Twin-tip skis gaining popularity

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Mike Heine
Monday, December 24, 2007

Move over snowboarders. You’ve had your turn down the slopes.

Skiers are back.

And this time they’re going backward.

With twin-tipped skis that are rapidly increasing in popularity, the same kinds of tricks and big air once attainable only with a snowboard now are possible with poles in hand and independent feet.

“Twin-tip skis are like having two skinny snowboards on your feet,” said Keni Koreba, co-owner of The Board Shop in Lake Geneva.

“It’s something different. Snowboarding became popular because it was different,” said Hans Hauschild, snow sports area director at Grand Geneva Resort.

This sport is different.

Twin tips are freestyle skis. With the fronts and backs curved up and bindings in the middle, users can do any number of tricks, including going downhill backward. And they’re being used in terrain parks once only inhabited by snowboarders, Koreba said.

“It really is starting to make its appearance in the mainstream,” she said. “It’s the same sort of crowd as a snowboarder, the young, edgy, freestyle-oriented person.”

Lake Geneva’s Ty Maras is in that crowd. Actually, he’s one of the best in it.

Maras has been attending a private prep school in Park Falls, Utah, where he trains all winter and has classes throughout the summer.

The 16-year-old is training for the Olympics should the International Olympic Committee include freestyle skiing in any upcoming Games. It might be in by 2010 or 2014.

“The reason I like it is, with racing, basically you’re just going down a hill between gates. Some people like that,” he said. “For me, I like going off jumps, catching as much air as I can, or spinning and flipping as much as I can, and grinding grind rails.

“There’s a number of things you can do.”

Twin tips, or free ride skis are incredibly maneuverable, said Matt Sterbenz, a pro skier and Williams Bay High School graduate who started his own twin-tip ski manufacturing company—4Frnt Skis.

Slalom skis, like the ones available to rent at ski hills, have racing influence at their roots.

Twin tips, have more flex, center the skier over them and have a more forgiving side cut, making them easier to turn.

“You can hook up on edge and cut across the hill while not requiring a whole lot of sliding,” Sterbenz said. “Everything is being tailored to making it a lot more friendly experience.”

Freestyle skiing, which is still a sport dominated by teens, is attracting some of the skiers-turned-snowboarders back to skiing again, Sterbenz said.

“I think we’re going to see skiing become a majority player again,” he said “I don’t think we will see snowboarding continue to dominate the slopes. I think it will be a 50/50 split again.”

Like skateboarding or snowboarding, skiing is an individual sport that plays heavily on an athlete’s self-expression and style.

“They want to have their own program,” Sterbenz said. “It’s the little things that separate themselves. Being unique. That’s transpiring into winter sports. That’s how snowboarding got its big boom.”

No one knows how big twin-tip skiing will be, but it should be here to stay, Sterbenz said. It is gaining popularity on the slopes and is taking over prime-time television spots on extreme sports programs.

“The enthusiasm for the sport is astronomical,” Sterbenz said.

Last updated: 10:24 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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