As predicted in this space last year, the arrival of Kore augured the demise of traditionally made, wide-body carvers like the Monster 98 and Monster 108. Head has pared down the Monster series accordingly, reducing it the Monster 88, Monster 83 and 83X, the 83 minus two sheets of Titanal. The trend is clear: in the battle between classic construction and lighter weight alternatives, the Lighter-Is-Better side is winning.
Head is betting heavily that the LIB trend isn’t a fad but a here-to-stay reality. The V-Series of (mostly) Frontside skis, featuring LYT Tech, replaces the Instinct system skis that were built along the same Old School lines as the Monsters. The V-Series combines New Age materials like Graphene and Karuba (aka, carbon and wood) with a mix of glass and carbon fiber to create a parallel universe of carvers utterly unlike its established Supershape series of burly carvers.
The contrast between the two carving collections (Supershape vs. V-Shape) couldn’t be more stark. When Head added Graphene to the Supershapes a couple of seasons ago, it used the weight savings to add more metal to the mix. The V-Shapes eliminate metal everywhere but in the edges. The Supershapes aim exclusively at skiers with elite skills; the V-Shapes hit every price point from coach to first class. The new models also have companion LYT Tech boots, a high degree of product integration often seen in backcountry ensembles but not much elsewhere in the current market.
Another major differentiator of the V-Series is announced in its name: compared to Supershapes, the V-Series tail is considerably narrower, allowing the less skilled skier to scrub the end of the turn with impunity. That Head should continue to offer two families of carving skis with contrasting personalities speaks to both the popularity of on-trail skiing in Europe and the brand’s long-standing commitment to carving as the cornerstone of the recreational market.
The other big news in the 2019 Head family is the arrival of the Kore 99, a necessary fill-in between the 93 and 105 introduced just last year. The All-Mountain West genre (95mm-100mm underfoot) is too important to overlook, and with the passing of the Monster 98, for a major brand like Head to leave a void in this category is unthinkable. For a brand historically wedded to wood and metal constructions to euthanize the classically built Monster 98 in favor of a ski made from honeycomb, fleece and an almost invisible material speaks volumes about the current strength of the LIB movement.