Like all World Cup stars, Bode had his pick of skis. But as he was culling the fleet in the lead-up to the 2003/2004 season, he stumbled upon two pairs of GS skis that just felt fast.
Because the forebody of the ski was more compliant, it was easier for Bode to throw them across the hill before the gate. But where edging matters most—from just in front of the bindings through the tail—the skis felt “stacked” in Bode-speak. Meaning the torsional rigidity was properly tuned. When it was time to rail, Bode could hook up without scrubbing speed. On flatter sections, thanks again to that compliant shovel, he could maintain a tuck while turning, whereas his competitors had to stand up to muscle out arcs—catching wind in the chest.
In a deep field, Bode won the ’03/’04 World Cup GS Title—the Crystal Globe. “I wasn’t the fastest GS skier in the world,” he says. “I just had faster shit than anyone else and I knew it.”
What Bode didn’t understand, though, was what exactly made those skis so damn fast. But for the rest of his career, Bode designed GS skis to try to match that winning flex.
Sure, you might say, Bode is a one-in-a-million athlete, and it’s true, he can drive a golf ball dead straight 280 yards—with his weak hand. But we have ski racing’s equivalent of a double-blind study to look at, too. Years after Bode switched companies, a fellow racer saw those winning skis gathering dust in a European race room. The edges had been tuned away to the thickness of wire. “Grab them,” said Bode. “Those are the fastest skis I’ve ever had.”
On his first GS race with the worn boards, Bode’s pal—who’d never cracked the top 10 in GS—set the day’s fastest time. But he pulled an edge in the process. The metal was so thin it just snapped. Between runs, he tucked the edge back in, swapped his left ski for his right and won his first World Cup GS. At the next GS, the story was the same. It was another win, but both sets of skis were trashed. He never podiumed in another GS.
Years later, Bode got those skis back and, Bode being Bode, cut them open to investigate. That’s when he saw that a ski builder back in Europe had cut away a small patch in the top layer of alloy just upstream of the bindings as a makeshift fix to glue two finicky damping plates to the ski. The cutaway created a subtle inflection point in the ski’s longitudinal flex allowing for that easy turn initiation and smearing up front, but it also unlocked the ski’s torsional power where it mattered most, from the cutaway back, where most of our edging happens.
Based on years of Bode's subsequent tinkering, Peak’s proprietary KeyHole Technology™ is an oval cutaway in the upper layer of alloy of every Peak by Bode Miller ski. Like the best innovations, it's simple. But the benefits are wide-ranging: On-trail, it’s easier to vary turn shapes because of that forgiving forebody. Off-trail, because the KeyHole™ allows us to reduce the sidecut of our wider skis, they track better in soft, crusted, and unconsolidated backcountry snow. What's more, no matter where you ski or at what speeds, the KeyHole™ supersizes each ski's sweet spot (balance point) at every length. They’ll feel at home on your feet.
As soon as you arc or smear a mellow turn, the difference becomes clear in a hurry. But you won’t understand the KeyHole’s full potential until you push the ski to your limits. It’s then that the KeyHole™ unlocks that “stacked” torsional rigidity that Bode felt all those years ago. We call this “accessible power.” The skis know how hard you’re charging and, like a sophisticated mountain bike suspension, respond accordingly.
On the hill, Peak skis equipped with KeyHole Technology™ are loose and smearable when you’re backing off the gas or slashing turns in the trees, but when it’s time to achieve high-edge angles, push into big sweeping arcs, or flat-out ski like you’ve got places to be, there’s enough oomph there to push back. That’s why we say KeyHole Technology™ looks a lot like the future of ski design.