- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Trends are the driving forces that bring about new products, flashier fashions and more safety features each winter season. What's hot rules in skiing and snowboarding, an attitude that is evident at any ski or board shop.
This season, the prominent trends are wider skis and a movement toward a universal shape; female-specific snowboards; and slimming outerwear on the leading edge of technology.
Using the trends as guides, it will be easier to shop for the latest snow gear because of the emergence of sets of equipment, clothing and accessories. Alpine equipment makers are packaging skis and bindings into sets with boots that are performance matched. In clothing, the manufacturers sell complete three-component layering sets underwear, insulating garments and weatherproof shell under a single brand, with gloves, headgear and even snow boots to match. Helmets and goggles of the same brand create a perfect fit.
These sets guarantee compatibility. If the items are sold this way, they will work well together, and there will be less failure on the slopes.
The trend toward wider or fatter in ski parlance skis continues. Wider skis allow more stability in all conditions, making fat skis useful on southeastern slopes because they can navigate effortlessly through slushy, heavy snow. Fat skis are also the boards of choice for Western skiing because they glide on top of the powder rather than sinking in the fluffy Rocky Mountain snow.
New fat skis for the 2002-03 season include Atomic's Big Daddy and Sugar Daddy; Dynastar's Inspired; Elan's Mantis 777; Nordica's Beast 92TT; and Rossignol's Scratch BC.
A new standard in regular skis has evolved using a moderate waist (the area under the boot) width of 68 mm to 70 mm and a sidecut (the arc scribed along the outer sides of the ski from tip to tail) around 16 mm deep. These skis signal a trend toward a universal shape that proves to be versatile enough for all-mountain, all-condition skiing.
Examples of universal skis include the Atomic R10; the Blizzard Sigma K7.0 and Epic series; Dynastar Skicross 8 and Intuitiv 69; the Elan Mantis M10; the Fischer Sceneo series; Head Monster M70; K2 Axis and Escape 5500; Kneissl Rail Carbon; Nordica Beast 69 and W70; Rossignol Bandit X; the Salomon X Scream series; Volant Gravity 71 and Vertex 71; and Volkl Vertigo G3.
An on-going trend includes ski and binding combinations that work best with each other, such as Salomon's Pilot system, Volkl/Marker's Motion, Atomic's Device, and Head's Super Rail Flex. When coupled with the manufacturer's skis, these binding systems are designed to allow a greater range of motion and more control for skiers. The same manufacturers have matched boots to the binding systems to insure optimum performance.
To attract women and girls to snowboarding, manufacturers have created boards for female riders. These "girl" boards tend to be shorter, narrower, lighter and more flexible than the boards for men. The trend is not about political correctness but rather recognition of the fact that women and men have different physical traits and that women demand a snowboarding experience that is different from what men look for.
Burton's newest board, Witchcraft, delivers a freestyle feel with stability and quick response at high speed on trails, in trees and through chutes. Salomon includes the Radiant, an all-new series for the "newly addicted" female rider. Head touts the Jade, an all-mountain freeride board in two widths and three sizes. K2 has the responsive and lightweight V-10 Magma high-performance binding.
Outerwear this season is slimmer with more stretch fabric inserts. The outwear captures skiing and snowboarding's youthfulness, spirit and freedom with bright colors, clean styles, functional details and active fabrics that keep the wearer warm and dry.
Waterproof/breathable fabrics remain the industry standard. Manufacturers have added body temperature sensitive fabrics that heat or cool in response to outside temperatures. Hard Corps, Killy and Spyder are leaders in using climate control fabrics in their garments.
Parkas sport an array of gadgets, including watertight zippers, removable fleece neck gaiters and special pockets for walkie-talkies, goggles, keys, cell phones and lift tickets.
Stretch fabrics appear in pants, of course, but also in shoulders, panels and linings. Pants and jackets are relaxed and slightly form fitting yet flexible and much softer than in the past.
Following the trends in snow sports is not the same as being trendy. Trends in equipment and apparel create better products that in turn make the winter experience more enjoyable. So go on, jump on a trend and find out what having fun in the snow is all about.

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