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Park-and-Pipe Skis: Tricks and Treats

Park-and-Pipe Skis: Tricks and Treats

Gear
By Krista Crabtree
posted: 03/05/2001

A few seasons ago, ski manufacturers fretted over how to win the youth market, which was gravitating toward snowboarding, drawn by its cooler image. Snowboarders were hitting the halfpipe and the terrain park with vengeance, pulling tricks, flips, looking for big air and feeling liberated.

"In the park, there's no real definition of how you have to ski or how you have to behave," says Mike Curtis, product manager for Elan. The ski companies' task: to blend the freedom of skiing's independent leg action with the fat, reversible platform of a snowboard. And make it cool.First, you make a ski, according to Curtis, with "technology that offers the skier stability and absorption for accurate approaches and cushy landings." You do this by turning up both the tip and the tail of the ski, allowing the skier to land backward or forward, like a snowboard (except, remember: skiers really are really going backward; snowboarders are merely going sideways with the other foot forward). Next, you make the skis wide so that they are stable to land on. Add a smidgen of eye-catching graphics, and voila: You've created the twin-tip park-and-pipe ski. Although twin-tips took their cue from snowboards, the biggest influence now is big-mountain skiing. "We consider our skis to be all-mountain freeride skis," says Jason Levinthal, president of Line Skiboards. "I try to combine the best assets of skiing and snowboarding-skis that have a tail like a snowboard but the versatility to excel in the park." For the skier who spends all day in the park, a park-specific ski works fine. But what about skiing the rest of the mountain? "It's often too expensive for kids to buy several pairs of skis. Our goal was to have a twin-tip that was also good to take on the mountain," says Völkl's Justin Chandler.

Head takes the most unique approach with its MadTrix system. It's two skis in one, with a plate that pivots on the ski to reverse the skier's fore-aft orientation and position on the ski-centered for big air in the pipe or slightly back, as with traditional skis, for freeskiing. "This system brings out what the ski was designed to do," says product manager Greg Bowen, "which is to ski in either direction."

Some people in the industry feel that snowboarding has taken away from skiing. But Mike Kilchenstein of Rossignol sees kids "getting more excited about skiing. It's energizing the sport and the media."

Most companies expect growth in the twin-tip category and plan to introduce more models designed for both arcing on slopes and jibbing in the park. "The twin-tip category is going to have an effect on the rest of the ski world," says Salomon's Ted Wardlaw. "Like snowboarding, what was once freestyle in the park has migrated out onto the mountain."

Already, dimensions on park-and-pipe twin-tips are getting more generous. "Where's the trend going? I'd say we're going wider," says K2's Jeff Mechura.

Snowboarding may have taken away some skiers. But now, just like twin-tip, it goes both ways.

ATOMIC

The Free Zone Rodeo is Atomic's hardcore park-and-pipe ski. "Lots of skis out there are all image and not structurally sound, and they don't perform well outside the pipe. You can take the Rodeo out of the park and arc a turn. You still have to have a ski that's precise," says Atomic's Matt Miller. The construction combines Beta Technology and Power Channels, which extend along the edge of the ski to take in energy and distribute it as well as provide good edge control. The core is made of Densolite-a lightweight foam.. Atomic also touts the Free Zone 4.45 boot with 4 stiffness (their race boot is a 10 stiffness) to accompany the Rodeo. The 4.45 has the control of a plastic ski boot but the feel of a snowboard boot. "We're trying to build ski systems to elevate performance," says Miller.
Athletes: Rex Thomas, Steele Spence, Isaak Hurst, Jamie Sunberg, Jamie Holman
Models:
Free Zone Rodeo
106-70-97 (18m at 178 cm)
163,178 cm
$475

BLIZZARD
Blizzard twin-tips can only be found in specialty stores. The TT has vertically laminated wood torsion-box construction with a full wrap of fiberglass all around the core. The PP-similar to the TT but softer-flexing-has a foam core. Both models get a tail protector, designed for skiers who typically walk to the top of the pipe. The protectors guard the tail when skiers use the skis to help them walk. What direction will twin-tips take in the future? "I see an evolution but not an increase in models. Kids want something that skis everywhere," says Matt Titus, Brand Manager for Dalbello Sports. "There will be an evolution in shapes and flexes, but like skateboards, they're not looking for a multitude of boards, they're just looking for one to ride everywhere."
Athletes: "Our team riders are our consumers."
Models:
TT X 80
108-73-98 (16.5 m at 175 cm)
165,175,185 cm
$475
PP X 80
108-75-100 (15.5 m at 160 cm)
150,160 cm
$425

