The Head SuperShape i.Speed skis are some of the best race skis out there. They combine lots of different technologies all with the goal of letting you ski faster with more stability. These are definitely “on-piste only” skis, but as such they excel where other skis fail in groomers.
Like I said, these skis a teeming with technology. Some of which is easily noticeable, while other extras can be noticed only by expert skiers. The main technologies that HEAD advertise for these skis are KERS and ERA 3.0
The K.E.R.S. (or Kinetic Energy Release System) is one of the technologies found on these skis. It’s a little hard to explain, just as it is hard to notice. What is it? It’s a “chip” (not like a computer chip) that stores kinetic energy caused by flexing the ski and releases this energy at the end of the turn by stiffening the tails. Here’s how it works. When you start carving and enter a turn the ski bends and creates kinetic energy. This power is stored in the chip. At the end of your turn, when the forces applied to the skis start diminishing, the chip releases the stored energy into fibers along the tail. This stiffens them and gives you a small boost into your next turn. Is it noticeable? Yes, on perfect slopes while doing high speed carving turns and pushing the skis to the edge of their grip. Will you notice this while just cruising down the mountain or teaching your girlfriend how to ski? Not really. Will you get envious looks you from other skiers? Definitely.
ERA 3.0 S
This technology can be found in a wide variety of HEAD skis. The number 3 represents the 3 technologies mixed into one: rocker, rebound and radius. The first is the rocker profile. Many skis have a rocker profile and it was generally designed and introduced first into the freeride world. Since then many companies have used the design to allow skis to turn easier. In the ERA 3.0 ski line, the tips of the skis are rockered (have an earlier rise than normal skis). This allows for easier turning, but the tips tend to slap around more. This is where the rebound tech comes in and saves the day. The skis have fibers that criss-cross along the ski. The more force that is applied the more the fibers interlock and stiffen the ski. At low speeds this gives you a nice, forgiving nose, while at high speeds the nose stiffens up and can be plowed into the snow for more grip. This also reduces the flapping effect. The last piece of the puzzle is the extra radius at the nose of the ski, where it’s rockered. When your skiing slow the ski will use the normal sidecut, but apply extra force in the turn and the nose will start to grip the snow and this change in sidecut will be noticeable.
Riding the HEAD SuperShape Skis
I got to test these skis in a variety of conditions. From night skiing to perfectly groomed slopes, to not so perfectly groomed slopes. Overall I was very impressed with how the skis handled on the groomed slopes. All they need is a little pressure on the tongue of the boots and a good carve is almost guaranteed. I really liked how easily and confidently I could lean into the turn and not worry about ice or anything throwing me off. These are best for expert riders who love to make perfect turns. You can make nice long turns with little force or you can shift your weight even more forward and shorten the turns, thanks to the added radius in the nose. Shifting from one turn to the next is also very easy with these skis thanks to the rockered front end. The KERS system also helps when shifting from one turn to the next, but honestly, I only really felt the extra boost a few times in optimal conditions. What I didn’t like was how the ski handled on bumpy and uneven terrain at speed. Even though this can be expected from any ski of this type, I felt very out of control the moment the slope became bumpy at the end of the day. Also, straight-lining a slope with this ski isn’t much fun as I found my feet to be wobbling around when not on the ski edge. But then again, this ski wasn’t made for bumpy terrain and going in a straight line, so it’s all good. Overall this is a great ski and I would highly recommend it to all of you carving enthusiasts. However, it is a bit of overkill for beginners and intermediates.
You can find these exact skis, along with many other HEAD models at Ski & Board Traventuria.