In big news from Volkl, it looks like their 2012 freeride line will be produced in Germany. When Volkl first moved production of their freeride skis to China, durability became a giant issue, with countless Gotamas delaminating and the sidewalls on Katanas literally falling apart . The Volkl name, once synonymous with quality, took a big hit and many skiers, myself included, found themselves searching for a new go-to brand. While not publicly acknowledging production difficulties in China, moving operations back to Bavaria should go a long way in reassuring consumers that Volkl is still committed to building top-quality skis.
From left to right: Kuro, Shiro, Gotama, Bridge, Katana
There are some big changes throughout the line as well. The Gotama has been retooled and boasts an entirely new rocker profile that is supposed to make it easier to ski as well more versatile. Gone is the full reverse camber and the ski is now flat throughout the mid-section, with a rockered tip and tail. The tip itself has also been changed. One of the gripes heard over and over again with the old ski was,” WTF is up with this low profile tip?” Well, the engineers listened, and the ski now has a much more traditional tip.
The Katana underwent minor changes too. Its rocker profile has been toned down a bit from this years version, and the 191 and 198 (up 1cm from previous years) are a bit stiffer, per the request of Volkl athlete Ian MacIntosh. This ski is meant for charging down the fall line, and it mows down pretty much anything in its way. My old 197′s are still one of my favorite pow skis of all time and after rediscovering them a few weeks ago, it may be time for a new and improved pair.
And finally, a brand new model from the renowned German ski manufacturer: the Shiro, a new powder ski, with a wide, yet tapered shape (151-119-135) that comes in 173, 183 and 193 cm lengths. The rockered tip and tail, along with a large shovel, keep this ski super buoyant in deep snow, yet the ski remains surprisingly versatile in firmer conditions. “A wider Gotama that slays powder and crud,” is how this ski was described to me, and after testing it on a powder morning at Squaw, I couldn’t agree more. Super nimble and playful, but ready to charge when you want to, this ski is sure to become a favorite with many locals.
Volkl is definitely headed in the right direction again. Who knows, next year they might even figure out the wonders of mustache rocker.