Demo spotlights Salomon’s new skis |

Demo spotlights Salomon’s new skis

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily

Sam Coffey, left, of Salomon talks with a skier after a demo Friday at Vail Mountain.

VAIL — The rise in popularity for backcountry skiing and uphill touring has created a shift in the direction of all ski design, including in-bounds and lift-served terrain skiing. There's no arguing that lighter is better when it comes to going uphill, but it seems that with the right design, lighter can be best on the downhill, too.

"It keeps your energy levels higher because it's easier to ski, and it makes the skis more agile," said Sam Coffey, a public relations account manager for Salomon. "So the big goal with a lot the new skis is to make them lighter without reducing any of the performance."

Coffey and I went out for a few laps on Friday morning on Vail Mountain to test out Salomon's new XDR skis — set to be released in September. I was on the "bread and butter" set-up at 84 millimeters underfoot. Between some fast groomer laps off the Avanti Express Lift (No. 2) and some mixed terrain on our way back to the Lionshead base area, the skis felt great. They were noticeably light, but extremely responsive, stable and fast.

Salomon has developed an exclusive technology called CFX. It's a combination of carbon and a flax fiber, and it's most prevalent in this XDR line.

"When carbon is just used on its own, it's really easy to get the deflection-type feeling, or chatter," Coffey said. "So what Salomon did is weave in the flax fibers as a braided material and laid that on the carbon, and what that does is give the skis a nice damp, stiff feeling, without having to add heavy materials such as metal which a lot of companies have used in the past."

While it's nice to have a diverse quiver made up of all your dream skis, most people are trying to buy one set-up that they can use most days — that true all-mountain ski.

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"What Salomon has really noticed in the last couple years is that skiers don't want to be limited by the gear they are buying," Coffey said. "They don't want to be told, 'this is only for groomers; this is only for powder; this is only for the backcountry.' So really, this line is meant to speak to all in-bounds skiers. Any terrain you might find riding the lifts, these skis can do."

To make the XDR skis more all-mountain, Salomon drew inspiration from their backcountry line and their race line. With a wider shovel, or front end, the design is quite a bit wider than a typical carving ski. It also has a progressive rocker, so there's a little bit of early rise on the tip which helps the skis cut through crud and float on powder. They are sturdy, but not stiff, and absorb the conditions while still holding up to them solidly.

Salomon is offering free XDR demos Saturday at the Lionshead base area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants must register at the Salomon store in Lionshead, and have the opportunity to buy a pair at the store post-demo.

"This is the first public-facing consumer demo in the states this year," said Coffey of the demo event this weekend. "We picked Vail because of the massive terrain to try these skis on, and all the great skiers it attracts. If you buy these skis this weekend, you're basically going to be one of the first people in the United States to own them."