So initially I was searching around for a little more info on Line's new Afterbang when I had trouble finding pictures explaining the basic construction of a ski. Upon failing to find anything, I took the liberty of doing the work myself, and cut up two different skis. Hurrah! So, to be blunt (and to the best of my knowledge) there are basically two key ways a ski is manufactured:
1. Traditional wood core
In the traditional method, it all revolves around the material for the core. Usually wood or foam is used, although some manufacturers like Atomic use rails and channels and what have you, but they all follow the basic idea. The core material is wrapped in fiberglass and glued to the base, a top sheet and graphic is put on top, and polyurethane sidewalls are added to the sides.
Monocoque construction was developed in the late 80s - early 90s by Salomon and Elan. Instead of having a core surrounded by sidewalls and top sheet, Monocoque technology uses a single one-piece cap that covers both the top and sides. Monocoque by definition, is a construction technique that uses an object's external skin to bear weight as opposed to relying entirely on the center/core. By doing so for skis, a lighter core can be used, thus making the ski weigh less.You can pretty easily point of the difference between traditional and Monocoque skis - just look at the sides. This video is great for showing how Monocoque skis are put together.
After much searching on the world wide web, I failed to get a decent cross-section shot of both Monocoque and the traditional construction. Then I remembered I had some old garbage skis just jamming in my basement, waiting to be dealt with. The first victim was from a pair of Rossignol 557 Sports; they have the traditional wood core, making them a great candidate.
I grabbed a jigsaw, and said goodbye to this fine piece of French crafstmanship.
Despite a brand new blade, the ski was rather difficult to cut, particularily on the metal edges. The blade ended up getting so hot it melted a nice trail through the base, but I tidied it up with a knife. Anyways here is what I got.
I had fun cutting up the Rossi, but it was time to hack at a Monocoque ski. I had a pair of Salomon 1080's I was saving to someday be some sort of urban ski, despite one was broken and held together by a bolt. These skis have a core of injected foam, making them much lighter than the Rossignols.
Away I went again. Like last time, the edges took me forever to cut through. This time however, the foam core made the blade zip through like cake, and I was done in half the time. A neat thing newer skis have is a layer (or two) of aluminum beneath the cap. This is sometimes called a "torsion box" as it affects the flex and responsiveness of the ski, and it also aids in counteracting vibration.
With that said, I finally have a better understanding of what's on the inside of those things we call skis. There are plenty of variations out there in terms of construction; my present ski has air injected into the fiberglass fibers to make it lighter. Really necessary? I think not, but some swear by such differences.
Now we know how skis work on the inside right? Wrong! Introducing the Line Afterbang!
These skis are neither traditional nor Monocoque. The idea was that, like a skateboard, your skis get banged up and thrown around quite a bit. Instead of using fragile materials to create a park ski that is set to recieve decent amounts of abuse, why not make it like a skateboard? And thus, the Afterbang was born. Instead of a vertically laid core (the pattern in which the wood runs), the Afterbang has a horizontally laid seven ply maple core like a skate deck. The construction results in an very customizable flex pattern, allowing the butter zone to be moved just in front of the binding, making it easier to push out your presses and butters. Secondly, and frankly most importantly, the ski's durability is increased exponentially. The Afterbang was recently featured on the Yes Network.
When this ski does reach the hands of consumers, I will be super duper keen to see how it performs.
That's all for now kids. I hope you learned something new from all this, as I sure did!