The 2018-2019 ski preview: Skis offering expanded front side options
by Mountain Journal: Tony Crespi
Feb 26, 2018 | 2548 views | 0 0 comments | 279 279 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ski tests are something akin to seeing into a looking glass into the future. Ski tests offer a rare opportunity to glimpse new skis, see refinements to existing models, and preview emerging technologies before they line the ski shop walls. Some skis are like seeing rare curiosities that no longer are easily categorized. I remember that when the first “shaped skis” arrived - the Elan SCX was one of the first - no one knew how to exactly classify such tools. A few years later manufacturers began incorporating “rocker” into ski designs as camber technologies evolved. That too was difficult to categorize. Like many modern technologies – from phones to computers - the changes in ski designs are extraordinary and each new “generation” seems to offer increased enhancements. Next year, as I look into the looking glass in the ski industry, this trend continues.

One change is an emergence of race skis for front side carving.

I bought my first race ski when I took a year after college and skied more then 100 days. Then, as a line ski instructor, most of my peers owned race skis. At the time, most top skiers owned a race ski. Then, things changed. Gradually race skis became highly specific tools and many advanced and expert skiers sought more versatile skis. As a writer traveling to multiple resorts I began skiing, like many folks, all-mountain skis. These were versatile, strong, and increasingly have offered an extraordinarily high end of performance. Still, from time to time I’d ski a race ski, and I always enjoyed the edge grip and groomed snow carving ability. As we showcase next year’s skis, I’m seeing offerings combining the best of race technology and front side carvers. Honestly, there’s a reason recreational race skis are so popular in Europe. These skis are somewhat narrower under foot, hold well on hardpack, turn and carve easily, and are fun for occasional recreational racing. Ski them on steeps, ski them on hard snow, and these boards excel. Whether in Europe or on Eastern manmade snow, these skis can excel. Next year, I’m thinking many skiers will want to look at these newer offerings. These are on my wish list!

Fundamentally, next season’s skis have a larger array of carving type offerings then I’ve seen in years – if ever. There are still multiple all-mountain carving skis we’ve come to see and enjoy but now many manufacturers are producing carving skis - in their race lines - which I found are more forgiving then full-bore World Cup race skis. These are true high performance, fun, progressive, skis great for groomed terrain. These are also more versatile then in years past. They hold superbly on hard snow. Their side cuts offer a versatility ideal for mixed radius turns, and they incorporate the latest design technologies. Some such as Blizzard’s Firebird Collection are entirely new. Others, such as Rossignol’s Hero Elite Series reflect an integration of new technology, such as the Line Control Technology in these models. Just as we see new advancements to each new cell phone, so skis seem to evolve with advancing new innovations.

For those taking a turn on a race course now and then, skiing the front side regularly, and those who primarily ski Eastern hardpack, here is a sampling of next year’s options. Oh, yes, we’re previewing all-mountain skis as well as race skis. After all, many skiers like two pairs of skis: a ski for powder days as well as a pair for front side carving. Know too, modern skis are so well designed that the radius of the turn for a specific model varies by ski length. This means that the same ski in two lengths performs like, well, two different skis. That’s why ski tests are important and why buyers might truly become ski testers for their final choices.

Interested in next year’s skis? Here’s our peek into the looking glass.

BLIZZARD

Blizzard has literally taken the industry by storm. Once a small company, today Blizzard skis are often ranked among the finest offerings available in the industry. Engineered in Austria, next season the Firebird Race Series is dazzling.

Firebird Race Series: The new Firebird collection offers new technologies – C-Spine and C-Armor - as well as new plates. While this collection includes full race skis, several models are ideally suited for front side carving as well as occasional forays into the race course.

Firebird Race Ti: This is the entry ski in the collection and the most versatile and forgiving. I skied it two years ago and grinned! It was strong but amazingly tolerant. Now, with a new plate - an illustration of refinements made to many skis across manufacturers - it’s better. With a 71mm waist, this is an ideal ski for advanced skiers as well as experts. The ski has a slalom feel.

Firebird Competition: Actually something of a legacy ski – years ago the competition was one of the best selling skis in the Blizzard collection - this ski boasts a 70mm waist, sandwich construction, a moderate radius, and full camber. This will likely appeal to many advanced and expert skiers. It’s strong. Very strong. And hold. Yes, this is on my wish list!

Firebird WRC and SRC: These are, well, stronger. More powerful. These are 68mm underfoot, with the WRC offering a longer - giant slalom - radius and the SRC a tighter - slalom - turn. Both use the new C-Spine and C-Armor technologies. WRC or SRC? Choose your turn: GS or SL. Looking to smoke the competition? Consider a test run.

Quattro All Mountain Series: This high performance carving series continues but the addition of new technologies is intended to enhance energy and rebound.

Blizzard Quattro RX and RS: These are the top of the collection, offering 84mm waist in the RX and 69mm waist in the RS. Both have added the C-Spine to enhance energy and rebound. These are still among the strongest of all mountain skis available with the RX offering a wider waist preferred by many skiers.

The 8.4Ti, 8.0Ti, 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 more forgiving characteristics then the top of the line RX or RS.

