This fact has not been lost on K2′s teamriders, either. “Last year only about two of our ten teamriders would ride the bindings,” says Brent Turner, vice president and general manager of K2 Snowboards. “I even offered them an extra $2000 bucks a year to ride them. But with the new boots we’ve got eight out of ten on them.”

The booth was a buzz with Chris Engelsman’s recent win at the 1996 Extreme contests at Crested Butte. “He was wearing these boots right here,” says Luke Edgar, product manager at K2, pointing to a pair of Shimano designed boots.

While most of the talk centered around the binding system, K2′s boards are different for 97. They are build around the need for air. “We’ve still left the board soft between the feet because we like that way that allows riders to get on it and turn the board,” Edgar says. “But we wanted to add a little snap to the jumping abilities of the board.”

To do this K2 added a new secret material under the front inserts going forward and under the back inserts going to the tail. Called the Torsion Fork Suspension, the additions split into the shape of a fork so the power can be transferred to each edge independently.

While Edgar wouldn’t divulge exactly what the material is he says it gives an unbelievable boost for ollies and for air in general while acting to dampen the boards to and give them a smoother ride.

While other companies are going a bit longer and more directional with their boards this year, Edgar says K2 is actually going shorter and sticking with the twin-tip for the most part. “Because of our flex profiles our boards ride a lot longer than boards with a ski profile flex pattern,” he says. “Our boards are stiffer in the nose and tail and softer in the waist which make them float better in powder even for larger riders.”

The only boards in the line to get the directional shape are the Ginsus. Built for freeriders who like to carve, the Ginsus feature an all- new split core technology. “It’s a vertically laminated wood core that’s been split down the middle and had an elastomer layer added between the two,” Edgar says. “It gives the boards a silky, smooth ride.”

With all the work on the boards and Clickers, K2′s conventional bindings are getting the squeeze in the development department. “Everyone in the company rides step-ins so it’s very difficult to get anyone to work on the conventional bindings,” Turner says. “We’re so convinced that this is the future that it’s hard to remember that the rest of the world hasn’t ridden the Clicker so they don’t know how good it is.”

For those wondering if the step-in binding is 1997′s version of the overly hyped “baseless binding” of 1994, Edgar says not to worry. “In three years 80 percent of the bindings sold will be step-ins,” he says. “These are not going away.”