DYNASTAR
Designed by big-air, park and pipe champion Candide Thovex, the Concept Pro targets advanced and elite new-school skiers. Its construction includes a full-length wood core, reinforced fiberglass laminate and "power spring" laminates for increased durability and improved balance for landing big air. Similar to the Concept Pro but softer, the Concept is dubbed a high performance jib ski, but also adept at skiing the entire mountain. It features a length wood core, deep sidecut, wide platform and fiberglass laminates for improve durability. The Snap, available in shorter sizes, is Dynastar's value-priced twin-tip, for younger customers and aspiring new-schoolers. It features Dynastar's PinTail Technology, with a tail that's narrower than most for easier turn release.Dynastar
Athletes: The Three Philippes (Belanger, Dion and Larose).
Models:
Concept Candide Pro
103-72-95 (21 m at 180 cm)
165, 180 cm
$595
Concept
103-72-95 (21 m at 180 cm)
165,180 cm
$500
Snap
91-68-103 (17m at 140 cm)
140,150,160,170 cm
$435

ELAN
The Airtwist is wider this season and comes with more length options. Made with cap construction, the ski has a wood core and features the Xpress pressure bar system, a 5-mm integrated plate and a rounded, turned-up tail with shock absorption insert. This technology offers the skier stability for accurate approaches and absorption for cushy landings. The upturned tail of the ski tends to sheer off the snow.
Athletes: Kevin Mitchell and Tommy D'Angelo.
Models:
Airtwist
110-71-94 (13-18 meters)
152-176 cm
$415

FISCHER
If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Fischer brings back the Airstyle unchanged this season. Its vertical-laminate wood-core construction with sheets of carbon and fiberglass is modeled after a wing of an airplane. The Powercore construction comes from the technology derived from Fischer's aircraft company located next store to their ski manufacturers' plant in Austria. Made for the park and pipe, it can handle the mountain. With its 74 waist and ample sidecut, it'll turn on a groomed run or float in powder.
Athletes: Matt Sterbenz, Chris Turpin.
Models:
Airstyle
104-74-96 (19.1 m at 163 cm)
143, 163, 183 cm
$525

HEAD
The Mad-Trix System includes the ski, plate and binding. "The plate itself pivots on the ski," says Greg Bowen, product manager. "Lift it and spin it around, and your position on the ski changes. When Big Mountain is your tip, you're mounted more like a traditional freeride ski. When you spin it to big air, you're centered on the ski, so the skier has more stability on takeoffs and landings." Mad-Trix gets a full wood core construction designed to be a solid ski that will hold up to lots of landings. Jonny Moseley gave input to the engineers and uses the ski for Big Air competitions. Just for kicks, the back tip scoops up snow and shoots a rooster tail in either direction.
Athletes: Jonny Moseley, Heath Orelway, Jon Olsson.
Models:
Air Head I
105-71-101 (17 m at 170 cm)
170 cm
$500
Air Head II
122-73-111 (8 m at 140 cm)
140 cm
$400
Mad_Trix
111-75-106 (N.A.)
163-190 cm
$550

K2
The Enemy is designed with both terrain park and all-mountain skiing in mind. With a 75 mm and plenty of sidecut, it's versatile for inbounds skiing and handy for big air. The wood-core, torsion-box construction is durable and easy to flex. "From K2's standpoint, a twin-tip doesn't affect the way the ski is going to ski," says K2's Jeff Mechura. "It all started five or six years ago, when skiing had a resurgence in youth culture. Kids were going in the halfpipe following their snowboard buddies. Twin-tips took their cue from snowboarding-with a turned up tail, skiers can land backwards much easier." For kids, the MinEnemy is marketed as an all mountain ski with a twin tip. It's wide underfoot with a soft flex.
Athletes: Nick Mercon, Anthony Boronowski, Shane Szocs, Seth Morrison, Rory Will
Models:
Enemy
109-75-97 (25 m at 188 cm)
163, 173, 183 cm
$500
Minenemy (Skiboard)
N.A. (N.A.)
124, 136, 146 cm
$225

KNEISSL
This is the second season for the SupaFly, but Kneissl overhauled it with a new construction, more sidecut and new tip and tail shape. The SupaFly construction, called the Proto Box, combines a vertically laminated wood core wrapped in fiberglass. One sheet of metal on top provides torsional integrity while keeping it soft longitudinally. Coming in 2003: Two new skis, both derivatives of the Supafly.
Athletes: Aaron Loft, Chad Zurinskas
Models:
SupaFly
110-75-100 (17 m at 177 cm)
177, 185 cm
$525

