Legendary skier Dean Cummings has racked up hundreds of first descents, won a World Extreme Skiing championship and runs a heli skiing operation in Alaska. So what’s his next challenge? Entering the increasingly crowded boutique-ski market with his own line of skis, H20 Gear ATG (for “access the goods”).
“It’s a powder ski that carves,” Cummings recently said, fresh off a trip to Stratton and Stowe, where he staged demos of his product. “A ski should be able to work in all conditions. Eighty percent of the time when you’re skiing powder, you’ll still hit a hard patch.”
After years of working with major ski manufacturers, only to see some of the best design ideas get watered down for mass production, Cummings was motivated to launch his own line. About six years ago, he started sketching out the various shapes and designs that culminated in the three ATG models currently available.
As you might expect from someone who splits his time between Valdez and Snowbird, these aren’t wimpy skis. Cummings’s signature model has a 165-millimeter tip, 149-millimeter tail, and a hefty waist of 133 millimeters. The narrowest model measures 137 at the tip, 124 at the tail, and 108 underfoot. Yet Cummings didn’t design them solely for epic Alaskan descents. “I wanted to build a really practical ski that’s versatile,” he said. “My target audience is the all-mountain skier who doesn’t want to have to buy four pairs of skis.”
In fact, the skis were inspired not so much by big mountain athletes as World Cup racers. “A gold-medal winning ski instantly goes on edge,” Cummings said. “They don’t chatter and flop around. It has a whole lot to do with dampness and with the ski returning to neutral before the next turn. That’s what I took into the new ski.”
Cummings is also a fan of reverse camber (a.k.a. rocker) and sidecut, because of their performance in powder. “You can ski with more speed, slow down more quickly and slide longer in turns without hooking up an edge,” Cummings said. But, he acknowledged, reverse camber also makes a ski floppy.
So Cummings set out to create a stable ski that would carve in hard snow and still slide in powder. He calls the result a hybrid: reverse camber and reverse sidecut at the tip and tail, traditional camber and sidecut at the waist.
The skis carve, he said, in part because the turn radius is based on the full length of the ski, eliminating any dead spots. Plus, the regular camber and sidecut underfoot, combined with a full-length ash core, lets the ski absorb energy and regain a neutral position between turns, just like the race skis he wanted to emulate.
In addition to all of the technology and thought that went into the new ATGs, they also look pretty sweet with some killer top sheet graphics.
Only 360 of the skis ($899) were produced this year, available through a few select dealers. Check out H2ooutdoorgear.com for more information.