Are Waist Widths Waning? We think so...
Over the past 10 years, our sport has undergone another shift in ski shape. Similar to the parabolic revolution in the 1990s, we've recently seen the movement towards wider, fatter skis across multiple disciplines. For those who remember skiing crud or powder on narrow, straight skis - they can attest to just how much more effective these newer, wider boards perform in deeper conditions. This experience is easily supported, as the shift towards wider waists has allowed for more float, with less strain on the skier. This thinking spread throughout the industry and, in effect, the majority of all-mountain & freeride skis had their waists widened.
Brands have had solid experience fine-tuning these wider skis for some time now and are starting to perfect overall ski shape (and all of the elements that comprise "ski shape"). As shapes continue to be polished, it is allowing companies to scale back the waist-width of the ski, without sacrificing on-snow performance. This means more versatile all-mountain skis - that are more responsive underfoot and can actually carve (rather than slide!) on groomed conditions.
Identifying this shift from both customer interaction and our own on-hill performance, we moved to increase our selection of narrower-waisted all-mountain and frontside carving skis a few years ago. Dynastar, one of our flagship brands, actually never really strayed from this narrower mindset. We would pose that their Course models were a leading example for other brands to jump on board as well.
One of these other brands is Nordica - as they are now offering their wildly popular Enforcer model in a new 93mm width. After its impressive launch (2016 Ski of the Year) at a 100mm waist, Nordica realized the benefits of the Enforcer's overall shape could still be achieved at a narrower width. We've seen this scenario begin to play out across our brands and we expect this pattern to continue moving forward.
This transition back to narrower waist-widths is particularly pertinent for us East Coast skiers, as we're the ones performing on more hardpack and variable conditions on a day-to-day basis. Scaling down waist-width will help us all turn those boards over much easier, allowing for more carve and less slide on the groomers (while not sacrificing much for those deep powder days)!
Ultimately, we expect to see slightly narrower, more nimble all-mountain & freeride skis, that can still perform great in variable conditions & powder.