GEAR 101: What Is Flipcore?

In what follows, Will Brown has put together what we believe to be a more useful, informative explanation of what Flipcore actually is.

His account is the result of hours of conversations and email exchanges with me, Jason Hutchins, Joe Augusten (BLISTER’s resident structural engineer, and the author of the longest AT binding review in the history of the world), and Blizzard rep, Conor Brown.

Then, next week at SIA, Will and I are scheduled to to sit down with Blizzard’s international and domestic product managers and give them the opportunity to respond, elaborate, or curse at us—generally explain what they think we got right and what they think we got wrong, or are just missing.

But for now, take it away, Will Brown:

Here We Go, The Evidence:

In advance of last year’s SIA, Blizzard described Flipcore as “a new production process where the cambered wood core is literally flipped upside down to match the desired camber of a rockered ski. The ski is then pressed in a non-forced, natural way, which allows the rocker (reverse-cambered) shape to be produced without having to bend or artificially shape the ski in a press.”

Read with even a slightly critical eye, the description doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense, or at least doesn’t communicate in enough detail the unique, notable parts of the Flipcore production process.

The concept of a “non-forced, natural” pressing process is unclear. Pressing a ski and its materials together in mold involves a great deal of force. Mainly, in the statement above, we’re left in the dark about (1) how those forces are specifically imparted in Blizzard’s process of pressing a ski with Flipcore, and (2) how that method is unique. Such details are extremely important in understanding what allegedly makes Flipcore distinct.

The language of “cambered wood core” is misleading, too. As we’ll see, wood cores start out flat and go through a “profiling” process prior to pressing. It’s only fair to recognize that, in this case we’re working with information from an interview. Mr. Duke may have just meant to say, “profiled wood core,” an important term that we’ll cover in a moment.

Searching elsewhere, we can find slightly clearer descriptions of Flipcore from Blizzard, though all are close variations of the above quote.

On Blizzard’s US corporate site, the company speaks to the orientation of the “flipped wood core” in their skis, “whose downward-facing convex side forms the natural rocker shape of the ski, without having to bend or artificially shape the ski in the press.” This is a slightly more detailed account of Flipcore, but to someone unfamiliar with the specifics of traditional ski construction (probably 99% of consumers) the explanation still remains pretty unhelpful.

To really understand what makes Flipcore construction fundamentally different, we first have to take a look at conventional ski building methods, and pay close attention to wood core construction.

8 comments on “GEAR 101: What Is Flipcore?”

  1. Interesting article. Makes some sense. I have been under the impression (actually, I was told) that in many ski companies, the camber is actually milled into the core, not just pressed in. While I understand that forcing it to rocker may break these fibers, if I’m not mistaken, then traditionally cambered skis are not being broken. This wastes wood, but helps prevent them from losing camber right away.
    Can anyone comment on this? Is it wrong?

  2. Any chance the introduction of the bamboo core has impact on the properties of the ski than the flipcore construction? After all, ON3P uses bamboo exclusively and you pointed out the stability of skis from that manufacturer in your article. Liberty skis (amongst others) also use bamboo and have been picking up a host of industry awards lately.

  3. I’d be interested in doing a test if Blister wants to help answer some questions. It would be fairly easy for us to lay up an stock Caylor, a ski that Blister has had some experience on, and just flip the cores. It wouldn’t be an absolute true test since the stock and new flipcore skis would have seen different riding conditions and use, but after a two or three day break in period, you could ski em back to back for comparison.

  4. Thanks for explaining this technology. I’m not sure if I understand though…If a core is turned upside down in the press, the press still forces the core to bend from a negative camber shape to a positive camber shape in the waist (since all flip core models seem to have positive camber). Here, the stress on the wood fibers should be increased, or not?

  5. You know what, those guys over at Blizzard are just lazy. One afternoon, after a long day of inhaling wood dust and fiberglass particles, the guy operating the ski press gave the dude passing him the profiled wood cores a look and said, “seriously? you really want me to push the wood against the direction it wants to go? do you know how much energy thats going to take?” Minutes later, Flipcore was born.

    As an aside, the Cochise looks like a great ski.

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