By Tony Crespi
Ski tests are somewhat akin to seeing into a looking glass to the future offering a window able to glimpse new and refined models and technologies. A few years ago manufacturers began incorporating “rocker” into skis as camber technologies evolved. Soon virtually every ski used rocker. Today, manufacturers often blend traditional camber and rocker using traditional camber for harder snow and more rocker for soft snow.
Like many modern technologies – from skis to phones – new advances offers each new “generation” surprising enhancements. This year, as I look into the looking glass in the ski industry, this trend continues.
One change includes more “race” skis for front side carving.
Years ago most experts owned race skis. Gradually, though, race skis became highly specific and many advanced and expert skiers sought all-mountain skis. These were and are versatile and strong. Today, though, race lines blend the best of race and carving technologies. Honestly, there’s a reason recreational race skis are so popular in Europe. These skis are narrower under foot, hold on hardpack, and are fun for recreational races. Ski them on steeps or hard snow and these boards excel.
“Many high performance skis are now covered by these new models,” said Jed Duke, director of product marketing at Blizzard Skis.
Prior to Blizzard Skis and Tecnica Boots Duke served as product manager at Volkl Skis, and as a young skier he was a NCAA and Noram racer.
“I call it evolution,” explained Duke in talking about these new race skis. “All the manufacturers have learned what the benefits and boundaries are of using rocker. We’ve now had years to evolve and we’ve all really looked at how much one needs in a specific ski. These new skis truly reflect that refinement in knowledge.”
“I think the playing field and the performance of all the brands, and the technology of the companies has produced a truly great collection of skis,” added Rossignol’s Deno Dudunake, another insider and former mogul skier from Idaho.
Sure, there are still great all-mountain carving skis but these new “skis within race lines are more forgiving then full-bore world cup race skis and offer high performance fun for groomed terrain. They hold superbly. Their side cuts offer versatility, and they incorporate the latest technologies. Some such as Blizzard’s Firebird Collection offer a range from racing performance to more forgiving choices. Frankly, while some folks still clutch flip phones most know phones that are older are not comparable to newer designs. Truly, as we glimpse our window into the mountain shop we see new skis with great advancements.
For those interested here are a sampling of options. Oh, yes, we’re also showcasing all-mountain skis and for those who may use an EPIC or IKON pass to venture West we show a few powder designs. Afterall, many skiers like a ski for powder as well as a pair for front side carving. Now new skis are so well designed the radius of the turn for a specific model varies by length. This means that the same ski in two lengths can perform like two different skis. Interested?
Welcome to our looking glass into the 2019-2020 skis. This week I’ll feature Blizzard.
Once a small Austrian ski company today Blizzard Skis are often ranked among the finest offerings available in the industry. Notably, the Firebird Race Series is offering new refinements.
Firebird Race Series:
The Firebird collection offers two key technologies — C Spine and C-Armor — as well as performance plates. While this collection includes full race skis, several models are ideally suited for front side carving as well as occasional forays on the race course.
Firebird HRC: These are strong and powerful. With a wider 76mm waist then the WRC or SRC. (Two more specific race models with a 68mm waist with the WRC offering a giant slalom radius and the SRC a slalom turn, these three use both C-Spine and C-Armor technologies.) WRC or SRC? I suggested one longtime PSIA Examiner test the HRC. If you too are powerful and looking to smoke the competition consider a test run.
Firebird Race Ti: This is the entry ski in the collection and the most versatile and forgiving. I skied it as a test ski two years ago and was stunned! It’s strong but amazingly forgiving. With a 71mm waist, this is an ideal ski for advanced skiers as well as experts.
Firebird Competition: Years ago the competition was one of the best selling skis in the Blizzard collection. This new Competition — modified and changed from this season — incorporates a 76mm waist, sandwich construction, a moderate radius, and full camber with C Spine. It’s strong. Very strong. I found it so strong — and versatile — I used it on my lunch break! It was a favorite!
Quattro All Mountain Series:
This high performance carving series continues but the line The 8.0CA, 7.7, and 7.2. These all-mountain tools offer waists reflected by these number designations. These remain true front side skis, with forgiving characteristics.
POWDER: The Rustlers… The Rustler 11 is the widest in the Rustler Series at 116mm while the Rustler 10 (102mm) and Rustler 9 (92mm) are narrower. Smooth and supple these freeride skis are surprisingly adaptable. The 9 surprised in its grip.