Future ski trends – with our friend Patrik Sannes, ski designer at Faction who is the creator of two of our favourite skis this winter; The Prime and the Candide series.
Photo: Gitgo; Samuel Anthamatten and Patrik Sannes
What wood cores do you think manufacturers will move towards for upcoming ski designs?
I think that the lightweight wood core trend will continue for quite a while, especially wood types like Balsa, Paulownia and lightweight Poplar in combination with classical hardwoods like Ash and Beech. I think there will be better combinations of the wood types available that will start to make their way into skis. I think this trend is going to continue since a lot of the lightweight skis available at the moment don't ski great and they need improvement.
The next big trend that will come and that is already here to some extent is different types of foam cores. It’s quite an unfortunate trend to move away from natural materials like wood and move into crude oil based materials. But for some lightweight applications it will most likely find its place on the market.
Photo: Gitgo; Patrik Sannes and Samuel Anthamatten
Are there any construction techniques you think will become more common in years to come?
I think and hope that similar constructions like we use on our Prime series will become more common, where we utilize the different materials’ best sides to increase performance. For example, in the Prime skis we still use glass fibres in the direction of the ski to get great ski feel and a damp flex behaviour. We only use carbon at 45 degrees across the ski to increase torsional stiffness at the same time as saving some weight. Other than the continuous discussion between sidewall and full cap skis, I don't think there will be any major changes to the construction techniques in the next few years.
Photo: Gitgo; Samuel Anthamatten
Without giving away trade secrets – what shapes will we be seeing in these areas, 1) freestyle 2) freeride 3) piste performance?
In general, I think that the shapes will continue to develop in a direction where they become more versatile, but with a clear main focus area. For freestyle this means slightly less symmetrical shapes with more rocker. Playful skis for the park but also for the rest of the mountain. For freeride I think that a lot of the work has been done but it will continue in a direction with more tail rocker and slightly straighter shapes, allowing skis to be easy to wash out and pivot in powder at the same time as they become more stable at speed. Piste performance skis will eventually pick up shape theories from the freeride scene and become better and more fun for everyone to ski. The classic carving shape is just dated. Even the top guys on the World Cup scene have not been using this type of ski the last five years or so. They've been experimenting with and are using more forward mounted skis with both rockered and tapered shapes. Skis must be balanced when sliding. Although it’s more of a freeride ski, the Faction Dictator holds all these features and it's a ski that works super well on the groomers.
Photo: Gitgo; Rider Samuel Anthamatten
Are there new materials we have not really seen yet that you think will used in tomorrow’s skis?
Hopefully there will be more sustainable materials used in skis. Most likely there will also be a higher content of recycled materials. I think there's a bright future for natural fibres like flax and basalt as well as epoxy resins with a high bio-based content. At Faction, we're already testing a resin with bio-based content of food waste products. Bio-based waxes are also undergoing quite a lot of development right now, together with new base materials and base treatments that require little or no wax. There's definitely a problem with the flourocarbons used in wax being spread on the mountain. Skis without wax work okay in some temperatures but in others they need lubrication. I think and hope there will be products that will be a good solution for all situations and temperatures.
You guys have moved towards a touring set up with the Primes and it looks like this trend is set to continue – do you agree that the only way is up for ski touring and backcountry ready skis?
Well yes and no. I'd like to describe the Prime as a performance backcountry ski. For me it's a given that any ski that claims to be a backcountry ski is also a tourable ski. Regarding the touring trend it actually seems like it's slowing down quite a bit. I think this is because of the poor performance of the touring skis available. What I do think is happening and will continue is that anyone looking for skiing in the backcountry and powder, having a tourable setup will become a no brainer. Setups that work super well for both inbound skiing and big mountain skiing far from the resort, which is what we have aimed to achieve with the Prime series.
Photo: Gitgo; Rider Samuel Anthamatten