LINE
Line's goal is to manufacture all mountain skis that excel in the park. "We consider our skis to be all mountain freeride skis," says Jason Levinthal, company president. Line's twin-tips have a wood core, wrapped in fiberglass. "But the performance is in the geometry and flex pattern. A progressive stance moves the boot slightly forward and makes the ski evenly balanced from tip to tail," says Levinthal. Skogen Sprang Pro and Mike Nick Pro Models are named for Line athletes. Line adds a Mike Nick in a 171-cm length this season. The Twelve Sixty, the 153 and the Ghetto Blaster are geared toward skiboarders and for the youth skier who wants the Line name in a shorter ski.
Athletes: Skogen Sprang and Mike Nick
Models:
Darkside
107-76-97 (21m at 182 cm)
182 cm
$510
Skogen Sprang Pro
106-76-96 (20 m at 176 cm)
176 cm
$510
Twelve Sixty
105-76-96 (18.5 m at 164 cm)
164 cm
$460
The 153
102-76-93 (17.5 m at 153 cm)
153 cm
$460
Mike Nick Pro Model
98-76-93 (16.5 m at 142 cm)
142 cm
$460
Ghetto Blaster
98-76-92 (15sition on the ski changes. When Big Mountain is your tip, you're mounted more like a traditional freeride ski. When you spin it to big air, you're centered on the ski, so the skier has more stability on takeoffs and landings." Mad-Trix gets a full wood core construction designed to be a solid ski that will hold up to lots of landings. Jonny Moseley gave input to the engineers and uses the ski for Big Air competitions. Just for kicks, the back tip scoops up snow and shoots a rooster tail in either direction.
Athletes: Jonny Moseley, Heath Orelway, Jon Olsson.
Models:
Air Head I
105-71-101 (17 m at 170 cm)
170 cm
$500
Air Head II
122-73-111 (8 m at 140 cm)
140 cm
$400
Mad_Trix
111-75-106 (N.A.)
163-190 cm
$550

K2
The Enemy is designed with both terrain park and all-mountain skiing in mind. With a 75 mm and plenty of sidecut, it's versatile for inbounds skiing and handy for big air. The wood-core, torsion-box construction is durable and easy to flex. "From K2's standpoint, a twin-tip doesn't affect the way the ski is going to ski," says K2's Jeff Mechura. "It all started five or six years ago, when skiing had a resurgence in youth culture. Kids were going in the halfpipe following their snowboard buddies. Twin-tips took their cue from snowboarding-with a turned up tail, skiers can land backwards much easier." For kids, the MinEnemy is marketed as an all mountain ski with a twin tip. It's wide underfoot with a soft flex.
Athletes: Nick Mercon, Anthony Boronowski, Shane Szocs, Seth Morrison, Rory Will
Models:
Enemy
109-75-97 (25 m at 188 cm)
163, 173, 183 cm
$500
Minenemy (Skiboard)
N.A. (N.A.)
124, 136, 146 cm
$225

KNEISSL
This is the second season for the SupaFly, but Kneissl overhauled it with a new construction, more sidecut and new tip and tail shape. The SupaFly construction, called the Proto Box, combines a vertically laminated wood core wrapped in fiberglass. One sheet of metal on top provides torsional integrity while keeping it soft longitudinally. Coming in 2003: Two new skis, both derivatives of the Supafly.
Athletes: Aaron Loft, Chad Zurinskas
Models:
SupaFly
110-75-100 (17 m at 177 cm)
177, 185 cm
$525

LINE
Line's goal is to manufacture all mountain skis that excel in the park. "We consider our skis to be all mountain freeride skis," says Jason Levinthal, company president. Line's twin-tips have a wood core, wrapped in fiberglass. "But the performance is in the geometry and flex pattern. A progressive stance moves the boot slightly forward and makes the ski evenly balanced from tip to tail," says Levinthal. Skogen Sprang Pro and Mike Nick Pro Models are named for Line athletes. Line adds a Mike Nick in a 171-cm length this season. The Twelve Sixty, the 153 and the Ghetto Blaster are geared toward skiboarders and for the youth skier who wants the Line name in a shorter ski.
Athletes: Skogen Sprang and Mike Nick
Models:
Darkside
107-76-97 (21m at 182 cm)
182 cm
$510
Skogen Sprang Pro
106-76-96 (20 m at 176 cm)
176 cm
$510
Twelve Sixty
105-76-96 (18.5 m at 164 cm)
164 cm
$460
The 153
102-76-93 (17.5 m at 153 cm)
153 cm
$460
Mike Nick Pro Model
98-76-93 (16.5 m at 142 cm)
142 cm
$460
Ghetto Blaster
98-76-92 (15 m at 133 cm)
133 cm
$410

