Since the brand’s inception of its wildly popular KORE series in 2017-18, HEAD has remained a significant stalwart in the North American all-mountain market. The KORE’s noticeable feather weight combined with no-compromise chargeability quite literally changed the way skiers perceived lightweight skis. Bucking industry norms, HEAD broke the mold of high-performance all-mountain planks but its KORE series wasn’t actually the first of the brand’s collections to do so.
“The oddest thing about the design of the KORE and what led to the KORE women’s series was that all of the knowledge came from launching the JOY women-specific series,” says Andrew Couperthwait, Alpine Product Manager of HEAD USA. “JOY was originally a very broad category that went all the way up to 110-mm underfoot and those were the first skis that used a real conceptual carbon structure within the ski and it was the first ski that we used graphene in.”
Generally speaking, brands tend to explore new materials and designs in a unisex ski first and once it’s proven successful, then trickles down to women-specific collections. HEAD flipped this notion on its, well, head, and developed the JOY series with different wood structures in the core, a new triaxial woven carbon design and reinforced thinner fiberglass layers with graphene. By learning how to best utilize these materials first in the JOY series, HEAD was able to launch the KORE collection, including the KORE 97 W, with an already deep understanding of its design. The public’s reception could not be ignored.
“The skis immediately took off and were truly unique to the market in that we were making lightweight skis that could charge,” says Couperthwait. “They’re light but they don’t ski like light skis. They still have dampness, they still have stiffness, they still have a very stable feel—that was unlike anything that had been on the market before.”
Unchanged for three seasons, HEAD understands when it has struck gold but the brand also knows there’s always room for improvement. For the 21-22 season, HEAD added a second layer of carbon to make a true carbon sandwich construction and adjusted the chamfer to lighten up the swing weight in both the tip and tail. For 2022-23, the biggest change of the KORE 97 W and the rest of the collection is in the topsheet material. Moving away from a fleece topsheet to a more traditional polyurethane material, HEAD has achieved greater durability with no addition to the ski’s overall weight. In this quest, the brand was surprised to find the topsheet changeup also unintentionally benefited the ski’s personality.
“The skis now hold a better edge and most importantly, in the 97 W, you get an increased responsiveness out of the tail because when you flex a polyurethane topsheet, that material wants to go back to its original form and gives you that responsiveness out of the tail,” explains Couperthwait.
The most hybrid-oriented of the women’s KORE collection, the KORE 97 W allows female rippers to explore all that a resort has to offer but because of its modest weight, it won’t slow you down should you want to head out of the resort’s boundaries for a bit of backcountry exploration. A Jane of all trades, the 2022-23 HEAD KORE 97 W is a dream ski for the ladies who can’t be held back in any sort of way.