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      epoxy: West System
      tipspacer:  none
      inserts:  none
      damping elements:  rubber strips placed above each metal edge

GRAPHICS: Fabric.  Tablecloth fabric, to be exact.

BUILDERS:  Kam K. Leang and Kelvin Wu


DRAWING FILE: None available.  The profile was drawn by hand.  No joke.

After skiing Little Kam's Red Oktobers (a Spatula-type ski where the sidecut and camber are reverse compared to traditional skis) back in mid-March, and loving them, I designed the Doinks with similar features.  I really enjoyed the feel of the Okt's inverse sidecut and how easy they were to maneuver in deep, soft snow.  Because the waist of the ski is the widest section, control is achieved by pressuring the edge directly underfoot.  These skis are really fun and easy to turn.  And the familiar feel of catching an edge typical of traditional skis isn't really there.  How could it be?  There's not much of an affective edge to catch.  Though the Okts are easy to turn, they do lack some control on the hard pack.  The reason for this is on hard pack, as the skis get on edge, there is less edge contact compared to traditional sidecut skis (where the tip and tail are wider than the waist of the ski).  The edge pressure (for inverse-sidecut skis) isn't as evenly distributed when they flex through a turn.  Though it seems that traditional sidecut skis have a clear advantage -- in terms of edge control on hard pack -- I wanted to explore for myself the advantages and disadvantages of the inverse-sidecut design.  Particularly, I wanted to design something for backcountry skiing, where conditions range from waist-deep powder to bullet-proof water ice to breakable crust.  So, the questions to answer are: (1) will they work and (2) what are their limitations?

Little Kam's Red Okts are pretty wide underfoot (145mm) and the degree of "inverseness" is signifcant -- 10mm difference in width from waist-to-tip and 20mm from waist-to-tail.  Though they are fun in the deep and soft, I felt that they were a bit much for all-around backcountry skiing.  I realize there's no such thing as a "do-it-all" ski, but I wanted to experiment with the design of inverse-sidecut skis for the backcountry anyway.  In particular, I am interested in how they will perform in backcountry conditions.  So what I came up with after skiing Little Kam's Okts is the following sketch which shows the basic features I wanted to try:

In the above sketch, I incorporated some modifications to the design of the Red Okts in hopes of achieving more versatility.  Specifically, I wanted more edge control so I gave the inside edge of the ski zero sidecut in hopes of increasing the affective edge.  On the inside edge, the length of the zero sidecut ran about 75% of the length of the inside edge and the location of the zero sidecut was biased toward the tail of the ski.  I felt the bias was necessary to provide some support when weight was transferred to the tail of the ski.  For example, when skiing with a loaded backpack, the center of gravity of a skier shifts slightly backwards, and there's a tendency to ride the tails.  As a result, I felt that the bias would help support the weight of the skier and to keep the tails from sliding out.  Whether this is true or not, I had to find out for myself.  The other reason for going with zero sidecut on the inside edge was to provide some purchase when traversing, especially when ascending and traversing with climbing skins.  Also, I relaxed the degree of inverseness on the outside edge in hopes of making the skis more user friendly on harder, less forgiving conditions.

After sketching out the design, I drew up the profile for the Doinks by hand (no fancy CAD software.  no joke!).  I used the template we made for the Red Okts as a starting point.  Using a yardstick, a pencil, I eye-balled the profile and drew out the shape of the ski.  What I came up with was a ski with the dimenions (tip-wasit-tail): 118-120-110mm.  There's not much of  difference in shape from the tip to the waist.  I wanted a bit more shape between tip-to-waist, but I was limited by the precision of my ability to draw free-hand.  At the tail, I added a notch to secure the skin clip.  Though the notch looks like a swallow tail, it doesn't function like a true swallow tail.  Maybe the next version of this ski I'll add a full-blown swallow tail.

The core is a combination of leftover maple and poplar -- scrap wood if you will.  The core is not of high quality because there were knots in the wood.  I didn't really care too much about the knots because the Doinks were concept skis.  I left out the tip-spacers because it was easier to make.  Likewise, the skis have wood sidewalls.  I left out the binding inserts too.  The orange-patterned graphics was achieved by using colored fabric.  Now that I think about it, the fabric might be tablecloth.  A thin sheet of clear p-tex is used as the topsheet.  P-tex is nice because it comes already abraded to bond to the epoxy, and it is fairly durable and resists chipping.  I'm pretty hard on my skis, especially in the backcountry, so the durability of the P-tex will be much appreciated.

