We’re barely into 2019, and naturally that means it’s time to start discussing 2020 skis! Ski makers around the world have already begun showing up at ski expos with 2020 stock, sparking plenty of chat over the new models and designs that will feature on the slopes next season.
So, what’s new? Well, if 2019 was the year for major changes across the industry, it appears as though 2020 is the year ski manufacturers sit back and applaud their own work. Many have released (mostly) unchanged lines from 2019, choosing to update topsheets or make minor tweaks to existing models.
Don’t get us wrong, some of the new skis look fantastic. They’re just not that different.
There are, however, a handful of skis that have changed considerably in 2020 – skis with new tech or designs that are getting us suitably excited for next season, even though we’re far from done with the current one. Here they are:
The Vision is Line’s first attempt at a touring-oriented freeride ski. It comes in a 108 and a 98, using a THC construction (carbon, fibreglass and aramid) to reduce weight “mellow out” the ski at different speeds (listen to one of Line’s ski engineers discuss this concept with Backcountry Skiing Canada below).
Line has also built an entirely new shape for this series, introducing tech that it calls a 5 Cut Progression.
“What that means is it has five different turning radiuses from tip to tail.”
“We’ve got a tighter radius in the forebody, with a progression into a longer and longer radius in the tail. The reason we did that was that we wanted a ski that was really predictable, that you could ski all day and not have any surprise jumping into the next turn.”
Volkl Mantra 102
For 2019, the Volkl Mantra M5 was scaled down from 100 mm to its original 96 mm underfoot. It was a change that was consistent with industry trends and a desire to improve the ski’s hard pack performance, and the result was widely applauded. But it may have left the skiers who appreciated the ski’s freeride attributes feeling slightly under-gunned on the newer model.
In 2020, Volkl aims to solve this problem by releasing an Mantra 102 – a burlier version of the M5 with a 102 mm waist and a natural inclination to softer snow and bigger lines. It is the first time the ski maker has released two versions of the ultra popular ski.
The Mantra 102 will also feature a new technology that Volkl is calling “3D radius sidecut”, which is an attempt to build three different turn radiuses into each ski – at the tip, tail and underfoot. It’s an interesting concept, and the early consensus amongst ski testers is that it works.
We’re in love with Elan’s Ripstick line; in fact, the Ripstick 96 Black Edition served dutifully as our editor’s one-ski quiver on a recent trip to Japan. So, when we heard that Elan had taken all the qualities of the Ripstick and packed them into a line of narrower, resort-oriented skis, we sat up and took note.
The Wingman line comes in an 86, an 82, and a 78, with CTI (carbon tube) and TI (titanal) constructions to choose from in each model, which will affect the weight and nature of the ski. The skis also make use of Elan’s asymmetrical Amphibio shape, which gives them a longer effective inside edge and a slightly more rockered outside edge.
In addition to debuting the new Wingman series, Elan have also noted the popularity of the Ripstick 96 Black Edition and released it in a 106 for 2020. Pair it with a touring binding (we suggest the Salomon Shift), and you may be looking at the perfect ski for a Japan powder trip.
The Stöckli Stormrider line has long been a favourite of ours. A freeride ski with race pedigree, loaded with energy but light enough to pair with a touring binding and head for the backcountry. If only money were no object… (these gorgeous handmade skis currently retail for A$1656).
The design and graphics have remained unchanged for a couple of seasons, but for 2020 Stöckli have made some improvements, sticking with the tried and tested sandwich construction but introducing thinner sheets of metal. The result: a classic Stöckli ski, with loads of edge grip and rebound, but slightly lighter and more playful than their predecessors. We’re intrigued.
The Stormriders continue to come a 95 and 105; the former works well as an all-rounder, while the 105 will appeal to those who spend most of their time off-piste.
Nordica Enforcer Free 104
Nordica has nailed the freeride brief over the last few years, with an Enforcer line that continues to go from strength to strength. So, what do you do when you have a line of skis that everyone seemingly adores? You add to it.
In 2020, Nordica has split the line into two, with the Enforcer Free series that includes last year’s 110, a burly 115 (previously known as the Enforcer Pro), and an all-new 104 underfoot. The classic Enforcer line – with less rocker in the tail than the “Free” series – retains the 100 and 93 and adds a narrower 88 to the mix.
The 104 is already making waves and was awarded a “Show Stopper” badge at this year’s first Outdoor Retail event in Denver, Colorado. The construction of the ski is fascinating, with a polar/beach core, two carbon sheets and two titanal sheets, which, according to Nordica, give the ski “the high performance feel and confidence of metal with the lightweight advantage of a full wood core”.Check price
Faction Full Turbo Monoski
It takes a certain type to rock a Monoski, and having never quite put ourselves in that category, we’re a little reluctant to add this one to our list for 2019! However, if you’re looking for something that will turn heads, this is absolutely the ski to do it with.
Our only advice: this can’t be a half-hearted effort. For the “Full Turbo effect, this monoski must be paired retro one-piece ski suits, loads of colour and plenty of attitude. If you do end up taking this ski for a burn, please make sure you tag us (@skiasiacom).