Every year ski companies adjust, tweak their current fleet and update, innovate new technology for what’s next. They try to out-do and one up each other; all the while the skier reaps the benefits of industry competition, skiing on lighter, faster, radder equipment. And 2017 is no different. Today’s skier craves a ski experience with a wider range. One day of zipper lining bumps, one day of carving up groomers, one day of tree exploration, and the omnipresent and never ending search for the soul enriching untracked powder line. The all mountain desire has been greatly addressed by the ski industry over the last few years and 2017 is seeing those creative efforts with an explosion of new gear and refined classics. We here at The House have determined our Top Ten Ski Brands Industry Leaders. Here they are in no particular order:
Born in 2002, 4FRNT is one the youngest manufacturers of skis and skiing equipment but has quickly matured to an industry leader in cutting edge style and technology. At the beginning of the ’00s 4FRNT Founder Matt Sterbenz had grown tired of how bland, sterile, and homogeneous modern skiing was becoming. Sterbenz, along with like-minded disgruntled skiers, took matters into their own hands, forming 4FRNT, and thus “Rider owned. Rider inspired.” became their battle cry. Their core of professional athletes help to engineer skis like the Hoji and David Wise’s Gold Medal ski the Wise. 4FRNT works tirelessly to break free of mundane industry standards and change the way the world perceives freeskiing. At it’s core skiing is fun, a “kid’s game,” and this fact is not lost on Sterbenz and his crew. They incorporate innovative designs, ski shapes, and utilize the best materials and technologies available: Reflect Tech, Camber/Reverse Camber profiles, blends of Cap and Semi-Cap Construction, Tip and Tail Taper. 4FRNT uses “Tons of Tech” for one specific goal: an unmatched riding experience to deliver the biggest smile possible. This years finest
K2 continues to be at the forefront of design and technology in 2017 focusing on the all mountain experience. Their lineage of innovation started with the introduction of fiberglass technology in the 60s and moves forward today with skis that can multitask. Their new K2 Konic Technology is incorporated in their new 2017 Pinnacle releases, including the Pinnacle 95. The Gotback is still a great big mountain option for the ladies. The K2 boot wizards have also created new boots reducing deadspace and jittery rides with the innovative Synchro Interlock Technology, which is engineered to be more energetic and efficient.
This more than 100 year old French ski company might be leading the pack as far as innovation goes in 2017. The new, highly anticipated, and award winning 7-Series features never before seen Air Tip Technology which is a honeycomb design that reduces the ski weight by 20% without sacrificing strength. The most notable among the series is the Soul 7 with a 106mm waist and aggressive sidecut making it 4 skis in 1. Rossignol is fusing backcounty, big mountain, freeride, and on-piste. Pick your poison.
Line began as a park only ski company but has expanded into the freeride big mountain area. In 2017, they continue the tradition of playfulness and inventive by offering Sick Day 95, light, poppy, and very stable powder skis. Tigersnake and Tom Wallisch Pro Skis are their new all-mountian skis, two of the most affordable and light all-terrain freestyle ski on the market. The Blend is your all-in-one tool, park, pipe, powder and all-mountain. Go Line and get your slopestyle on.
Traditionally a race oriented company, over the years Fischer has reached from the race gates further into the mountain. The downhill speed and GS turns can still be had by such Fischer classics, but on days when the Nastar course is covered with 8-12 inches of fresh reach for the Big Stix. These big mountain twin tips carve like a traditional box tail and the thick 120mm waist combined with rocker camber let the rider float light and free. For 2017, the Ranger 98 features an all mountain profile and an 98mm waist allowing the rider more versatility and an all terrain ski experience. Fisher skis are known for their lightweight, lively feel and this year is no different.
Volkl has been pushing the ski industry since the dawn of the sport. Their skis are engineered with German precision and they can boast being the only company in the country still developing and manufacturing skis. The skier gets the benefit of this lineage with Volkl’s fusion of performance and fun. Have it all with the Nanuq, a lightweight, nimble all-mountain ski with enough width for the powder days. Its multi-layer wood core and light construction deliver solid edge grip and loads of stability, no matter how firm the snow gets. On the women’s side, Volkl’s twin tipped Pearl is light, responsive, and have great pop.
The French Alps birthed Salomon in 1947 and is considered by many to be the epicenter of the mountain experience. Salomon has many branches in mountain sports but the ski department is the heart of this industry leader. This year, they were looking to shake-up the freeride line when they created the new Salomon QST series. And that they did. Starting with a Spaceframe core and adding a wood, flax, and carbon sandwich, this twin rocker series is light and rigid. The series is made up of four skis but the leader of the pack is the QST 106. For days of powder bliss, Salomon’s Rocker2 is your go-to. These big fatties will float and smear giving any powder hound a deep, guttural barbaric yulp.
Chamonix, with all its beauty and majesty, has been the testing ground for this French company. Though owned by the Rossignol Group, Dynastar has a look and feel all their own. The French love ski racing thus love speed, strength, power, and performance when it comes to the boards they click into. Dynastar continues to produce race specific skis to fall in line with this tradition but they have also designed performance based freeride skis. The Cham Series is their triumphant combination of performance and big mountain attitude. Featuring 5 point side cut, reverse camber at tip and tail, and traditional camber underfoot, the Cham’s have a “spoony” look. Yet the awkward geometry of the ski provide a surprisingly sporty and controlled line. The aggressive and strange side cut produces maximum edge control and the pin-tail gives power through the turn. The skier can lay it over and carve it up on the groomer then float and smear in the powder. This series is exceptionally versatile.
This skier-owned and operated company, founded in part by Tanner Hall and JP Auclair, works closely with world renowned skiers to change the perception of skiing as an upper class bourgeois old man sport to a rootsy, gritty form of self-expression within a natural medium. They push the limits of the sport with creativity and progressive riding techniques which are integrated into their inventive ski design. The new ARV offers the versatility you’re looking for in a ski. With this AR Freestyle Rocker in a pop-lite core, you’ll be turning any mountain into your own terrain park. Looking to go big? Phil Casabon’s new B-Dog from Armada is your street smart, rail ski. Its lightweight fleet wood core, combined with a stiffer species in a horizontal laminate, makes it perfect for presses and jibs in the park or to give a tame run a little flavor. Armada will get you in touch with your inner Soul Bro.
A relatively young company, Icelantic has gained notoriety for their insane graphics and jaw dropping design. Handmade in Colorful Colorado, these skis have a boutique feel without the cost. Their performance is undeniable, pure, and fun. Keeper continues to be Icelantic’s most versatile and everyday ski. The signature risers at the tip and tail, combined with traditional camber underfoot allows for float in the deep and great edge control and fluidity from turn to turn on the groomers. It has a stiffer flex which gives it power and strength. As always the Icelantic top sheet art will make heads turn and drop jaws while crushing a line.
Updating your quiver or picking your first pair of skis is a highly personal and often spiritual endeavor. Plunge into the expanse of your riding spirit to determine your goals and expectations for the 2017 season. Think hard on where you are going to ski, when you are going to ski, and why you are going to ski. Whether you are a backcountry bro or betty, a saggy pants butter loving park rat, a groomer killer, a sidecountry soldier, or a big mountain freestyle freeriding freakazoid; we at the House wish you a most bodacious, most triumphant, and most excellent season. Ski hard and rip mountain crumbling slashes. In Ullr we trust.
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