The Doinks came out of the press looking sharp!  I was pretty excited to ski them and below I talk about how they performed.  Read on.

HOW DO THEY RIDE? (Written by Big Kam)

Carter Woollen (foreground) and Allyson Spacek (background) at the top of Fortune Peak.  Mount Stuart, partially covered in clouds, is seen dominating the horizon.

I took the Doinks into the backcountry on three separate occasions, and in summary, they worked great, especially in soft conditions -- imagine smearing a hot knife over a stick of butter.  However, on hard snow they require some attention, which is not a surprise; but, the zero sidecut on the inside edge help to keep the skis under control.  Because of the sidecut design, the Doinks turn like a much shorter ski than they are.  And when they are on edge in sufficiently soft snow, they feel stable, behaving more like their actual length (175 cm) and size.  What I noticed most about these skis compared to the traditional sidecut design is the absence of the tendency to "hook".  The Doinks initiate a turn with ease.  Because the tip and tails are narrower than the waist, they swing around with just the slightest unweighting.  There's definitely less edge control obviously, but what control there is seemed sufficient.  Overall, I enjoyed the skis very much, and I'm going to explore the design further.  Below I discuss in more detail where I skied the Doinks and the snow conditions.

April 23, 2005 -- Mount Rainier, WA
Two-days after I pulled the Doinks out of the press, I took them for a ride.  (Yes, I know you have to wait at least 7-days for the epoxy to cure, but I was excited.  Besides, the Doinks are concept skis.)  For the past three years I have volunteered as an instructor to help teach the Mountaineers' Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Class. The class field trip is held at Mount Rainier, on Saturday and Sunday.  Early Saturday morning we skinned from Paradise to the Alta Vista Ridge, about 600 vf. up, to do our practice.

I used the skins I had for the Ahmas, but they did not cover the Doink's waist (120mm) completely.  Luckily, however, there was enough coverage and I was able to skin, slipping occasionally on steeper terrain.  Skinning on wide skis takes some getting use to, in particular, edging and traversing relatively steep slopes.  The wide waist of the Doinks made me feel a little wobbly and insecure on steeper terrain.

As for the negative camber, I hardly noticed it when I was skinning.  At first I thought the lack of camber would make skinning difficult.  Skis with camber when they are unweighted "spring" up, effectively reducing the chances of them dragging over the snow during skinning.  I didn't notice that the Doinks dragged more than conventional skis.  In fact, the negative camber felt like it helped keep the tips "floating" over the snow as I was skinning.

The snow on Saturday was well saturated with rain.  It rained from time-to-time throughout the day.  There was about 4- to 6-inches of wet granulated snow on top of a firm base.  I call this manky snow.  The snow was grabby, too.  Manky snow is usually a challenge to ski, but the Doinks plowed through it with ease.  I skied about 8-runs on a slope that was around 100 vf.  The Doinks turned very easy in the deep mank and floated like a big beach ball.  At high speed they carved well when the snow was soft.  I ran over a few hard patches and got thrown because I couldn't get much purchase on the tails of the skis.  Either the tails are too soft, or there wasn't sufficient support due to the narrow dimensions of the tails.  The next pair I will make the tail and tip roughly the same width, and not as narrow.  Or I could try to make a ski where the tail is wider than the tip, but still have inverse sidecut.  Hmm, that would be interesting.

April 30, 2005 -- Fortune Peak, WA
It was a rainy Saturday in Seattle, as usual, and I wanted to go skiing, as usual.  The consensus was to head east, near Ingalls Peak, to see if the weather was better.  It's usually drier on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass.  Sure enough, it was.  Allyson, Cinnamon, Carter and I skied Fortune Peak, just to the south of Ingalls Peak.  There wasn't much snow on sun-aspect slopes, so we had to hike a bit in tennis shoes before we could find enough coverage to make it worth while.  While trying to strap the Doinks onto my pack, I realize that they were too wide to fit into the sewn-in ski straps, see:

I finally figured out a way to carry them.

We found great corn on the north/northeast side below Fortune Peak.  I was amazed at how quick the Doinks were at turning.  I can easily make two or three more turns for each turn with my other skis.  I had a great time skiing them in the corn.  Below is a photo of Carter, but he's skiing on his K2s.  I included the photo to show what the terrain and the day was like.  We didn't get any rain.

