Across the board this season's lineup of skis is carrying many more rockered models than ever before. Leading the industry down this rocker road is K2. K2 has totally embraced the rocker concept and is so confident all skiers will benefit that they have incorporated some rocker design into just about every model.
For K2 to rap their arms around the rocker technology shows a world class commitment to, and a belief in, this innovation as being the future of skiing.
To bring to you the nuts and bolts of why and how K2 has utilized rocker design across its ski production line I went to Lee Quaglia, owner of two time SKI Magazine's New England Shop of the Year, Aspen East Ski Shop in Killington, Vermont. Lee was one of a select group invited to travel to Valle Nevado, Chile to participate in a round of testing K2 rocker skis.
Here's an interview I had with Lee where we discussed rocker skis in general and how K2 has implemented the rocker technology.
Lee, we all know now that K2 has embraced the rocker ski technology to the point of implementing it into all its 2010-11 production categories. Why is K2 so confident it can apply this technology for all ski conditions?
Think of where the 'rocker' idea came from... its roots are from one of the coolest sports ever, surfing. Simply put, a rockered ski's tip and tail are turned up, sometimes elevated a little or sometimes radically depending on the ski's application for snow conditions. It gives you more edge pressure through your feet, where it's most needed and in the K2 inventory there's a rocker to benefit everybody the all-mountain skier, the cruiser and the park rider, from beginners to experts.
Lee, this summer you've skied the various K2 rocker models in Chile. Are they hard to get use to and can you really feel a difference?
K2 has a 'rocker' variation in all their categories - powder rocker, all-terrain rocker, speed rocker, jib rocker and a catch-free rocker for beginners. In all conditions a rocker design makes turn initiation quick and effortless. The ski composition and shape set it up for the various skiing applications, such as parks or powder and the snow conditions such as powder or hardpack.
Your skis will ride up and over uneven surfaces with ease, and as soon as you put the ski on edge, bingo! The edge engages because there's torsional rigidity, and it's every bit as stable as a cambered ski. You get more versatility without sacrificing performance and you can ski a longer day, having more fun.
OK, so you're questioning if it's easy to get used to. It might feel a little different at first, but after a few runs, you'll be having a blast, and wondering why you waited to get on rockers.
Everybody has a mental picture of the big reverse camber of a pure powder rocker so how does K2 make the rocker apply to the other conditions and applications?
Mike - You really don't need to get out the calculator, but now that you understand the basics of the technology, it's good to know the numbers. First, there was ski length in centimeters, then it was all about the radius of the turn, now the all-important tip/waist/tail measurements.
For rocker technology in general, and I mean not just K2 rockers - just add the length or depth of the rocker (how far the rocker goes back from the tip and from the tail). "W-L-R" are the three factors to consider: width, length and rocker. ,/p>
K2 describes their rocker profiles as Baseline Technology, a blend of camber and varying degrees of rocker. I like how they use percentages to rate their different categories, such as All-Terrain with 70% camber and 30% rocker, or their Speed rocker having 90% camber and 10% rocker.
We are talking K2 mostly here because of the way they totally embraced the technology, but just about every manufacturer is on board in at least one model. Do you think rocker will spread even further throughout the industry?
You are right K2 believes in it so much that their whole product line incorporates rocker variations including the classic women's T-Nine series. Rocker technology has become the next big thing since shaped skis. Rocker is here to stay and it's not just for powder, and as for the other brands coming on board actually the Salomon Enduro is one of my favorites along with the K2 Rictor.
Lee, do you have a final word for the skiers that maybe looking to try a rocker ski?
Listen to the shop sales associates who have been testing them and riding them. Rocker skis will be in high demand in shop demo programs, so make sure you reserve your choice in advance. Knowledge is power and is the key to your purchase, so demo a few different models. Don't miss out by letting it be a mystery, because sooner or later you will embrace this new technology.