As 2019 skis hit the shelves we look at the exciting new trends that will define the season ahead.
It’s that time of year where online retailers are clearing out their stock of this season’s skis to make way for next season’s stock – in this case, 2019 skis. For some, it represents an opportunity to snap up a bargain on previous seasons’ models, for many others, it’s a chance to check out the new designs, tech and trends that will dominate industry talk for the next year.
If you fall into the latter category, then 2019 will not disappoint. We’ve selected the five skis that we’re getting excited about.
Elan Ripstick 96 – Black Edition
The Elan Ripstick line has become an industry stalwart – a family of skis that are light enough to tour on, stiff enough to carve trenches in frontside groomers, and lively enough to satisfy the most demanding skiers out there (Glen Plake, anyone?!).
The skis benefit from tech referred to by Elan as “TNT technology”, which saves weight but retains stiffness and power through the insertion of two carbon rods that run through the length of the ski’s wood core, as well as vaportip insert that improves stability.
The line runs in a 96, a 106 and a 116, but for this season, we’re particularly interested in the 96 “Black Edition”, the details of which have been kept reasonably under wraps.
This much we do know:
- It has an extra layer of carbon built into it
- It’s black
How it will affect the weight of the ski (hopefully not much) and the stiffness of the ski (perhaps a little), we are yet to find out. Any improvement on the current incarnation will be a huge win, though, because … let’s face it, the Ripstick 96 is already a phenomenal ski. Watch this space.
Volkl Mantra M5
Phil Juneau from Natural Skiers refers to the Volkl Mantra as a “marquee ski in the business”, and we tend to agree. For years, the Mantra has been the leader in the hotly contested All Mountain category, a ski that feels as natural floating through six inches of fresh powder as it does busting through heavy crud or charging down an icy zipper line.
Unlike the Ripstick (above), the Mantra remains a burly ski, aimed at aggressive riders who go in search of a ski with extra metal (and therefore weight) rather than shy away from it. That said, the 2019 edition has come with changes that many will appreciate.
For one, it has gone back to its original 96 mm under foot, a change that is consistent with this year’s industry-wide shift towards narrower skis. It also benefits from a more generous sidecut (bringing its turn radius from 23.6 to 19.8 m in the 177 cm), a more traditional cambered profile (with tip and tail rocker) and three overlapped frame “pieces” on top rather than the customary full Titanal layer.
What does this all mean? Well, apart from some very modest weight savings (it’s still a relatively heavy ski), the new changes all point towards a product that will perform better on the hard pack, presumably without giving up much of its soft snow capability. If the video above is anything to go by, Volkl may well have nailed the brief.
Blizzard Firebird / Volkl Deacon
“The return of the turn.” After a decade of ski companies encouraging extra width, height and rocker, we are suddenly witnessing a return to race-oriented recreational skis for those looking for hard snow performance. Volkl and Blizzard have added the Deacon and Firebird lines respectively – both of which are designed with speed and liveliness in mind.
To fit the brief, the Firebird line features two vertical strips of carbon that run the length of the ski, while the Deakon introduces 3D Glass Construction, a sheet of fibreglass that wraps around the core of the ski and the sidewall to promote edge grip and a natural flex in the centre.
Atomic Bent Chetler
The Atomic Bent Chetler has been a marquee powder ski for the brand since its inception in 2009 and, until now, has been available only at 120(ish) underfoot – perfect for the really deep days, but not for anything else. The 2019 line will include a Bent Chetler “all mountain” model at 100 underfoot, complete with extra sidecut, a reduced rocker profile and a stiffer flex pattern. In Atomic’s own words, it is a “do-anything, go-anywhere, one-ski-quiver, totally prepped for taking it wherever you want to go.”
The ski has been designed with plenty of input from Chris Benchetler himself, and has had positive feedback from anyone lucky enough to get their hands on it already.
With a weight of around 1820 grams per ski, it’s at the lighter end of the spectrum in the all-mountain category, and would not be out of place in the backcountry as part of a touring setup.
We witnessed the release of Line’s breakthrough model, the Pescado, in 2017. For the 2018/19, Line has gone back to the drawing board for the creation of the Sakana – an “all-new ski bred from the same DNA as the Pescado”, which features the unique swallow tail design with the added benefits of a Carbon Flax Weave, a pushed back mounting point and a more versatile 105 mm underfoot.
The Sakana has been designed with input from freeskier Eric Pollard who, as the creator of the Pescado, praised the swallowtail for its “unique feel” and ability to “change the torsional rigidity” of a ski.
Like its older brother, the Sakana will cater to those who look for a more fun, playful ski – rather than someone looking to carve trenches in the groomers or bomb through the ruts of an icy mogul field. It will appeal to all the fashionistas/Instagramers out there, who will get a real kick out of the ski’s funky design. It’s a genuine conversation starter.