Question from Blister Member, Jon:
Jonathan, would you be able to provide any insight as to why some players in the industry are claiming directional skis to be outdated and now part of history? I hear a lot of reference to “easy”. Easy is not the feeling I want to take home at the end of the day. I’ll take the Monster 108.
I’m not sure that anyone—or at least, that many people or companies—are saying that *directional* skis are outdated — there are tons of skis still being made with directional shapes.
And by “directional shapes,” I very roughly mean two primary things:
(1) That the back half of the ski still has a “directional” shape – a (1) non-symmetrical sidecut and (2) a flatter tail.
(2) A “directional” mount point, which I would loosely define as any ski with a mount point that is set back 6 cm or more behind the ski’s true center — though the most traditional skis have mount points that are -10 cm (e.g. Blizzard Bonafide & Cochise are both more than -11 cm); -12 cm; or even -14 cm or more behind true center (the Volkl V-Werks Katana is -13.9 cm behind true center, and some race skis are mounted even further back).
But there is no question that “easy,” “more accessible,” and “more approachable” are terms that are important to just about every ski company. And that shouldn’t really be a surprise — don’t we see that trend in virtually every other industry? (Certainly the bike industry, but also across the tech industry, etc.?)
It’s really a numbers game: there are fewer skiers out there who are (1) strong enough to handle and (2) want to handle a heavy, damp ski with a big top end. (It’s always important to note that not all strong skiers like a heavier, damp ski.)
If the average number of skier days is 5-10 per season … then companies have to — and should — make skis that will be readily enjoyable by such folks.
But heavier skis that require more input and offer major stability are loved by a smaller set of folks. So companies know they won’t sell as many … and they have to make hard decisions about whether or not to keep making such skis.
The drum I’ve been banging for-seemingly-ever now — and that I will continue to bang — is to try to convince companies that it is truly valuable to continue to produce smaller runs of such skis. Doing so will (1) stop the loud, angry complaints that get directed at them, and (2) even better, it will not merely silence such complaints, but it will get those of us who enjoy such skis psyched on their brand.
Those two things amount to an incredibly smart and valuable branding play for the ski companies — in the same way that it is not a smart brand play to alienate skiers who want a fun and easy ski, it’s also not a smart play, in my opinion, to alienate that
rather very insanely vocal minority that enjoys a more demanding ski — especially since that vocal minority tends to be on the mountain quite a bit.
(For more on this topic, check out the episode of the Blister Podcast where we talk to ski designers from Armada, Blizzard, K2 / Line, Moment, and DPS.)
That’s my take, anyway. And I’d be curious to hear what other people think.