PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: Carbon Megawatt ski
Innovation is what drives everything here at Black Diamond. If we're not making gear better, stronger, lighter, faster, more durable and easier to use, then we're not doing our job. In this ongoing series of monthly posts, we'll be giving you an inside look at some of our most innovative products through one-on-one interviews with our team of industry-leading product designers and category directors.
This month we talked with Designer Engineer Pete Gompert about the all-new Carbon Megawatt ski, a crazy-light, backcountry-specific version of our legendary powder ski.
For more info or to pick up a pair for yourself, click here.
How has the Megawatt evolved since the first version came out in 2008?
PG: The Megawatt is the ski that really put BD on the map in terms of freeride and powder performance, and has always been a ski that the whole office is really stoked about. I could probably write a book of all the internal feedback I've received over the years on the original, and we've really tried to incorporate that into the new skis. Everybody loves their Megas, and here in the Wasatch especially it's a really difficult tradeoff to give up the powder performance for a lighter touring setup. So we decided to make the Mega as light as we could to eliminate the need for that compromise in the backcountry. The shape and stiffness profile of the standard Megawatts got a little more aggro and big-mountain focused with the current design, so we opted to stick with the original 2008 shape for the carbon version in order to keep its more user-friendly character.
What are some of the key features of the Carbon Megawatt that distinguish it from the standard Megawatt?
PG: Obviously the weight is key, but the shape is equally important. It's still got the big shovel and easier-skiing nature that better suits backcountry use. The carbon version still charges, but it's a little easier to maneuver when things get tight. From a technical standpoint, the differences are pretty substantial—carbon in the layup and a lighter paulownia core were the primary drivers for the weight savings.
What kind of ski conditions are the Carbon Megawatt ideal for?
PG: Human-powered on the up, deep on the down. Obviously, this ski absolutely rips in deep snow, and the weight makes most excuses about not needing a wide ski in the backcountry obsolete.
For those looking for a lightweight resort setup, how does the Carbon Megawatt ski in-bounds?
What has surprised a lot of testers is how well the Carbon Megawatt handles in less-than-ideal conditions—a lot of our testers think ski performance is on par with the original 2008 model. It will hold a good edge on hardpack, and doesn't have the typical tinny carbon ski feel. The lightweight construction also makes it fairly quick edge-to-edge for such a wide ski. For the backcountry skier who spends an occasional powder day on or around the resort, this would be a great option.
What were some of the unique challenges encountered when designing this ski?
PG: Engineering really gets fun when you're going for the lightest design possible. It's not an option for BD to make something that meets the weight target but doesn't ski well, so maintaining the appropriate balance of performance, weight, strength, and durability is the name of the game. All of that gets a little more intense when you're redesigning something that's so close to peoples' hearts as the Megawatt—I don't want to be the guy that messes up everybody's favorite powder ski, so there's some peer pressure involved in doing everything possible to make sure the lighter version lives up to the reputation of its older brother. We have developed some pretty sophisticated math and analytical tools to predict those things, and I got to put all of those techniques to good use in this ski. See kids, math is fun after all.