STEVE: And welcome to another Summit Sports podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com. I’m Steve and today with me I have Kevin Lewis – National Sales Manager for K2 Skis. He’s been with the company for 13 years. So, first off, Kevin, how are you doing today?
KEVIN: I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful day in Michigan and I’m loving the weather and I’m happy to be here with you.
STEVE: Great. Thank you for coming here. Now, you work at K2 Skis, I’m assuming you’re a skier.
KEVIN: Oh yeah, skier for a long time. Whole life. Started when I was about 3 and haven’t stopped ever since. So, few decades into it.
S: Very good. What’s your go-to ski?
K: Well, what I’m going to throw into the car when I head up for the day is, ya know, grab something real universal, you never know what you’re going to get. I ski out of Seattle in Washington. We can go anywhere from powder day to hard pack and so I’ll usually grab something that’s descent universal waist width, somewhere you know around 100 and then you definitely want to look for something in the line that’s got the right rocker profile for just doing everything that way I can make sure I can hit everything from the powder to the hard pack.
S: Excellent. How many times do you ski per year?
K: A lot. I get in close to, ya know, probably 75-100 days a year. So I get a few days in, being in the job that I’m in, definitely get around the country visiting our ski shops, getting on the snow with people and I think that’s the best way to experience everything with them is to just getting out and doing the skiing.
S: Do you have a favorite place?
K: Yeah, there’s a lot of places I love to go. I love to ski in Utah. A lot of good mountains out there. Definitely some good places in the east coast. Stratton’s a good place. But probably my go-to is definitely Utah’s a good place.
S: Absolutely. I love Park City.
K: Oh yeah, it’s great. Great city. Lots to do after skiing and lots to do on the hill.
S: Yeah. All right. Let’s get into some skis here. The K2 Mens Skis have been redesigned for 2013-2014. What can we expect out of the line this year?
K: We’re really excited about the new line. We’ve done a complete overhaul of our men’s skis and starting with what we call our AMP Series which stands for All-Mountain Performance. We’ve really, what we’ve done here is come out with a lot of new designs but then simplified the line so it’s really easy understand and that way it’s not overwhelming by all the different names. Each ski is called an AMP and then by the number next to it, that tells you what waist width it is and then next to that you have the part of the name that denotes what technology it has in it so for instance you have the AMP 80 XTi you know it’s part of the all-mountain series and that it’s 80 underfoot, it’s got our Rox technology and it has Ti which means it has metal in it so really simplified the naming and brought out the Rox technology into all the skis this year and also really brought some price value into the price points. Bringing metal into our skis all the way down to our AMP 76 Ti Ski at $599 which is an awesome value with that and metal performance and then when you work your way up the line from there, you get into the Rictor part of the AMP series and you get up to your 90 waist you get real versatility. You get that all-mountain on-piste performance but a 90 waist ski that’s going to float in the powder and you’ll see a bit of a tip change as you get into that ski as well. That’s going to be a little less hooky in the deeper snow but still have really great hard snow performance.
Then the real excitement, we get into our freeride collection which is kind of an area that we haven’t really had to position directly at: freeride, but we’ve got some great freeride skis this year both in a directional and bi-directional. The Annex series is our directional skis and the Shreditor series, that’s right Shreditor, is the bi-directional skis and then it’s real simple. Each number next to each model tells you how wide it is and then of course there’s lots of technology and detail going into each ski but just to summarize it, the freeride skis are really good this year, we’re real excited about those and of course, we got our backside, backcountry skis and then our great park and pipe ski in that twin tip category as well.
S: Great. We have a lot of women’s models that are coming back this year can you tell me some of the favorite of the Supermodel skis?
K: Yeah, well we introduced the prior season the SuperGlide was a new ski for us. We’re bringing that back. The upper-end skis, the Rox technology which as I explained on the men’s side that’s a torsional technology and what torsion does is give you better edge hold and what we’ve done with our Rox technology is essentially give you everyday skier the edge grip of a race ski without being as stiff as a race ski. Not everybody can ski a stiff race ski but everybody wants the torsional stiffness of race ski so they have very good edge hold and our upper-womens skis in the Super Series have that Rox technology bringing back the SuperGlide and then really keeping the graphics really looking good this year on the women’s line; one of our best so far so we’re really happy about those.
And then again adding those freeride skis as some new skis up in the upper end of the women’s category in the SuperBrights and our Remedy’s. Our Remedy 102’s going to be a really good ski for us this year. Really super-versatile. Great waist width, all new rocker profile and a great graphic to boot.
S: What’s the skill level for that ski?
K: A Remedy 102 is going to be intermediate to advanced. It’s really a go-to for everybody. Everybody is going to have fun on that ski.
S: Okay. Tell me about the Women’s Alliance Program. What is that?
K: That’s a great program. Definitely fits in with all of our women’s skis. The Women’s Alliance, we have the top team of women athletes from all demographics, age groups that help us out with the design of our skis. All the way from performance of the skis, they come to all our on-snow tests to the graphics to the naming, all that. They give us direct feedback.
