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GEAR 101: What Is Flipcore?

A year ago, Blizzard Skis came out with a pretty strong claim, that they had thrown down the gauntlet in front of the rest of the industry.

So in my coverage of the SIA trade show, (see The 1st Annual BLISTER Awards) I gave Blizzard *The Swagger Award*.

Here’s what I wrote last year:

 

[Blizzard] had this to say about their new (rather gimmicky-sounding) “Flipcore” technology:

“We are literally turning the Freeride World upside down. These new products will redefine how freeride skis are built.”

So what, exactly, is this world-changing Flipcore Technology, you ask?

“Flipcore Technology is a revolutionary new camber (rocker) technology for Blizzard’s freeride line. Natural flex, reduced weight, and superior floatation in combination with extreme stability and performance are the immediate advantages of Blizzard’s new Flipcore construction. These benefits are made possible through a new production process where the cambered wood core is literally flipped upside down to match the desired camber of a rockered ski. The ski is then pressed in a non-forced, natural way, which allows the rocker (reverse-cambered) shape to be produced without having to bend or artificially shape the ski in a press. The end result is a rocker construction that provides a previously unknown level of stability and even pressure distribution that is incredibly easy to ski.” (italics added)

At BLISTER, we love claims like the one italicized above because we can simply grab the skis, test them, and tell you whether Flipcore skis do, in fact, reach levels of “previously unknown” stability, or whether the marketing department needs to be reined in a little bit.”

 

Well, guess what? In our reviews of the Blizzard Cochise, we in fact found a ski that, while it might not provide a “previously unknown level of stability,” (um, has anybody at Blizzard skied the 198 or 191cm Volkl Katana, or basically anything made by ON3P?), it actually may have achieved a previously unknown combination of stability and ease. The Cochise is a pretty amazing ski.

photo of the Blizzard Cochise

Blizzard Cochise

And in more good news for Blizzard, the word got out: a number of review outlets were gushing about and throwing “innovation” awards at the Cochise, Flipcore technology itself, and some of the other skis in Blizzard’s freeride line that employ “Flipcore Natural Rocker Technology” in their construction.

There’s only one problem: nobody was really explaining what, exactly, “Flipcore” is? I mean, they were regurgitating Blizzard’s own description of Flipcore, but if you go back and read the above paragraph a few times, and I guarantee that you’ll be left with at least a couple questions about this Flipcore thing.

The biggest question for us is whether the favorable performance characteristics of the Cochise are largely (mostly? entirely?) the result of a nice balance of materials and tuned dimensions, or are they truly the product of a superior construction process?

So we decided to try to find out.

7 Comments

  1. stuckathuntermtn January 22, 2012 Reply

    Interesting article. Makes some sense. I have been under the impression (actually, I was told) that in many ski companies, the camber is actually milled into the core, not just pressed in. While I understand that forcing it to rocker may break these fibers, if I’m not mistaken, then traditionally cambered skis are not being broken. This wastes wood, but helps prevent them from losing camber right away.
    Can anyone comment on this? Is it wrong?

  2. John January 22, 2012 Reply

    Good article. But as you seem to be saying, leads to more (good) questions.

  3. greg January 24, 2012 Reply

    Any chance the introduction of the bamboo core has impact on the properties of the ski than the flipcore construction? After all, ON3P uses bamboo exclusively and you pointed out the stability of skis from that manufacturer in your article. Liberty skis (amongst others) also use bamboo and have been picking up a host of industry awards lately.

  4. Rowen February 9, 2012 Reply

    I’d be interested in doing a test if Blister wants to help answer some questions. It would be fairly easy for us to lay up an stock Caylor, a ski that Blister has had some experience on, and just flip the cores. It wouldn’t be an absolute true test since the stock and new flipcore skis would have seen different riding conditions and use, but after a two or three day break in period, you could ski em back to back for comparison.

  5. Joep February 18, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for explaining this technology. I’m not sure if I understand though…If a core is turned upside down in the press, the press still forces the core to bend from a negative camber shape to a positive camber shape in the waist (since all flip core models seem to have positive camber). Here, the stress on the wood fibers should be increased, or not?

  6. Alex P October 18, 2012 Reply

    You know what, those guys over at Blizzard are just lazy. One afternoon, after a long day of inhaling wood dust and fiberglass particles, the guy operating the ski press gave the dude passing him the profiled wood cores a look and said, “seriously? you really want me to push the wood against the direction it wants to go? do you know how much energy thats going to take?” Minutes later, Flipcore was born.

    As an aside, the Cochise looks like a great ski.

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