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Changes in ski design in 9 short years?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Nine years ago The Dynastar Intuitive was the Real Skier "ski of the year" and was considered an "all mountain ski.  a bias to off-piste. 113-74-99. The Gravity Chubb was "one of our favorite powder skis" 112/87/104.

 

Today the Chubb specifications would place it solidly in the middle of the all mountain category and the Intuitive would be a carver if you could find something in this size range.  

 

What has changed so much in less than a decade to cause this change?

 

Has skier technique changed so much in 9 years that the wider skis are appropriate for today's skier skills?  Did 30 year old skiers start skiing differently five years ago or is this all about the 20 somethings?

 

Was there some breakthrough in ski making technology that allows manufacturers to make a ski today that is vastly different than the ski of 2002?

 

Is it just marketing? Do the models and colors need to change so the manufacture re can sell new skis every year?

 

Read a ski book from just a decade ago and look at the chapter on equipment. It's nothing like what's on the rack today.Boots, Golf clubs, tennis rackets, bikes, SCUBA gear and airplanes have not changed as much in 9 years as skis. A ski is a pretty simple device. Why do you think it has changed so much?

 

  

 

intuitive 74

all mountain ski of the year (bias off-piste)

Very nimble for wide ski. Solid all mountain design for advanced through expert skiers. Stable, requires top skills for fall line turns.

113/74/99

gravity chubb

Still one of our favorite powder skis for skiers from intermediate to high expert. It just makes powder skiing easier!

112/87/104

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post

Nine years ago The Dynastar Intuitive was the Real Skier "ski of the year" and was considered an "all mountain ski.  a bias to off-piste. 113-74-99. The Gravity Chubb was "one of our favorite powder skis" 112/87/104.

 

Today the Chubb specifications would place it solidly in the middle of the all mountain category and the Intuitive would be a carver if you could find something in this size range.  

 

What has changed so much in less than a decade to cause this change?

 

Has skier technique changed so much in 9 years that the wider skis are appropriate for today's skier skills?  Did 30 year old skiers start skiing differently five years ago or is this all about the 20 somethings?

 

Was there some breakthrough in ski making technology that allows manufacturers to make a ski today that is vastly different than the ski of 2002?

 

Is it just marketing? Do the models and colors need to change so the manufacture re can sell new skis every year?

 

Read a ski book from just a decade ago and look at the chapter on equipment. It's nothing like what's on the rack today.Boots, Golf clubs, tennis rackets, bikes, SCUBA gear and airplanes have not changed as much in 9 years as skis. A ski is a pretty simple device. Why do you think it has changed so much?

 

  

 

intuitive 74

all mountain ski of the year (bias off-piste)

Very nimble for wide ski. Solid all mountain design for advanced through expert skiers. Stable, requires top skills for fall line turns.

113/74/99

gravity chubb

Still one of our favorite powder skis for skiers from intermediate to high expert. It just makes powder skiing easier!

112/87/104


because the first skis designed were so wrong, but people being creatures of habit have fought and continue to fight change.

 

Mountain bikes are vastly different in many ways than in 2001.

post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post

 

What has changed so much in less than a decade to cause this change?

 

Has skier technique changed so much in 9 years that the wider skis are appropriate for today's skier skills?  Did 30 year old skiers start skiing differently five years ago or is this all about the 20 somethings?

 

Was there some breakthrough in ski making technology that allows manufacturers to make a ski today that is vastly different than the ski of 2002?

 

Is it just marketing? Do the models and colors need to change so the manufacture re can sell new skis every year?


A little bit of each, but mostly trial & error has allowed the manufacturers to get it better & better as time goes by.

 

& BWPA is right, change is risky & people are reluctant to take risks.  Much of the decades innovations have been spurred by the risk takers, the indie & smaller companies.

 

JF

 

 

post #4 of 9

In a world where 87mm was the fattest ski around, then it makes sense that would be the best powder ski.  But when they figured out they could go fatter, and it worked better, that same 87mm will be categorized otherwise.  It's relative.  Back then the Intuitiv wasn't that much skinnier than the fattest ski...the Chubb.  Now it's almost half as wide as the fattest ski around, which are around 140mm.  Now it seems lacking in the powder department, which delegates it more of a carver.  It's not that those skis stopped performing well in their respective areas, it's just that other options popped up that were better performers in some areas (powder).

 

I'm not so sure 87 is even considered an all-mountain size anymore.  Many people in here won't go less than 100.  I'm not one of those people.  I just bought a ski as my all-mountain ski that is 87 underfoot.  But then again, my fattest to date is 102.  Next year when I get something around 120, suddenly my 102 may become more of an all mountain tool with a powder bias, and the 87 will become an all mountain tool with a hard snow bias.

