Twintip skis lure youthful boarders to new dimension
By Brian E. Clark
December 22, 2003
Craig Coker grew up at Big Bear and began snowboarding when he was 8. A BMX rider and surfer who frequents Mission Beach, the 19-year-old Coker never imagined he would ski. Too old school. Too boring.
So, like the majority of his age group, he embraced snowboarding – the on-snow version of skateboarding.
But five years ago, looking for something new, Coker tried a pair of so-called twintip skis that are turned up fore and aft.
They allowed him to do all of the tricks and spins he could manage on his snowboard and land them both frontward and backward. He is one of the earlier snowboarders to convert to skis – something that would have seemed a sacrilege if it hadn't been for the invention of twintips.
Even before Coker switched, Alpine Meadows' Clint Fiala was working with a blowtorch and saw in a Tahoe garage to create his own dual-tip skis. Fiala now rides for Salomon, which brought out the breakthrough 'Teneighty' twintip ski in the late 1990s.
It was this ski and others now made by myriad manufacturers that are driving ski sales. While sales of shaped skis, designed for carving turns on groomed slopes and maneuvering through moguls, have been flat or falling the past few years, twintips sales have been doubling and tripling in some parts of the country.
The subsport even has its own magazine called Freeze, published by Transworld out of Oceanside. Coker is featured in a January article.
Coker, who rides for Line Skis and normally avoids contests, bagged a first place in a Dragon Optical Three Ring Circus slopestyle competition last January at Big Bear. In slopestyle contests, skiers and snowboarders link tricks on jumps, rails, terrain features and big pipes as they slice their way down a run.
Usually, however, Coker is a free rider, spending equal amounts of time working on stunts in terrain parks, catching big air by rocketing out of superpipes and swooping down a steep slope or jumping cliffs and cornices in the backcountry.
An energetic fellow, he once jumped a 90-foot gap. He also shot 15 feet above the lip of a superpipe. He also skis fast on his 171-centimeter boards and has clocked speeds upward of 50 miles per hour. Stability, he says, is no problem.
'I enjoy twintip skiing because it's still so new,' said Coker, who also is sponsored by Orage Clothing and Scott USA. 'Once I tried it, I never went back to snowboarding. I really like how you can ride switch (backward) and do so many different tricks.
'I just feel like I have a lot more options, as well as having more control,' he said. 'You're not strapped onto the board, so there is less of a chance of injury. If I fall hard – and I do – my skis will release from my bindings.'
Coker now lives at Mammoth, where nearly half the people using its wildly popular terrain parks are twintip skiers. His favorite trick sounds like a 'switch-cork seven with an off-axis spin.' In other words, it's a backward, tilted 720-degree spin.
Though twintip skiers and snowboarders are now sharing the same terrain parks and pipes, Coker said part of his switch had to do with getting burned out with the snowboard scene. 'Skiing is more laid-back and has an image that's less hard,' he said. 'Skiers don't have the same hard attitude as snowboarders.'
Oren Tanzer, a 28-year-old Canadian who manages Mammoth's Unbound terrain parks, began skiing at 3, snowboarding at 14 and recently returned to skiing. He has a pair of twintip skis, which he said incorporate the 'best of everything.'
'Twins are wider and they are also shaped with a large, effective edge for turning,' he said. 'The only real difference is that you mount the binding within an inch of center so you can land tricks and ski backward. With traditional skis, you have more nose than tail.'
Tanzer said skiing had become more than a little stale until it was 'reborn' by twintips. He said kids who grew up on skateboards or surfed found few avenues to express themselves on their skis.
'Twin sales have just blown up the last four or five years,' he said. 'And they aren't just in the parks and pipes. They are all over the hill and even on the groomed slopes. They are what's hot with a lot of kids 13 to 25 who are driving the whole free-skiing movement. They are even pushing snowboarding with the tricks they can do. That's great.'
There should be 3 photos with the article too but i just copyed this off the website. I have them on my comp though so i might post them here
'I should put my camera on a tripod - its easier to drink beer that way' - dirty steve
NS royal gangstar