Women and skis 2010

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Women and Skis

Manufacturers have picked sides in the debate. And they all agree: yes, women are different
from men. Theirs is a biological argument, claiming a woman’s centre of mass is anatomically
much lower than a man’s. Thus the all-important and complex issues of stance and ski geometry
need reviewing. Several industrial corollaries, or assumptions, or biases (call them what you
will) ensue: women tend to be physically lighter and correspondingly less strong than men.
Coming up with skiable solutions to these differences often results in lighter skis, wider tips
and waists moved forward (as in the case of K2 below) for quicker turn initiation, and softer
tails for ease in exiting carves (Rossignol’s Harmony, below, is a classic example). Some
manufacturers have heeled women’s boots and bindings forward, while others, like Völkl (see
next page), have decided upon a more neutral stance.

*K2’s Alliance—its all-women R&D company
group—has revamped its T:Nine all-mountain
series. These K2 riders had one thing in mind:
bring high-performing skis to the female
demographic. They’ve achieved just that by
working on their Bioflex Core, a breakthrough
in multiwood cores that fuses lightweight
fi r at the tips and tails together with more
solid spruce underfoot. Then the package gets
wrapped in lightweight bamboo and paulownia
fibres, providing a blend of stability and
forgiveness. T:Nine skis come with a midsole
two cm forward of that of the men to optimize
control and turn initiation for those with a
lower centre of mass. New are the beefy 82-
mm Lotta Luv, the 76-mm Free Luv, and the
72-mm Sweet Luv and First Luv. The first
two come with Marker’s high-performance
Energy Response System (ERS). Touted as the
industry’s first women-specific, fully integrated
binding system, it results in a lighter solution
(it’s a full pound less than its M1 predecessor)
that provides, according to the folks at Marker,
unparalleled quickness and precision in turning.

Want to ski in perfect Harmony? Turn
to Rossignol, whose super-light frontsider
has finally come to market. Fine-tuned
over the past two years, the Harmony’s
revolutionary silhouette shape provides,
according to Rossi’s R&D department, just
the right contour to ease in and out of turns
effortlessly. The ski comes with a wide-shovelled 115-70-98 profile and in 138, 146,
154 and 162 lengths, ideal for beginner and
early-intermediate riders.

Salomon is sure that this year’s 77-mmwaisted
Diamond will be every girl’s best
friend. Heading off its completely renewed
Origins all-mountain line—which includes
the Opal and Topaz (both with 74-mm
waists), and the Crystal and Amber (both
72 mm)—this full wood-core ski comes with
all the bells and whistles, including a lowershaped
shovel, known as the 3D Stealth Tip,
for better snow contact and wider edges for
improved durability. The ski is packaged in
a solid double monocoque structure—with
two layers of fi bres overlaying the core—for
maximum response and edge grip.

Atomic’s Women Flex Zone (WFZ)
technology shows up in its all-mountain
Cloud series. Tailored to the lower centre
of gravity and lower physical strength in
comparison to men, the flex of the tip and
tail is gradually softened, allowing easier turn
initiation and a smoother finish to the turn.

In an attempt to create female-specific
performance boards that are easier to ski, less
fatiguing and more fun, Völkl has boosted
this year’s Attiva line with its Bio-Logic
system. It has re-engineered bindings with
raised toe height relative to the heel, giving a
more neutral ramp. With this basic stance, the
company says skiers stand more naturally and
activate muscles more evenly. Ski geometry,
the German manufacturer’s second innovation,
has also been reworked. Völkl uses digressive
sidecuts—meaning the narrowest part of
the ski has been moved back. Tips get wider
and tails narrower significantly, increasing
the ease of steering, turn initiation and exit
phases. Finally, flex has been fine-tuned to
optimize the new ski shape and stance. The
Aurora, Sol, Estrella, Tierra and Fuego all
feature the system. The last two also take
advantage of the new iPT eMotion integrated
binding system, which the company claims
increases agility and power transfer.

Nordica has also fattened up its women’s
offerings with anatomically geared boards
for all levels and kinds of skiers. Rocking the
big mountain? Go 98 mm underfoot with the
Nemesis. Phenom takes to the park, while
Firefox leads Nordica’s high-performing
frontside skis. All-mountain skiers have a
quiver of five from which to choose.

Specs and retail prices for all models click here.

Marty McLennan
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