Choosing a ski these days can be like choosing a toothpaste. Too many options that, ultimately, all serve more or less the same purpose. And when you’re talking about skis, especially the meat-of-the-market — intermediate all-mountain skis — the sheer number of choices is overwhelming. There are countless skis from countless brands with similar dimensions, flexes, rocker profiles, etc.
If the ski is from a brand you recognize, and it gets the intermediate stamp of approval from a ski shop employee, you can confidently grab it off the wall and go. You’ll be hard pressed to notice shocking differences between Brand A, and Brand B.
That’s the current state of affairs in the ski industry. And while I have an admittedly dismissive, if not jaded, tone about the glut of all mountain skis on the market, the surplus is in fact indicative of an outstanding era for quality and innovation across the entire industry.
The first decade of the new millennium saw an unprecedented amount of change in the technology of skis. If you haven’t made it to the hill much this past ten years, or have just been holding tight to a trusted pair of skis, you’re in a for a real treat.
And so it was that when I caught myself griping to a coworker about the number of all mountain skis flooding out of factories in far off lands, I decided it was time for me to address my jadedness. After all, when it comes to first-world problems, an over-abundance of skis ranks somewhere between not being able to find parking at the resort, and the slightly overcooked burger I had last wednesday.
So out of this embarrassing realization that I was behaving like a spoiled ski-snob, I decided that I needed to refresh my memory on exactly what it is about these new skis that has made skiing more fun and accessible than it’s ever been before.
Knowing it would be no easy task in the town of Park City, I went in search of someone who hadn’t skied in the past decade. I needed a true intermediate skier that last hit the snow when tips were pointed and the term “parabolic” was being used as a sales pitch. My search landed on Peter Roggenbuck, a snowboarder and the rental shop manager of Jans at Park City Mountain Resort.
Testing the K2 Rictor
So on an especially slow afternoon in the shop, I convinced Pete to wince his way into a pair of rental boots, and head out with me on the bread and butter of all mountain cruisers — the K2 Rictor. 80 mm at the waist, traditional camber underfoot, and with K2’s All Terrain Rocker in the tip. The Rictor comes from good genes as the new and improved edition of the award winning K2 Apache Recon.
A staple of the Jans Ski Test Program, the Rictor is a go-to ski when it comes to revealing to customers the changes of the last decade. In the words of Jans Expert, Jon Beebe, “the Rictor has proven to be a great transitional ski that allows skiers used to skiing through their heels, and with their feet close together, to open their stance and really begin to carve.”
As for the All Terrain Rocker? As Jon says, “rocker has taken the aggressiveness out of shaped skis that initially scared people out of the market. Instead of a ski tip immediately catching and pulling an intermediate skier unexpectedly through a turn, rocker has eased that experience by delaying initiation and easing the skier into the turn.”
It’s technical talk from an expert skier that specializes in selling skis. But do these concepts actually apply when put to the test by an intermediate skier? As Pete said of his time spent testing the Rictor, “They made it easy to do what you remember you’re supposed to do. They don’t fight you like I remember skis from back in the day doing, so you can focus on finding your form again. I was surprised by how comfortable they made me feel getting back on skis.”
Most people’s response to being presented with an overwhelming number of choices, of anything, is to find a trusted product that works, and to stick with it in the name of simplification. But my intentions here are to suggest to you stalwart ski owners that if this has been your method for the skis you use, then you are missing out on some truly remarkable advancements.
But you should come see for yourself. Because unlike your toothpaste purchase, your ski purchase can be made with the insight of on-the-spot testing. So give the technology a shot. See what rocker is all about. Find out for yourself how competition within the ski industry has forced companies to produce skis that have to win you over in order to sell.
So whether it’s with the Ski Test Program here at Jans, or with your trusted local shop back home, you owe it to yourself (and your skiing) to get on a new pair of skis.
Nate Tomlinson, Senior Content Writer