Canada (English)

Hot Gear for This Year: 3 Top Trends for 18/19

8th May 2019 | Krista Crabtree

Much of the expert skiing is accessed via a short hike to Knife Ridge. You get a great view of the South San Juan Mountain's here as well.

Much of the expert skiing is accessed via a short hike to Knife Ridge. You get a great view of the South San Juan Mountain's here as well.

Copyright: Liam Doran

Whether you’re a self-prescribed gearhead who treats skis like an honored member of the family or a grab-gear-and-go kind of skier, you may be asking yourself: should I buy skis now or hold out for next season? While you’re floating through powder, arcing up the corduroy or exploring the backcountry on your current pair of skis and boots, ski companies are offering industry pros a sneak peek at the latest and greatest gear to be available in shops next year—typically around Labor Day, about the same time as the launch of OnTheSnow Ski Buyers' Guide.

A sneak peek is like watching the teaser for the next episode of your favorite show—you’ll have to wait a while to enjoy it, but gearheads and casual skiers alike can look forward to innovations in ski shape, construction methods and the use of lightweight space age materials to increase comfort and performance. Another thing to look forward to: The turns you’re making now on your setup might get even better next year on the skis and boots of the future. 

1. Back to the Front

A preview of 2018/2019 models from multiple manufacturers shows that performance frontside skis are becoming the new norm. Ever popular in Europe, skis with a narrow waist (sub 80 mm underfoot) are piquing the interest of North American skiers who encounter the reality of snowmaking and high-pressure systems. “We’re seeing folks who want a narrow ski alternative,” says Sam Beck, director of communications for Nordica. “They may have a midfat ski and a powder ski, but people need a narrow ski for the dry cycle.” As consumers move away from the previous trend of searching for a one-ski quiver, manufacturers offer more carve-happy options—including some models that own the short radius turn to more versatile hybrid race/all mountain models.

For 2018/2019, look for investments in models with narrower waists or a race heritage. Here are some examples:

• Race skis are the topic and playful skis are the goal for Nordica, who combines a friendly flex pattern with a race-ski feel in the updated Enforcer and Santa Ana collection. The frontside-focused Spitfire series—previously available only in Europe—enters the U.S. market. >> Shop current Nordica 

Nordica Spitfire introduced to U.S.  - © Krista Crabtree

Nordica Spitfire introduced to U.S.

Copyright: Krista Crabtree

• Rossignol’s Experience line (including the 88 and 94) gets a big update, thanks to a new Center Rail construction that makes the skis powerful and strong, yet versatile and playful. >> Shop current Rossignol

• The K2 all new women’s LUV series includes the top performer, the Tough Luv, designed for performance frontside skiing. Five new models all include a full wood core with carbon stringers, reducing weight by 10 percent. >> Shop current K2

• The namesake in Line’s new Pandora series for women slims down slightly (to 94 mm underfoot), designed with less taper and a tighter turn radius than previous models. >> Shop current Line

2. Built Light, Right

Over the past several seasons, manufacturers followed a trend of removing material to reduce weight and lighten up the ski or boot. The trend now, however, is to build gear light in the first place, instead of removing material from existing models. “People are still implementing lightweight strategies,” says Jake Strassburger, brand manager for Atomic. “For backcountry, there’s a mission to go lighter, but for all-mountain skis, it’s about fine tuning where you place that material.” The use of carbon has increased, thanks to its high strength-to-weight ratio, and manufacturers continue to tinker with strategic placement of carbon in the ski’s construction.

Though skis and boots have experienced a big movement of slimming down in weight, look for a reexamination of construction techniques. Examples include:

• “Light done right” is Head’s tagline for next season. LYT Tech, a lightweight technology, appears in the Graphene-constructed, five-model V-shape ski series as well as the Nexo ski boot—a 30 percent lighter shell with a heat moldable liner that features LiquidFit, an insert filled with paraffin wax for a more precise fit in the heel. >> Shop current Head

• Blizzard’s new C-Spine technology features a carbon spine and shows up in top racing skis like SRC and WRC lines, and the new Firebird line for 18/19. >> Shop current Blizzard

• Salomon implements carbon into a new boot, a new freeride touring binding as well as adding more to skis, such as models in the QST line, which also include flax from Normandy, France. >> Shop current Salomon

• Völkl unveils the M5 Mantra (the fifth generation, with a 96-mm waist width) and the women’s-specific Secret (92-mm underfoot), both with a Titanal band and carbon fiber. >> Shop current Völkl

Völkl's new Secret.   - © Krista Crabtree

Völkl's new Secret.

Copyright: Krista Crabtree

• Rossignol features Carbon Alloy Matrix in skis, including the updated 7 series—employing a high-quality carbon fiber for elasticity and dampness.

• Atomic started with the thinnest last and ski materials and built up around it, so skis are reinforced in the shovel, yet lightweight in specific areas. The Vantage line features all new models, reinforced with Tank Mesh TI and Tank Mesh Carbon. >> Shop current Atomic

• Building on the success of the lightweight freeride-oriented Ripstick line, Elan’s new frontside and all-mountain Black Edition Skis are constructed with carbon for high performance and a lightweight feel. >> Shop current Elan

Elan's Black Edition skis.  - © Krista Crabtree

Elan's Black Edition skis.

Copyright: Krista Crabtree

• Kästle’s new MX 99 features a full carbon layer with Hollowtech technology—which reduces weight in the tip. >> Shop current Kästle

• An update to K2’s iKonic 84 Ti extends carbon into the ski’s tip. On the boot side, K2 debuts three new women-specific Luv models, while the men’s Recon features four different densities of plastic—from lightweight to stiff, depending on energy transmission.

3. Safety First

Gear designed for backcountry skiing and freeride touring continues on an uphill trajectory as demonstrated by new freeride bindings (DIN certified for alpine turns with touring mobility) and lightweight skis and boots. Trends show skiers looking for one setup to fulfill all of their off-piste needs, and next season’s lightweight yet versatile new additions address those needs.

Manufacturers are also focusing on safety for their customers as they venture out of bounds. “As we make more and more gear and innovate more ways to take you deeper into the backcountry, it’s our responsibility to make sure people ‘know before they go’ and partner with backcountry professionals to help educate people,” says Jed Duke, director of product for Blizzard and Tecnica.

Here’s a preview of manufacturers raising safety consciousness for consumers:

• Along with updating lightweight ski models, Blizzard introduces a pilot program called BRASS, an educational series designed to increase avalanche awareness for ski racers.

• To address the grey area of alpine and touring incompatibility issues, Salomon and Atomic introduce the new Shift binding, with both an alpine and touring-compatible rating so it can be skied with alpine or touring boots.

• Full Tilt enters the freeride/touring scene with a new lightweight and versatile touring boot called the Ascendant. >> Shop current Full Tilt 

Full Tilt

• For the mini-adventurer, Marker/Dalbello teamed up to create Jr. Gripwalk—a boot/binding system designed to work together to make walking in boots more safe and comfortable for kids. >> Shop current Marker/Dalbello


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