WHERE'S THE BEEF | LIGHTWEIGHT SKIS

 What's the Deal with Lightweight Skis

I’m sure you’re all aware of this lightweight trend that has taken the ski industry by storm. Ski manufacturers have gone to obscene measures to shave weight (and I suspect in some cases, cost) off of their all-mountain resort offerings. Boot manufacturers have, to my great consternation, followed suit.

 

Ski Touring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My question is, why? Have we forgotten that skiing is a gravity sport? Aside from having gear that’s easier to schlep to and from the chairlift, what benefit are we really getting from having a set-up that is afraid of snow?

 


The marketing Kool Aid on this is that lightweight gear makes skiing “easier” (read: less tiring), which is both the manufacturers’ excuse for inserting cheap plastic in the tips and our excuse for being too out of shape to steer real boards. Have we really turned so soft that we can’t handle a little quad burn here and there? Last I checked, skiing is a sport, which means you actually have to fire a muscle or two. If we want more stamina, we would be better served by losing five pounds in our asses and keeping the damn metal under our feet. Besides, do you know what is really tiring? Trying to steer the shivering feathers on your feet through push piles and frozen ocean.

 

Skiing Colorado

Of course, the trend is also fueled by the growing alpine touring segment, where lightweight makes all the sense in the world. (My hip flexors will never forget skiing the Middle Teton in heavy resort gear with those god-awful Alpine Trekkers.) It’s also fueled by the reasonable consumer financial desire to have one pair to do it all. (Some folks prioritize putting their kids through college over having a basement full of equipment.) However, no matter which way you slice it, tourability and skiability remain separate on the weight-strength continuum. In other words, if you actually want to enjoy the descent, you’re going to need gear that will actually stay on the snow.

 


Now, before you start thinking I’m some kind of Luddite who thinks we should go back to telemarking in leather boots, I will happily concede that there have been many trends and technological advances that have made not sucking at this sport much easier. First there were shaped skis, the physics of which made carving possible. Then there were fat skis, which made powder skiing possible (and glorious). Alpine touring boots and bindings made backcountry travel possible without having to drop a knee on the way down. And yes, shaving some swing weight has made all-day hot-laps less tiring. But the R&D guys who are milling out cores, squirting in foams, inserting carbon tubes, and drilling holes in our tips and tails are just taking things too far.

 

 

Custom Skis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So thank you, Wagner Skis, for hand-building skis with real wood cores that are built to, well, ski. (Choose from more than a thousand combinations of high-quality materials to get your perfect pair.)
 

 

 

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Article by Kimberly Beekman

Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.