GEAR 101: What Is Flipcore?

We now understand that the individual wood fibers in any core are technically continuous. However, when a curve is bent into the wood, fibers are stretched and compressed slightly along that curve. To grasp this concept, think of a car’s two front wheels during a turn. Joined by the car’s axle, the outside wheel must move faster than the inside. By the same token, the wood fibers on the outside of a curved piece of wood must be longer than those situated on the inside of the curve. Therefore, since the fibers started out the same length, and the ski is now bent into a curve, some fibers have lengthened and some have shortened. Of course, the fibers on the outside of the bend cannot withstand infinite tension in being stretched, they can only stretch so far before breaking.

So, again we’re dealing with two different wood core structures: a conventionally bent structure, in which a some of a core’s fibers are compressed and stretched, and the Flipcore structure in which all the core’s wood fibers remain straight.  The primary questions become:

Does a wood core containing stretched and compressed fibers flex differently than a core with straight fibers (Flipcore)?

And furthermore, if that is the case, are those flex characteristics of a Flipcore ski actually preferable over a conventional one, as Blizzard claims?

We’ll be sure to take up these questions when meeting with Duke and Mantagazza at SIA, in addition to those concerning “production consistency” (which Blizzard also lists as a benefit of the Flipcore build process).

Speaking of which, claims of improved production consistency do seem well founded, but lack sufficient explanation. In the Flipcore production process, the flex properties of the core prior to pressing should be very close to—if not exactly the same as—those after the ski is produced. However, this would only prove important if in fact there is a significant change in flex properties during an ordinary “bent” pressing process, and if those changes are truly undesirable.

Flex behavior seems the most relevant point in investigating Flipcore Technology, but the stated benefits of Flipcore go further. Blizzard claims that the construction method allows them to produce skis with “superior floatation in combination with extreme stability and performance.” What’s more, bamboo used in the core “makes weight reduction and a previously-unheard-of stability and pressure distribution [even flex profile] possible at the same time,” so that the skis are much easier to ski for riders of any skill level.

Blizzard’s Connor Brown has reiterated this, stating that Flipcore makes “high performance skis easier to handle for…intermediate level skiers without sacrificing anything for the most accomplished skier.”

While BLISTER reviewers wonder about the legitimacy of claims about Flipcore’s “superior flotation,” in the time we’ve put on the Flipcore-d Cochise, we have unanimously agreed that the ski is far more forgiving than we expected, and that it holds up to a seriously high level of riding. In short, the forgiving yet remarkably stable and versatile qualities of the Cochise are consistent with Blizzard’s claims about the benefits of Flipcore Technology.

But we still aren’t in a position to confirm that Flipcore is directly responsible for these characteristics. In order to do so, we would need to ride two skis in the same conditions, identical in every respect except that one would feature Flipcore, and the other would be built via conventional processes.

Clem Smith, a Blizzard California Sales Rep, notes that Flipcore isn’t “just another ‘me too’ rocker story trying hard to have some kind of catchy marketing jargon that is merely talking about the bottom contour on the skis.”

Clem’s right.

Flipcore involves a production process that is, as far as we can tell, definitely different from the norm.

However, a few questions remain. Flipcore may be different in practice, but does it really translate directly (and significantly) to an exceptional product?

To be clear, if the Flipcore production process led even to a subtle improvement in production consistency, performance, etc., then Blizzard will have earned its swagger. In our book, subtle improvements are tantamount to significant improvements, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with Blizzard.

[Editor’s Note: Though Blizzard had initially expressed a willingness to discuss the details of Flipcore Technology & the production process further, they have not responded to multiple requests on our part. BLISTER is ready to continue the conversation, should Blizzard chose to do so.]

7 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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