From genderless skis and genuinely impressive strides towards sustainability to the return of the piste and stonky looking pro skier collabs, this year’s ISPO – the world’s largest wintesports tradeshow – provided another gripping glimpse into the future of ski gear.
Here’s how it went down….
INBOUNDS – PISTE SKIS
You heard it here first – the piste is most definitely back!
Whilst the all-mountain and free-touring sectors continue to develop and expand next winter, 2021 looks set to be the year that the piste finally gets its share of the spotlight from some of the industry’s coolest and most influential brands.
Here at Fall-Line our focus is most often on life beyond the ropes but when brands like K2 and DPS decide to throw their creative energies into a range of piste skis then it’s time to sit up and take notice!
K2’s brand new 2021 Disruption range will appeal to groovy groomers looking for a grin-makingly brilliant series of skis designed to inject fresh energy and impetus into an overlooked and rather predictable sector of the industry. Built with stealth-like next-level Dark Matter Dampening (DMD); a layer of polymer and carbon, laid one on top of the other at the contact points, the Disruption series is made up of 3 precise, smooth and confidence inspiring skis.
Publisher Dickie tested them all in January and found the flagship model – the Disruption MTi – to be the pick of the bunch; a stable ride that was happy making long fast open arcs as well as cutting tighter turns when required.
Joining K2 on the mission to make the frontside cool again is DPS Skis – another brand with seriously established freeride and backcountry roots. Made with two hardwood species of different densities and grain orientations combined with a new sidewall technology, their new Pagoda Piste range has been designed to deliver a lively yet damp and stable ride when travelling in hard and mixed snow.
New brands might be coming into the market but traditional players such as Head are constantly innovating. New for winter 2021 is the brand’s award-winning new technology – the Energy Management Circuit – designed to reduce energy, focus and confidence sapping vibration when travelling at speed.
The world’s only electronic ski dampening system, EMC is all about the good vibes only as former World Champ Aksel Lund Svindal explains, “You can trust EMC to deliver smooth skiing and exceptional edge grip, whatever the snow conditions. When the ski bends and vibrates it takes the kinetic energy in the ski and transfers it into electrical energy through a Graphene Carbon Conductor. That energy is then used to absorb negative vibrations for a smoother, more stable ride.”
EMC tech will feature in several key models in the World Cup Rebels, Supershape and Joy ranges.
INBOUNDS – ALL-MOUNTAIN SKIS
Versatile frontside oriented skis designed to perform both on the piste and off the side in a variety of conditions are understandably where it’s at for the majority of the consumers so it comes as no surprise to see continued growth of the ever popular all-mountain category.
One mega looking ski for next winter comes in the sharp shape of Line’s brand new Blade and Blade W. A true ‘all-mountain’ player made with special Titanal laminate and focused Titanal integrated into key areas, the Blade has been designed to deliver grip, energy and stability precisely where most needed and looks set to help the brand reach a whole new carve-obsessed audience.
Another freeski/freeride brand reaching out to the all-mountain audience is Armada whose new Declivity range looks destined for big things next winter. With four new skis in the series – the Declivity X, 102 Ti, 92 Ti and 82 Ti – there’s a Declivity for all your crew. As the brand themselves say ‘It’s not always about hitting big freeride featues and lapping the park all day. Sometimes you just gotta get out for a crank. All mtn is fun dammit!’
It’s all change at Black Crows as the new all-mountain oriented Justis replaces both the Daemon and the Navis, simultaneously combining the best elements of both into one slick-looking 100mm underfoot ski. With camber underfoot, early-rise in the tip and tail and a single sheet of H-shaped Titanal on top of the all-poplar wood core, the Justis looks set to serve up the goods all over the mountain.
Fellow Frenchies Salomon are also packing serious all-mountain ambitions for 2021. In addition to the introduction of a new women’s-specific S/Force series, the biggest story for next winter is their new Stance family – a frontside-optimised range of men’s and women’s skis featuring full poplar wood core, full sandwich sidewall, double TI construction, metal twin frame, Titanal laminate and the brand’s patented C/FX blend. The new Stance collection is made up of three men’s skis (102, 96 and 90mm underfoot) and two women’s models (94 and 88mm underfoot).
Over at Blizzard it’s a case of making the best even better with the enormously popular Brahma 88, Black Pearl 88, Black Pearl 97 – and the new Bonafide 97 – all set to feature TrueBlend Wood Core technology next winter. Designed to specifically target the flex throughout the ski, with a softer tip and tail to keeps things lively and reactive. Blizzard claims the denser wood underfoot “acts like a gas pedal, giving you the power and drive when you want to charge.”
Others to look out for in this category next winter include Elan’s new women’s-specific Wildcat series. Built on a similar platform to the Wingman ski, these asymmetrical skis feature a different construction designed to deliver a more complete all-mountain experience for women.
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