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New designs are out in snowboards, skis

December 10, 2010

Steve Klassen outside his snowboard shop in Mammoth, showing off a new Burton board.

Camber is in. Camber is out. Rocker is in. Rocker is out.

No, wait! They’re both in! And howzabout them tips, eh?

In the world of snowboard and ski design, big things are happening lately, say those in the know.

“In the last two years, there’s been more redesign work on snowboards than in the 10 years before,” said Steve Klassen, owner of the Wave Rave Snowboard Shop and a world-class rider.

Over at Footloose Sports, owner Tony Colasardo held up a pair of Salomon skis, put them bottom-to-bottom and showed just how ski tips are zooming upward, in a design commonly referred to as the “Rocket” ski.

“It initiates a little quicker and a little easier,” Colasardo said. “It’s very, very minor, but skiers sure can tell the difference.

The new ski designs have been evolving over the past 10 years, said Colasardo, whose wall of skis has more than doubled in size because of wider skis and rocket tips – not because of the number of skis.
Klassen, who also manufactures his own snowboards (Steepwater), said new designs have been much more dramatic in the last two years.

“It was probably 12 or 13 years ago that Burton came out with the model of snowboard called the Burton Custom.

“It seems like every snowboard manufacturer on the planet just followed that design. It was a ground-breaking design at the time.”

The Burton Custom featured a fairly dramatic camber. That is, if you laid the board on a flat surface, the middle was raised, as in skis. That’s camber: a slightly arched surface, as in a roadway, for example.

The cambered snowboard gave great bite on the snow, and basically, it was the design for more than a decade.

Along the way came the so-called “rocker” snowboard, which basically violated every rule of cambered boards. Rather than arched upward under the feet, it went the other way, creating a kind of surfboard shape that left out the bite and gave way to a kind of “washy” feel, in Klassen’s words.

Now, however, manufacturers are beginning to make “hybrid” boards, incorporating the rocker under the feet and the camber stretching toward the tips.

“I’ve sent people out on the hill with these new camber boards,” Klassen said, “and they come back saying they can’t believe how easy it is.

He said that in his shop he’s now stocking about 50 percent hybrid boards, 30 percent cambered boards and 20 percent true rocker boards.

Meanwhile, over at the ski shop, Colasardo said new ski designs, particularly in crud skis and powder skis, his customers report fabulous results.

“The skis are getting wider and wider.

“In the last 10 years, all-mountain skis have gone from, 75 mm to 78 mm to more like 80 to 85 mm in the waist. Which is substantial.

“Now the trend from there has been to go to taller skis and are even more wide. So now we’re at 105 mm to about 125 or 135 mm.

“It’s evolved over the years. My powder skis 10 years ago were 89 mm across the waist and they were phenomenal. And now it’s about 111 mm. “

The difference is that the skis don’t sink so deep in the snow. With wider skis, a skier can get on top of the powder more easily, making the whole experience a little easier, particularly for older skiers whose leg strength, ahem, ain’t what it used to be.

“With the 111’s, it’s not that it’s effortless,” Colasardo said. “The biggest difference is the rise in the tips.”

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