Skis: Less is More for the New Millennium
Proof of the old saying that there's nothing new under the sun - or on the slopes - comes this season in the form of the "new short skis".
It wasn't that long ago that a set of short skis was the sure-fire mark of a beginner. But that was before the shaped ski revolution that has transformed the industry over the last four years. As sidecuts have gotten more extreme, skis have gotten shorter. And why not? The beauty of the new shaped skis is that they put more "bite" into every turn. That means more control, with less weight for you to contend with underfoot.
But how short is short, this year? Well, try on these lengths for size: Most of this year's short slalom skis aren't even made in lengths longer than 180 centimeters!
Yes, you'll still see some major doggers out there with their 220s and up - but they aren't the folks this new species of ski is designed for in the first place. Shaped skis - and shorter skis - have turned out to be perfect for the intermediate skiers who are ready to jump to a new level, but don't have the luxury of skiing top-flight terrain every day. East Coast skiers, in particular, have taken to the new models. Why? Because if you ski the East, you end up skiing under a wide range of conditions - powder one day, granular the next. A ski that can cut it on everything from ice to foot-deep fluff is going to win a lot of converts - and that's exactly what the new shaped skis have done.
Who's making the new short, shaped skis? The answer to that is easy - just about every major manufacturer has gotten into the short-ski derby this year in a big way. K2's new SSL comes in at a cool $599 list and tops out at 168cm. Salomon's Superaxe EQ 3V ups the ante to $725 list and goes up to a daringly long 176cm. Dynastar's STc hits the middle ground on price at $699 list but goes all the way to an "amazing" 182cm. Rossi, Fischer and Atomic also have their own short slalom skis on the market this year, at comparable prices and lengths.
Yep, this isn't the Oldsmobile that your father used to drive. But then, power steering was considered a luxury back then, too. If you're looking for a new set of skis for the 1999-2000 season, less may well turn out to be more.
A final note: Consider the list here as just a sampling. The absolute best way to find the right ski for you is to try a pair from your local outfitter. Most offer special try-out days when you can do just that. Check our outfitter page to find one close to your next ski destination, and call to arrange a test drive.