Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amphibio Technology Edges Elan Skis Closer to Yet Another Podium of Industry Innovation

Here is a sneak peak at Elan's Amphibio innovation set to debut autumn 2012.  

Soon, US regional reps will be debuting these new sticks at Test Fests all over the nation.  Elan's Midwest rep, has provided an early demo of these modern marvels and the fix is in . . .  these are going to definitely shake up the industry.

Just when you thought rocker/camber combos have exhausted all the possible options, Elan delivers the Amphibio, designed with a rockered outside edge and traditionally cambered inside edge, giving the skis more stability on the inside edge and fluid carving on the outside edges making them feel safe and effortless.  

However, this also means that these skis have a designated right ski and left ski.  So, taking note of the eyesore, Right-Ski-Sticker, (that ski shops throw on your newly mounted planks) may be more important than you think in the not-so-distant future. Although deciphering which is left and which is right is pretty straight forward when looking at the top sheet graphic. (Check out the video at the end of this article to see what I mean.)

The Specs, Facts, & Stats

So before you wander into your local ski shop next autumn (2011) and ask about the new Elan Amphibio I'm here to spit out some specs, facts, and stats behind the idea.

Like most Elan skis, the Amphibio have wood-core construction with the two higher-end models featuring double titanium construction into an asymmetic layer.  The reason for a necessary left and right ski, is the difference in edge design.  They have inside edges that are designed with a more traditional camber, which result in excellent edge grip, power transfer, and effortless linking up of turns, while the outside edges have a slightly rockered design, allowing easier turn initiation and flotation.   

So, why is this so revolutionary considering the ski industry has gone rocker/camber crazy the last decade?  When starting to carve a turn your inside edge is pushing hard, making it the predominant "edge setter" depending which way you are turning.  

For example, Powder McGee is starting to make a left turn, he is pushing hard on his right ski's inside edge to engage that edge, while making an effort of rolling over and planting his right ski on the outside edge, with that right ski slightly in front.  

The concept that was behind this was -- and I am speculating on the idea behind this engineering -- was to make it easier to link up turn after turn.  Easy right?  Everybody wants this.  

Now Powder McGee must transition into a turn to the left.  The advantage to having a slightly rockered outside edge is that it doesn't catch quite as much and by first planting that inside edge and being able to roll over further onto that outside edge will give you a more stable and fluid feeling motion: linking turns back and forth. 

It sort of reminiscent of training wheels on a two-wheel bicycle, making contact with the pavement just in case you need it.  It's fantastic.
When actually transitioning from turn to turn it feels like you are already half-way there, because of the traditional camber on the inside edge.

RETAIL SKI TIP OF THE DAY: Classify your customer . . . .

In other words, this ski is the Confidence Booster Ski sir!  TIP: Retail ski salesmen and women out there:  Name at least one or two models a year the Confidence Booster Ski, and I promise you, that it will close the sale.  

Why wouldn't it?  The Amphibio 12 and 14 are perfect for this title.  There are a lot of different skier demographics that this line of skis can appeal to, but if you get a Dad that rolls in your shop that used to ski hard when he was younger and now he skis with his kids.  Twin tips scare him and all the facts about twin tips being all mountain skis now and blah har blah doesn't sway him.  The guy is still rockin' Frogskins, but the new limited editions so he likes timeless products in new packages.  He used to ski on 215cm concrete slabs.  

Then he'll probably drift into a ski-war story that may, or may not involve, Yvon Chouinard, an American flag bandanna, moonshine, a relentless paperboy, a guy name Lane, and a one-legged ski race.  You will quickly determine that this ski veteran has clumped together 3 recent articles he read, and the plot from John Cusack's, 1980s ski movie, Better Off Dead.  No matter.  You can tell that the old Dodge still has some gas in the tank, but his knees are shot from too many icy bump runs.  

In comes the C.B.S., not to be confused with the network that brings you C.S.I. 

