BLISTER AWARDS, PART II
• Favorite Person We Talked to at SIA •
Admittedly, we had a number of interesting conversations at SIA, so a handful of people could have rightly won this.
But we had an especially good time while we were in Denver having a roundtable conversation with three people from three different custom ski companies (Wagner, Parlor, and Folsom Skis), and you can listen to that conversation about custom skis on the Blister Podcast.
• The “Good / Bad Industry Trend” Award •
We decided to combine the Good Industry Trend Award and the Bad Industry Trend Award into one, because in fact, there is one single, dominant Godzilla trend that dwarfs every other potential candidate. And that trend is…
– Asymmetrical Skis
K2 is doing it. Blizzard is doing it. Elan is kind of doing it. ON3P is doing it. Praxis is doing it, and more and more companies seem to be hopping on the bandwagon.
So, what do we make of this trend?
To answer, let me share with you the internal dialogue that plays out pretty much every time I learn that another asymmetrical ski is coming to market:
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Hang on, have you actually skied any asymmetrical skis?
Me: No. Why would you want to. It looks dumb.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: But you haven’t even tried them. You’re being really closed-off to the possibility of innovation and refinement in ski design.
Me: You are a marketing department’s wet dream.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: If asymmetry messed skis up so bad, why would more and more companies be jumping on the trend?
Me: How did rat tails or mullets ever become a thing?
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Drew Tabke just won a FWT comp on an asymmetrical ski.
Me: Yeah, but Drew Tabke might not be human. We could snap together a pair of 187 cm ski out of legos, rub some butter on the bases, and Tabke would probably still win.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Ok, well that’s actually true. But still, you realize, right, that you are fighting against innovation?
Me: Remember how like three years ago you used to totally not be able to ski in deep snow and skiing pow was the worst because your uphill ski would always catch and hook and hurl you spinning through the air, causing massive frustration and making you absolutely hate skiing? Me neither. So thank you, ski industry, for providing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: You sound old.
Me: You sound gullible.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Luddite.
Me: Sean Spicer.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: You are not allowed to hate something that you haven’t even skied yet.
Me: But I have principles. And one of my principles is that skis should not look stupid.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: But what if you actually ski some of this asymmetrical stuff, and it turns out you don’t hate it. Will you admit it?
Me: Yes. But I will admittedly be mad while I admit it. And you know what else? Not only do we now have Left and Right skis, we will now also have to have Left and Right skins.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: So?
Me: So that’s dumb.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Your ski boots are Left and Right, has that ever bothered you before?
Me: That’s a stupid argument. Left and right feet are shaped differently. Skis don’t need to be.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: But what if asymmetry makes the skis even slightly better? Or rather, what if the asymmetry simply makes the ski not worse? The unusual design will draw the attention of buyers, get them intrigued, the industry will sell more skis, and more people will likely go skiing. You’re against that?
Me: Seems like maybe I am? Mostly, ski designers and marketing departments shouldn’t be allowed to go screwing up skis all the time, and I’m worried that might be happening here.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: But you haven’t skied any of these, right?
Actual Me: Yeah.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: And you’ve agreed to withhold judgment, right?
Me: I’ve never hated the idea of remaining open minded more, but Yes.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Ok, cool. Want to move on now and stop thinking about asymmetrical skis?
Me: Yes, please.
Hypothetical, Open-Minded Me: Cool.
• Most Intriguing 3 Millimeters in Skiing Award •
This year, it’s 115-117.
We noted last year that we’re seeing a shrinking selection of skis over 120 mm wide, and that continues to be true for 17/18. Granted, there are still some super fat skis out there — Liberty Skis is bringing back the 141mm-wide (!!!) Genome, for example. But this year, a number of companies don’t have any 120mm-wide skis in their line, and companies like Nordica, Scott, and Fischer are only pushing out to 115 mm.
Still, there are some awfully intriguing options in that ~115 mm range, such as:
– Head Kore 117
In addition to looking very cool (see above / below) , this ski is light — we’ll have exact production weights in a bit. We’ll find out in a bit how well it works as a resort pow ski, but it’s pretty easy to think about putting a tech binding on these and using it as a touring ski for big-mountain pow hunting.
– Scott Scrapper 115
Like the Kore 117, the Scrapper 115 is coming in crazy light; the 189 cm is said to weigh about 1800 g. And this ski also has a much more freestyle shape than wider touring skis like the Volkl BMT 122 or the Kore 117, so those looking for a lightweight pow ski or 50/50 ski should take note.
– Nordica Enforcer Pro (115 mm)
Nordica’s widest ski only comes in a 191 cm length, and looks like a very fun inbounds gun. (You can see rocker pics and read more about it here.)
– Fischer Ranger 115
This ski looks very interesting. It is coming in heavier — and more substantial — than the other skis in the Ranger series (188 cm Ranger 115 = ~2250 grams), and it mostly just looks like a lot of fun. (And it might remind us a bit of another ski we happen to like a little bit, the Blister Pro…)
We now have the Ranger 115 in hand, and we’ll be putting up a more complete First Look soon. And then we’re just waiting on the next storm cycle to drop a little fresh.
This is by no means a complete list, but what is intriguing about these skis is that, while some of them are now the widest skis in their company’s lineup, all of them look like they will perform well in deeper snow, while still maintaining a decent-to-good degree of versatility in less-than-deep conditions. We’re looking forward to checking out all of them.
NEXT: Swagger Award, Nasty Women Award, Etc.