Buyer’s guide 2006

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Tweaking and technology take ski versatility, boot comfort and binding integration to the next level

Only the sharpest edges will suf?ce on the slippery slope of foretelling the future. Fortunately for Ski Canada, we don’t have to do that. We’ve already seen and tested the products that will impress you this season.

Amazingly, skis continue to bulk up. Wide off-piste boards are more common than ever, but thanks to improvements in materials and construction, shaped skis are also getting wider. Fatter skis provide more ? otation and platform for a wider range of conditions. But wide skis that can bene?t from the magic of sidecut are yielding greater versatility. Atomic’s Metron line was introduced to great fanfare last year, but the Z9 from Rossignol, Elan’s new Mag? re and the Outlaw from K2 are just a taste of what multi-tasking on the slopes is all about. New materials and designs continue to spawn better skis, but fashion is creeping in, too. Twintips are now found on many models that may never, intentionally, be used for skiing backwards. One added bene?t is that they ?ing an impressive rooster tail of snow into the face of following skiers—which could come in handy while escaping the paparazzi.

Women’s skis continue getting the attention they deserve with many new models speci? cally tailored for lighter skiers and women’s bodies. K2, Dynastar, Rossignol and Fischer offer new or upgraded models, while others like Head, Elan, Blizzard, Salomon and Nordica are introducing entirely new lines just for women.

BINDING INTEGRATION THAT ONCE MEANT a plate that matched a binding has taken another step. Screws and other mounting devices are slowly disappearing as more manufacturers begin moulding or bonding the binding interface directly into the ski at the factory. Elan started with Pulsion, but the new IQ system from Blizzard goes even further—the binding attaches to rails that are literally part of the ski. Indeed, Völkl inserts the binding interface for its Marker iPT system inside the ski during manufacture. Sounds nice but does it really help? Apparently the direct transfer of energy and free ski flexing is a measurable benefit, so expect to see more of it in the future.

THE TEPID WELCOME THAT SOFT BOOTS GOT in the marketplace when they launched at us a few years ago didn’t deter boot-makers from making better boots. It could be argued that to see real innovation in ski boot design we would have to go back to the dark days when we all thought Disco might catch on (remember that scare?). That was also when rear-entry boots and foam injection was foisted on the people. Today’s models are light-years ahead with warm, mouldable liners, multi-density plastics, easy in-and-out features, walking modes, women’s cuffs, functional buckles and non-skid soles. The drive to enhance warmth and comfort is in every brand this year.

It’s tempting to say that in the future there will be only two categories of skis, boot? tting will disappear and helmets will come equipped with Bluetooth for your builtin iPod—but I don’t think my edges are sharp enough for that.

Complete Buyer’s Guide 2006 in this issue.

Buyers guide

Martin Olson
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