Many of these article ideas come from you, our readers. In this case, @DocGKR raised a subject that I have been dancing around for the past few seasons, and now I feel it is time to shine the spotlight on a trend that we are seeing more of in the industry. We have been seeing the replacement or homogenization of a strong ski by a more versatile model designed to appeal to the masses. I have touched on this last season when I talked about Evolution verses Revolution (link) in ski design.

Average is the opposite of Excellent.

What is missing from too many skis now is distictive "character", something that will get the juices flowing and really make you feel that there are some parts of your game you need to be on top of to get that extra adrenaline rush when it comes together. Sure, that may also come with some downsides, but that is also a part of the "character".--ScotsSkier, Tester

This is the trend we are seeing from some brands: getting away from building skis for skiers and just making very good skis for people who ski. Revisiting Evolution vs. Revolution, and You Say You Want A Revolution I talk about the Head Kore 87 replacing the Monster 88 and the Renoun Endurance 88 replacing the Z90. Sales wise, both of these model changes are extremely logical. The two replacements are better skis for more people and will outsell the outgoing models three, four, or five to one. But two class-leading reference skis have now been sent to pasture. To quote Hollywood tough guy, Liam Neeson, these were skis with “A specific set of skills” . The Monster 88 had a specific charateristics and a feel on the snow. The Kore 87? It could be any one of any ski from any manufacturer. A Kore 87 does not create brand loyalty, the Monster 88 did.

Swinging the pendulum the other direction… Skis for skiers, not just people who ski.

Two brands are at the forefront here, and they are K2 and Rossignol. Both of these brands are establishing halo products to differentiate models from the pack and to get away from “bandwagon” skis. K2’s polarizing Disruption collection are powerful full contact skis and have a solid personality which is commendable. At the top of the collection is the Disruption Ti2, a 70 mm waisted long radius sabre with its Marker Piston Plate as close to a race ski as a non race ski. The Disruption Ti2 and the rest of the Disruption collection is far removed from the old K2 Recon, which was a fall-off-the-bone easy-to-ski ski. With one of smallest and most rewarding sweet spot skis on the market, the Disruptions are truly skis for skiers. Not too long ago, Rossignol created a full segment basically on its own with the easy skiing Soul 7, then once that segment was saturated with “bandwagon” skis from almost every brand, Rossignol abandoned the playful powder ski and went to skis that added power and a distinct personality with the Black Ops Sender Ti and the rest of the collection.

Then there is Augment, the small boutique brand from Mittersill, Austria. Augment has quickly become a favorite amongst our readers by offering some of the more skier-oriented collections with full-bore race skis to top-performing premium all-mountain series. For 2022, Augment is hedging their bets by not replacing their unique AM88. It is “unique“ because it is the only fully cambered, 88 mm, 21 meter radius ski on the market. (Augment does have a ski for a wider range of abilities and conditions: the AM98ti, which has early rise in tip and tail and a more compact 18m radius). The classic build of the AM88 is why we would like to see Renoun do a Z90 Classic. They might only sell a dozen of them, but the mold is made and it was such a unique ski.

So, when is more actually less?

When you try to be everything for everybody, you run the risk of being nothing for nobody. You end up watering down your business proposition and your brand promise in an attempt to be as broad as possible. You become so vague that no one knows what you are offering and your potential customers turn to other, more specific options. —

When they say “It’s not about the money … it’s always about the money”. Very few will argue that selling skis is a volume business; the more skis you sell, the more money you make. But can there be a recoil effect? Remember SierraJim? Jim taught me a lot about setting up a retail ski wall to tell a story, but most of all, be profitable. As an example, if there are four 88 mm All-mountain skis that are basically the same, they perform equally in the same conditions, you really don’t have a story to tell other than asking, “which ones match your outfit better?” Now, if you have four skis that might have similar dimensions but different purposes, now you have a reason to show a ski that tells a particular story to the consumer.

We understand producing a ski that is a better ski for the masses. It makes absolute cents…and dollars. But (there is always a but), while this is fine for the people who ski, what about the discerning skiers who want a ski that requires a specific skill set, a ski that they think “I am glad I am on the Regulator Commando 6000” because they know they wouldn’t be having as much of a good time on any other ski? What is the best balance? A ski that does a multitide of things well for the majority of the skiers on the hill, or a ski that has a distinct purpose? A smaller sweetspot can be extremely rewarding when the skier and ski meld as one. Can a company walk the tightrope and offer both options? Does it make sense, regardless if it makes cents?

We'd like to hear your take and what attributes of a ski are important to you. Please comment below.