush to copy the Spatula (apparently not a financial home run - at the time). IMO, Atomic chickened out with its Metron series -- it looks far more conventional today than it probably should. Why is there an M11 B5 instead of an 85 or 95 waisted descendant of the original B5 - even if the fatter ski had a bit wider radius ala the M11 B5???? My guess is because it was easier to sell a more conventional ski to a wider market. Heck even the original B5 wants to be skied with a more modern style than most of the market can deliver. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination, but I can visualize someone involved in the original MB5 design dejectedly getting a lecture on unit volumes, cost of sales, etc. as a justification for ceasing rapid innovation in the Metron family...

However, there are certainly innovations bubbling around. Reverse sidecut &/or reverse camber or rockered skis. Fat in various flavors. Super short and fat - in both stiff and soft approaches. Highly tapered "conventional" sidecut skis aimed at lift served powder skiers who need to spend a bunch of time on-piste. And so on...

Obviously not all of these will pan out. And some will pan out only for specific conditions or specific markets. But innovations they are. Or were - since some of the bigger companies are already picking up some of the ideas that seem to be working to one degree or another.

In general, it seems it is the little guys driving a bunch of the innovations happening today - so they may not be visible at most shops carrying mainstream brands. I hope they are rewarded for it rather than just having the best of their ideas cherry picked...
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
IMO, Atomic chickened out with its Metron series -- it looks far more conventional today than it probably should. Why is there an M11 B5 instead of an 85 or 95 waisted descendant of the original B5 - even if the fatter ski had a bit wider radius ala the M11 B5???? My guess is because it was easier to sell a more conventional ski to a wider market. Heck even the original B5 wants to be skied with a more modern style than most of the market can deliver. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination, but I can visualize someone involved in the original MB5 design dejectedly getting a lecture on unit volumes, cost of sales, etc. as a justification for ceasing rapid innovation in the Metron family...
I don't think they chickened out with the introduction of the Metron line, but its evolution. I was disappointed that they dropped the M:EX when it was positioned to go against the AC4 and Jet Fuel. The M11 B5, they should have kept the tip and tail of the old M11 and widened the waist instead of doing the opposite. In talking to my local Atomic guy, this is being addressed in some skis that are coming out w/in the next month or so.
post #5 of 18
Sorry, I was ambiguous. I think Atomic took a real step the introduction of the line - especially the 11 and the B5. The chickening out part came in the followup -- or lack thereof.
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Sorry, I was ambiguous. I think Atomic took a real step the introduction of the line - especially the 11 and the B5. The chickening out part came in the followup -- or lack thereof.
We agree on that. The M11 B5 is a very very good ski..but I think you and I agree, they had the chance to make a great ski.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
I was also surprised that Atomic dumped the M:EX - I love that ski.

But, it's also true that the more radical shapes require at more technical approach. I can't loaf on my Metron B:5's, but I can on my new IZOR 9:7's. Sometimes, you don't want to hook-up as aggressively. It takes energy.

Improvements in skis are still exciting. I still get a buzz every time I demo new skis. I'm amazed at how good skis now are, almost regardless of what you pull off the shop's wall.

There'll always be improvements. But, I wonder if the days of big leaps are behind us - at least until the next "paradigm shift".
post #8 of 18
The Krypton is a back to the Future design. The Flexon and now Full Tilt's time has gone. Other than lighter weight, the Full Tilt, why ski in it? Why pay 500+ for that when you can get the Krypton Cross for the same money?

But I am still amazed that I have a 170cm and rock all over with it. When I skied 203/4 Slalom skis and 212 GS skis.
post #9 of 18
In all the demos I've completed over the past 2 weeks, the latest innovations in the integrated binding systems have actually impressed me. Keep in mind that I don't own a single integrated system in over a dozen pairs of skis, but these latest systems are skiing so well and they really seem to be "improving" the ski response in ways that designs in a ski alone or binding alone just cannot duplicate. The Nordica X-Balance system, Marker iPT, and Elan Fusion are just some examples that I really felt added positive features to the skis I rode. I used to be on the fence about these systems, but I believe that they are now at a more mature point in their development and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up owning a system ski soon.
post #10 of 18
I think interms of bindings we are going backwards. what the hell is with this px crap look/rossi is doing? the pivot design was amazing technology and almost universally loved, why step backwards??? Also what is with all these plates and riser things, it was only recently that I ever had a pair of bindings mounted flat on the ski. The ski feels so much better now even the small difference in height (couple cms).

As for skis, for the first time companys are starting to experiment with zero or reverse camber, very inovative stuff.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
Highly tapered "conventional" sidecut skis aimed at lift served powder skiers who need to spend a bunch of time on-piste.
What skis are these?
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tchpdx View Post
What skis are these?
Prior Dough Boy. Icelantic Shaman.

I think Zag was among the first to play with this, but I've seem some "close, but not quite..." type reviews on them.

Maybe others are playing with the concept...
post #13 of 18
Oh, to clarify - with respect to the tapered conventional sidecut skis and use inbounds, I probably should have said "well suited to" rather than "aimed at" - since neither ski is necessarily limited to lift served skiing. I'd speculate, however, that carve-ability inbounds was a significant design consideration for both.

That said, I've been told - independent of any Icelantic PR - that the only Shaman protos I know of in the PNW are in use as BC skis & are fiercely loved by their owner for that purpose. Shamans are supposed to ship "any day now"...

When both health and snow conditions allow, I plan to play with the shiny new Doughboys downstairs... Likewise, I expect to play with some Shamans this season. Obviously reviews will follow.

Check out these out

http://www.icelanticboards.com/the-icelantic-shaman.htm
http://www.priorskis.com/skis_doughboy.php
post #14 of 18
Ice lantic = overweight snowblade
post #15 of 18
Do we need to have "ski technology breakthroughs" at an exponential pace any way??

lets see..not too long ago it was all about the "capped ski" (Elan MBX)

Then the shaped ski

then the.....super shaped ski

then the fat ski

then the reverse camber ski etc etc

Find a ski that works for you and rip it up any chance you can get!!!
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
Ice lantic = overweight snowblade
I gather this is your considered opinion after skiing the Shaman and perhaps others in the current lineup? Which ones did you ski under what conditions and terrain - and what did you think of each model you skied?
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
I gather this is your considered opinion after skiing the Shaman and perhaps others in the current lineup? Which ones did you ski under what conditions and terrain - and what did you think of each model you skied?
well he probably didn't ski them, but from looking at them, i mean they are quite short and kinda fat. i don't really get it, if you need the float, shouldn't you just get longer skis since longer=much more SA=more float? also 110 mm in a longer ski should be manageable on groomed, no? oh well, wahtever. each to their own. the doughboys look extremely sweet i must say...
post #18 of 18
3 eyed is right I have never skied them so I cannot give a detail review or anything.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Gear Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Gear Improvements Slowing?