 

And though I'm sick of talking about it, Rocker certainly changed things in 9 years.  And asking if 30 somethings started skiing differently 5 years ago...in a sense yes.  It was the different style of skiing everyone is doing today that brought about these new sticks.  They needed the right tool for the right job, and thanks first to the The New Canadian Air Force for the twin tip, and McConkey and probably Eric Pollard for the Super Fat and Rockered thing, for getting the ball rolling.  And McConkey was well into his 30's already when the Spatula came out, so it isn't all about the 20 somethings, though it's safe to say they do most of the gobbleing up of these new skis.

post #5 of 9

I don't really know, but I suspect several factors:

 

10 years ago, I think backcountry and off piste riding was considered a lot more extreme.  That may still be the case, but with the difference that every skier wants to be cool enough to ride terrain like that, wheras perhaps most skiers used to be quite content to carve goomers all day and maybe check out some moguls and powder stashes.  This emphasis on off-piste terrain may have fueled a rapid development of skis that do better in those conditions.  Keep in mind, such designs have actually been around for a long time (e.g. in China's Altai mountains), they are just becoming popular with recreational skiers at large.  I think most skiers today don't really need anything wider than 100 mm at the waist, especially if they only ski lift-served terrain, but they definitely want to buy it because that is what the pro riders use.

 

I wonder if part of this trend is also technology, mainly weight.  It seems like whenever I pick up a pair of decent straight skis from the 80s-90s, I am blown away by how much they weigh compared to anything I ride on.  Even back then, there were some companies that really tried to make lighter and wider stuff (e.g. Tua, Kazama, Voile, maybe RD), but this stuff was solely marketed to backcountry and especially tele skiers.  It would be interesting to compare the layups of skis over the years, and compare with MSRP costs for those boards to determine whether the trend is toward lighter stuff that you could build bigger, even if it was more expensive.

 

Rocker is totally taking over the industry, especially in the last 2 years.  I suspect that prices for rockered skis with come in line with most other types of skis soon, as they are now becoming the norm for any ski designed to handle soft snow, rather than being a unique product marketed toward specialized use.

post #6 of 9

What is the 20 something / 30 year olds dicotomy? Is that some kind of demographics bell curve theory? Soon as I get to that I'm gone. What is the assumption?

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

What is the 20 something / 30 year olds dichotomy? Is that some kind of demographics bell curve theory? Soon as I get to that I'm gone. What is the assumption?

 

My thinking was anyone over 30 probably learned on narrower skis - something prior to my example of what was introduced in 2002. A lot of folks stick with what they know. Ping Eye 2 golf clubs from the early 80s are still used regularly on the Pro tours.

The more over thirty, the narrower you probably learned on. The closer to 20 you are the more likely you are to have never skied a 65 - 75 width ski that was the standard in the 90s.

It itsn't ALL function because I still see a lot of (relatively) skinny skis running tram laps at Big Sky and my guess is they are being skied by older skiers who learned on different equipment than is sold today. I know personally I could take lessons for a month and have an unlimited equipment budget and could not come close to keeping up with some of these folks and their 1995 gear!

That leads to the question is it a marketing-fashion-generational thing becasue if there really were breakthroughs in technology I'd think eveyone would find a way to get it. Nobody uses a 10 year old laptop computer or cell phone.

post #8 of 9

 

Quote:
That leads to the question is it a marketing-fashion-generational thing becasue if there really were breakthroughs in technology I'd think eveyone would find a way to get it. Nobody uses a 10 year old laptop computer or cell phone.

 

I think there has been substantial technological improvement over the last 10 years.  The improvement on frontside-oriented skis has been incremental, but it is real.  Design of shaped and wide/shaped skis was just not being done real well, except in some niche applications, until at least the mid-90s.  Part of it is technological inertia, but if they had tried to make 100+mm skis in 1995 (or even 2001), they probably would have sucked.  At least a few people tried (see http://www.skiinghistory.org/sidecut.html), but they didn't catch on.

 

Technique has also developed to use the new equipment better, which then drives equipment design to match the new technique.  You can't ski a 60-70mm ski in powder the way you can a 100mm one.  But once decent 80-90mm skis were developed and people started experimenting with them, it became clear you could made an even wider ski that would still work well, if it was designed right.  With 20/20 hindsight it seems obvious, but it wasn't as simple as just taking the same ski construction and making it 50% wider.  (Similarly, going from the old ~75-65-70 wooden skis to something like the K2 Four wasn't as simple as just changing the geometry either, or it would have happened decades earlier.)

post #9 of 9

Outside of shaped designs most all of the biggest advances in ski-technology usually have come from materials, not novel shapes.

 

Howard Head came up with the idea of using metal in skis. I believe the Black Head was the first ski with metal layers. It changed the way materials were used in skis. As time went on, foam skis started showing up. Designers found they could use foam to create a very stable and damp ski without weighing it down with metal.  Manufactuers played with variations of designs. Is it best to cap a ski with a stiff foam core? Sandwich metal between wood or use special materials in the top sheet? .

 

Over the past 6 years, manufacturers created new material designs that made it possible to create a ski that is torsionaly stiff but wide-- something you just can't do  with wood. This made it possible for the 80mm+ all-mountain 'carver' that skiers can use relatively effectively on hardpack but it's not so heavy and stiff that it falls apart in other conditions. 

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