NORDICA
AirDrive TT, Nordica's expert level twin-tip was designed and inspired by team athletes. Its sandwich cap construction, laminate wood construction with a cosmetic cap, makes it practical in the pipe and park but also good in bumps and all mountain. "We found that when we turned the tail up- the ski finishes the turn smoother and releases much quicker," says Andy Hare, Alpine Product Manager. "With its full control in air, its versatility and new graphics, the younger generation seems to like it." The PipeDrive TT, a tuned down version of the AirDrive, uses Nordica's Flex Cap Construction (Nordica's price point twin-tip) is more forgiving and softer in flex designed for the entry level terrain park skier.
Athletes: Brad Holmes, Kristi Leskinen
Models:
AirDrive TT
105-70-94 (16 m at 160 cm)
140-170 cm
$449
PipeDrive TT 102-64-85 (13 m at 150 cm)
130-150 cm
$399

ROSSIGNOL
"The strength of the ski is its versatility," says Rossignol about the Pow'Air Pro. With DualTec Construction, the Pow'Air Pro uses a sandwich construction designed for the edge-grip and holding power of a traditional ski in conjunction with cap construction on top for rebound and energy. Its Microcell foam core uses synthetic material instead of wood for consistency and durability. The Pow'Air Grind is designed specifically for rail slides. It has the same construction as the Pow'Air Pro but has a grind plate in the center of the ski. The edges curve inwards toward the center of the base so the hardened plastic material doesn't disintegrate while grinding rails. Coming next year: a junior twin-tip ski called the Bandit Jr.
Athletes: Tanner Hall, Evan Raps, Boyd Easley
Models:
Pow'Air Grind
107-70-97 (19.1 m at 178 cm)
168, 178 cm
$619
Pow'Air Pro
107-70-97 (19.1 m at 178 cm)
158-184 cm
$569
Pow'Air
107-75-97 (17.2m at 158 cm)
138, 158 cm
$449
Bandit Jr.
97-63-86 (12.4 m at 140 cm)
110,120,130,140,150 cm
$239

SALOMON
The Teneighty applies Salomon's Monocoque cap construction. With Monocoque, the cap is the load-bearing component, designed to be lightweight but still strong. The core foam. Mounted slightly forward, the ski is fairly stiff in the forebody and its wide body makes a stable landing platform. "The New Canadian Airforce (Salomon's sponsored athletes) had a lot to do with developing the ski," says Salomon's Ted Wardlaw. "They are really the originators of park-and-pipe competition. We gave them the carte blanche in the design process. They evaluated every prototype."
Athletes: Mike Douglas, J.P. Auclair, J.F. Cusson, Vinny Dorion, Philou Poirier, C.R. Johnson.
Models:
Teneighty
108-75-100 (19 m at 177 cm)
161, 169, 177 cm
$675

VOLANT
The "69" in Machete 69 comes from being able to switch in both directions, like the twin-tip. The construction consists of a reinforced spruce core with a stainless steel cap. "I use the 69s primarily for the terrain park," says Shane McConkey, a member of Volant's Machete Mafia. "There's a lot of people who spend their entire day in the park. The 69 is a great ski if that's your thing."
Athletes: Shane McConkey, Greg Tuffelmier, Max Kusazaj, Joe Vallone
Models:
Machete 69
100-74-92 (26 m at 175 cm)
155-185 cm
$549

VOLKL
There is no metal in the V, which enables it to be light for maneuverability in the park and pipe. Volkl's Poweerframe construction blends the way race skis of the past were made with the latest technology of a vertical sidewall and cap. It has a solid wood core called Sensorwood, making it light for tricks but versatile for all-mountain skiing. "It's a pipe and park ski that you can also take on the mountain," says Völkl's Justin Chandler.
Athletes: JT Holmes, Chris Collins, Matt Collins, John Turkula, Derek Klick.
Models:
V
105-75-98 (23 m at 178 cm)
158, 168, 178 cm
$585
at 133 cm)
133 cm
$410

