Top Five Fridays - June 12, 2015 // Ski Industry News
#1: Skiing Snubbed Again
We've been snubbed again! Despite Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle and Halfpipe events successfully debuting alongside their Snowboarding counterparts in 2014's Sochi Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has decided to leave Freestyle Skiing Big Air out of the 2018 Winter Olympic games. To make things worse, Snowboarding Big Air was also debated and was successfully added to the program for 2018. So what does this mean for skiing? While we took a big step forward in showcasing our sport to the world in 2014, it seems like we're still seen as Snowboarding's little brother on the global scale.
#2: Speaking of Big Air Jumps...
You've heard the term, “Go Big or Go Home,” and apparently they have a similar saying up in French Canada. For their 375th anniversary, Montreal has hired event organizers INBOX events to help plan the celebration. One of their big ideas? Turning the long sloping tower at Montreal's Olympic Stadium into an enormous big air jump event. Surprisingly, nobody's laughed the idea off yet and preliminary research and tests are being done to see if the idea is realistic, or totally ridiculous. With the celebration still two years away, there's obviously plenty that could happen to alter this plan, but on this side of the border we're hoping this ambitious plan goes through!
#3: It's Official, We've Almost Made it to the Future
Well, it's only been a matter of time until ski manufacturing got an overhaul. I mean, let's face it, ski construction hasn't changed much since the ideas of laminating in the 1890's and sandwich construction of the 1950's. Sure the shapes, sizes, and materials have changed- but the construction process itself has remained mostly the same. While the process has been developed and refined, it still has it's pitfalls: it's messy, labor intensive, and time consuming.
3-D printing on the other hand, is mostly cost effective, clean, fully automated, and can be an open source platform. These traits have positioned 3-D as an attractive manufacturing option, held back only but it's current material limitations. That is, until an industrial 3D printer manufacturer decided to prove the abilities of their products by making a functioning pair of skis. While a couple of components (metal edges, P-Tex base) had to be provided, the construction of the ski itself was completed by the traditional 3D printing technique of printing layers of polymer to ultimately create the final shape. Given this was a one time event, it does raise the interesting question of what it might be like to buy skis in the future? Will our local ski shops all have 3D printers hooked into a manufacturer's database of ski designs, ready to download and print the ski on demand? What could this do in terms of suppliers perfectly matching demand, with no left over inventory? Will you be able to print replicas of skis from 20 years ago? With so many questions already, it's exciting (or maybe terrifying) to consider the implications of what 3D printed skis could mean for the future of the ski industry.
#4: Thanks to Us, Self Driving Cars Can Now Slow Down:
Speaking of the future, it looks like Google's taken a page out of the ski instructor's playbook as they've just received a patent for their scrub braking technology. As skiers, we know “scrub braking” as “making a pizza.” Essentially what Google has done in their quest to build the first self-driving car, is try to reimagine what an automobile could be like if a computer controlled it's movements rather than a human. This switch means minute changes that a human would struggle to calculate, can in theory be completed instantly by computers. When it comes to breaking, that means that while a human would struggle to make their car “pizza” the right amount in various situations, a computer would be able to make the right decisions immediately. Of course Google is a pretty big company, so it's likely that they're filing as many patents as possible in their process of building a self-driving car. With that in mind, it's hard to say whether or not scrub braking technology will be commonplace in the future, or if it'll be a footnote in Google's index of patents.
#5: And Now, the Edit of the Week:
I remember watching Dash Longe when I was a kid, first catching his rare segment in WSKI106. The song playing in his segment was The Band's “The Weight,” and while it was a unique song choice for a ski movie consisting of mostly Hip-Hop tracks, it was the perfect fit for his standalone style. This week, eleven years after WSKI106, Dash Longe released a POV edit filmed this past winter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. While this edit doesn't feature crazy double flips or any of the gnarliest lines I've ever seen, it does feature a compilation of cliffs and drops that Dash seems to handle with complete control and ease. It's the kind of effortless skiing everyone loves to watch as it's both impressive and seemingly obtainable. Glad to see you're still out there killing it, Dash!