Things are coming to a close for the ski season of 2017-18 in the northern hemisphere, with only a hand full of ski resorts still open and ski touring taking place here and there across the mountains. For many owners of skis, snowboards and rental shops it is time to coat the bases of the skis with wax to stop them from drying out over the summer months. However, we may be seeing the next big step in the evolution of ski maintenance. Since the 1850s skiers have been waxing their skis to get the best out of them. In the 1980s toxic elements were introduced into the world of waxes to achieve better gliding and speed at all temperatures; being applied to skis and snowboards regularly to keep the the performance and stop the bases from drying out. Enter DPS Skis, the ski company situated at the base of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City. DPS have a history of innovation from creating the world’s first and only Pure prepreg carbon fiber sandwich ski, the first 120mm powder pintail, transferred the word “rocker” from surfing to skiing, then built the first rockered ski with sidecut and unleashed ‘Spoon and Spoon Technology’. Now DPS are once again bringing a groundbreaking product to the world of snow-sports with Phantom. Phantom is a one time application permanent base coating therefore eliminating the need for ski/snowboard wax. Once applied the Polymer technology lasts until the end of the life of the skis/snowboard, providing day after day of gliding at all temperatures and can take as many base stone grindings as one likes because it penetrates the entire thickness of the base. The biggest plus is that Phantom is made from inert chemicals meaning that unlike traditional waxes it will not damage the environment or the the technicians waxing the skis/snowboards.
DPS created a development relationship with a group of leading material scientists to come up with Phantom. With over 40 different compounds and extensive testing from the lab to the mountains of Utah, Chile and New Zealand the team eventually arrived at the product that is Phantom. The patent-pending polymer technology requires UV light and temperatures above 0°C / 32°F to make the chemical ‘cure’. So altogether I needed 2x 3 hour (Minimum 2 hour) windows of sun and above freezing temperatures. Now I live in the UK, and as most of the world know we like our rain and cloud here, so I spent two weeks watching the forecasts. Forecasts of late have been particularly unpredictable, something to do with global warming perhaps? So just when I was ready to apply the Phantom the weather would change to heavy cloud or freezing temperatures coming in from Siberia; so depending on where you live you may have to be prepared to wait it out unless you have a sun bed that you can put to good use; perhaps get in with your skis or snowboard for a tan as well, nothing like ‘two birds, one stone’.
Once the moon, sun and stars aligned and the rare event of the UK sun showing itself for most of the day I was able to go to work. I had already stripped and cleaned my skis of any previous wax so that the Ptex base was ready to receive the Phantom. The application process was super easy and very satisfying to be honest. First up, was Part A which went on smoothly with the consistency of olive oil. I went to work employing some elbow grease, increasing the pressure, eventually using a swirling motion to work the product into the bases. It was now time to sit in the sun for three hours… the skis not me sadly. After baking in the sun, the bases felt a little tacky and sticky which was a sign that they were ready. Now more elbow grease was required with a good corking… in other words I used the cork as supplied, to rub the product in further. Now it was time for Part B to be applied in exactly the same manner, so in true ‘Dejavu’ style I went about the same process as before with Part B ending with the skis lying in the sun for another 3 hours. I then finished off with the cork and finally some aggressive brushing with the nylon brush to clean out the base texture to release the optimum glide. Simple as that and very satisfying.
Phantom has been tested in different snow climates around the globe and backed by extensive lab data, and it was noted to provide faster than ‘all temperatures’ waxes in warm snow and similar speeds in cold snow temperatures. However, it was now time for me to put Phantom to the test in the Arlberg region of Austria. Lucky for me the week ahead was to provide pretty much every type of snow condition that I could ski on. The first day delivered strong winds, a complete white out with fresh powder on piste; my all mountain skis cut beautifully through these conditions, every turn was joyous to behold. Further down the mountain were ice and bumps; my skis delivered as a good ski should, riding through the bumps and the edges cutting into the ice. The following the day the sun appeared and the mountain took on a whole different perspective. Skiing along through well groomed snow on my all mountain skis next to my brother on his piste race skis, there was very little difference in our speed; the only time it may have been noticeable was on a straight schuss where one had to build up speed to climb a small hill, but this may have been more to do with the different type of skis. The snow on the lower pistes started to transform into very heavy slush, where it was sticky in places. I found the skis with Phantom would glide very easily through this slush and at times were faster that most skiers around, so the Phantom certainly seems to excel at heavy slush.
As the week continued the bases did not change colour from their rich dark freshly waxed look, nor did the skis slow down or lose their efficiency in the variety of snow conditions. I do believe that DPS have made a gargantuan breakthrough, not only to the servicing of ski and snowboard equipment, but to the environmental impact of snowsports. Anyone who enjoys snow sports can see that our winter and spring seasons are changing, there is less and less consistency in the temperatures and snow falls; in Europe the snow and cold temperatures seem to be arriving later and later. Are we causing this change? Whether we are to blame for the climate change or not, is it not better to be safer than sorry and make the changes that could not only help the environment on a global scale but also on a local level, by preventing the poisons that leach into the rivers and soil indefinitely affecting the flora, fauna and the people that use the water. Also, the silent heroes who keep our skis moving over the snow, these technicians who have waxed our skis for decades will no longer be breathing in the toxic fumes of the traditional waxes. It is a shame that the ski industry did not evolve sooner, but I am glad that a company like DPS spent the time and money researching the problem and created Phantom. If one wants to keep skiing into the 21st century, and our descents into the 22nd, 23rd etc then there are many changes that one can make to improve your footprint on the planet and Phantom is certainly one of those easy changes. Tell every skier, snowboarder, telemarker and mono-skier you meet and tell every rental store you visit and plank by plank we can make a change to the future of snowsports.
For more information on Phantom by DPS see online.