Skis might have started out as simple wooden planks, but they've evolved into high-tech feats of engineering. Although wood still features in ski construction, manufacturers are increasingly turning to new materials for better performance, durability and vibration damping on the snow. The latest take on downhill skis borrows from the world of high-performance tires, with Pirelli and Blossom Skis chasing a competitive edge with rubber.
Pirelli might not seem like the most logical choice as a partner in ski manufacturing, but the Italian tire manufacturer says rubber is well-and-truly at home on the snow. Only a small part of the ski is actually made up of rubber – a small layer has been sandwiched into the core among fiberglass, wood and metal.
Although the compound used has its roots in Pirelli's motorsport tires, the company says it's unique to Blossom Skis, and helps to damp around 60 percent of the vibration usually transmitted from snow-to-ski on the move.
Just like the suspension in a car keeps the wheels in contact with the road over rough terrain, effective vibration damping makes sure the ski edge stays in contact with the snow for as long as possible. Do it well, and it's easier for skiers to stay in control when conditions are less than ideal, do it poorly and the ski can end up feeling soft and sluggish.
Manufacturers currently use a huge range of materials, from metal sheets to plastic attachments you clip to the top of the ski to tune stiffness and vibration damping, so it will be interesting to see if the rubbery approach catches on.
This new dash of rubber doesn't come cheap. The skis will sell for €1,400 (about US$1,510) with bindings, and just 770 examples will be built. If you've got a supercar sitting on P-Zero rubber, maybe a set of skis designed to match is the perfect addition to the garage.
You can check the skis out in the video below.