Technically improved

Ski and snowboard gear refined, not redefined
By CLEA SIMON  |  November 18, 2008

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IT’S BACK: After five years in retirement, the Prophet Board from Ride is back on the slopes.

Snow sports shred the space-time continuum this winter, with new styles that push technological boundaries for form and function. From bindings and boots to boards and high-performance skis, the key this season is crossover. While there haven't been any truly revolutionary developments in snow-sports equipment this season, recent breakthroughs are now showing up all over and in novel ways.

Rock and ready
Twin-tip rocker skis, which curl up front and back like waterskis, have become almost common since their introduction a few years back. But the trend, which allows skiers to almost float on deep powder, is now coming into favor for a wider range of skis — even those meant for our packed and icy East Coast snow.

Borrowing design tips from surfboards, as well as waterskis, the new ROSSIGNOL SEVEN DEADLY SINS series offers a variety of ski options for all levels. At its high end, the S7 features an extreme rocker and sculpted waist, while the lower numbers flatten the ski out a bit to provide more edge on the snow for park skiers and the less adventurous. Covering the angles, the SALOMON LORD is another good East Coast adapter. With its slight twin tip and rocker, the Lord is extremely versatile, light, and responsive. A "great all-around ski," that can move from powder to park skiing, says Brian Mulvaney, assistant manager of Ski Market.

Rocker technology made the leap to snowboards last year. This year, it's everywhere, and the innovations keep on coming. Lib Tech remains at the forefront, says Ted Manning, buyer for Surf the Earth Snowboards and general manager for both the Killington, Vermont, snowboard shop and its ski-oriented sister, AspenEast. Although this US firm calls the ends-up styling "banana" technology, and modifies it with a flat underfoot so boarders don't have to flex their weight to make contact with the snow, the principle remains the same, creating boards that nearly float.

This year, LibTech's signature SKATE BANANA is back and pushing the envelope with a new, almost wavy edge design they call "magne-traction" that's supposed to bring skateboard-like control to almost any frozen surface. The rocker edge, whatever you choose to call it, can now also be found in sister company Gnu's boards and in K2's WWW (World Wide Weapon) as well.

Ease and versatility
Not new, but renewed: Ride has brought back its PROPHET BOARD after a few years' hiatus. This popular all-terrain board carries the same name, but has been substantially redesigned, says Manning. Made with lighter, updated materials, the new Prophet features a variety of stance options and a "twinish" shape, which gives the rider more freedom of stance than a straight twin, for maximum versatility from parks to powder.

Freedom of movement has come to board bindings, too. The RIDE CONTRABAND BINDING, new this year, has done away with the traditional two-strap contraption. In its place, is a single reconfigured band. The look is startlingly spare, and the binding itself is lighter as well as quicker and easier to get in and out of. But despite the radical redesign, the binding itself works in the same way and, correctly adjusted, rides like a traditional two-strap binding.

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