G3 debuts backcountry skis

While SNEWS® has been aware of the impending launch of G3's new line of backcountry skis since spring, the official word is just now being made public by the well-known Canadian binding company. In what President Oliver Stefan terms a "soft launch for the 05/06 season," all of the models are now available to dealers -- at least those who still have any open-to-buy dollars remaining -- for immediate shipment.
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While SNEWS® has been aware of the impending launch of G3's new line of backcountry skis since spring, the official word is just now being made public by the well-known Canadian binding company. In what President Oliver Stefan terms a "soft launch for the 05/06 season," all of the models are now available to dealers -- at least those who still have any open-to-buy dollars remaining -- for immediate shipment.

The three models for men and one model for women were designed with industry-veteran Paul Parker, who worked on the now-defunct Tua ski line for two decades. The new models are designed for both telemark and alpine touring bindings which led to the decision against using binding inserts -- more on that later.

All of the skis feature vertically-laminated, poplar wood cores with double torsion box fiberglass, which bodes well for durability and torsional rigidity. (K2's telemark and Karhu are the other major players featuring skis manufactured with wood cores.) The construction is semi-cap, meaning the tips and tails use caps for extra torsional resistance and the center is a sandwich construction for an even, rounded flex. Likely, it's only a matter of time before that "sweet G3 flex" creeps into G3's marketing lingo just as it once did at Tua.

The G3 boards are built in the world-renowned ski country…Tunisia. Yep, sandwiched between Libya and Algeria. Okay, so sand is more common than snow, but we've been told the factory is modern and the workforce well trained. No reason these skis should be better or worse than those made in China.

While the company remains tight-lipped on the connection with another ski company, it certainly appears "Project R" is a collaboration with Movement, a highly regarded Swiss ski company that currently has no North American distribution. In March, Parker and Stefan showed up at Italy's La Skieda Telemark Festival -- a festival one of our SNEWS® editors was covering -- demoing Movement skis with G3 bindings. Comparing the specs, there is a lot in common between the two brands, but there are also sufficient differences in core materials providing evidence that Parker has done some serious tinkering and these are not just alpine skis with new cosmetics.

Overall, the skis appear to be fairly conventional fatties with, well, interesting graphics. The big dude is the Reverend (126/93/114; 177 cm or 184 cm; $625) featuring a black preacher and stained-glass window as the graphic. A bit more conventional model, the Baron (116/81/104; 170 cm, 177 cm, 184 cm; $559) looks to be a good all-around model. Tele gals get an in-between model, the Siren (121/88/109; 157 cm or 166 cm; $549), which is a lot of ski in a diminutive size.

The most interesting model to us in the line is the Ticket (120/81/109; 174 cm or 182 cm; $620). This features a tighter radius on the outside edge than the inside with the intent of pulling the ski around faster. G3 asserts that the ski will offer advanced skiers better performance for both telemark and parallel turns.

Although most dealers didn't have the opportunity to see or test the new skis last winter, G3 has committed to a sizeable production run that is now in its Canadian warehouse. Dealers interested in testing the waters can take advantage of a preseason discount to earn a 49 percent margin.

SNEWS® View: With the demise of Tua last summer, it's no surprise that someone decided to step in and fill the void. It's even less of a surprise that G3 capitalized on Paul Parker's expertise -- it would be a crime not to -- and that the company is working hard to broaden its line. Some will question the wisdom of entering an already crowded market, but G3 has the advantage of brand recognition -- there isn't a freeheel skier who hasn't heard of them and most have used the company's bindings and/or climbing skins at some point. Furthermore, the existing rep force is excellent and is already in the key shops on a regular basis and will be at the demos this winter (the sales agencies that had conflicting ski lines chose to represent the G3 skis, we've been told).

The choice of graphics might raise a few eyebrows, particularly on the Reverend, but that probably won't hurt sales. We are disappointed that G3 chose not to off binding inserts, however. The addition of binding inserts would certainly have been extra incentive for the ski industry to get off the fence and settle on a standard for AT and tele bindings. Or perhaps this is an omen that the NTN will force a change? Who knows!

Nonetheless, with a good snow year, there's little doubt that G3 will sell out the initial production run and set itself up for a strong showing next season.

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