Gear Report – 2011/12 Skis Preview

by Don Portman

February 15, 2011 (Denver, CO) – It never stops! Ski gear continues to get better and better as equipment manufacturers continue to outdo themselves in developing better, faster, lighter and more comfortable products. More super gear will soon be in ski shops next season. Here’s a look at what improvements to expect for next season.


Waxless Skis
Last year, the focus was on the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. and top-end race gear. Certainly there is some new, exciting race gear on tap for next season. But the biggest news is in waxless ski bases for everyday skiers.

Salomon unveils a new G2 Micro base. This is a coated base similar to the Nano Grip that Peltonen introduced last January. Salomon intends this base for more-accomplished skiers looking for good grip and glide in all snow conditions from +5ºC to -15ºC. No scraping or texturing should be done to this base. But the base can be waxed over if need be with hard wax or klister, and it can be cleaned with regular wax remover. The base is said to last for 1,500 to 3,000 kilometres. After that, it can be refurbished for at least another 700 kilometres of skiing. The ski bottom looks smooth, with tiny mineral flecks. This, of course, reminds us old-timers of mica bases from the past. The difference is that the mica skis had large mica pieces imbedded in the base, while the G2 base minerals are almost microscopic.

Atomic surprised many with its new Skintec waxless system. Remember mohair bases? When they worked, they were great! Atomic’s clever new base has two interchangeable inserts that are held on via magnets — yes, magnets. The key is an all-new material that doesn’t ice and a ski flex designed just for this base. Use the full-width insert for more grip or the insert with two thinner, parallel strips for more glide. This base comes on a high-end classic ski only. Atomic has also improved its Posigrip base by adding more points of contact to this fish-scale-like base. The new Posigrip 3D base is available on the Mover 48, Mover 52, Xcruise 53, Xcruise 59, Xcruise Alea 53, Rainer Posigrip, Team Classic and Vasa Race Posigrip. The Vasa is a classic race ski that is lightweight, fast and responsive. Having a waxless version of this ski should be fun.

Rossignol combined the popular Max ski (skate, classic and classic no wax) and the Zynex (also available in three models) to make the Zymax, a cross between the two. This performance ski has the same dimensions as the ultralight and fast X-iums, but without some of the exotic, expensive materials of the race-winning X-iums. The Deltas remain the middle sibling between the X-iums and the Zymax. Now the Delta Classic comes in four sizes: 186,196, 201 and 206.

Zero skis were a success in the 2010 Olympics. These more sophisticated “hairies” are now available in more than just top-end race skis. Fischer’s Superlight Zero is designed for recreational skiers experiencing a wide range of snow conditions and temperatures. “Think of zero as meaning zero wax and zero hassle, not just zero degrees centigrade,” says Fischer’s Brian Schiller. Children and their coaches also gain the benefit of zero technology with Fischer’s RCS Classic Zero Junior. Fischer has also improved the RCS Classic Zero with a zone of harder “zero” material toward the outside of the wax pocket for smoother glide. The normal “zero” material remains underfoot for maximum grip.

Madshus was the first to introduce zero technology to in-track touring skis with the Birkebeiner. Madshus also offers the Terasonic Zero, a classic race ski at half the cost of the top-of-the-line Nanosonic. The Metis Zero is a women’s-specific ski. The classic model is available with the zero base only.

Race Skis
Fischer’s Carbonlite classics get a new paint job and all-new carbon fibre tips and tails. Fischer was looking for weight and swing-weight savings without using a hole as in the Carbonlite skate. The hole seems impractical for classic skis.

Salomon has redesigned the S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate and now offers four models. The SG (Soft Ground) is for warm, wet snow and soft track conditions. The opposite is the Extra Hard for hard tracks and big skiers. This model is only available in 192cm length. Most skiers will pick the last two offerings: S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate Warm and S-Lab Equipe 10 Skate Cold. Gliding surface and camber differentiate the two with a shorter glide surface on the warm and a longer glide surface on the cold.

Trickle-down technology makes the Equipe 9 Skate an attractive option where most of the S-Lab features appear and a weight penalty of only 250g saves the ski purchaser $150. Moving down the line the Equipe 8, Vitane 8 (women’s ski), Equipe 7 and Equipe 6 are all-new, with each descending number getting slightly heavier and losing some features and, of course, costing less.

Touring Skis
Metal-edged touring skis proved a strong seller for Madshus, and the Annum, Epoch and Eon remain in the line as stellar performers of off-track skiing with their MGV-OMNI base (Omni-Trak to old-timers).

Rossignol builds upon the success of its BC 125 off-track touring ski. This wide metal-edged ski is now available in three sizes: 165, 175 and 185. All-new is the BC 110. This ski is not as wide as the BC 125, but shares the ultralight construction, Posigrip base and full-metal edge. Except for a new paint job, the BC 90, 70 and 65 remain the same.

in its “S-Bound” category (78, 88, 98 and 112). First is the new Offtrack Crown waxless pattern. This grippier pattern is designed to make the S-Bounds aggressive climbers. Second is the Nordic Rocker Camber. No, the tips and tails don’t have the obvious splay of alpine and tele skis with rocker. But the tip does rise 10 centimetres over traditional skis when weighted. This aids in climbing, as the tip will climb up out of the snow, and in turning in soft snow. The new Offtrack Crown pattern also graces the base of the Spider 62 and the Outback 68. The Spider 62 can fit in the track for those wanting a full-metal-edged ski on the groomed trails.
Appearing to be beautifully finished wood, the new Alpina Odyssey Edge is a wood-core, sandwich-construction ski. The base, top sheet and sidewalls are, of course, modern synthetic materials and the ski sports a full-metal edge. With a sidecut of 90-70-80, the Odyssey is meant for off-track easy touring.

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