It was inevitable. Slalom, the last bastion of conservatism in racing, has finally been shaken by the shaped-ski revolution.
The new slalom skis are the turniest, springiest pocket rockets ever made¿radical, to say the least. Some have twice the sidecut depth of conventional slaloms. And they are weeny, with lengths as short as 160 cm for full-grown adults.
Curiously, these new skis weren't invented because top racers were clamoring for them. In fact, the over-30 crowd that sits atop the Men's World Cup slalom standings has been quite content to win races using conventional skis and techniques. No, the new skis came about somewhat by accident, when a few French juniors on experimental shorties came out of nowhere and landed on the podium.
We tested a batch of slalom skis at Breckenridge last April, using a mix of race coaches and ex¿World Cuppers. Like most veterans, our testers were highly skeptical of the tiny skis. But when the results were in, the shorties dusted the conventional boards. "Why work harder to turn a long ski when you can just go dancing on the shorties?" said tester Amy Hedges. You don't need to steer them¿just tip them on edge and let the ski make the turn. And if you make a mistake, they are so maneuverable you can get back on course faster.
In slalom, the magic is back.
Buy this kind of ski if:
you want to bound down the fall line like a pogo stick on amphetamines;
you're looking for maximum maneuverability in a ski;
you want to nuke the competition in a slalom course. Check out our guide to racing skis 2000