Rossignol’s slant-nosed slalom ski technology has had its weight reduced and an offset center
of gravity added, helping to create cleaner carving and quicker power initiation. The tip of the
slalom ski — Radical World Cup SK FIS iBox Slant Nose — is contoured to protrude further
in the inside edge of the ski, designed to reduce volume and produce a 15 percent reduction
in the swing weight of the tip. The result, says Rossi, is improved grip and increased power
transfer. Rossi’s race skis have wood cores with fiberglass and metal laminates. The tail’s
square shape aims to load pressure for power in turn exits. Increased waist width is designed
to improve stability at speed.
$1050 (Radical World Cup SL FIS iBOX Slant Nose)
$900 (Radical World Cup GS FIS iBOX)
$500 (Radical SL Pro Junior)
The buzz from Völkl is its Speedwall innovation (see story at
right) — “a continuation of the surface in constant contact with
the snow,” explains Geoff Curtis. It’s constructed from a com-
posite sintered base material and can be waxed and prepared
just like the bases. Völkl has also revamped the basic World
Cup construction by wrapping the bottom layer of metal (above
the base material) over the edges to maximize edge grip and
Volkl Racetiger adult $895 (plus plate)
$625 (Völkl junior ski)
Nordica has dressed up its ski line with the Dobermann Pro in GS and slalom skis; they feature XBI Sandwich construction. These skis have
a lot going on, not the least of which is a vibrant top skin that includes a rainbow of color. Nordica also utilizes titanal in a pair of plates inte-
grated with the sandwich wood core; the slalom flex pattern has been evened out.
$1099 (Dobermann Pro GS and SL)
$599 (Nordica junior ski)
Stöckli does not build separate sets of skis for World Cup racers. They build race skis,
period. What comes off the rack is the same as what are used on the World Cup. To com-
pensate for those not as athletically gifted as the average World Cup skier, Stöckli also
offers a de-tuned, or softened, version. The World Cup models are the Laser GSR and
Laser SLR; both have handmade sandwich construction of a wood core with a graphite
base. The Laser GS and Laser SL are the detuned models. The construction is the same
with the main variance coming in the sidecuts.
$1139 (SRL and GSR)
Juniors: A virtually identical ski, handmade with the same materials as the World Cup
The elusive “killer app” — it’s always about solving a fundamental problem that everyone faces
but no one has yet solved.
In performance skiing, we’ve
seen the best skiers achieving
optimal snow contact angles of
60 degrees and more for decades. With the advent of modern shapes and reductions in ski length, even weekend
warriors can lay down arcs and achieve the snow contact angles of their heroes.
Juniors, masters, and elite racers alike have historically focused extensively on achieving maximum glide from the P-tex base, through structure and wax. But the amount of
time that the vast majority of the base is actually engaging the snow is minimal, especially on hard snow and racecourses. Technicians have learned the art of sidewall shaping to allow the ski to slice effortlessly through the snow, and have even polished paste
wax on sidewalls.
Until the advent of Völkl’s Speedwall technology.
Like every killer app or game-changing technology, there’s was a pretty simple “a-ha”
moment that sparked it.
Völkl’s U.S product manager, Derek McClellan, explains that they were testing skis in
Europe in the summer of 2009 when it happened. “I said, ‘Something needs to be done
about the sidewall’s influence [on glide],” he says.
A few weeks later the European test team tried a new test ski, but unknown to them
[Völkl] had made a ski with ABS [sidewall material] in place of the normal P-tex base
material. At the top of the mountain, the test ski with ABS base material performed as if
it was waxed with klister — it wouldn’t move at all. This experience highlighted the glide
difference between ABS and P-tex, and offered a glimpse of the potential to build race
skis with P-tex sidewalls.
“Unlike many changes that affect the feel of a ski,” says McClellan, “the potential increase in speed and glide was huge.”
McClellan is careful to point out that Völkl’s new Speedwall technology is not simply a
case of slapping a thin layer of P-tex base material on the sides of the skis. “The actual
vertical sidewall structure is entirely composed of P-tex, and extends inwards to meet
the wood core,” he explains.
The P-tex material is harder and stronger than traditional ABS sidewall materials, too.
On the World Cup construction models, the bottom layer of metal also extends out over
So while Völkl had stumbled on to the killer app of arc to arc glide, the new sidewall
structure was not a “plug and play” addition — it required a complete re-working of the
flex and on-snow characteristics of the race line. Völkl dialed this in during the remainder of 2009-2010 season, both in-house and through athlete testing.
The new Speedwall skis were used by Völkl’s World Cup group last season; this year,
the technology will be found in all adult Völkl race skis. Julia Mancuso will also be charging hard on the Völkl Racetiger Speedwall skis for season 2010-2011. — Dave Peszek