Nordic wrap: SIA 2003

SIA '03 was a cross-country show full of positive trends. Trends like the small, medium, large touring ski sizing idea catching on. Ideas like better boot fit, more women's specific gear and apparel, more technical apparel choices, some smart thinking on telemark binding-to-ski links and the continued rise of AT skiing.
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SIA '03 was a cross-country show full of positive trends. Trends like the small, medium, large touring ski sizing idea catching on. Ideas like better boot fit, more women's specific gear and apparel, more technical apparel choices, some smart thinking on telemark binding-to-ski links and the continued rise of AT skiing.



Skis From Track to Slope



Track and Touring

Coming off an excellent season with their multi-sidecut, three length (small, medium and large) Nordic Cruising skis, Fischer adds the Jupiter model for entry-level skiers. Also new is the Cruiser Junior in 90 and 110 cm lengths and the 39-44-47 mm Pacer skate ski in small, medium, and large lengths.



Exel's new Nordic Fitness Skiing program--aimed at fitness types who have never skied--features small, medium and large sizing in five adult ski models and 120 cm, 130 cm and 140 cm sizing in a kids model. All ski models feature CAP constructions. Some models have multi-sidecuts and soft, medium, hard flex options. What is most compelling about the program is the price--the most expensive ski model is only $200.



Rossignol has killed the Tempo line and folded all that line's skis into the EVO line, creating a six-model offering in small, medium, large and extra large sizes.



Aside from the small, medium, large trend, Karhu introduces Snowblaze, a line placed between racing and touring and featuring some old standby Karhu manes like Nova. The new Nova is an in and out of track performance ski. The entire four ski Snowblaze grouping (Aero, Nova, Solar and Escape) are sized via the Karhu Skier Weight (KSU) system which works on the percentage of weight required to flatten a ski out for grip. All skis in the line have blunt (Ener-G) tips and are a shade wider just below the shovel area for added stability.



Also checking in with a new weight standard is Alpina. Its Solution Systems employs a scale that's color-coded green, yellow, red and blue for skier weight. Match the color zone of the scale with the color zone marking on a ski and you have a match. The system is used on all Alpina skis and on a group of Madshus women's-specific (Cardio MGV Z-1, Z-2, Z-3) skis that match the new women's boots.



Backcountry Touring



In backcountry touring skis, Karhu offers the new CAP construction, full metal edge Pegasus which replaces the Serpens in their line. Erik Sports tries to solve the problem of a lot of skiers who only need skins for short durations during long tours. The Asnes "Skin Lock" concept on the Rago model ski has two grooves on the ski's base into which the lead part of a 70mm long skin can be attached. The skin, 35mm wide, comes in both synthetic and mohair versions.



Rossignol's revised, three-model, CAP construction backcountry touring line is named based on each ski's tip measurement, hence BC 83, BC 68, BC 61.



Atomic took last year's 70-60-65, metal-edged Sierra model and made it the centerpiece of its new three-model Rugged Touring line. Along with the Sierra is the 59-50-55 Cascade for in- and out-of-track skiing and the 88-67-78 Rainier for out-of-track skiing.



In specialty skis, Karhu's Sweeper series gets the new 99 cm Kruzer, and the Morph gets re-named the Karver.



For the wee ones, Salomon 's new Snow Monster binding makes getting in and out of bindings super simple and fun. The binding matches with the all velcro closures (no laces) Snow Monster boot in sizes 26 to 33. Total retail for a boot and binding combination is about $90.



And for those of you still reading closely, surprise of surprises--the ever-energetic Louis Garneau will debut a complete line of cross-country skis next season. The skis, like Louis' bike line, will be for the Canadian market only.



Off To The Races



Racing is a fairly stable category for next season, save a few key new products.



Rossi's new MAX ski for high school racers and fitness skiers comes in 170,180 and 190 cms lengths with ABS edges and wood-air channel (Ultra Air) cores. Rossi will also offer a high-end junior CAP construction X-ium skis that match with either a new combi boot or a junior skate boot.



Fischer takes weight off the tip and tail of its top classic skis via shaping. The result is a ski 3cm shorter (a 205 becomes a 202) with the same amount of base contact with the snow. Overall swing weight is vastly improved for less energy expansion while skiing.



Atomic is the only other company to make significant racing program changes. The RS 10 model now comes with a new 41-44-45 mm sidecut profile and structuring of the ski's topsheet to make it flexing smoother overall.



Tele You What And AT



Yes there are women's-specific telemark skis now, which are turning some heads.



Rossignol's days of heavyweight tele skis are over. The new T-1, T-2, T-3 and T-4 skis are far lighter than previous models and have much more rounded flexes. The ski names do not reflect a direct matchup with Black Diamond's Scarpa boots. In fact, the Rossi T-4 ski is the big fatty, while the new T-1 is the entry level/women's ski.



On the heels of a successful year with the She's Piste model, K-2 expands its women's tele offering with the new Instinct model. The Instinct is a softer flexing, lighter ski with World Piste dimensions. More interesting than the women's development though, is K-2's decision to put inserts into its skis for next season. The inserts are set up with a four-hole pattern for the Targa G-3 and Skye '02 bindings. With the inserts, K-2's Mike Hattrup states that it will take at least four times the strength to rip a binding from its moorings.



K-2's new 25mm riser mates with the insert and allows bindings to be placed at cord center or 1 centimeter ahead. The riser comes with machine screws and an Allen key for easy binding installations. As one shop's binding mechanic noted at SIA, "man this stuff is going to put me out of business."



