Cigar Aficionado

Nordica Girish Skis

In 1996, when professional skier Shane McConkey sketched a pair of fat skis with a rockered sidecut on a beer napkin at a bar in Argentina, everyone thought, well, he may be a little off his own rocker. Or, at the very least, his brew-flow needed to be cut off.

McConkey, though, believed his tips-up invention could revolutionize the way skiers approach skiing powder, and so he filed the sketch away in his cabinet, under a tab called "Cool and Funny Stuff." Years later, as the story goes, McConkey was promoting his sponsor's equipment at a junket for retailers when he decided he would try to convince the industry that a ski designed specifically for powder was marketable. Lacking a prototype, he improvised. He grabbed a piece of wire, ran it around the rivets on the tips of his skis and pulled it tight around the toe piece of his bindings to bow it back. This forced the tips of his skis to turn up, or rocker, as it would come to be known. McConkey then effortlessly floated down the mountain atop the champagne powder and into skiing lore.

Nordica's Girish ski may not be as radical as McConkey's brainchild, but its capability to float over powder and still carve corduroy shows his revolution for powder ski design not only occurred, but also evolved.

The Girish (Sanskrit for "mountain lord") is a big, stiff, free-ride ski, built with a full wood core and two sheets of metal for dampening. Nordica added an early-rise rocker tip profile to this year's model, while preserving the traditional cut, both underfoot and in the tail. This shape improves agility and steering ability so deep-powder turns can be initiated easier and from a more stable position.

The point at which the ski first makes contact with the snow has been moved closer to the boot on this year's Girish model, making the transition from powder to crud to hardpack more manageable. The traditional camber tail will give the skier a bit more speed and also reduce the chance of rocker "squirt out" after landing a big jump.

The lion graphics on the Girish set the tone for this aggressive ski, intended for the intermediate and advanced skier. Nordica has produced two sizes of the Girish, a 185- and 193-centimeter ski. Both sizes are 139 millimeters at the tips, 110 underfoot and 129 on the tail and sell for the suggested price of $999.