The 2016 Buyer’s Guide—it’s coming soon. In the meantime, brush up on your technical gear speak with The Jaded Local. This column was originally published in the September 2014 issue (43.1). Marquee Photo: Bruno Long
Yes, skiers, it's that exciting time of year when the rig you bought last year just became obsolete and antiquated. Industry Insiders! Ski Tests! Fresh Marketing Lingo: HRZN Tech, Shock Wall, Graphene, Nano Tubes, Carbonium, and that all-important Proprietary Rocker Technology!
Based purely on post-pre-visualization and no actual knowledge of anything, here are my predictions of what you'll see in gear stores this fall, plus a few new concepts I'd like to see The Industry implement. Or stop implementing:
1. Domo Arigato, Rando GoPro Roboto
Canny Germans in lab coats at Dynafit will continue to capitalize on their R&D dominance and prescient market perception with a new series of ultra-light carbon-fiber backcountry skiing robots that progressively ski mountaineer sick sidecountry descents so you don't have to. Equipped with multiple GoPros, the robots will automatically drop tight two-minute edits and Instagram all the sick stuff that they're slaying for you while you're warm and safe in the bar. If you're only shredding to get the footage, why do it yourself?
2. Smells Like Burning
Patagonia will debut a "Whole New Way Of Saving The World With Expensive Outerwear." For a fee, Patagonia's team of clothing designers will root around in the Ventura County dump and assemble custom outfits made from garbage that will be just as good as most of the price-point technical outerwear on the market. You'd be surprised at the insulation value of crumpled newspaper and cigarette butts when they're carefully stitched into a series of computer-designed seam-sealed baffles. Your carbon footprint will be like the delicate kiss of a butterfly landing on a spring daffodil, and according to somebody who may or may not work at Patagonia, "You'll hardly notice the smell as long as the wind is blowing."
A metric shit-ton of boutique-brand ski companies will make skis with "ultra-thick edges" and "bomber bases," using sources of ultra-durable edge and base material that the rest of mainstream ski industry has somehow never discovered. Most of them will (wisely) have their skis built by Elan. And most of the ones who actually do build their own skis will spend a lot of energy learning stuff that was in use at the Rossignol factory by 1961, and even more energy trying to come up with cool-sounding names for it: SuppleTech! VibroSquelch Modulation!
4. A Market of One
Extrapolating from current trends, Swiss ski-maker Stockli will continue to make superb high-performance skis, but they will discontinue all public production in favor of just building skis for Slovenian five-discipline racer Tina Maze. Given that Maze travels with 40 pairs of race skis, plus test skis, training skis, freeskiing skis, prototypes, and unmounted skis to pose with in alpine meadows for chocolate ads, she'll use more skis than most indie companies will sell in 2015.
5. Ouch, My Knee
No one will offer a binding that statistically reduces the odds of ACL injuries. Nor will any binding company attempt to collect any statistical data that's based on real-world injuries. Nor will anyone else, for that matter—ha ha, fuck you, knee ligaments!
6. Poke Your Eye Out
Black Diamond is launching a low-angle version of their classic Whippet pole for people who insist on using self-arrest grips on 30-degree slopes. Coincidentally, the new Less Stabby™ pick will also be ideal for combing your new hipster Hitler Youth hairstyle or ironically plumping one's mustache for selfies.
The camera mounts securely up your ass, so you can pull your head out to see where you’re going.
7. Earn Your Turns, With Hashtags!
Leave it to Salomon to push the levels with the all new InstaAxium ReTweeterCrossMax 9000 + EXP Ltd Ti, the world's first sidecountry ski system that harnesses the power of your Internet Presence. Hybridtech ProAxeEquipe Generators in the boot cuff and binding absorb Favorites, Likes, and Retweets via Wi-fi or 4G network. The collected social media energy is then channeled through Prolink Axe + Alum 9200 Ti linkages into progressive switch pillow slayage and extra pop.
8. Speaking of Which
Adding the term "Titanium," or "Ti," to the names of skis and bindings appears to have finally abated. It's like the ski industry decided to shave off a metaphorical combover, enabling shop guys to once again just say, "This one has metal in it."
9. Getting To The Point
A POV camera company will introduce a new anatomically shaped device that mounts securely right up your ass, so you can pull your head out to see where you're going.
10. Renewable Resource
Armada will announce an all-new Ultimate Pro Model Ski. This ski won't just be designed, built, tested, and conceived by Pro Skiers—its core will actually be made from sustainably harvested Pro Skiers. Compressed with carbon fiber and Red Bull at ultra-high pressures in the Elan factory, the Ultimate Pro Core thins the herd, reduces the carbon footprint from all the edit-dropping, and saves the rain forest while delivering progressively shaped freestyle ski-mountaineering smearability. Not to mention "bomber bases."
11. Vibration Absorption System: Reactivate
Just to keep everyone on their toes, Rossignol will announce that they are abandoning their entire line of 2015 skis in favor of returning to the wildly popular teal-green 4S (equipe!) slalom ski from the late '80s (now built by Elan). "Fuck it," someone from the French ski company probably won't say. "It totally worked the first time. People loved those things!"