Regular visitors to realskiers are most likely aware that we haven’t covered Elan for a few seasons. It hasn’t been for lack of interest on the part of our membership, several of whom have voiced intense displeasure at our elision of Elan. The brand has been selling skis in this country for half a century, more than enough time to incubate a cadre of followers who want to keep current. So how come our coverage of Elan shrank out of sight?
The answer lies in our methodology. Realskiers reviews depend on input from our test shops; if we don’t have enough test cards on a given model to be comfortable making (or not making) a recommendation, we have no foundation for a review. Our network of specialty shops submitted but a handful of Elan test cards over the last two years, a reflection of Elan’s retreating market share.
Another limitation imposed by our model is realskiers’ intention to direct our readers to specialty shops who carry the models we review. We feel it’s important to support the shops that provide the services that make high performance skiing possible, so we in turn support the brands that have a history of backing the specialty channel of independent retailers. If our only recourse is to send the consumer directly to the supplier, we feel as if we’ve only done half our job.
We are insufficiently visionary to predict how Elan’s fortunes will fare in the year that lies ahead. The Slovenian brand seems to be out of the EU’s doghouse and ready to pursue a more penetrating presence on the American market. We’re covering Elan again because our first loyalty is to our readers and members. Enough of you have asked for our impressions of current Elans that we took pains to ensure at least some coverage of key models. How much more coverage there is in the future will depend more on Elan’s efforts than ours.
What buzz there’s been about Elan centers on their carving skis and race models. The Ripstick might have the largest single bloc of Elan enthusiasts in its corner, and of the Elans we review here it was our testers’ clear favorite. All four of the Elans in our coverage are Amphibios, meaning they’re half-reptile, half-human.
Of course that’s not it, but the Amphibio feature is an oddity, with asymmetric forebodies that are rockered only on the outside edge. The intent is to provide an uncompromised carving experience while still allowing for a buffered ride in light chop. It is integrated into the design to the degree that it doesn’t detract from the business of creating a continuous, unbroken carve.
In-depth reviews of 4 models—with key performance ratings ( ? ) and genre model comparisons ( ? ) —are in our member section
Radius: 17.8m @ 176cm
Weight: 2346g @ 176cm
Most of the skis in the Technical fraternity are body-builder strong, winning the war for your allegiance with conquest, not caresses. The Elan Ripstick isn’t one of the burly bunch, but a sinuous smoothie who earns your affection with its yes-man acquiescence to your every wish.
Elan would probably tell you that the reason the Ripstick moves as naturally edge to edge as water flows downhill is their Amphibio design that rockers only the outside edge. If so, its influence is so subtle it went undetected by our test panel. What they could feel was a ski willing to make any turn shape from a high stance or a low, laid-over super-carve.
True to its carving heritage, the Ripstick Fusion likes to lay down rails, maintaining contact with the edge at all times. To keep from going off the tracks, the Ripstick releases its energy in a gentle pulse, allowing the ski to form a round-bellied arc before slinking forward. “Smooth as a Cadillac,” cooed Alive, my confrere from Bobo’s, who was “pleasantly surprised by its stability.”
We didn’t break out our Finesse Favorites for this genre, but if we had the Ripstick Fusion would have been on the podium. It’s no noodle, with a substantial platform you can trust to grip hard snow at a high edge angle, but overall its ease outshines even its considerable power properties.