Fat skis keep getting fatter | VailDaily.com

Fat skis keep getting fatter

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJohnny Schleper from Buzz's Ski Shop plays air guitar on the fattest ski of all, the K2 189-centimeter Pontoons at Buzz's in Vail Village.

VAIL ” There are fat skis, and then there are the K2 Pontoons. The skis ” which started showing up in Vail ski shops this year ” are twice as wide as a lot of other skis on the market.

They look more like water skis than snow skis. Which makes sense, because they’re made to float on powder.

“People like to point and look at them, but everyone is kind of afraid of them,” said Troy Goldberg, owner of Troy’s Ski Shop in Vail, which rents out the Pontoons.

“People we do send out on them come back beaming.”

The skis are the extreme end of a trend of fatter and fatter skis on the mountain. Just as skis started getting shorter and more shaped, they’ve gotten wider, too.

On Friday, David Potenza of Dallas was skiing Vail on K2 Seth Pistols, a fat ski. The skis do well in all kinds of snow, from groomers to crud to the backcountry, he said.

“It’s just more versatility,” he said.

He went from a thinner, straighter ski to a parabolic ski to the fat ski, he said.

“I skied these and I loved them,” he said.

And, of course, they rip in powder, he said.

“Today’s the day,” he said as the snow was falling at the base of Vail Mountain. “This is the stuff you want these for.”

Goldberg once skied 200-centimeter-long skis that were 65 millimeters wide. Now he skis a 170-centimeter ski that’s 90 millimeters wide.

Advances in technology, such as stiffness, sidecut and edge grip, have allowed fatter skis to become more versatile, Goldberg said.

Neil Conroy, a manager at Buzz’s Ski Shop in Vail, said he sees the industry moving toward fat skis like the Seth Pistols.

“Even when you get this thing on hardpack, it carves like a giant slalom ski, but because of the width, it just plows through anything you hit,” he said.

Fat skis just make skiing less difficult, Conroy said.

“The reason is that we’re all starting to go fatter is that it just makes everything easier,” he said. “It’s kind of like a cheater, to be completely honest.”

Ephraim Learned, a Dynastar salesman for Colorado, also stressed the versatility of fat skis. Dynastar’s popular Legend Pro model is an all-mountain ski with a 100-millimeter waist.

“A few years ago, that was really, really fat,” he said. “Now, that’s kind of a middle-of-the-road fat ski width.”

Dynastar’s new technology has allowed the fat skis to become easier to turn, Learned said. “It’s funny that they’ve continued to get wider each season,” he said.

“Every company seems to be pushing the envelope.”

On Friday, Goldberg was testing out the K2 Hellbent, another super-fat ski that K2 is adding to its line next year.

Ten years ago, some thought fatter skis were a sign of a weak skier, Goldberg said.

“It was kind of a crutch,” he said.

Then, pro skiers like Shane McConkey, a former Vail local, turned to fat skis, and everyone else followed, he said.

“People said, ‘What it does for that 80-year-old woman, it does for me 10-fold,'” Goldberg said. “Since then, it’s been the bigger, the better.”

On Friday, Charlie Patterson of Boulder was about to head up the Vista Bahn on Dynastar Big Troubles, fat twin-tip skis.

“I like them a lot. They rip, they’re real stiff and you can fly on them,” he said.

And in the powder?

“I don’t know. I’m going to find out,” he said as he headed for the lift.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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