May 1, 2005 -- Silver Skis Race: Camp Muir to Paradise, Mount Rainier, WA
Lowell Skoog wanted to reenact the start of the classic Silver Skis Race and made a post on Turns-all-year.com to get people together. I thought it would be fun, but it didn't occur to me that I'd use the Doinks until the last minute.  Anyway, the event is basically a backcountry downhill race where contestants start at Camp Muir on Mount Rainier, and ski down as fast as they can to Paradise.  The record time is apparently less than 5-minutes back in the old days.  However, Lowell's plan was to just reenact the race so that he can experience first hand the thrill of skiing fast like hard men of the past, but on modern equipment.  It was not a competitive race. No prizes.  Just a low key event for people who love to ski.

On Sunday morning, a moderately sized group of skiers showed up for the event at Paradise.  I carpooled with Amar Andalkar and we arrived at Paradise at 8:30am, where we immediately ran into Sam Avaiusini and a couple of his friends, as well as Jason and Josh Hummel.  We skinned up to Camp Muir followed by Lowell's group.  The race was to start at 1pm, and about 5-minutes before the start, my right G3 binding cable self destructs.  My jaw drops and hits the snow.  What am I going to do now?  The thought of skiing down with one ski and carrying the other made me nauseous.  I wanted to ski.  Besides, it would have taken hours to ski/hike down.  I asked around to see if the other 18 or so skiers had a spare G3 cable.  Nothing.  Then Adam Clark yells out, "I have some bailing wire."  It was better than nothing, so I did my best and came up with the following:

When the "gun" went off, we all bombed down to Paradise.  My right binding felt weird, but I skied the best I could.  The snow was really nice -- perfect corn and smooth, too.  I was amazed at how well the Doinks handled speed.  They were so easy to turn, but felt relatively stable given the design of the sidecut.  My guess is they performed well because the snow was soft and forgiving.

I managed to ski down to Paradise (4700 vf. drop) in just over 16-minutes, and my binding didn't break.  But it did come close to ejecting me a few times.  Eric Kuharic got the fastest time around 8-minutes.  Lowell and Carl Skoog, and a few others, made it around 10-minutes and under.  I heard the last person came in around 37-minutes.  Below is a photo of the group that day.

L-R: Sam Avaiusini, Kam K. Leang, Jeromy Waddell (back), Tim Petrick (back), Carl Skoog, Doug O'Donnell (back), Bill Frans, Matt Kuharic (back), Jan Kordel, Peter Krystad, Kurt (dad) Hummel, Adam Clark, Josh Hummel, Lowell Skoog (back), Phil Fortier, Dave Zulinke (back), Amar Andalkar, Dave Zike, Jason Hummel.

May 7, 2005 -- Fryingpan Glacier, Mt. Rainier, WA
I took the Doinks for nice tour on the Fryingpan Glacier with a handful of friends (Allyson Spacek, Paul Russell, Monika Johnson, Kelli, and Michael Trommsdorff).  What I discovered about the Doinks is as long as the snow is somewhat forgiving, they work.  I'm experiencing that they don't shine on hard snow, but stuff like soft corn or deep mank (super saturated, wet, granulated snow), for example, is no problem. We skied about 4000 vf., where the upper 500 ft. was tricky suncrust. The Doinks handled the crust okay, but they required a little finesse. I noticed that my friends on regular skis were experiencing some problems on the crust too. Anyway, the crust turned to soft 1-2" of perfect corn on top of a well supportive layer. It was some of the sweetest corn I've skied! The last 1000 ft. or so was somewhat deep (4") saturated, granulated snow, but still fun and the skis were easy to maneuver. Overall, the Doinks handled well, but there is some issue with width. I'll write something up about this later, but basically, on steeper terrain (40+ degrees) where there's a supportive layer of snow that is less than 4" deep, wide skis tend to chatter during the middle, or final arcing phase, of the turn. I think it has something to do with the increase leverage of width at the waist. Anyway, the Doinks were still great. Allyson Spacek shot a photo of me skiing. i'm making some fast turns on the Doinks on the lower portion of the Fryingpan Glacier:

Allyson also made a short movie of me skiing the Doinks.  Click here to download the movie (1.3 MB, *.mwv file)

Overall, I'm happy with the way the Doinks skied.  They definitely have their advantages and disadvantages, just like any other ski out there.  I'm going to continue to play around with the design and try to use them for the backcountry.  I might not go back to skiing regular skis for awhile.


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