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.