Shane McConkey and the Rocker Revolution
When Shane McConkey joined the K2 team, he would forever change the shape of skiing – literally. Shane McConkey got skies with frickin’ eye-bolts in them and screwing the camber out of the ski. McConkey states: “You’re not going to believe how great they are. They just make the ski easier in powder. – It’s easier to initiate a turn.” And this is how rocker first came about: K2 global marketing director Jeff Mechura on a heli trip with Shane remembers Shane carrying this pair of skis called the Apache Chief. They were 98 mm underfoot, the widest ski at the time. Shane just said: “Mechura, come check this out!” Jeff Mechura walked up and he had completely decambered the ski and put his own rocker on it by attaching a cable to the binding, to the toe piece, then tensioning up through the tip through kind of a tip-protector which was up there, and then just tightening the ski until it was bent to his standard. And this thing, you could flick it like ‘Ding’! It was like a banjo string. Mechura said: “Dude, is that going to hold?” Shane was like, “I dunno, but we’re going for it.” He came back and I think he said something like: “It lasted two runs, but it works – we gotta try it.”
And sure enough, K2 supported Shane’s vision of developing a number of prototypes that were tested in Verbier (CH). On the testing day there was new snow, providing the perfect testing conditions, theoretically, for this technology, because initially it was a powder technology. After a successful testing day on the prototypes, K2 was all in. The skies were easier to center, easier to ski in all soft-snow conditions. It is a tool for beginner-to-advanced powder skiers, which has really changed the game for powder skis. From that first pair of Pontoons came a whole line of rocker skis. “Rocker really changed the backcountry game”, team skier Pep Fujas says. “I started landing switch a lot with the Seth Morrison pro model, but once the Hellbent came into play, I was just so much more stoked to get after it in the backcountry, land those switch landings, get creative. That definitely helped spur the movement and the transition to backcountry freestyle.” From an athlete’s off-the-wall idea to a full-blown technological revolution – K2 took a chance on rocker!