Editors’s Note: This interview was taken right after 1-2-3 Atomic sweep in Birds of Prey downhill. Herr Huber was in a hurry, but was very kind to stop by for a quick interview.
Q: Obviously, you’re very pleased with the [today’s] result, because last time Bode didn’t finish here and even destroyed one of his fastest skis… This year, excellent result for Bode and Daron. Is there anything specific that Atomic has brought for Bode and Daron, so they were able to achieve such impressive results?
RH: NO, we have still the same equipment that the year before, in downhill and SuperG… But especially for Bode, when he tested our equipment in the springtime, he found out that our equipment, especially Beta technology in GS and slalom, fits much better to his style… And, also the boots, especially Daron, changing the boots from last year[‘s manufacturer] to this season. It’s more important for the future, to have the whole package… And the combination works well for both.
Q: Regarding the Beta technology… Sharp-eyed observers may notice slight differences between consumer race skis which have very pronounced Beta lobes and the race skis, in which Beta lobes are not that big…
RH: The racers have a lot of power… They have much more power on the physical side, they have much more speed, and more pressure in the turn…So they do not need so much support from the ski… For normal consumer, this support [from Beta lobes] is good, because it helps them to edge and to carve, [speaking of] Bode, he uses normal Beta profiles in GS and in slalom.
Q: So what are you saying, the Beta channels present in consumer skis are present in racing skis as well?
RH: Yes, we are one of the only companies that are doing the production the same…in commercial and racing skis, we don’t have only racing production, we are doing [all skis] in the same production line.
Q: So, you don’t use laminated [sandwich] construction, like everybody else does?
RH: We do it.. In downhill and in the SuperG we use it [laminate], but we also have Beta construction there… It depends on the race, it depends on the situation.
Q: What about the boots? The boots literally took the World Cup by storm… What is your secret? How did you manage to develop brand-new boot to such a world-class caliber?
RH: We have a fantastic team working with us… Service team, R&D team… We did a lot of testing with the WorldCup racers, like Kalle Palander, Daron Rahlves, on and on…And together with our top races, our top R&D team, our service team we developed [the boots]… Especially myself… we took a lot of time in boot developing.
Q: Bode commented last year that he put a lot of effort into development of skis for Rossignol. Are you going to use him as a development tool?
RH: Of course, of course… All racers are out development tools…And we get feedback from all the different racers… and we collect the feedback, it is also my job to collect the feedback, get together with the reps and bring the feedback to the company, and then, we will develop the product.
Q: What about bindings? Along with new boots you are also releasing new bindings, based on NEOX technology for consumers… Are there chances that we will see NEOX technology coming down into the racing?
RH: Yeah, there are some plans, but in racing there is a very high emphasis on security, on safety, on strength… And therefore we develop the product very well before we will come up to the World Cup with new technology… Maybe we will come up [with NEOX] for the women in the next year, but for the men, we need to be very careful, because it is a safety issue.
Q: With women, a new blue-white-black skis and boots have made an apperance, they weren’t in the catalogs [actually, ski graphics are very similar to “Demo” line, introduced specifically for Japanese market]. Is this a result of new development, or it is just a fashion statement?
RH: It is a fashion statement, and we do develop special skis for women.. They are softer skis, more flexible, little bit easier to turn… and it works…
Q: A lot of [high end] consumers are trying to obtain so-called “race-room” or “race stock” skis… Are there any benefits for the high-end consumers to own those skis?
RH: Of course, of course… Racing is the development section and all the important stuff goes directly into the consumer skis, so the consumers benefit directly and indirectly from the racing development program…