Recent questions from a journalist have helped me to appreciate modern ski design.
"As an experienced and well respected trainer and instructor, and an original thinker on the art of skiing, I wondered if you would be prepared to give me some information on the evolution of ski design?" Steve Smith, freelance journalist.
1. What do you think have been the most significant advances in ski design, and why?
The rise of snowboarding raised technical challenges for engineers, mainly revolving around the relationships between
- longitudinal flex pattern
- side cut shape
- torsional stiffness
These qualities need to be balanced against each other to produce snowboards, and of course skis, with particular behavioural characteristics.
Rising to these challenges, which were highlighted in snowboard design, allowed the engineers to develop their abilities to influence these qualities through the use of materials and new design considerations.
Modern skis have benefited enormously from these developments.
Ski designers can now balance these qualities to produce skis that behave in particular ways, in particular environments and to suit skiers of specific abilities.
Some skis are designed to suit the abilities of skiers with very little experience and others to suit experts, requiring more accurate inputs and producing a sportier performance.
Skis that are designed specifically for deep snow are wider than they been in the past, with tips and tails that are narrower than the midsection, rockered and very supple.
These features help the skis to provide flotation and allow the skis to be pivoted, for control in tight spaces.
The rocker design has also been applied to piste skis.
For example, the skis I’m using in the image above, next season's VOLKL Code L, are very grippy piste skis that are rockered, to expand the versatility of the ski.
These extraordinary skis are at the pinnacle of modern ski design.
Obviously, race skis are racier and off piste skis are better in deep snow, but the blend of qualities provided by the VOLKL Code L design is a shining example of how modern ski designers are able to blend different characteristics to produce skis that were not possible just a few years ago.
2. How have changes in ski design changed the way that we ski?
They give skiers more freedom in their tactical choices and more control over their speed and line.
There’s a lot to say on these subjects.
If you read the e-book’s here, you will find most of the technical and tactical issues discussed in some detail.
They all derive from modern ski design.
Our Ski Performance Breakthrough clinics are all about helping experienced skiers to maximise these opportunities.
3. What future advances do you see (if any) in ski design.
Ha! Clairvoyance is not my forte, I’m sorry.
I know I will be delighted by the outcome.