We just returned from our first ski picking trip of the season where we sorted through the best skis from Atomic, Salomon, and Fischer. We timed our ski picking this year around peak production and availability so we could really pinpoint the best of this years production cycle. Ski brands have finally started to catch up and get back to “normal” after a few years of limited production runs and issues with availability in specific models.
This is our first ski picking trip of many, so just reach out if you are looking for something personally selected for you this season!
Although there were not any huge changes from brands this year the large volume of production meant for some outstanding production from every brand. When we go ski picking we are picking for our list of customer requests, but we are also picking with our store inventory in mind. With our tools we are able to pinpoint the conditions and characteristics that we have found are historically most prevalent and helpful for our customers.
We were excited to get back to Fischer to sort through the new production as Fischer made some slight tweaks to their skate ski lineup this season. As soon as we walked through the door we were greeted by a huge number of highlighter yellow skis in significantly larger volumes than we had seen last year. The focus of skate ski production has been mainly shifted to both the 61k models and Helium Skate Plus skis vs the traditional "610" Skate Plus skis that we have seen the past years.
The 61k saw its first main season on the market last year and we had a number of pairs to test and compare with the tradition Skate Plus model throughout the winter. The idea behind the 61k ski is to differentiate between the amount of splay in Speedmax skate skis; the 61k skis are formed in the mold with more focus on this splay to try and gear them towards warmer or softer snow conditions. Just as we see from all manufacturers, there is a huge variety in production and we found pairs on both the warmer and colder end of the spectrum.
The other big change this year was the addition of the Helium which we noticed a huge jump in ski quality over our limited pickings last season. We loved the weight and ski feel on the few pair we had last year but had been limited when looking for specific flex qualities. The Helium will slowly take over the Skate plus model of skis and had a wider range of flex qualities and characteristics to pick from.
Fischer classic skis have remained some of the best in the market when it comes to both kick and glide performance. Production this year has been excellent once again and certain lengths that we have had limited access to the last couple seasons are no longer an issue. Both the 812 (Uni/Cold) and 902 (Uni/Warm) skis looked great this year and we had excellent selection within multiple lengths and flexes.
Skis from Salomon remained mostly unchanged this year with a lot of focus going into the refinement of their newer carbon design that we saw make its debut last season. We had the opportunity to meet with other national team techs that were picking skis at the same time and checking out other new gear that is in development. It was a great opportunity to see how their development and testing processes have changed and improved over our years of visiting Salomon and extremely helpful for sorting through the thousands of skis available.
The SLab carbon skate skis looked phenomenal again this year across the range which included the Blue (Cold), Universal, and Red (Warm) models. We have slowly seen an uptick in requests for Salomon’s cold skate ski after their perennial performance at the Birkie and other numerous cold races that we seem to see every season and were extremely pleased with the production quality this year.
With the increase in production from Salomon we had a ton to pick from in each category this year. Salomon classic skis made some changes to the way that they measure their skis this season so if you are familiar with MF values they will no longer carry over cleanly from previous years. We use our tools at the shop and while traveling to make sure that we are picking and fitting with the same measurements year after year and simply use the brand given values to pre-sort.
It was an easy trip across the hall to pick out Atomic skis and we had a ton to pick from. Production and development within Atomic has been very focused on the Redster Gen S skate ski, which many of you know as the one length skate ski with a wide sidecut through the tip and tail.
New for this upcoming season however a new length Gen S ski was added to the mix with a more nimble 173cm option available. The Gen S has been widely reviewed as some of the most stable skate skis on the market and the addition of a 173cm length will be a great option for skiers who prefer a shorter/easier to handle ski. This will also be available in the S7 level which will bring that same stability and general feel to a slightly lower price point.
For scientific purposes we also did some research on downhill mountain biking and hiking with our weekend days in-between this year. We had the opportunity to head to the bikepark in Leogang and check out the World Cup downhill course, needless to say we will be sticking to skiing as a staff. Austria spoiled up with phenomenal weather this year and it was a nice way to break up testing and squeezing skis.