Craig Peterson is the Ski Buyer for Christy Sports and its acquisitions. That means he decides what skis make it in the Christy quiver for our customers to choose from… No small feat for over 60 stores. Craig has a consistent eye on industry trends and an ear dedicated to feedback from store managers and those working on the ground. That’s why the question, “Craig, what the heck is going on with skis these days?” Yields a fruitful answer.
Craig is immersed daily in the happenings of the ski industry, and can recite the top-selling skis and cutting-edge trends in his sleep. Every Fall, Craig meets with the VP’s and sales managers of most of the major ski manufacturers to preview the next season’s models and make decisions around which will be the focus of that season’s entire model line. This means Craig always has to be one step (or year) ahead of the ski consumer.
When the season is up and running, Craig keeps a pulse on what’s flying off the shelves and what models seem to be gathering dust instead of powder. This will influence the following season’s buys and give our customers the creme de la creme of choices for their quiver.
An experienced veteran in the ski industry, here are the top ski trends he is seeing in the 18/19 ski season.
This Year’s Top Ski Trends
- More Narrow Waist Widths
The average waist width of men’s all mountain skis is now in the ballpark of 90 to 98mm, with women’s trending between waist widths of 82 and 90 mm. Skis with narrower widths are easier to maneuver in varying conditions, from packed powder to firm snow. Typically a narrower ski is quicker and easier to turn and will hold the edge much better. Having a wider ski as backup for those perfectly powdery days (102 to 116mm waist with) is optimal, but having one ski that can tackle the whole mountain is a convenient cost-saver.
Skis like the new Volkl Mantra M5, named the top all mountain freeride ski for the 2018/19 season by Outside Magazine, are decreasing in width to allow for easier edging. The Mantra, in particular, was slimmed down from a 100 mm waist width to a 96 mm width.
- Lighter Skis
Lighter weight boots and skis serve to reduce fatigue and increase time spent out on the mountain. Lighter skis not only curb burnout, but also allow the skier to ski in varying snow conditions throughout the day, from powder to crud. Keep in mind that lighter is not always better, and the lack of weight must be tempered with sturdy materials that dampen vibrations.
Ski brands employ many different materials in their skis to reach the desired weight. Rossignol uses honeycomb in the tip and tail, you can even see the hexagonal pattern when you hold a Rossi ski up to the light. When producing their revolutionary KORE skis, HEAD replaced a traditional top sheet with a polyester fleece to strip the skis of anything that “could drag you down.”
- Less Tip and Tail Rocker
Another continuing trend in skis over the last two or three years has been reducing the amount of tip and tail rocker built into skis. Skis with less rocker perform better in all conditions. This hasn’t made rocker obsolete by any stretch of the imagination. It simply shows the industry’s recoil from a trend that was perhaps a little “overdone” for a stretch of time.
Craig gets to take a peek at the latest and greatest the ski industry has to offer before the average Joe each year. It’s safe to say when you see his face light up about his new ski buys for the season, however, that this privilege has not left him jaded. Here are some products he’s stoked about in the 18/19 season.
This Year’s Top Ski Picks
When Craig first tested out the KORE line for himself, he knew they’d be a hit. With the addition of new 99m waist width model, this line screams versatility. The idea behind HEAD’s KORE family of skis was to remove any unnecessary weight for a more enjoyable skiing experience. Exit your run-of-the-mill topsheet and instead top this bad boy with a lighter polyester fleece. Add a Graphene fused tip and tail for a reduction and redistribution of weight. Then, sprinkle in a little shock absorbing Koroyd for control, along with a triaxle weave of its carbon layer for responsiveness and edge hold. That’s your perfect recipe for a ski that’s revolutionary to its core.
Craig was stoked to bring the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 Ski back to our stores and website this fall. The Black Pearl was once again the top selling ski in the country as well as at Christy Sports and will continue to awe this season as one of the most versatile women’s skis on the market. The Black Pearl 88 is a rare gem indeed, crowned The Best All Mountain Frontside ski for Women by Outside Mag because it “flat out rips.” With a light wood core, a rocker-camber-rocker profile, and Carbon Flipcore W.S.D technology, a rockered ski production process that incorporates a unidirectional carbon frame onto the core, the Black Pearl boasts great performance and an easy feel.
The Volkl Mantra M5 Skis were just crowned the top all-mountain freeride skis for the 2019 season but Outside Magazine. Often labeled an “iconic” ski in the industry, it was the first of it’s kind to truly master all conditions on the mountain. Craig noted this was a top performer last year as well. So what’s new? A novel way of arranging the metal layers called the Titinal Frame for superior dampening technology and a significant weight reduction. Ladies, you weren’t left out of this cutting-edge technology. Check out the Mantra’s companion women’s model, The Secret.
Craig brings his passion for skiing into his everyday job and it shows, his office decorated in numerous signed skis and gear, and photos taken with industry leaders and top athletes. He’s been a player in the buying game for over 25 years. That’s why when he tells us he’s excited about a new product or emerging technology, we take the opportunity to hop on a demo as soon as the flakes fly.
Stay tuned for more reviews of this season’s skis, snowboards, gear, and softgoods!