Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of topsheets. From ultra-bright neon to Megadeath-esque to plain-Jane. Some topsheets have long-lasting, classic designs, while others sported a one-and-done, “what the heck were they thinking?” motif.
This year, as I’ve thumbed through the Powder Buyer’s Guide and racked my brain on all the skis I’ve seen in press releases or at tradeshows, I can’t help but think that some of the designs try to make some sort of polarizing statement or come off as “hey look at me, I’m the sickest sick sick skier in the world bro brah.” I’m not sure I’m down with a ganja-smoking dude, a barely-clothed or naked lady, peace and love or some other politically-motivated statement on my skis. Isn’t there a better way to express yourself than on your topsheets?
Maybe I’m getting old, but doesn’t anyone else get bothered by the fact that an awesome ski on paper or on the hill may be completely distasteful because of it’s graphics? Yeah, I do have a wife and kids (though many of you may not), so I’m sensitive to schlepping a pair of skis with a bikini-clad hottie on them around the house or on the hill while I teach my 3-year-old how to ski. Something about that doesn’t seem like it would go over so hot in my house.
On the other hand, looking around at some of the best designs for this season, most of them are relatively simple or slightly abstract and fun. Here are some designs that are easy on the eyes in my book:
Bluehouse The Shoots 191
These skis are cool-looking and have a great name, which is kind of a play on words. Both the design and name remind you of the sustainable bamboo core you’re skiing on and it conjures up images of the Baldy Chutes at the same time. However, these skis are made for bombing wide-open faces at mach schnell. These babies have a rockered tip and an ultra-wide 128mm waist. You are fully committed in style with The Shoots.
Learn more at www.bluehouseskis.com.
Black Diamond Zealot
You’ve got to see these skis in person. I dig the orangey-brown color and the subtle/abstract Zealot graphics on the tail. Some may hate them, but they are cool in my book. I also like the way these ski in deep pow and on backcountry tours. The whole Black Diamond ski lineup serves up family-friendly topsheets with lasting style.
Learn more at www.bdel.com.
When you’re a Thug, you’ve got to be tough, so black topsheets definitely fit the bill. The cool cartoon thug face character reminds you that these are serious skis, which they are. With a 120mm waist and full twins, these Atomic skis mean business and look cool too.
Learn more at www.atomicsnow.com.
G3 El Hombre
Isn’t it funny how the smaller ski manufacturers in general have more style than many of the major players? Maybe it’s because they can’t mess around with iffy designs or pay some super designer to come up with a Picasso on skis? G3 continues that trend with the El Hombre backcountry fattie. With a sweet Luchador graphic and (again) subtle black topsheet, the G3 El Hombre will slay the pow without alienating your friends. Nachooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Learn more at www.genuineguidegear.com.
Head Supermojo 105
While the J.O. Pro lives in loser-land, the Head Supermojo 105 sports a sweet brownish-orange design that’s sure to please anyones tastes. And, with a stout 105mm waist and twin-tips, this ski should be a solid performer on and off piste.
Learn more at www.HeadUSA.com.
Line Sir Francis Bacon
These skis remind me of some Dr. Seuss book, which should always conjure up happy thoughts. The Bacon’s have a large 115mm waist, but still have both camber and a decent amount of sidecut to carve the groomers with aplomb. Fun skis for sure and google only knows if Sir Francis really invented bacon. The whole lineup of Line skis sports some fun graphics.
Learn more at www.LineSkis.com.
In my mind, there are many skis with loser topsheets. These include those that are trying to make political statements, those that feature scantily-clad women or those that are still stuck in the skull-and-crossbones Megadeath era. You’ll have to click thru on your own because I don’t want to grace these pages with their images:
- Head J.O. Pro: Yea, Jon Olsson rips, but bikini ladies? C’mon! They might as well have the Coors Light train coming in the background while they’re at it.
- K2 Hellbent: Reminds me of cover art for a bad 80’s metal band. Ozzy rules! Now I’ve got to take a bath.
- Nordica Jah Love: Yeah, lots of skiers smoke pot and listen to reggae, but smoking is stupid and reggae is cool, still Nordica couldn’t figure out which one was cool, so these are losers.
- Nordica Ignition: Double-feature from Nordica… Half-dressed ladies ain’t cuttin’ it. Moving on…
- Roxy Broomstix: Lots of LOVE, but where’s the peace and rock and roll? So, just because they are ladies skis, they have to be all lovey dovey? Think again.
- Icelantic Skis (all of them): Weird gnomes and elves are cool for nerds at a Lord of the Rings convention, but Frodo isn’t real and these topsheets are best fit to be hurled into Mt. Doom.
- Boone Skis Twins: Bucking the trend that small manufacturers keep it stylie, Boone goes straight for the bikini babes with these so-called “powder skis”.
Now I realize that many people will disagree with me on my picks of losers… so be it. I’m willing to bet that those with cool and subdued graphics will typically sell better and be more profitable to the manufacturer… just a hunch. Maybe I’m too old for this stuff or maybe I’m right. Chime in below with your best and worst ski designs for 2008/2009.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is definitely the case for ski graphics. I frequently hear people talking about their dislike of certain ski graphics. Sometimes, I really appreciate a graphic that another dislikes.
