Special Feature: Designing a Ski for the FWT

JE: What about weight?

You and I have never really discussed this before. The more stuff I ski, the more I feel that, at least for me, if a ski weighs less than 2000 grams per ski, it almost always feels too light to truly excel in bumped up, firm conditions at speed. And for this specific application (skiing at speed, in bumped-up, firm snow), a number of my favorite skis fall into the 2200 – 2400 gram range—they don’t feel too heavy to lose all quickness, but they’re heavy enough to blow stuff up.

Down in New Zealand, Paul Forward called the 194 4FRNT Devastator the best crud ski he’s ever used, and that ski weighs nearly 2600 grams per ski.

You’ve called the Scott Punisher the best chop / crud ski you’ve ever used, and those come in right around 2200 grams per ski.

You’re also lighter than me (I’m ~185 lbs., Garrett is ~160 lbs.), but do you have specific thoughts about weight? Did the XXLs feel sluggish to you? What ski has felt best to you regarding weight?

GA: Honestly, weight isn’t something that I’ve paid too much attention to, but generally speaking, I prefer skis that aren’t too light since they’re more prone to ricochet and have more difficulty transitioning between different snow types. A heavier ski will generally transition more effectively, but the downside is that swing weight becomes a limitation, particularly with tricks off jumps and tighter jump turns.

The incorporation of a solid wood core seems to provide a really nice combination of natural dampening abilitity and weight. When metal reinforcement becomes part of the design, then weight can become an issue.

JE: Cool. We’ll leave it at that for now.

But last week, Garrett and I got on the phone with Pete Wagner, and had a really interesting conversation with him about ski design in general, and Garrett’s ski in particular. Pete walked Garrett and me through every single step of the ski’s construction and design, and we’ll be reporting back on that soon.

‘Till then, you can check out Wagner’s Skier DNA questionnaire at www.wagnerskis.com/dna

20 comments on “Special Feature: Designing a Ski for the FWT”

  1. That sounds like a very interesting project, and I’m sure that many are looking forward to hearing more about it.
    Just to make a point: 99.9% of surfboards have tail rocker (typically about 2″ for a 6 foot shortboard). It’s nigh on impossible to turn one without it, but less tail rocker means more projection (speed, drive) out of your bottom turn.

  2. Maz, thanks for making your point about tail rocker. Surfboards do have a little rocker along the edge, and in terms of depth, it seems comparable to the tip on a ski…perhaps not even as deep. On skis I consider it more of a twin tail, rather than a tail with rocker. But you are correct in that less tail rocker equals more drive out of bottom turns. That is essentially what I’m looking for in this ski.

  3. Excited to see what you come up with. Wish you all the best for the FWT – good snow, no injuries and most importantly as much fun as you can have out there. I’m confident you will make the finals – and then you will be one of the few hands-full of individuals who have seen “Bec des Rosses” from above, something most skiers – inculding me – will only dream about…

  4. I’m a bit confused about why you’re doing this, Garrett — is it for the competition or the review? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a review of some Wagner skis on Blister, but it’s hard to imagine your competition odds are going to improve by skiing a brand new untested model from a small manufacturer whose skis you’ve never tried. And there are lots of rigs out there for exactly your needs. It sounds from your specs a little like you’re trying to reinvent the Praxis GPO (not exactly a coincidence, given that ski’s track record in comps).

    • What, specifically, reminds you of the GPO? The GPO is 116 underfoot and has 35 cm of tail rocker. Garrett is looking for a ski that is 105-110 underfoot with NO tail rocker. How are these the same ski?

      Garrett, you didn’t talk much about a number of other design aspects: turn radius, taper, or the ever-nebulous “feel” that you want these skis to have. The other question I was left wondering is what you want to change about the Belefone, other than slightly reducing the amount of tip-rocker depth?

      • Good question, Zak. For the initial design process, I described the type of ski I am looking for and a range of conditions I want it to excel in. Beyond a few specifics (which we named), we wanted to bring Pete Wagner in on the process and discuss things like sidecut and tip taper with him.

    • Roman,
      Fine question. The bottom line is I’ve been looking to have a ski for tough conditions, regardless of competing. Wagner has been garnering increased attention in the custom ski world and we’ve been very interested in testing their product. While the goal is to compete on this ski, the purpose of the project is to provide an objective, unbiased review for people interested in Wagner. Quite honestly, if the ski isn’t capable of handling the demands I subject it to, then it will simply not be used in competition. In that event, I will still evaluate where the ski excels and identify any shortcomings. As far as reinventing a ski, that isn’t remotely my intention. I’ve simply explained to Wagner what I’m looking for, and as part of their skier DNA process, included a couple skis that had appealing characteristics. If anything, my hope is that we can invent a ski that satisfies my ideals because, to me, that is what a custom product should be about.

  5. The surfboard analogy is pretty poor. Many surfboards have slight rocker towards the tail for increased maneuverability. Don’t spew about what you don’t know.

      • I’m excited to see what you and Pete come up with. It’s cool how Blister will be covering the full Wagner ski crafting experience. I look forward to reading your updates about the ski’s performance, as well as insights to the competition scene.

        Best of luck on the tour Garret! Ski hard, huck that meat, and try not to get hurt!

  6. I have only skied a couple Wagner creations, but they were superb performers with an unusual sense of control and power on demand….and after talking to a bunch of customers of Pete Wagner/s, each one seemed thrilled with the ability of Pete to deliver the exact ski they were looking for. Pete is very good at extracting information and personality out of a skier during the interview process, and since he’s been doing it for quite a few years now, he has great experience and can ask the right questions to narrow down the type and proportions of materials and the geometry needed to meet the skier’s need. If you are honest, thorough and articulate about the behavior you’re looking for, I will bet Pete Wagner can produce the ski to match…and the quality is top-shelf on the pairs I have seen and skied….

    Good Luck this season, and let us know how the design process works out!

    • Thanks, Eric.

      And great description of the skis’ performance…”superb performers with an unusual sense of control and power on demand.” That’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

      We’ll keep you posted…

  7. Great read!

    Anxiously awaiting the next installment.

    Oh, and just wondering if you know that surfboards apparently DO have tail rocker? :-)

    • Right on, Tom. I’m glad you enjoyed the read.

      Yeah yeah on the tail rocker…it didn’t take long to figure that out!

      Standby…we should have our next installment posted later this weekend.

  8. Congrats to Garrett! Way to represent America on the podium.

    Couldn’t help but to notice K2’s on your feet. Those Wagner’s almost out of the press?

Leave a Comment