Originally Posted by Ghost
It's pre-stressing. The amount of stress the ski is under and hence the force it exerts on the snow near the tip and tail increases with the amount it is bent. If you already need to stress it to get it straight, you have more stress when you bend it.
OK. But where is this an advantage and where does it start to become a disadvantage? Obviously tip engagement and tail hold are big deals on hard groomers. On the other hand, most anyone who has skied Spatulas or Pontoons or any of their cousins in powder has had an incredibly positive reaction. Giving up camber is no sacrifice in that environment. And given the odd little section of micro-sidecut on the Pontoons, folks I've talked to who have used them have been surprised at how well they behaved in a decent range of conditions. Not saying they'd be your ski of choice in all of them! Just that the ski's performance does not immediately go to crap when you exit deep powder.
In the environment they were designed for, I thought the Pontoons were unbelievable. And better than expected on soft groomers. Which got me wondering about where on the spectrum of conditions does the balance tip one way or another? Very soft groomers? Generally soft off-piste? Slush? Variable spring snow?
With modern materials and mechanics, there are lots of things that can be done with ski flex. And overall geometry certainly plays a role in engagement. So, is it possible there will there be a trend toward flat or rockered skis for soft snow environments? That careful consideration given to shape and flex can result in a ski that is "better" than today's "conventional" cambered designs in conditions other than pure powder? Or at least "good enough" - with better and better performance in more powder-like conditions?
There clearly will be some interesting experiments in flat/rockered designs on the market this next year. I can think of at least 5 or 6 models from major manufacturers (K2, Salomon, Volkl) that will be available in 07/08. And that's not even counting the "boutique" manufacturers. So, will these designs remain useful only in the realm of powder, or will they creep into more "all around" skis for places that usually have soft snow and offer off-piste powder opportunities? Evolutionary dead ends or the beginning or an exciting and useful design direction?
FWIW - despite the fact that much of the footage is in powder, you can see a couple of rockered skis in action in Ski Porn. Obviously McConkey is using Pontoons. But also watch for what I understand were the proto Hellbents (the ones with dark bottoms and no camber when in the air - it'll jump out at you...)