Tell him that you have the ski for him. The Amphibio 12 is a good price for the money, name some specs, yada yada, but he will be hesitant, then quickly show him some bindings, which are on average $200+ a pop.   And then tell him, guess what, bindings come with those skis I was just talking about.  Retail associate says, "This ski practically skis for you, it is so easy to link up turns and I know because I skied them last winter at Test Fest and they are the real deal."  

If you want something fun and playful, that you do not have to be on top of all day long, and will finally give you the fortitude to take your 46 year-old wooden Lampinen L-10s  out back and put a bullet in em, then this is the ski for you.This is the Confidence Booster Ski.  Trust me it will work, because it's true!  Skis now, are nothing like they used to be and chances are they will change that person's life for the better. If he takes them great - if not fine - but whatever you do, DO NOT become bitter, or over confident by trying to up the ante with an add on sale of roller skis

Disclaimer:  Please do not post on here that you tried this tip and it didn't work, but fail to mention that your customer was some "easy-on-the-eyes gal or guy that only came in your store to ask for directions, but you were so thrown back that you went directly into the Confidence Booster Ski sales pitch, or, on second thought do tell that story.

A Little History

Historically, Elan's Slovenia based manufacturing facility has generated technological ingenuity, and supplied it to the masses.  Producing industry standards: designing the first shaped ski, and the first integrated ski binding system, which in my opinion is still the best integrated system on market.

Moving forward with their ever-evolving innovations, Elan introduced Waveflex technology in 2005, which according to Elan reps, the concept can be likened to corrugated cardboard, meaning the ski still has great torsional rigidity, (side-to-side), but the Waveflex provides an easy longitudinal flex for the ski without sacrificing performance at high speeds.

Back to the Facts

The Amphibio will be available in four models next year.  This line, similar to Elan's Fusion Series from years past will be directed toward all mountain skiers, which encompasses about 80% of the people in the lift lines these days.  

So much technology has gone into these skis, so if you think the price is a little on the high side, take these features into consideration.  Amphibio Technology, full side walls, Waveflex Technology, Integrated Binding System, Ti Mod, Wood Core.  That is a lot of engineering and research, not to be overshadowed by Elan's manufacturing quality that is tops in the industry.  That is why companies like Nordica, Black Diamond, Head, and 4FRNT all have their skis made in Elan's Slovenia manufacturing plant.

Amphibio Models:
  • Amphibio WaveFlex 12 MSRP: $799.99 USD
    • The 12 seemed like enough ski for me, but I am only 170 lbs.  High speeds, quick turns, and bumps were a snap.  The rocker camber combo on the edges put a big smile on my face when I had to make a pretty abrupt turn to divert a bomber out of control.  You know those skis you try out once in a while at Test Fests that you just think about turning and you are there.  This is the ticket folks.
  • Amphibo Insomnia Women's model  MSRP: $799.99 USD
    • Nice cosmetic on it because women from my experience selling skis, looks are a big factor in which ski women gravitate toward.
  • Amphibio Waveflex 14 MSRP: $999.99 USD
    • The 14 was just as gnarly with a beefier din and waste with set at slightly below the 82XTi model.  Geared toward on-piste skiing.  Really a perfect width for the masses.  Most skiers do not anticipate skiing three feet of fresh on a daily basis, and when I found myself in some ungroomed crud and ice, the 14 plowed through it effortlessly due to the early rise in the and camber design.  I thought that this would make a really great Beer League race ski even.
  • Amphibio Waveflex 82XTi MSRP $999.99-$1099 USD
    • The XTi was stiff by Waveflex standards, but not overpowering.  I was definitely hitting Mach 5 before I was done with my run.  This is Elan's all mountain ripper that was, as I said before, almost too much ski for me at my weight, but was still a very nice ride.

So, ski industry employees be on the lookout for the Elan Amphibio lineup this winter at Test Fests everywhere, and consumers anticipate this modern marvel when it invades your local ski shop in autumn of 2011.

Enjoy, and go forth with your head in the clouds, your skis on the snow, and a smile on your face.

Here is a video from Elan's Design Director talking about the new Amphibio line.