ISPO 2009 came and went leaving us, as always, a little overwhelmed. The 10 or so football field sized spaces, crammed full of next years ski related products was buzzing like a hive on honey making day. There were ingenious inventions, bizarre contraptions, art installations, and demonstrations, but our focus was firmly fixed on next years skis, and it became apparent that the rocker movement had become a full blown revolution.
Rockered skis have been around for a couple of years now, ever since Shane McConkey strapped a pair of waterskis to his feet and stormed an Alaskan face. Volant and then K2 indulged his fantasy. At first people laughed, some even cried, but by last year, Volkl, Salomon and a few other core brands had jumped in on the action. Following their lead at this years ISPO, it was difficult to find a brand that hadn’t brought out a rockered ski. This is good news for freeriders, the choice of ski for next year is wider than ever, and every company seems to be coming up with a different approach to the same idea, varying from the traditional banana shape in the Movement Fly Swatter, to the more EU regulated banana shape of the Head Jimi 110, where the rocker is only just noticeable.
Some skis are fully rockered throughout, some have a normal camber underfoot, only rockering at the tip and tail. Then there are the front rockered only skis such as the appropriately named, Salomon Rocker, and last years World Freeride Tour winner, Henrik Windstedt’s ski of choice, the Rossignol bandit 112. Both these skis look like your traditional Big Mountain gunners until you get to the rockered tip, giving the impression that someone just snapped them in the nose. Armada have even taken the whole concept one step further and included rockered (they call it Elf shoe technology) park skis in their line, which according to Jacob Wester are the future in park riding, and who are we to argue with Jacob?
The big question is do all these skis actually have a place in the wider market or are they just a passing fad, only suitable for specialist skiers like Mr McConkey? A few of us here have been riding rockers since they first appeared and while there is still room for improvement in terms of their all-mountain usability, there is no doubt that in the powder, rockered skis are the business, and with more brands taking up the torch it seems that the rocker revolution won’t be fading out any time soon. Of course this goes some way to proving what we already suspected, that Shane McConkey is one of skiings most influential characters, and might just have changed the way we slide down a mountain for ever. (Later in the season we are heading to the SIGB ski test to have a go on all of next years planks, and we will be giving in depth reviews of every ski we can get our hands on. Full reviews will be available in the Spring.)
Aside from rockered skis, there were plenty of other things at ISPO to get us excited about the coming year, and here is a few of our favourites.
Words: Jamie Cameron, Photos: Pally Learmond