As we round the corner into a new year, and with another SIA Snow Show on the horizon, we thought we’d look back at some of the 2017 ski and snowboard industry trends (predicted at the 2016 show) to give you a quick run down of the top 3 ski and snowboard trends we’ve loved the most.
The 2017 Hits
1. Surf-inspired snowboard design
Image from jonessnowbards.com
Snowboarding has long been described as feeling like surfing on snow, but this year will really see hydrodynamics sink its teeth into snowboard design and technology. Brands like Jones and Lib Tech are collaborating with surf board shapers such as Chris Christensen and Matt Biolos to introduce wider and shorter shapes to their all-powder decks.
If you want extra float in the powder you need more surface area. Traditionally, to get more surface area you had to go longer, increasing the length of your snowboard and often having to sacrifice maneuverability in exchange for float.
One of the great advantages of surf-inspired snowboard design is that there is no sacrifice, and Jones’ SPOON 3D-base design is leading the charge. The video below explains how the hydrodyanmic shape works on their Storm Chaser snowboard.
Now, the idea of “boat-shaped” skis and snowboards are nothing new. Maybe you’ll remember the Atomic’s horizontal rocker called “HRZN Tech” or Salomon’s BBR ski that was reportedly came from its designer’s (Bertrand Krafft) love of surfing. But the technology has never really stuck…until now. Perhaps that’s because of how different skiing actually is to surfing, it could be that the technology just doesn’t transfer well enough to give a truly industry-changing experience that sticks, for skiers.
Snowboarding is already so close to surfing, that we’re certain this won’t be the last you’ll hear about hydrodynamic design.
2. Carving skis are back & so is the mid-2000’s
One of the biggest trends reported for 2017 was the shrinking waistline of almost all the major ski brands. It seems we’re moving away from the “one ski to rule” them all mentality and back into having a quiver of purpose-built gear.
Just as we’re seeing snowboard brands creating powder-only snowboards, we’re seeing ski brands reinventing the joy of carving by adding back in features such as layers of steel, flat tails, traditional camber, and no nose rocker.
As Ryan Dunfee from Teton Gravity Research put it at the 2016 SIA show “get ready to see the skis you bought 10 years ago”.
3. Concussion prevention with MIPS becomes standard
MIPS is a “low-friction slip plane” that works by absorbing and deflecting more of the damaging rotational forces placed on the brain during a fall.
Most helmets are tested by dropping them vertically on to a flat surface in a lab. But, unless you’re doing a swan dive from a balcony in an art gallery with a polished concrete floor, the chances of the standard helmet tests replicating your real-life skiing or snowboarding falls are very low. The MIPS lab does things differently. They test their helmets using sliding surfaces that simulate hitting the ground at an angle as it would if you were to fall while moving.
This video from Bell (originally created for their mountain bike helmets) explains the importance of preventing rotational forces on the brain and how having a MIPS floating layer can help.
Founded by five biomechanics specialists from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden, MIPS now has over 50 brand partners that include snowsports, motorsports, and mountain biking giants Specialized, Fox, Bontrager, Smith, and Giro, MIPS is becoming a priority for anyone who wears a helmet for the sport.
If you’re a bit of a science nerd like us, here is is a 360º demonstration of the MIPS testing and a walk-through of their lab in Sweden.
Let us know if we missed one of your favourite trends or technologies off the list by leaving us a comment on Facebook or Twitter.