The skinny, the light, and trending towards the ski-mo; these were once the lane of Alex Lee. Post-new fatherhood, he’s been on a chargier, lay-it-down, and stable ski in the more robust Elan Ripstick Tour 94.
The Elan RipStick Tour Specs
Claimed weight: 1490g per ski (my scale is 1505)
Turning Radius: 17.4m 178cm
Dimensions (mm) 129, 94, 109
Sizes (cm): 164, 171, 178, and 185
Construction: Carbon, Fiberglass, Tubelite Woodcore, Carbon Bridge, Technology, 360° Sidewall
A Left and Right Specific Ski: Yes! Amphibio Profile
Why did I want to give the Elan Ripstick Tour 94 a try….well, glad you asked.
Bond and Elan
The 1985 James Bond film A View to Kill, featuring the clash between Roger Moore’s James Bond and a perfectly evil Christopher Walken, not to mention the big screen debut of Dolph Lundgren, opens with a truly immortal ski scene: A red helicopter flies low over a glacier. Cut to Moore’s Bond wearing a one-piece white Bogner ski suit wielding a Pieps DF (notably without the earpiece). He is completing a fine search and uncovers a body buried in shallow snow. Then, before he can fully exhume the victim, machine-gun-wielding Soviet near-do-wells zip in on snowmachines. Does Bond panic? No, he grabs the microchip and hucks his meat 40 feet into a crevasse, and a ski chase ensues!
First he leads his pursuers off a serac, only for them to shoot off one of his Olin race skis. Is this a problem? Of course not; Bond jump-turns through glacier ice with one ski, commandeers a snowmachine, and kicks off his remaining ski. Bond then invents snowboarding, wins a pond-skimming comp, and the movie begins. What’s the point of all this? Well, the bad guys are all on Elan skis.
The movie doesn’t end well for the bad guys, but they do get a good pair of skis.
Read Alex’s Elan Ripstick Tour 94 First Look
The Elan Legacy
Elan manufactures more than a quarter million skis a year, plus their factory puts out an additional 150,000 skis for other brands. Elan’s factory makes their skis with a view of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. Cool enough for Bond villains since the mid-80s, Elan has been making top-notch skis since 1945. Their roots go further back to fighting Nazis and ski jumping in the 1936 Olympics. They famously made the winning race skis for 1970s Olympic legend Ingemar Stenmark. They also make sailboats.
While Elan is one of the largest ski manufacturers in the world, they are often relegated in backcountry opinion to a company for spandex wearing GS racers and still fly somewhat under the radar on North American skin tracks.
Unrelated to Elan’s Bond film lineage, Jason has told me that a bit of training weight is good for the dad bod, so I decided to explore a beefier-than-usual setup this year. Don’t worry, I am not clicking into frame bindings anytime soon, but I am ditching the U in UL for plenty of tours and exploring the world of plain old lightweight ski equipment. The Elan Ripstick Tour is just that, a 1500-gram quiver ski in the same weight class as the Kastle TX series, some Black Crows Freebird models, and Solomon MTN Carbons. Elan took their popular high performance freeride Ripstick ski, added a bit more carbon, and changed, well, almost nothing, but they come in slightly different waist widths and shave off around 150 grams to be called the Ripstick Tour. Hey, why mess with a good thing. The Ripstick Tour comes in a 104, 94, and 88 (while the Ripstick comes in a 116, 106, 96, and 88). It is marketed as “freeride performance at a fraction of the weight.”
On the Snow
Excited to finally touch snow with the Ripstick Tour, I scampered up the skin track in the 94s, mounted with ATK Kuluar 12 bindings and Fischer Transalp Pro boots. I know this might still sound squirrely to many a beefcake, but my skimo id felt like a heavy metal rocker strapped to a high speed tank.
I broke trail through fresh pow up Peak Two above Anchorage. Five inches of low density fluff over a fast supportable base – perfect conditions for the Ripstick Rip.
I clicked in, pointed downhill, and off I went.
Leaning over on edge that first turn took way too much effort, I thought. The second turn almost threw me over the handlebars. At the bottom of the run, I was confused. I had tried to mimic the form from my childhood Bode Miller poster, so what was up?
Ya know how Twix insists there is a right Twix and a left Twix? ….Elan does the same with the Ripstick, only in this case, each ski has an asymmetrical edge profile (they call it the Amphibio Profile): oodles of camber on the inside edge for stability and control, with a rockered outside edge for easy turn initiation and a smooth ride.
I kinda thought this was a bit of marketing magic, but there I was, staring at the right ski on my left foot and the left ski on my right foot. I swapped them back around for lap two, and am now an Amphibio convert. Unlike lap one, it was now a breeze to lay the Ripstick on edge and accelerate through rippin’ turns. I was shocked at how noticeable the asymmetry is, and when on the correct foot, the profile is effective.
The Ripstick Tours also tout a “Tubelight” wood core, a wood laminate with two carbon tubes running the length of the ski for torsional stiffness and flex rebound. Carbon and fiberglass reinforce the layup. Pyramidal shaped sidewalls are designed to increase stability at speed while absorbing chatter. Can I parse each of these features apart? No. But is the Riptisck Tour a stable, fast, and fun ski? Yes.
These actually feel less “freeride” to me and far more like carvey downhill backcountry boards ready for unexpected gates (perhaps a feature of the width I am on as much as anything). In a word, these skis feel fast. They are plenty maneuverable and easy to steer, but I am really impressed with the edge control and zip these skis pack into a 178. I am now surprised that the bad guys didn’t catch James Bond, because Elan makes darn speedy boards.
Elan claims that production uses 100% green energy and that at least 70% of their material comes from recycled or natural sources. Since wood is presumably a natural source, maybe this isn’t such a heavy lift, but they do manage to source 99% of their raw material from the EU and 70% from within 250 miles of the factory floor.
Last Thoughts on the Ripstick Tour 94
The Ripstick Tour 94s are primarily a harder snow ski with a tech-oriented width, but a damp ride, great edge, and big shovel make for a solid all-arounder.
Last weekend, a pow day just outside of Girdwood, Alaska, gave most folks an excuse to pull out the big dawgs, but I stuck with the Ripstick Tour 94s and was pleasantly surprised at the soft snow performance. A few days earlier, I topped out in the dark on a windboard tour in the Chugach Front Range before the storm. The ski handled chunder by headlamp with a grin. I’ve thrown every condition I can find at the ski, and the Ripstick Tour just smiles and keeps on ripping. Their lane is hardpack and light powder, but they’re just fine in deep snow, give great control in variable snow, are easy to hold an edge and turn in challenging terrain, and although corn season isn’t here yet; I think these will be husk masters come spring.
Anyone looking for a mid-weight ski with a killer weight-to-performance ratio will appreciate the Ripstick Tour 94. If any future Bonds take up ski touring, I think they should consider learning from the other side, Elan skis wouldn’t steer them wrong…so long as Bond keeps them on the correct foot.
Dr. Alex Lee lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Alex is a professor at Alaska Pacific University, teaching philosophy and environmental studies. He also works as a sometimes guide, naturalist, writer, and photographer.