Special Summit on Ski Design (Ep.8)

Today’s podcast represents a pretty historic occasion – we’re not sure this has ever happened before, but at the SIA trade show last week in Denver, we brought together founders and designers from a number of different ski companies, locked them in a room, and got them to discuss their approaches to ski design; talked about the harsh realities of manufacturing; and asked each of them to predict what we’ll be seeing in the next 5 to 10 years.


We’re joined by DPS Skis founder, Stephan Drake.
The top two guys at Moment Skis, Casey Haakanson and Luke Jacobson
From Armada Skis, designer Andy Hytjan
From Blizzard Skis, Jed Duke
And from K2 and Line Skis, Jed Yeiser

This round table conversation pulls back the curtain on how the skis you love actually come to exist, and provides some insight into what your next pair of skis might look like.

SIA Coverage 2016 Blister Gear Review
Jed Yeiser and Luke Jacobson, discussing the finer points of ski design.

This episode is sponsored by Alaska Airlines

Visit alaskaair.com/ski to see their current deals

13 comments on “Special Summit on Ski Design (Ep.8)”

  1. 1. It is good to hear that manufactures start to talk about bringing old winning models of real big mountain skis back! Do not fix what is not broken! You are absolutely right, that not only athletes who ski 100 days a season today enjoy these skis. Many people with “real” jobs and appropriate background enjoy these skis as well. make a limited run, raise the price, but keep making good stuff.
    2. Unfortunately, I did not hear you talking about women’s skis. No, I do not refer for that strange stuff that is “specifically designed for women’s physiology” – that stuff does not work, women hate it and trying to avoid at all costs! We need normal skis in shorter lengths.(If you feel you need to add flowers and make it pink, go for it, but do not mess up a design, please!)
    3. Here is “what women want” (collective request):
    a) 4frnt Devastator – “one ski do it all” – thank you for 175 length!!!! If you could bring the radius up to 30m and consequentially reduce the rocker a little bit, that would be THE BEST SKI EVER (even better then Sickle)! But it is the best everyday ski that is out there today for somebody who is 5’3″.
    b) Rossignol please bring Sickle 2011 back – “one ski do it all” – make it in 175cm (in addition to 170cm) and keep it 105cm under foot!
    c) Moment, please do not change latest Belafonte and keep making it in 168cm, introduce 175cm as well!!! “one ski do it all”
    d) Atomic, please make Automatic117 in 170cm and 175cm (no, Century is not the same thing)
    e) Salomon, please do not change or discontinue Rokette115, can I ask for 175 in addition to 170cm as well?

  2. There are so many different ski designs today that use a wide variety of materials that just about everyone should be able to find a ski to meets their needs, from a one ski quiver to a multitude for specific purposes. However, the industry does have a problem with it’s inability to get enough demos of them into skiers hands where they need them, at resorts. Another problem is a lack of skis for light/heavy-short/tall skiers, if you’re not a male 5’8″-6’0″@140-200lbs then you’re SOL, because the ski will not work the way it should for you. Which leads me to my last comment, the need for 21st century custom skis built to your criterial and size. Meaning, cores would need to be 3-d printed and Boeing stress/flex engineering type software would need to be used to eliminate trial-and-error construction and costs. I know I would spend $2000/ski to get the ski right for me and for my purpose and I’m sure many others would as well, because I have already spent $1200/ski for DPS and Volk carbon skis that clearly aren’t built for my weight but are stiffer than anything else I can buy. Hopefully someday soon, someone will spend the upfront to begin making a truly custom ski.

  3. I second part of what Evan said. As someone who is 6-4, 220 lbs with gear, I cant find a ski thats long enough for every day or powder use. Im currently on the 187 Bonafide (Im on my second pair, first ones being 13-14 and this pair being 15-16) and 189 Spur, and wish I had something longer. A 195 Bonafide and a 200 Spur would be awesome. If I look for an off the shelf ski over 200cm, my options are various DPS models or Volk Shiros. It would be nice to have a big ski.

    • Matt, one thought – there are a number of ‘custom’ manufacturers out there, and we were very impressed with Wagner Skis out of Telluride. It won’t be cheap, but you won’t get a cheap product, either, and Pete Wagner has a guarantee on the work – if you don’t love the ski, he’ll start over. The market is so small for people looking for skis that are longer than 190 cm. So till Evan’s ideas become a reality, I think your best bet would be to strike up a conversation with someone like Wagner…

  4. Great recording! It was both informative and entertaining.
    I appreciated how J. Ellsworth tried to push the question of whether the industry is perhaps going (or has gone) too far with rocker. Personally, I think tapered tip & tail designs belong in that conversation too.
    I miss non-rockered, non-tapered all mountain skis from ~5-10 years ago. The Fischer Watea 94 comes to mind.
    I never had a problem pivoting or floating those skis. Today’s rockered/tapered skis may smear more easily, but IMO the sacrifice of an active tip that engages right with some forward shin pressure and a tip of the ski, is a poor tradeoff. Rocker and taper have their place but I think it’s being over applied today.

  5. I appreciate Blister as a whole and podcasts like this one because they allow me to geek out over the science of ski construction. I read Blister ski reviews not so much to determine if I want to buy a ski, but to better understand how its design and construction make it ski the way it does.

    But, at the same time, that’s why Blister is so frustrating! I take in accounts from incredibly informed/experienced skiers (even ski designers) about the nuances behind mass, rocker, shape, tip, camber, etc. Great! But I’m not experiencing it myself. I don’t want to buy one pair of skis and ski it for the next five years. But, like a lot of us, that’s my reality — I can’t afford/rationalize a quiver. Yes, I’m one of those — kids, job, wife, 10 days on the mountain is a good season.

    Admit it — a lot of you, like me, are envious of Jonathan, a ski sommelier of sorts, comparing and contrasting product and detecting the subtle and sometimes not so subtle notes that makes a ski what it is. How do you achieve this understanding, not just in an intellectual way but also a physical way — without getting on the skis yourself?

    Demo days or demoing from the mountain shop are not the answer. Demo days don’t always work with your schedule, it sucks when the ski you want to try is out, it’s no fun waiting for bindings to be adjusted, and demoing can be expensive.

    So is there an affordable, not too impractical solution for those of us who want to ski different skis?

    Hear me out on my proposed solution — a Ski Collective.

    In a nutshell, a Ski Collective would be a group of ski geeks living in the same area who are willing to share their skis. Adjustable bindings, of course, would be key (demo, touring, or Tyrolia-like). This would mean redrilling on some existing skis if they are to be added to the Collective’s “ski library” and a requirement on new ski purchases.

    Anyone in the Seattle area interested in discussing this idea further? If so, please respond. I could be in the market for a new pair of skis next season and a Collective like this, even with just a few skiers, would influence my purchase.

  6. If you did an episode like this every two or three years, it’d be worth it. Or have a special section of gold star podcast.

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