Ski Evolution

At the Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop this weekend, Off-Piste Magazine handed out free copies of the October issue as usual. Thumbing through the ski review, I couldn’t help but wonder: How have things changed over time?

Thanks to Off-Piste’s deep archive of back issues, only tedious retyping was needed to find some answers.

This is the money plot:

The absolute scale makes the scatter part of the plot small, but you can see by exactly how much skis have widened and lightened over time.

For zoomed in plots and more, head down the rabbit hole.

There are systematic errors associated with selecting only Off-Piste’s reviews (instead of a holistic survey of the market), but Off-Piste tends to have a pretty good idea of what’s popular in the backcountry community.

There’s a lot in this data set. I’ll be mining it for days, but there are a few obvious questions to ask. How about ski width over time?

It must be noted that this year (2012), Off-Piste reviewed only skis with waists larger than 90 mm.

Another clean observable is ski price over time:

Voile deserves a ton of credit for manufacturing award-winning US-made skis that are priced almost like they were 8 years ago! Thank you!

What about weight alone? It’s tricky, as it’s really the weight per area that matters. That said, they list a weight for a single ski length for each ski, and the lengths have been reasonably consistent through the years. So, we can plot ski weight over time:

Just as you can see in the top two plots, ski manufacturers have largely used advances in lightweight fabrication to make wider skis at fixed weight instead of purely lighter skis. These data are largely blind (2010 and 2011 excepted) to the evolution of rando-race skis.

There’s a lot more to be found in this data set, but for now, I need to get back to my thesis work!

Edit 11/10/12: Made a similar post using 2012 review data alone.

If there are any plots you’re interested in seeing, please let me know in the comments!

Edit: A request on teletips led to this plot of ski sidecut over time:

5 thoughts on “Ski Evolution

  1. Pingback: Skis by numbers « Bedrock & Paradox

  2. Awesome work. I was disappointed to see the Off Piste did so few skis under 90 this year. The BD Current and Sportiva GTR are of particular interest.

  3. Pingback: Off-Piste 2012 | Measured Mass

  4. Pingback: Ski Density | Measured Mass

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