This season, ‘rocker’ is the buzzword |

This season, ‘rocker’ is the buzzword

NWS split board KA 11-18-10

VAIL, Colorado – When you walk into just about any ski or board shop this season, someone is going to start talking about “rockers,” and it won’t have anything to do with long hair or loud guitars.

This year’s gotta-have gear starts and ends with “rocker” technology, which, in its most basic form, puts some degree of inverted arch – think of a very shallow “U” between your boot and the snow – into a ski or snowboard.

“It’s the most important term in the industry right now,” said Shaun Filiault of Pepi Sports. “Everybody who comes in the store and comes down stairs is talking about it.”

Jim Cooper at the Double Diamond ski shop in Lionshead agreed, saying the new technology has created a more versatile ski.

“You can off the beaten path or go on the groomers,” Cooper said.

But there are any number of different styles, lengths and degrees of “rocker” in skis and boards, so it’s important to talk to people who know what’s available.

While rocker is getting all the attention, basics still count when it comes to getting on the hill. Both Cooper and Filiault stressed the importance of getting into the right boots, with the right insoles.

“You need to get yourself comfortable to really enjoy your day,” Cooper said.

While the idea of comfortable footwear is about as old as the first sandal, there are some new twists on the old idea.

Ethan St. Germain, the snowboard buyer at Buzz’s in Vail Village, said boots with a “Boa” system that allows riders to dial up a solid fit with the twist of a knob are becoming popular.

In the board world, riders who want to get into the backcountry are starting to buy more and more “split boards.” As the name implies, this board will split in half, allowing a user to skin up a hill like a nordic skier, then snap the board together for the downhill ride.

And, of course, it’s still important to look good on the hill.

“We’re seeing more solids and split colors,” St. Germain said. “It’s better for photos.”

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