ISPO is huge. No photo or even video could convey ginormous size of the exhibition spread over 16 cavernous halls.
It also would not let you forget for a second that industrial heart of the world these days is beating in China. And in India. And in Bangladesh. And Pakistan.
Since cross country skiing is a niche sport, alas, Asian manufacturers who think in terms of volume, are not yet big in this sector. The things, however, are slowly changing – several Chinese producers had their products on display, mostly entry-level ski boots and rollerskis.
ISPO is fundametally different expo from, say, Frankfurt International Motor Show. The latter one morphed itself over the years into a glam show where appearances are everything– whatever you make of it. It sells you dreams, packaged in car form. ISPO, however, still introduces you to your manufacturer, supplier and distributor. Excepting little islands around fancy Alpine skiing clothing, it’s distinctly down to earth, business like affair. Some stands even had No Filming, Please warning – what??!
…With that intro, let’s move into the pavillions B5 and B6 where the best & the brightest of cross country skiing world are putting their wares on display
From the get-go: nothing earth-shattering, could be described in one phrase “mostly same old, same old”
Last year, by comparison, there was some truly novel stuff at ISPO e.g. Fischer/Rossignol Turnamic to which Rottefella replied with a show-stopper Electric ( did not materialize on the shops’ shelves, of course – but is at ISPO again this year, novelty kinda worn out)
Anyways, let;s look at highlights & novelties, subjectively chosen by very objective us:
nothing revolutionary and nothing truly new except for Rossignol Pink as they’ve been immediately named by the sportsmen and fans alike. As ISPO was opening, just a 150k away from Munich, world’s best skiers were competing – some already on new Rossi Pinks. Laurien vad der Graaff even won the Seefeld World Cup sprint on them last weekend.
The other storied ski producers talk about fine-tuning this aspect of current models or that – but discussing technical details is beyond the scope of this story, sorry.
Leki is having as a field day with Johannes Klaebo, as mentioned already – and changes the whole naming convention: Ultimate Carbon is being replaced by PRC ( or Performance Racing Carbon) Max, Primus by HRC ( for Highest Racing Carbon) Team and, if you want to run like Klaebo, you’d have to shell out circa 350 Euros for HRC Max F, that is replacing Race Shark. Shasts are produced in Asia – final assembly is done in Czechia. Available to mere mortals next season.
Top producers maintain their range – nothing much new except for Rossignol SK with carbon sole. We hear from the lucky Rossi-sponsored athletes that they are very happy with those – and we hope that the self-paying masses will be equally happy once they go on sale next year.
It was the Russian company Spine Sport that arguably went on making the biggest splash in otherwise quiet cross county skiing expo-pond this year by introducing their new models aimed at advanced amateur crowd.
Spine is virtually unknown outside Russia – as yet. But at home it rules the huge Russian ski market in lower segment by selling, according to its managers, around one million ( yes, that’s one million!) ski boots per year. Now the bootmakers from Yaroslavl feel ready to conquer the most diffucult, discerning segment – that of advanced amateur not willing or able to spend on latest carbon sole models.
Everything else cross country:
Optiwax, led by intrepid Jari Joutsen, former Finland’s champion in ski sprint, is continuing with its philosophy of “less time for preps – more time for skiing” by adding yet another glide tape – Eco friendly, bio-degradable, no-flouro Greenpeace-dream made-in-Finland. Released earlier this season Black glide tape is anything but – Jari claims it’s hardest UHF ski wax on this planet. It means that, in theory, you could prepare the skis with Black for Vasaloppet – and then continue using it for another month, wax still will be there. Gliding properties hardly affected ( we are not talking Top 100 here, of course – those use varied flouroblocks and sprays to squeeze that extra second)
Leki is pairing up with Colorado-based Boa Technology to launch race gloves with closure and adjustment developed by the Americans. Very comfortable gloves indeed.