Asnes Ingstad BC 2018 Ski Review
Ok, this is something new. Really, something completely different. It’s a totally unique ski. I have never seen a ski with such a complex geometry before. To my knowledge, this is the first-ever skinny ski with seriously rockered tips. The dear folks at Asnes in Norway were kind enough to send me the very first pair of 2018 Ingstads BC for review. It’s great to see that they are still developing new telemark skis and new ideas after 95 years in the ski business. Let’s take a closer look before the snow.
"When they needed new skis, he chopped down a large ash tree in their garden and made the skis himself." -Benedicte Ingstad
It’s a steel edge backcountry ski weighting only 2050g a pair at 195cm. It’s available from 165cm to 205cm in 10cm increments. Sidecut is 84-64-74. Made of Paulownia in Czech Republic, the Ingstad is a “Versatile BC ski intended for long traverses in steep and demanding terrain. Ingstad is equipped with a moderate wax pocket and a Nordic rocker/taper. This makes Ingstad easy to handle in deep snow and demanding terrain.”
What strikes me first every time I buy a pair of Asnes skis is the construction quality. Handling the ski with your hands and twisting it in every direction, you can instantly feel the very high quality of Asnes products. (Hey, they know a thing or two about skis…)
The new 2018 Ingstad BC received a major update from last season’s model. The wonderful guys at Asnes were able to reduce the weight by about 350 grams a pair. This new version will weight 2050g a pair for the 195cm, compared to 2400g for the previous version. While being significantly lighter, the main feature of the new Ingstad is obviously its rockered and tapered tips. Add to this some updated graphics, and a very nice colored "Signature" sintered base just like on the Skog and Nansen models.
A cross-country ski with rocker tips? Really?
Ok, let’s get to the point. Yes, it’s rockered. A rockered, skinny backcountry ski. Whether it’s a Cross-Country ski or not could be debated elsewhere, but let’s see the facts. No one has ever dared to add that much rocker to cross-country skis before. Well, the truth is that it’s not rocker as we know it. It’s called Nordic Rocker. Fischer has coined the term a few years ago, but their version of the Nordic Rocker has nothing to do with Asnes vision of it... (More info about Nordic Rocker right here...)
Holding the skis together, you can see and feel a normal XC ski with traditional camber. Skis touch near the tip where they should. No real signs of rocker yet. But step on the skis or press them against each other and the Nordic Magic kicks in. With some pressure, the tips open up to an amazing 410mm rocker! How cool is that? Take a quick look at the pictures I took below. The first picture is the Fischer S98, released last season with what they call Nordic Rocker. With some pressure, the tips open very slightly, revealing a nice, but shy rocker. The second picture is the new 2018 Ingstad. As you can see, the tips open in a totally different way, like a true rockered BC ski, hidden until you apply pressure on the ski. Look at those raised tips and imagine yourself early in the morning after a storm… Definitely not the trendy (and useless) low-profile tips seen on other modern ‘powder’ skis….
So how does this translate on the snow?
Well, I can’t tell right now, snow is not here yet. But according to Asnes, the new Nordic Rocker will make the skis "Even easier to turn but also more stable when walking”. Really? Rocker tips and more stability? Is that possible? I was skeptical at first, but I have to agree with Asnes here. To understand, we have to keep in mind the nature of this ski: It’s a "versatile, backcountry ski for demanding terrain". It is not a XC ski for groomed tracks.
When kick and gliding, making your way through deep snow, the Nordic Rocker will sure help stability. With light pressure on the front ski, the rocker will keep your tips from sinking, they will tend to stay naturally on top of the snow while providing enough support for effective and straight striding. I’m looking forward to see how the rear, lifted ski will react on the terrain, but I assume the rocker will make the transition even smoother than traditional XC skis in soft snow. The same should apply when climbing and traversing, making the ascent more stable and safer due to the fact that the amount of the snow over the ski should be much lower. Rocker tips always keep you from sinking on the uphill. And on the descent, turn initiation should be way easier than any other ski in this category. A one-ski quiver? I never believed in it, but things could change with the new Ingstad BC.
FLEX and CAMBER
That is where it becomes more complex. Words always fail to describe the general feel of a ski. Technically, I would call the Ingstad a camber-and-a-half ski. The wax pocket can be squeezed completely with moderate force. At 42mm, camber height is still high enough and very springy for decent striding performance. There is plenty of energy storage and pop available in there despite not having a true impossible-to-squash second camber.
Now about the flex, it's just super-cool. It is one of the coolest thing about the Ingstad. I’ll try to post videos later to fully illustrate what I’ve said so far. Ok, so what does super-cool means Johnny? It is very unique, especially with the long rockered / tapered tips. My first impressions reminded me of the Glittertinds, but without the noodly feeling, and with a more uniform flex over the whole ski. Soft tips and tails for better performance on bottomless powder. Soft yes, but just stiff enough to provide overall support over the full length of the ski to support the skier under these conditions. Almost impossible to describe with words, unless you have LilCliffy’s writing skills (which I do not have...) Again, I’ll post pictures and vids later to make it clearer. But honestly, it’s absolutely beautiful to see the different flex points activate one after another… (Tips, taper, rocker, camber)
Wax or skins?
Your choice. But the brand new X-Skin offerings from Asnes/Pomoca really makes you wonder why you should wax. I’ll test 3 different X-Skins in another separate review, but like all the other Asnes skis, the Ingstad has inserts for their integrated skin system.
How long Johnny?
As I mentioned previously, I like my skinnies long. I would have chosen the 205cm, but the folks at Asnes personally recommended the 195cm ones for me. Length is determined based on body length and weight. The table here is intended as an aid and must not be followed slavish. Skills, terrain, weight, backpack and individual needs / habits are factors that influence the choice of length.
General advice: Skiing rough terrain requires shorter skis than open mountain areas. For beginners, it will often be easier with short skis. If the person is lighter than average, the user should consider shorter skis, and vice versa. If you often got heavy load (pulk/sledge), the ski should be a bit longer
A true one-of-a-kind ski
I can’t wait for snow to fully test these beauties. I’m afraid they might become my favorite skis. Just like computers and synthesizers in the 70’s, it’s still too early to see how people will react, and what use they will make of such a new ski. But this is probably the most advanced ski on the planet right now. And probably the most promising (and exciting!) one too. This is truly something new, which could change our perspective on XCd and xcD skis for the years to come. The perfect ski for exploring remote territories, or your own backyard.
A cross-country ski with rocker, who would have thought? Or should I say, who would have dared? Sometimes the most wacky ideas turn out to be the best ones. Sir Helge Marcus Ingstad would be proud to have such a unique ski named after him. After all, the guy gave up on a brilliant and successful career to go explore the world at 27yo. Not exactly the typical urban telemark skier next door and his puffy jacket.
Nothing compares to the new Ingstad BC. Yep, a true one-of-a-kind ski. Dare. Explore. Innovate.
Available now at Sport Albert (worldwide shipping)
Available soon at Neptune and Norseman.
Helge Ingstad was known as Trapper, Polar Hero, Scientist, and as Governor of Greenland and Svalbard. He released several best sellers about wildlife capturing in Canada, Greenland and Svalbard. Through this work he contributed to the creation to the heroic representations of the hunters’ adventures life. Ingstad was also an administrator and a polar researcher with particular interest in the northern areas’ history and ethnography. He researched the cultural circumstances to people in the poles and gained new knowledge about the Norse settlements in America.