Davo Karničar is a world-class extreme skier. The first man ever to ski down Everest and the first to ski down the highest mountains of all seven continents. And he did it all on a pair of Elans …
He first put on a pair of Elans four decades ago, spent his competitive years on them and then almost singlehandedly, persistently urging the management and the development department forward, began the story of Elan tour skis.
There are no champions in extreme mountain skiing. There is not even a universally accepted term for skiing down a slope you climbed up just an hour before. The boundaries between extreme, tour and backcountry skiing, and freeriding are not at all clear. But Davo Karničar’s famous achievements have all been accomplished far from the lifts.
An experienced mountaineer, he descended down his first eight-thousander, Annapurna in Nepal, in 1995. The following year, he skied down Shishapangma in Tibet. He got the most attention in 2000, when he became the first man to successfully ski from the summit of Mount Everest. Which marked the beginning of another never-before-attempted feat: skiing down the highest peaks of all seven continents, the holy grail of ski mountaineering.
After Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Mount Kosciuszko and Mount McKinley, Karničar completed his mission in 2006 on the slopes of the Vinson Massif in Antarctica. He has also skied the northeast slope of the Eiger and the east slope of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Developing skis for Davo
and the market – Hey, is that the same
“The success on Everest boosted Elan’s development of touring skis, and three years later we launched the first collection on the market,” says Karničar. Before that, touring had been considered a sport for people who could not afford taking a ski lift, but the market showed otherwise. Today, touring is on the rise.
Davo has contributed to Elan by urging the company to produce touring skis, and has also played a vital role in their development. “My job is to put the skis to the test in harsher conditions than they’ll actually be used in. For Everest, for example, they needed skis light enough to carry up the highest mountain in the world.”
Since customers’ needs and wishes are not necessarily the same as Davo’s, Elan offers a wide selection of touring and backcountryfocused skis.
“We play around with the width and sidecut a lot. But despite the popularity of supersidecuts and shapes that are good for freeriding and free-touring, touring skis really have to stay just the way they are, as they have to have enough torsional stiffness,” Karničar explains.
Freeriding skis are intended for skiing on a soft surface, whereas tourers can encounter a section of hard snow even on a relatively easy tour and have to be able to keep things under control.
“Personally, I like to have skis with a width of 8 to 10 centimeters underfoot, with an almost nonexistent sidecut and excellent torsional stability. If we can make a light ski that fits that description, that’s the ski for me,” Davo explains. The width prevents his boot from hitting the snow, even if the bindings are attached directly onto the ski. At the same time, the ski is designed according to the latest trends. Even for a regular touring skier who wants to be able to walk on any snow, this type of ski is much more suitable than the standard ski used in touring races, which only measures 6 centimeters underfoot.