Ski companies, pros, and bros converged on Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay Convention center this week for the annual Snowsports Industry of America convention. Every manufacturer had new ski lines on display, and the proportions were in line with America's growing obesity problem.
Among the mas gordo was K2's latest Pontoon. The 130mm-waisted ski looks more like a blimp than a board, but K2 promises that it has practical applications. "The Pontoon is a reverse-camber ski," says Skiing's test director, Sam Bass. "So when you look at it in profile the tips and tails are higher than the midsection. This feature—plus an insanely fat waist—means you work less trying to keep your tips up in deep snow, saving you valuable energy for long days of powder skiing.
In addition to their rippled Speedwave which the company promises gives more torsional stiffness for improved carving ability, Elan released the M 1111. The graphics come from a fresco in a 14th-century Slovenian chapel, but with little sidecut and a massive 121-mm waist, the ski is clearly part of the 21st century.
Salomon didn't jump on the fatty bandwagon, instead choosing to revamp their always popular line of twintips. In addition to the Dumont, two-time X Games gold medalist Simon Dumont's pro model, the company also redesigned the Foil and Thruster, and added the Temptress, a women's-specific twin.
Rider-driven companies weren't to be out-done. Armada improved upon their all-mountain AR5, launching the AR6, which uses the same dual-wood-core construction but adds more pop than the old model. Fans of last year's graphics by SoCal artist Mad Steez won't be disappointed: This year's skis use the artist's psychedelic prints, but this time they're based on pop culture. David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and (shut up!) Mr. T make appearances across the line.
Apparel companies joined in the party, launching all manners of new clothing brands. Insulated shells using Gore-Tex Windstopper and PrimaLoft, like the Cloudveil Down Patrol, were popular, as were traditional materials like waterproof/breathable versions of old-world materials like tweed, corduroy, and canvas.
For coverage, testing, and reviews of all the 06-07 products, see the September 2006 gear guide, and stayed tuned in to skiingmag.com.