NORDICA
AirDrive TT, Nordica's expert level twin-tip was designed and inspired by team athletes. Its sandwich cap construction, laminate wood construction with a cosmetic cap, makes it practical in the pipe and park but also good in bumps and all mountain. "We found that when we turned the tail up- the ski finishes the turn smoother and releases much quicker," says Andy Hare, Alpine Product Manager. "With its full control in air, its versatility and new graphics, the younger generation seems to like it." The PipeDrive TT, a tuned down version of the AirDrive, uses Nordica's Flex Cap Construction (Nordica's price point twin-tip) is more forgiving and softer in flex designed for the entry level terrain park skier.
Athletes: Brad Holmes, Kristi Leskinen
Models:
AirDrive TT
105-70-94 (16 m at 160 cm)
140-170 cm
$449
PipeDrive TT 102-64-85 (13 m at 150 cm)
130-150 cm
$399

ROSSIGNOL
"The strength of the ski is its versatility," says Rossignol about the Pow'Air Pro. With DualTec Construction, the Pow'Air Pro uses a sandwich construction designed for the edge-grip and holding power of a traditional ski in conjunction with cap construction on top for rebound and energy. Its Microcell foam core uses synthetic material instead of wood for consistency and durability. The Pow'Air Grind is designed specifically for rail slides. It has the same construction as the Pow'Air Pro but has a grind plate in the center of the ski. The edges curve inwards toward the center of the base so the hardened plastic material doesn't disintegrate while grinding rails. Coming next year: a junior twin-tip ski called the Bandit Jr.
Athletes: Tanner Hall, Evan Raps, Boyd Easley
Models:
Pow'Air Grind
107-70-97 (19.1 m at 178 cm)
168, 178 cm
$619
Pow'Air Pro
107-70-97 (19.1 m at 178 cm)
158-184 cm
$569
Pow'Air
107-75-97 (17.2m at 158 cm)
138, 158 cm
$449
Bandit Jr.
97-63-86 (12.4 m at 140 cm)
110,120,130,140,150 cm
$239

SALOMON
The Teneighty applies Salomon's Monocoque cap construction. With Monocoque, the cap is the load-bearing component, designed to be lightweight but still strong. The core foam. Mounted slightly forward, the ski is fairly stiff in the forebody and its wide body makes a stable landing platform. "The New Canadian Airforce (Salomon's sponsored athletes) had a lot to do with developing the ski," says Salomon's Ted Wardlaw. "They are really the originators of park-and-pipe competition. We gave them the carte blanche in the design process. They evaluated every prototype."
Athletes: Mike Douglas, J.P. Auclair, J.F. Cusson, Vinny Dorion, Philou Poirier, C.R. Johnson.
Models:
Teneighty
108-75-100 (19 m at 177 cm)
161, 169, 177 cm
$675

VOLANT
The "69" in Machete 69 comes from being able to switch in both directions, like the twin-tip. The construction consists of a reinforced spruce core with a stainless steel cap. "I use the 69s primarily for the terrain park," says Shane McConkey, a member of Volant's Machete Mafia. "There's a lot of people who spend their entire day in the park. The 69 is a great ski if that's your thing."
Athletes: Shane McConkey, Greg Tuffelmier, Max Kusazaj, Joe Vallone
Models:
Machete 69
100-74-92 (26 m at 175 cm)
155-185 cm
$549

VOLKL
There is no metal in the V, which enables it to be light for maneuverability in the park and pipe. Volkl's Powerframe construction blends the way race skis of the past were made with the latest technology of a vertical sidewall and cap. It has a solid wood core called Sensorwood, making it light for tricks but versatile for all-mountain skiing. "It's a pipe and park ski that you can also take on the mountain," says Völkl's Justin Chandler.
Athletes: JT Holmes, Chris Collins, Matt Collins, John Turkula, Derek Klick.
Models:
V
105-75-98 (23 m at 178 cm)
158, 168, 178 cm
$585
Volkl's Powerframe construction blends the way race skis of the past were made with the latest technology of a vertical sidewall and cap. It has a solid wood core called Sensorwood, making it light for tricks but versatile for all-mountain skiing. "It's a pipe and park ski that you can also take on the mountain," says Völkl's Justin Chandler.
Athletes: JT Holmes, Chris Collins, Matt Collins, John Turkula, Derek Klick.
Models:
V
105-75-98 (23 m at 178 cm)
158, 168, 178 cm
$585

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