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Downhilling!!
by Thomas Wagner
1/8/2016

It is not always that easy to establish the anatomy and qualities of current ski types and models. Long gone are the days when your uncle, perhaps a cartwright or wagoner by profession, used a circular saw, a plane, chisels and clamps to produce skis for the whole family. And heavy and stiff the boards were. Unlike everything today, when lightweight structures and variety are the order of things. Meaning you have to choose a particular model and purpose. Be it a slalom ski (short, semi-hard, for those tight curves on specially prepared slopes), a ski for the giant slalom (good for long-swinging curves on the piste, but also suitable for looser snow) or a downhill ski (long, hard, straight, ready for high speeds). Or maybe you prefer an all-mountain model (for both deep powder and the slope, it does everything, but nothing absolutely perfectly), a free-rider (wider skis for that deep snow) or simply a freestyle ski (curves upwards at the front and back, ready for those tricks and jumps)? That’s the theory for choosing the right ski, but the width, taper, mix of materials and weight spread have yet to be factored into things. Thankfully, in practice the otherwise rigid lines dividing the categories soon get lost in the first flurry of snow.

For years, ski design, and this includes the high-end and luxury models, took its cue from snowboards and skateboards as regards colors and patterns, paying homage to youth culture come what may. Of late, however, there’s been a discernible visual return to doing greater justice with the materials and a less agitated design. If one therefore focuses a bit more on the beautiful surface, then Armada’s “Kufo 108” looks as if the ski (as was the case when Uncle John made them) was completely made of wood aged by the elements. The company in question speaks with a slightly aggressive undertone of a lightweight “High-Speed Touring Weapon, built for incomparable stability downhill”. “To keep things ultralight for the ascent and deliver ultimate stability downhill”, “only highest-grade materials such as a Hybrid Tour Light wooden core, AR50 sidewalls and carbon fiber have been used.” After all, Kufo stands for “Keep Up or Fuck Off”. OK, if that’s how it plays out.

“ACR“ by Indigo. Photo © Indigo
Puristic downhill (from left to right):
“Pure Platinum“ by Volant, “Black Heritage“ by Bomber, “CPM82CA“ by Kästle, “Franco“ by Zai, “Ski Essence“ by Indigo. Photos © Volant, Bomber, Kästle, Zai, Indigo
Very wood (from left to right):
“Kufo 108“ Lightweight Touring Ski by Armada, “AllMountain Woodie“ by Bomber, “Ski Concept One“ by Indigo, “Ski Nira Montana“ by Zai, “Testa“ by Zai. Photos © Armada, Bomber, Indigo, Zai
Pattern party (from left to right):
“Venturi“ by Head, “Absolut Joy“ by Head, “Pulse Colorade“ by Volant, “Bentley Green“ by Zai for Bentley “GT 2.0“ by La Sportiva. Photos © Head, Volant, Zai, La Sportiva
Everybody says “yeah“ (from left to right):
“Basquiat Self Portrait“-Artist Series by Bomber, “Cochise“-Freeride Ski by Blizzard, “TX107“ by Kästle, “VTA88 LITE“-Tourenski by Völkl, “Zero G“ by Blizzard.
Photos © Bomber, Blizzard, Kästle, Völkl