HEAD

In 1950 Howard Head transformed the ski industry with metal laminate skis. Like old Ford Model Ts, they came solely in black. But these skis transformed skiing. Classic models such as the Head Standard introduced many to the sport and the old Head 360 became an industry benchmark. Then, as skis changed, Head was seemingly forgotten. Today Head is a powerful force producing impressive skis. This coming year Head introduces several new models and innovations worthy of note.

The V-Shape Collection: This new collection, from the brand new V2 and V4 models for beginners to the V6, V8, and V10 for advanced skiers, represents lightweight - they are truly light - skis. The V8 and V10 are stronger front side skis for all-mountain enthusiasts. These are fun and innovative.

World Cup Collection: This group represents a continuing series of race and high performance offerings for racers as well as those seeking strong front side carving skis with the kind of rebound and grip racers typically expect and love.

World Cup Rebel I. Speed Pro: The Rebel has a longer 18 radius in the 180 with a 68mm waist. The race plate alone is impressive. Interested in fast racing? Interested in a fast ski? Test this Rebel. Racer on course!

World Cup Rebel I. Race: This is a favorite, offering a 68mm waist with a versatile 14.4 radius turn in the 170. This front side carver should appeal to those interested in occasional racing as well as hard snow carving. It’s fun. Strong. And amazingly versatile.

Supershape Collection: This continuing series represents Head’s powerful all-mountain options. These are strong skis to consider.

Supershape I.Titan and I.Rally. These are performance skis which continue from the past but are noted as these front-side all-mountain performance skis offer a 14.1 radius in a 170 in the Titan and 13.7 radius in the 170 in the Rally. The Rally is fun. Playful. And just fun.

Supershape I.Magnum and I.Speed: These two models also are fun performance skis in lengths from 149 in the Magnum and 156 in the Speed to 177 and 184 respectively. The Magnum has a 72 waist while the Speed’s 68 felt narrower and edgier. Amping up your speed? Try the I.Speed.

ROSSIGNOL

Rossignol is more then 100 years old. Founded in 1907, Rossi has produced some of the most iconic skis in the industry and remains an industry leader. For the 2018-2019 season the Experience series will feature a World Cup derived construction called LCT Technology.

Hero Elite Race Skis: The Hero On Trail group represents a racing type group for front side carving and recreational pursuits. While the Hero group is not new, the introduction of Line Control Technology reflects a new innovation. Here are two models to consider: five skis seemed very notable.

Hero Elite ST Ti: The Hero Elite ST Ti is a strong slalom ski with appeal for weekend experts and advanced skiers looking for fast turns and quick edge changes as well as occasional race use. With a 68mm waist and an 11m to 14m radius depending on length, and with the new Line Control Technology, this is a strong ski for those who love hard snow and constant turns.

Hero Elite LT Ti: With a 71mm waist, and a 15m to 18m radius turn depending on length, this ski provides a longer GS-type feel and a rock solid feel at speed. Long turns? Strong skills? This one rocks initiating turns with ease while ripping at speed. .

Hero Elite MT Ti and Elite Plus Ti: With a 74mm and 78mm waist, and with radius turns ranging from 12m to 16m, these are more versatile carving tools with somewhat wider waists. Strong and with great edge grip, these are worth a test ride if that more modest width waist is appealing. Theyre fun but strong.

The Experience Series: This group is intended to offer versatility, maneuverability, and stability while offering superior edge grip. With models offering varying waists, the goal, of course, is to Experience more on the mountain.

Experience 100 and 88: The 100 and 88 are the widest in the series. Honestly, these models vary from one to the next depending on preferences for width, stiffness, and lengths! The 100 comes flat to offer freedom of binding choice. This was fun and forgiving, but with this width seems suited for those tending for off-piste adventures.

Experience 77 and 75: The 77 and 75 boast that narrower 77 and 75 mm waist in a vibrant package. Again, these turn easily on that front side. Aspiring weekend warriors might take a test ride. Its affordable with surprising pop turn to turn.

VOLKL

Volkl is the sole ski manufacturer in Germany, priding itself on producing skis of extraordinary quality. If German cars such as the Audi reflect quality, these skis also match that tradition. The 2018-2019 collection offers several new models designed to entice. Of note, the fit and finish to these skis – edges and base condition – are exquisite.

M5 Mantra: The Mantra was considered an all-mountain benchmark. The New M5 – fifth generation – uses a new layering approach called the Titanal Frame: carbon is in the tip and the metal follows a new layering approach. With a 96 waist it’s not narrow and the longer 19.8 radius in the 177 reflects an all-mountain genre for those seeking powder escapes. Know, the M5 may be one of the top new wider skis on the market. It’s sharp. The finish is impeccable. And it floats in powder. Interested in wider ski? Test the new M5.

Secret: The new Secret uses the Titanal frame of the M5 Mantra. With a 92mm waist it’s not especially narrow but seeks to offer great edge grip for harder snow and a waist for softer snow. Here’s the secret: this is a fine all-mountain offering with tip and tail rocker.

Deacon Collection: Led by the 76 Pro, this new series offers 76mm and 74mm waists for hard snow. There are four new models: 76 Pro and 76 and 74 Pro and 74, designed to appeal to front side skiers. These are classic Volkls: expect strong edge group and longer radius turns: 18.3 radius in the 186, 76 Pro and 16 radius in the 173, 74 Pro.
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