The Future of Skiing: Mike Hattrup

The Global Director for K2’s Adventure category

Apr 15, 2013
Outside Magazine
Mike Hattrup k2 adventure skiing

   Photo: Edge of Never Film

When I think about the future, I think about Shane McConkey. One of the projections he would have given you—which I chuckled at, like I chuckled at camber and reverse side cut when he suggested those—is shocks on skis. Shane McConkie wanted mountain bike-style shocks on skis so that he could land big airs. “I want to jump off a cliff and land it—boom,” said Shane. I thought rocker was niche when Shane came up with it—now you can’t buy a K2 without rocker.

In 25 years, I don’t think skis will look much different. I said that 25 years ago and I was wrong. If I keep saying it, eventually I’ll be right—right?

Materials will be more high-tech, lighter. Climbing skins are going to be gone. You’re going to flick an electrostatic switch that makes your skins stick to snow like your tongue to a chair lift. Air bags are going to be the size of beacons. Beacons will be gone. Airbags will have beacon capability, and airbag tech will be heading towards lifting you off the ground so an avalanche can float under you.

Access lifts are going to be everywhere. They may or may not be part of a ski area. They’ll go to where the snow is.

Climate change will be happening, but like JP Auclair shows in All I Can, you don’t need that much snow to ski, just enough to land on. We may see urban ski parks. Maybe skiing opens up like it did in the '70s—you don’t need a lift ticket. You can ski in your backyard. You can cycle it. Urban ski parks can double as pump tracks or skate parks in summer. That will open up skiing, keeping youth entertained and involved. We could have resorts totally dedicated to that. In the Midwest, skiing already sucks. But it could become the ski park mecca. People are going to be booking trips to the Midwest because they have the most badass ski parks.

Ski boots are due for an overhaul—they haven’t changed in 40 years. Boots will be carbon fiber full custom. The boot will get wrapped around you as you stand in the shop. The tech will keep adding fiber until the boot has the stiffness you want. Bindings will be all but gone they’re so minimalist—maybe magnetic. The DIN will be a magnet. There will be one magnet on the heel you can turn on and off so you can tour.

Layering is going to go away. You’ll put on your outfit and it’ll temperature regulate automatically. It's gonna be heat capturing, one-piece stretch suits. There is going to be so much tech in your helmet it’s going to be sickening. Your goggles and helmet will be like the dashboard of your car. Your beacon, airbag, camera—everything is going to be on your helmet. It’s going to be like a Navy Seal helmet with infrared vision that allows you to see through fog and see your buddies under the snow. It’ll give you insulin levels because everyone will have diabetes. Hopefully it won’t pull your head off. There will be a few lawsuits early on where people’s heads do get pulled off. Blizzard of Aahhh's will still be showing in ski town bars—like a black and white film. The shit people will be doing will be twice as crazy as it is now.

Mike Hattrup is the Global Director for K2’s Adventure category, former mogul specialist for the US Freestyle Ski Team, and an AMGA ski mountaineering guide.