Behind the Scenes: Creating the Exclusive Armada TST evoAIR Skis
Cat’s out of the bag. We made a ski with Armada.
Just as Wu-Tang is for the children, this ski is for the people — although selfishly, it’s kind of for us too. From the original inspiration and concept, to design implementation and graphics, the TST evoAir is a true work of art that has brought many people together along the way.
As freeskiing pioneers since 2002, Armada has grown side by side with evo and were the perfect brand to approach for this project. We reached out to their designers to build a modern menace of the mountain. Armada agreed and we started working on a ski that was versatile enough to function as a one-ski-quiver AND that could perform both in and out of bounds (i.e. touring-friendly). You might call that a tall order, but after several conversations with evo employees and multiple layup experiments with Armada’s designers, we landed on this all-new rendition of the beloved TST profile…
Introducing the Armada TST evoAIR.
We sat down with Andy Hytjan, Armada’s Chief Ski Engineer and Hardgoods Development Manager, to discuss the more technical side of how these skis came to fruition:
Hey Andy! Could you provide us with a little background? What is it that you do and how did you end up working for Armada?
“I joined Armada 2 years ago and I handle all the hardgoods product. From new model planning, engineering of the shapes/materials, manufacturing & delivery; I’m involved in every aspect of our hardgoods. Skis. Poles. And skins.”
This isn’t the first ski collaboration Armada’s done, but it is the first collab with a ski shop, right? What spurred this collaboration between Armada and evo?
“This is Armada’s first collab with a ski shop, but this is a very unique collaboration that isn’t just putting a new graphic on another product we make. In creating a ski that represents both Armada and evo we realized we had to be innovative in order to be genuine to either of us. We set-out with one of our most popular skis and refined the guts to a completely new construction that would make the skis even more capable than it’s previous incarnations.”
For those that don’t know, what makes the TST such a popular ski? What makes this collab ski different from the regular TST?
“The TST shape works well because the rockered and tapered shovel engage the rider into the turn in the most natural way. It’s not fighting, biting the rider into the turn and over-steering. Instead, it slides into position with little effort to get you going in the direction you’re aiming, both in soft and hard snow. The camber underfoot and through the tail maintains strong edge hold through the end of the turn. Outside of the shape of the ski we completely refined the materials inside the ski. The woodcore is dramatically lighter using a tropical soft-wood and a totally new fiberglass package wrapping the new core. To keep this new construction from skiing to chattery/nervous we added metal pads underfoot to quiet the ski and give rock-solid hold on the bindings.”
Could you tell us a bit about the design process? Was it more of a reverse-engineering project or did it feel like you were designing from the ground up?
“The engineering project here was more of a reverse-engineering process to utilize existing ski geometry but we wanted to give it an all-new personality. Our final result is a ski that’s very agile but skis as well in cut-up crud as it does in powder.”
Any challenges along the way? We noticed a step in the topsheet where the core does not extend all the way out to the sidewall. Is there a reason for that?
“It’s a completely different process to use a very lightweight core and add pockets for metal that dampen and strengthen the skis. We utilize a 5-axis CNC to pocket the metal pads that live below the bindings which is not our normal process for the TST. It’s a bit more laborious and certainly a more expensive machine is involved, but it really changes the ski and is worth the extra effort. As for the sidewalls, we utilize our AR50 sidewall, that is sidewall throughout ~50% of the ski with the rest being cap. Sidewalls add dampness and stability underfoot, maintaining agility and weight savings in the tip/tail where the ski returns to cap.”
What type of skier would you say the TST evoAIR is targeted towards?
“The TST evoAIR is geared for the skier looking for an all-mountain ski that is super agile and quick, for skiing in all conditions and turn shapes. This ski is different from some that lock you into their turn-shape, the TST evoAIR brings back the nimbleness of a much narrower and shorter ski while giving you the float to ski in nearly any condition.”
While the technical design was underway, we reached out to local artist Kyler Martz to start dialing in the graphics. With a recognizable style featured throughout the greater Seattle area, and a landmark display neighboring our flagship Seattle store, we were excited to work with a local artist like Kyler. Although most of his recent energy has been honed around nautical-themed tattoo-style art, he was eager to take a step into a new medium of ski graphics. As it turned out, Kyler had already been drafting up some line art inspired by backcountry cabins, which he quickly brought to us. It proved to be perfect fit for a lightweight, backcountry-friendly ski, so we worked together to adapt the graphics to a TST ski-shaped canvas (see images below). The stars had aligned, and like that, it was finished. Our shred-tastic brain child for the modern renaissance skier had a face.
Light enough to be a worthy backcountry touring stick, nimble enough to charge frontside mogul fields, and shaped to float effortlessly through the deeps, the all-new TST evoAIR is a true do-it-all weapon. As skiing continues to evolve, so too must our skis, and the Armada TST evoAIR bridges the gap between the groomed and the uncharted. Expect to see a bunch of these bad boys on the feet of evo employees this season, both inbounds and on the skin track.