Fischer's Big Stix tele line is all new for '03/'04 and is comprised of four models: 7.0 (112-70-100) 7.6 115-86-107), 8.6 (109-86-107), and 10.6 (128-106-123).



Atomic's new 116-99-126 Teledaddy ski is the tele version of the alpine Sugardaddy ski model. Also added to the line is the TM RX at 104-64-91 for hardpack conditions and speed with stability.



Karhu adds the 10-73-98 Rox twin tip that's made stiffer with a full Titanal topsheet for carving. The company is also introducing a women's version of the Jak called the Jil. Oh, that we would be as clever naming skis.



On the AT side, Garmont's new boots drew lavish praise. The new Mega Ride model is perfectly suited for both Dynafit and Fritschi binding users. It will come sized down to 23 Mondo. The new Dynamite boot is lower cut and more supple with a combination Pbax/polyurethane construction.



All G-Fit liners will be 1mm thicker next year, and the new Omni G-Fit liner will be 2mm thicker along its sides with thicker foam all across the area that covers the front part of the foot.



In skis, K-2's new 8611 Summit Super Light ski will come in at 1200 grams per pair of 167s. Atomic will offer the TM-11 1800 gram short (160 and 175 cms only) stiff ski for alpine raid racing.



Das Boots



Rossignol's new "Soft Touch Fit" system on all touring boots (X-6 through X-3) makes for perhaps the most comfortable fitting boots ever right out of the box.



The idea of better boot fit is what drove Alpina to create its women's specific boot line. These new boots all have a more positive (Autofit) heel fit, softer internal cushioning, lower backs for less strain on the Achilles tendon and warmer insulation. The line consists of two performance skating boots and several touring boots. All are matched with skis, but more on that later.



Karhu has revamped its entire system and Nordic norm boot offerings to include women's-specific product.



Fischer offers a new skate boot specifically designed for the Nordic Cruising Pacer ski. Salomon has two new BC boots, the X-adventure 5 ($109) and the X-adventure 8 ($179). Both have extra grippy logged soles. The 8 has a partial internal fit system, high cuff with neoprene sock cover and a zippered cover over the bootlaces.



By the way, Sportful boots will be the boots used by Garmont to mate with the new Exel Nordic Fitness Skiing skis.



Going to The Poles



Swix gives the average skier the feel of being a top competitor with the new Alustar model. This pole has all the features of the composite shaft Star model save for its aluminum shaft. And how about its price--$25.50 wholesale? Also at Swix, all composite shaft poles now feature the Pro Fit strap system, which is easy to get in and out of and adjust.



Leki takes its proven "trigger" systems from alpine poles and puts it into cross-country poles for the first time. Push the trigger on the front of the pole grip and the entire strap system disengages. Trigger will be used on poles ranging from the $219 carbon shaft racing model to the $59 aluminum in-track touring model.



To go with its Nordic Fitness Skiing skis, Exel has two pole models: Sport (carbonfiber shaft) and Trainer (30-percent carbonfiber shaft).



Toko will offer 6 models in its pole line, ranging from 100-percent carbonfiber shaft models to aluminum shaft models.



For backcountry skiing, Leki's new ELS (Easy Lock System) allows fingertip locking and unlocking on all adjustable poles. One of the coolest new Leki poles using ELS is the Full Spectrum BC model that retails for $119. The pole is adjustable to 150cm and features a long neoprene sock over the shaft just below the grip area for grabbing onto when traversing steep sidehills.



Tool Time And Wax



And now for a truly bad pun--irons are hot next season. Toko has this computer mouse-like iron (ironically called the Wax Mouse) for $74. Swix has the new small T-7311 iron with ceramic insulation.



In waxes, Swix has trimmed Cera F into a collection of 3 powders and two solids. The new Hex gliding concept is a step up from F-4 and features three rub-in or iron-on gliders: blue for cold snow, purple for universal conditions and yellow for warm snow.



Toko is pushing its Sportline Kit with two hard waxes and one klister for the beginning to intermediate skier.



Gloves and Apparel



With Toko taking over Yoko, there are now Toko gloves. All Toko gloves will come from the old Yoko factory and carry the same guarantee. Louis Garneau has 10 new ErGOair glove models, several of them women's specific. Swix expands into membrane-backed mitts and gloves, again with an emphasis on women's-specific models. Sporthill takes its popular new Swift fabric into lightweight gloves with a gripper-patterned palms.



The Swift fabric is also being used on the new Wind Shield jacket where it's covered in front with a two-way stretch nylon overlay. The jacket will be $160 while the pant with the same front overlay will be $120.



Swix is offering looser fitting tights for recreational skiers and an expanded line of Windshield jackets and pants. Garneau is offering more women's-specific tights that mate with jackets with zip-off sleeves.



Odlo has delineated its line better, using the Oldo brand name for all general touring apparel and technical underwear, and the Bjorn Daehlie brand for high end racing apparel.



Briko has both ends covered in its new line which features lots of Windstopper items for both tourers and racers. Toko is also Windstopper heavy in its apparel line aimed at the racer and performance recreational skier.



Last, but certainly not least, Swix has yet again expanded its hat collection for everyone from nordic race hardcore to beginning ski tourer and those of us who like to think we look cool and far from dead.



When told that he was thought to be dead, Mark Twain said, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated?" Ditto the reports that cross-country skiing was ever dead or even dying.

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