Elan & I

History;Glen Plake
Image:Elan & I
26. Mar, 2018 Written by: Glen Plake
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I won my regional championships on a pair of Elan RCSL uniline’s, they were my dad’s skis but I loved them. I was very jealous of a friend who at the time was sponsored by Elan and had a full set DH - Slalom with trainers! I didn’t know why I liked Elan’s, I just did!  

My first season with Elan was in the “waveflex” era, a technology that allowed the ski to flex easier while providing torsional stability.  It was a very visual technology, clearly seen on the surface of the ski.  The next major ski modification was not so obvious “amphibio” during ski tests I had many conversations with the Elan engineers about “that favorite pair of skis” the skis that can’t do wrong, beat to heck, hundreds of days - but you just love them!  How could we build such a ski?  What made them so nice?  Was it lack of torsion?  Were they bent?  Over a series of tests the engineers answered my questions, and a certain pair of test skis started to rise above the others - it was the beginning of “amphibio”.  Skis with different profiles, from right to left, at the time the whole ski design world was trying to out “rocker” each other - Elan refined what rocker was good for, but kept all the great things about camber.  This was also the time of the super carvers that tended to get edge lock and never release at the end of the turn, this is solved with amphibio.  The skis were/are incredible.  Personally it was a bit hard for me during that time, I love the skis but everybody wanted big fat skis, our freestyle teams were screaming to twin tip everything.  Skiing on carvers was not “cool”, I played the cards I was dealt and put the skis where they belonged, while pursuing my ski instructor certifications. The amphibios were in their environment, they made me a better skier and allowed me to share my love for Elan’s to a completely different group of skiers.

The next project was something I was much more in tune with “develop the new touring ski”.  We wanted them to be light but also ski well - bridge technology; very light wood for form “stringered with more robust wood for strength”. The design time was very fast and I can say that some of the work “on a napkin”.  I have skied many steep/high places for hundreds of days on either Himalaya or Alaska skis.

It was time for something completely new... To be honest we struggled a bit to have a real fat ski, several attempts over the years lead to some great skis but nothing really special, using traditional cores, laminates, etc. lead to the same ski everyone else was making, it was more graphics than design leading the category.  Using the stringer concept from bridge tech, we knew we could get rid of weight, but what other material could we use for the stringers?  “Carbon tubes!” Carbon has been used a lot in skis over the years but always as a stiffening laminate and it usually gave the skis a weird feel.  By using tubes, carbon is in 3D form and now it takes on an absorption role allowing us to remove the typical absorption material which was a metal.  Metal skis great but adds weight, with the carbon tubes, Ripsticks are light wide skis with the stability of a heavy metal ski.  They are amazing and the 3D tubes are absorbing in all directions, like expensive fishing rods inside your skis!  I am so proud to see Ripsticks out on the hill and the excitement skiers have for them!  They really are “cool” Elanskis. 

 

Just as we are all “Ripsticking” around and thinking - Best Ski Ever..... I get word of a new project - redesign touring skis.  Ok, here we go again, Ripsticks are light using the tubelite technology, could we tweak the weight loss even more?  Yes!!!  Using the lightest wood core possible controlling all other materials to minimums sculpting away all unnecessary materials on the core and strategic placements of the carbon tubes the Ibex series will reset the limits of ultralight touring skis and how they perform/ski.  No compromises based on weight, “light” is not an excuse for lack of ski performance.


I begin my 11th season as a BadAssador, we have been making skis in the same location for over 70 years.  I intended my relationship with Elan to be long lasting and fulfilling, it has been and will be, but not only for the skis I have spoken of but for the place, Slovenia, and the people who make up the Elan family, its their hands who touch the skis the hands of the engineers touching the experimental cores the hands of the builders of the skis in the factory, placing pieces in the press, the hands of the marketing/communication departments holding and presenting the “new babies”  to sales and distribution - who get them into the local shops who eventually get them onto your feet!  All of these people/hands are part of the Ski. 

Thinking back to my friends Elans that I was so envious of - at the time I didn’t know “why” I liked Elan, but now I do!!!

Think snow - Ski ya on the hill!

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