Monday, November 16, 2015

Atomic Redster World Cup Skate

A quiet evolution?

Atomic has quietly made changes to their top-end skate skis in the past year or so.    I say "quietly" because I don't see much of a marketing blitz by Atomic, at least not here in the USA. 

Worldwide, Atomic seems to have focused their marketing toward the World Loppet events more than the World Cup.    That's easy enough to figure out, when big Euro events are drawing thousands of skiers (who have, incidentally, paid for their own skis) and lots of media.     However, to the citizens racers and recreational performance skiers in the USA, that marketing isn't particularly visible.     So for many people here in the states, Atomic isn't quite as visible as a few other brands 

Though Atomic isn't beating the drum loudly around here, I think the changes are noteworthy and I think it's a ski that should be on the radar for a lot of skiers.

First, let's start with the mundane business of the ski's name.    Gone is the "Red Cheetah Featherlight" name, and now the top ski is the Atomic Redster World Cup.

The Redster's construction is different then the Red Cheetah from a few years back.    It seems that Atomic has slowly integrated new design features over a few years, so stepping back to the Red Cheetah of a few years ago, and comparing the Redster to that benchmark is a good perspective.     These days the Redster is a flat-deck cap ski, and no longer has the distinctive deep top sheet trench that has been easily identifiable (the Beta Construction) since the late '90's.

Two grooves for the hard-track ski
One groove for the A2 Universal
The Redster has a Nomex core, which is light, with excellent dimensional stability over time and temperature (as opposed to, say, foam core skis).    The ski has laminate layers of carbon and fibreglass, and also light wood sidewalls under the skin to build a torsionally strong box cross-section.   Wood!   "How novel", you might say, but yes wood is still used extensively in the ski world because it has material properties that are competitive with any of the man made stuff, in controlled conditions.   And all that is hidden under a cap sheet that wraps all the way around to the edges, with new graphics.

Additionally - and a bit unique in the realm of modern skate skis - the Redster has a thin titanium sheet laminated in the mid-section to dampen the ski (attenuate high frequency vibration), strengthen the camber and create a super strong binding interface without too much added weight.

The Redster is still a cap ski with a hard edge that extends about a millimeter.   The result is very good edging in any firm conditions.

Atomic is building the Redster skate ski in three different flavors:

  • The "A2 Universal" is the workhorse.    The A2 Universal is a very broad-spectrum universal camber ski that covers the bulk of our skiing conditions.  It's truly a "quiver of one" ski, handling everyday conditions beautifully, while not being a dog on the soft snow and still maintaining dignity on the hard tracks as well.
  • The "A1 Compact" is a ski for those bullet-proof conditions; if you can get away with roller-ski tips on your poles, that's what I'm calling a hard track.   It has a firmer tip flex and a little lower camber and a bit more contact area under full body weight.   It's got 2 grooves on the bottom to aid the tracking, sort of like a Rossi skater, but these are deeper, wider grooves
  • The "A2 Plus CB" is a white base ski for soft snow and moist conditions.   It has a more flexible tip and tail and the base material is intended for moist and soft ski-to-snow interface.
The top sheets are the same except for the small identifyer.
 I appreciate that Atomic has brought to market a well thought-out group of skate skis that can take care of the spectrum of conditions for the citizens racer.  While the A2 Universal version is really the workhorse here, there are a couple of very specific quiver skis to get the serious skier the right tool for the job.

The top sheets of the 3 versions are basically identical, except for the small identifying label.    But from the bottom side there's no mistaking which ski you've grabbed.   Also the hard-track ski has a slightly squared off tip, which helps you recognize which ski you're pulling out of the ski bag.

Skiing on the Atomic Redster World Cup

Although we're not skiing on the valley floor here in the Methow Valley yet (Nov 16th), I did get a chance to put some time in on the A2 Universal this past spring.    I used the ski in conditions ranging from perfect corduroy, to ice, to slop, and it handled all of it well.     I did not get a chance to ski on soft new cold snow.  I found the Redster to be stable and predictable, with good edge engagement while climbing, and good secure control on a flat ski.    (here's a little video clip that i snagged from YouTube, and it's just blatant advertising, but it looks good to see someone on skis, so here you go...)

The Redster is virtually a straight-sided ski, with only one millimeter of sidecut (44-43-44).   With a well fitted pair, you get good tracking and the skis roll edge-to-edge confidently on a fast open field skate without feeling like they're wandering away from you.

The Redster has definitely evolved a bit more spring underfoot compared with the "cold" ski from a few years back.    The new skis are lively but confidence inspiring.  

Ski fit and binding placement

Picking the appropriate flex will be important for performance, as always.    The Atomic Redster skate skis need to be picked on the firmer side compared to the old Red Cheetah versions, due to a different camber construction.    Typically I'm picking these at about 120% of body weight for closure.

If you're using Pilot bindings, care is needed with binding placement (typically 1-1.5cm behind balance point).    Or you can put screwed-down NIS plates on them and have some fore/aft adjustability. 

The skis in this fall's selection have been really well matched, and the bases are flat and clean.    As usual, the Atomic skis are the easiest skis to tune - the bases stay flat and are easy to work on.
Atomic Redster World Cup Skate
to get some.

Bring on the snow!

As they say, "just add water" - but in this case make it fall from the sky white and deep.   Ski season is upon us, and I think everyone is ready to be on snow.   

Atomic has improved their skate ski line-up with the Redster World Cup skis.    The evolution of their skate skis has been measured and incremental, but has seen a series of improvements over the past few years.   The Redster is really a great skate ski and is worth considering if you're looking for a new pair of skaters.

Want some?

If you'd like to get some of the Atomic skate skis, or have any questions, just send an email  (xcGrind at NordicUltratune dot com).

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