Clinic CliffNotes: K2 Skis, Poles and Skins 2010-11

It’s “clinic” time again here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, the early season when sales reps come in to train us on their new lines. Today we met with Rob from K2, who talked us through some company history and gave us the inside scoop on the skis, poles and skins we carry. Lucky for you, our new Flip video camera just came in so I took a few clips of Rob in action.

But first, some background on K2 Ski Company… Talking units and dollars, K2 is the number one ski supplier in the U.S. No doubt you’ve heard the brand name, if not owned or rented some of their skis. Hey, I’m a snowboarder and I even own the Phat Luv women’s skis (well, I kind-of ski, too). So besides sheer size, K2 is awesome because they’re not afraid to try new things, like signing on Shane McConkey and using his Spatula ski design to launch off a whole new line of rockered designs. Now, some 5 years later, K2 has rocker in virtually every ski it makes, even narrow carving skis.

Rocker, if you haven’t had it explained to you by the gazillions of brands using the technology now, is essentially reverse camber, giving a lift to certain sections of your ski. This helps the ski float in deep powder, and pushes the ski’s contact point closer to your center of mass, helping you to turn quicker and easier. With K2 skis, that lift presses out when you get into your turn, so no need to worry about losing your edge or flapping tips.

This is our first year carrying K2, and true to our style, we went with skis from K2’s Adventure Series: the K2 COOMBAck, the K2 SideStash and the K2 GotBack, all which have all-terrain rockered tips. Stop by the shop or click through the links to our website to learn more, but in short, the COOMBAck and women’s specific GotBack are backcountry machines, built lightweight yet burly for big mountain, self-propelled charging. Cool features include snowphobic top coats that shed snow so these lightweight sticks don’t get weighed down when you’re skinning, and women’s specific designs that don’t just have forward mounts but also adjusted sidecuts and lighter-weight tips and tails. As if those weren’t enough features to hook you, K2’s got a heli-ski trip drawing going for anyone who purchases their backcountry skis.

You know a ski is great when the sales rep skis it. That’s the case with the K2 SideStash, also the choice of our hard goods manager, Kevin, this season. For the more descent-oriented skier who charges hard inbounds, but wants the option to take a few runs in the backcountry, the Sidestash is gonna be a big seller for us. We’ve got K2’s pre-cut skins for each of these models to boot, so you can be backcountry-ready virtually right out of the box. Check out this video for a more detailed look at the special skin attachment design K2 integrates right into the ski.

We’re also carrying 3 different K2 poles, the most robust of which is the K2 LockJaw Carbon/Aluminum Pole. Think of it as a James Bond-worthy ski pole: it not only serves its main ski pole function but doubles as a backup probe, inclinometer and snow depth ruler. Rob explains a few of these functions here:

On everyone’s minds these days is WHERE their gear is being made. While K2, like most brands, manufactures its skis in China, Rob assures it’s at an internationally monitored facility that treats its employees well. Though they’d love to bring production back to the U.S., they get an incredibly consistent quality from their current set-up. Here’s Rob talking about that quality and technology in the base grind:

Up next, reports from our Mammut and Black Diamond training clinics. Stay tuned!

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