And then we have Regional Alliance members around the country that help us host events in stores doing women’s nights, doing women’s ski days. All sorts of things like that. And on top of that, if you ever flip our women’s skis over and see the pink ribbon on the base, you’ll see that we donate quite a bit of money to breast cancer research and we’ve been doing that for a very long time. We’ve donated upwards of a million dollars already in the amount of time we’ve been doing that. So, it’s just a great way to tie everything together and really make sure that we have the best women’s product because it’s designed by women.
S: Right and not just K2 Skis but skates and snowboards too, right?
K: Yep, also our sister brands with inline skates and snowboards also donate to the fund as well so it’s a really great way for us to give back especially with all the effort the Women’s Alliance has put in it’s the least we could do.
S: Yeah. All right, now K2 has ski poles and a ski pole is a ski pole, right? I mean, there’s nothing special about them, right?
K: Well, our engineers would like to tell you different for sure and definitely there is. A ski pole isn’t just a ski pole. You know, when you’re talking about materials that go into them, there’s a huge difference. You go anywhere from your aluminum poles, and even in your aluminum poles you have different grades of aluminum and that is what helps their weight, that helps the durability but then what K2 has always pride itself on and have technologies for a very long time are the composite construction that we use. We have a couple of different technologies that we out into our ski poles. From a straight fiberglass composite to poles that have carbon stringers to poles that have a triaxially-braided carbon which we kind of took that cue from our triaxially-braided fiberglass that we use in our skis to make what is a very lightweight extremely strong pole. You can bend these poles in any direction you’re never gonna break them and then when it comes to your grips, what you’re obviously grabbing the pole with, you talk about, look at the different materials you’re using. How soft are they? How hard are they? How grippy are they? The last thing you want to be do is be skiing down the hill with a big, heavy, easily breakable, you know, pole in your hand that doesn’t have all the technology that we put into our K2 poles and I think it even comes down to how easy it is to hold in your hand. The best scenario is to not even feel like you have poles in your hand.
S: All right now probably about a decade ago, you didn’t see too many people on the slopes with helmets and even I, myself, I didn’t own a helmet until just a couple years ago. Now everyone’s got them.
K: You feel naked with it.
S: Yeah, and they’re great. They keep your head warm, they obviously protect you but what are some of the features that K2 Helmets have to separate those out from the competition?
K: Well, there’s quite a few. I mean a couple to name, I mean, you look at a helmet and it really does a simple function. It protects your head from all of the hard objects that we can encounter on the ski hill so you really start with the construction and the materials you’re using and the type of molding you’re doing for a helmet. And so one of our features is how we do that. We have a couple of different construction types that you can read about on the website but the main features that we like to focus on with the helmets is fit because if the helmet’s not comfortable, people aren’t going to wear it. So I think one is fit, the second is the venting. You talked about the helmet keeping your head warm well sometimes you don’t want to be too warm, you want to be able to control and regulate the temperature and on our Active Matrix Venting allows you to do that. You can control how it’s vented and really control the temperature of your head. You know our fit system with our Dial Fit and our full wrap liner, you just have a dial on the back of the helmet that you throw the helmet on and then dial that in to be the right fit for you and the way that’s designed and wraps around the full 360 degree of the helmet to really give you a real nice, comfortable fit.
And then on top of that, it’s the audio feature that we throw in with some of the helmets that allows you to take a phone call, listen to music and then just quickly detach it when you want to take your helmet off at lunchtime instead of totally pulling all your cords out of your jacket. So, couple of basic features are construction, how your helmet fits with our Dial Fit system, how it’s vented and then audio for you audio lovers.
S: And the audio, easy to work for somebody who’s not too good at plugging stuff in, like myself?
K: Oh yeah, it’s great. You know, it just plugs into any phone or iPod or any feature. Any type of technology you have like that and then there’s right on the back of the helmet there’s a great little sport that shows you where to plug that in and you’re off and going.
S: Excellent. And finally, goggles. Now, K2 Goggles has something called Optics by Carl Zeiss Vision.
S: What does that mean?
K: Well, that means that we’ve partnered with one of the best optics companies in the world. I mean, most people recognize the Carl Zeiss name. They’ve been in photography for a very long time and binoculars and a lot of things in optics so when we set out to make a K2 goggle we wanted to have the best optics and really what the best optics do for you, is give you clarity on the hill in all different light conditions. Most of us when we head out for the day, you may get some sun here, you may get some clouds there, you might get some snow and that kind of thing and having those varying light conditions is what makes the day more enjoyable and having a high-end optics like Carl Zeiss can provide really gives you a better day on the hill and then you add that, on top of the Optics by Carl Zeiss, but you add the ability for them to add the technology called Ri-Pel to the goggle and what that does is that shedding water, dirt, dust, all those things that get on your goggles, it sheds them right away and allows you to continue to have a great optic even in variable conditions and then when you talk about how the lenses are mirrored you talk about the different layers of mirror in the lens that gives you that quality of optics, gives you that cool look but gives you just a better comfort for your eyes all day.
S: All right, so from skis to snowboards, goggles to helmets, K2 really has it all and they’ve been at for decades and decades so check out some of the latest and greatest K2 products available on skis.com and snowboards.com.
I’d like to thank Kevin Lewis from K2 for joining me today. This has been another podcast for Summit Sports, skis.com and snowboards.com. Thank you very much for listening.