Haven't heard of "Nordic jibbing" yet? Well that may change soon with the introduction of the new Fischer Jibskate skis on Dec. 1. This will be the first twin-tipped skating ski built for the abuse of landing aerial maneuvers. That's right, we're talking skateboard/snowboard tricks done on lightweight cross-country gear.
What has essentially existed as an underground scene for a couple of years now is starting to emerge and garner public attention. Leave it to the imagination of kids to take old skate skis and make them into twin tips by using a heat gun to bend up the tail. After that, any small kicker is fair game for pulling tricks. With Fischer, they can now leave the heat gun behind and use purpose-built skis (no burly skate poles yet though) to help release pent-up, snow park energy.
At least 10 Nordic centers around the United States will be building terrain parks for the fledgling sport this season. And backyards and vacant lots throughout the North Country may soon start acquiring jumps and rails since all it requires is a shovel and kid-power to build a playground. Of course, no grassroots venture that is worth capitalizing on has avoided the machinations of the corporate world, and to that end, Fischer has gone so far as to launch a website to promote the skis and the sport (http://www.jibskate.com/).
The sport of Nordic jibbing is starting to get media attention too. The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article on the sport (click here to read). And nearby Bear Valley Nordic Center is prepping a park for all the SoCal teens looking for the next thing. And the November issue of Outside magazine profiled U.S. Nordic Team member Andrew Newell, who is a leading proponent of Nordic jibbing (click here to read).
SNEWSÂ® View: It's about time! Of course, telemark skiers have been hitting the snow parks for years now. But the kids have mostly been using heavy gear (twin-tip tele skis from K2 and Karhu with three- and four-buckle plastic tele boots) and doing the same stunts that alpine kids have been pulling. The park scenes in telemark movies are rather embarrassing, not because the athletes aren't talented, but because they aren't doing much of anything that couldn't be done with a fixed heel.
Ripping it up on skating gear totally changes the game. Not only is the gear obviously different, but skiers don't even need a hill since skate poles provide the impetus and speed. The lightweight gear also makes spins and flips easier. Some may see this as another Fischer "revolution" destined to quickly fade. But we are certain it has more youth-appeal than Nordic walking and it meets all the teen criteria: low entry fee for gear, can be created just about anywhere there's snow, good opportunity for a social scene, and it's an up-yours to old-school cross-country skiers like us.
Geoff Hurwitch, a product manager for ski manufacturer Rossignol, was quoted in the LA Times article as saying he believes "jumping gaps and sliding metal pipes in lightweight skis made for flat ground is a bad idea." Frankly, nothing can be sweeter music to the ears of teens than an old fart at Rossignol claiming Nordic jibbing is a bad idea because it's dangerous.
As for Fischer's website promoting the sport, it's a nice attempt to capitalize on the market, but when we checked in we noted that it looks as if it is designed by old farts for a new generation and as such is missing the requisite videos, vibe and an unmoderated forum that will be needed to really appeal to the targeted audience.
And, speaking of old farts, could it be that SNEWSÂ® founder Bob Woodward will soon be spotted at a local snow park nailing his Alley Ooop and working on perfecting his Cork 5? We'll keep you posted with photos if we can manage.