At Wagner Custom skis, where each ski is custom-fit and tailor-made for the individual, a person gets to choose their topsheet graphic. The topsheet options are 1) designs made by artists, 2) solid colors, 3) wood veneers, and 4) custom topsheet graphics that are created specifically for the customer (see http://www.WagnerSkis.com/shop ). Given all of these options, I notice that a large portion of the skis Wagner Custom builds have the solid color topsheets. The solid color topsheets are simple and timeless.
So, I think that a lot of people would agree with you: relatively simple designs are a good thing. However, beauty lies in the specific looks of a person, rather than the object, because different people feel beauty in different things.
Definitely, beauty IS in the eye of the beholder, but I think that most people can agree on an “appropriate” ski design that’s not R-rated. No matter how great the ski is, I’m not bringing home a pair of skis with a bikini babe on them. My main point is appropriateness. I’ve had some ugly skis that were ugly, but I didn’t care… But, then there are some designs that simply are distasteful.
I just watched the video on your site that describes your custom ski production process… AWESOME! You guys are doing some great things there at Wagner!
For anyone interested, here’s a link to the video:
great round up here Jason. I was laughing with the Nacho shout out but then I was rolling with the Mt. Doom top sheet donation. Classic.
It really depends! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some folks love the Twins because of their bright colors and hot babes. Some folks prefer something more subdued – like the Superfreaks in jet black with snowflakes gracing the background. Others like the original artwork in our graffitti ski – the Magic Sticks. Plane jane skis have been done a thousand times over. We agree that for many it will be better to “keep it safe” but skiing is about individualism and the ability to express your tastes. We agree with the author on several points – a lot of the graphics in his winners column are excellent graphics. The problem is that as a small ski company, you can’t do it all. You have to choose. If you have ideas for future topsheets at BOONE Skis – feel free to email us with your graphics and ideas. We are always open to new ideas!
Hey BOONE SKIS
Thanks for chiming in! By no means do I want to discount your efforts–especially being a small company. I just think you could do better than just succumbing to the lowest-common-denominator of bikini-clad women. It’s an easy way to get short-term gain IMO.
Keep rockin’ it guys… come out with cool designs that can appeal to more people besides horny teenagers. Those with money and discerning tastes will choose other skis. You guys are young and scrappy… you’ll figure it out and I wish you the best of luck, even if I happen to dislike your bikini lady design.
The great thing about the internet is that everyone gets to share their bellybutton, um, I mean opinion.
I suggest you respect companies that are trying new and different things.
Plus, if you really want to see cool topsheets, look at the other offerings from Boone Skis. They are high-design. Go to http://www.booneskis.com and see for yourself.
You’re totally right… different people appreciate different topsheets. For me and for the masses, bikini babes just won’t fly. Myself and the mass market aren’t your target market for that particular ski, so that’s fine.
At least you haven’t gone the way of Burton with the Playboy topsheets. 🙂
I respect what you guys are doing and know the battle that you’re facing in building a small ski company, but IMO you should ditch the bikini babes and maybe you’ll sell more skis.
I’d like to wholehearedly agree with the author on the importance of tastefullness for a ski. Even women’s skis these days are experiencing the trend toward inappropriate graphics.
As a female who is a ski instructor (and sometimes teaches children), as well as someone who typically likes to keep their equiptment mostly not R-rated, I take issue with some of the top sheets out there these days. Interestingly, I’m in the young 20s age bracket (target market for more inappropriate graphics)and in my experince, many of my bad-ass ripper friends who purchase a pair of stix with the over-the-top graphics do so because they like the ski’s physical design as opposed to its ostentatious colors.
A great example right now is the women’s-specific Volkl Aura (in the Volkl attiva series; similar to the Mantra in construction, and the closest thing in the women’s line to the very popular Gotama). This ski has gotten rave reviews since its inception two seasons ago, and has consistenly been considered the standard for a single-quiver, mid-fat, women’s specific all mountain ski for very agreesive, expert women skiers. The downside? This year, the ski features a hot-pink, gold, and black, geisha woman, complete with gold-embossed cleavage. If you can believe it, the ski is even flashier in person than its on-web depiction.
As an instructor, I’m torn: this is the perfect all mountain ski for me, made by an industry leader (volkl), and unlike any other ski on the market in terms of construction. But do I want to teach the “pizza” and “french fries” to little girls while riding on that monstrosity? Absoultely not.
As a result, I’m forced to hide away my freeskiing quiver while interacting with anyone below the age of 18 or over the age of 35!
I wish I had the guts to spraypaint the topsheet 🙁
Thanks for the insight, Jessie! As someone who has been a ski instructor (1997-2000 – The Canyons) for kids and adults, I completely agree with you! I’m in the same boat now, but not with other people’s kids… my own. I don’t want to have a pair of skis–no matter how performant they are–that sports racy topsheets. I’m not going to go there.
I love my Nordica Hot Rod Nitrous skis that I bought last year, but for just a purely ugly top sheet that makes you want to poke sharp things in your eyes, they win the gold medal. Maybe I should be happy that a thief would be less tempted to walk away with them, but DAMN they’re ugly. This years model is only slightly better. These things are FREAKSHOW ugly, but at least they aren’t offensive. I just wish they looked half as good as they perform.
Thanks for chiming in, Karl! Ugly topsheets beware!