Ski Technology simplified
Ski choice made easy.
With 14 seasons ski teaching experience, sales team for Snow & Rock for 6 years & 3 ski tests with S.C.G.B Ski & Board magazine I hope to bring you some simplistic clarity to the technology & terminology currently used in the ski manufacturers market to date.
Rocker? Twin tip? Camber? Sidecut? Length? Width?
The latest buzzword has been around since 2006 with the launch of the K2 Pontoon (Volant spatula was testing the water earlier than that)
It is ever more popular as ski manufacturers try add to it original technologies to create versatile ‘All-Mountain’ skis.
In simple terms it means the ski has extra curl to cause it to sit above the snow, gone are the days of leaning back in the off-piste folks! Contrary to popular belief it does not affect the performance of the skis on piste if the ski still has a traditional camber (see below).
‘Nose Rocker’ – Curled up more than normal at the front
‘Tail Rocker’ – Curled up more than normal at the tail (not the same as a twin tip)
‘All Terrain Rocker’ – Curled up more than normal at the front & a little bit at the back.
‘Piste Rocker’ a barely noticeable amount of extra curl at the front, so it’s a piste ski that can help you start to experiment in the easiest of off-piste.
Twin tip –
Simply means the skis are curled up (the same amount) at the tip & the tail, for the purpose of skiing & landing tricks backwards, not to be confused with tail rocker (above)
Camber/Reverse camber –
Camber as you know it is still in a lot of skis on the market, you put your skis together at the bases & the tip & tail touch lightly & the centre does not.
‘Traditional camber’ (positive camber) Skis as they used to be before the wonderful world of rocker arrived!
‘Reverse camber’ (aka ‘Full Rocker’) – put the skis together the bases under the bindings touch & the tip & tail do not. Insane amounts can be found in skis like the Salomon rocker 122. Amazing in the deepest powder, somewhat challenging elsewhere.
‘No Camber’ (flat)– put the skis together & they are flat & touch completely under the base. Usually found combined with some nose rocker. Ideal for big backcountry skiing where you don’t want the ‘twitchy-ness’ of full rocker
Many rockered skis on the market also have traditional camber thus making them still very good on piste & super user friendly for learning off-piste & powder (best of both worlds).
‘Traditional sidecut’ the tip & tail are wider than the centre (always measured in mm), hence when you tip the ski on its edges it will carve or grip. Still found in the majority of the skis on the market for obvious reasons. Helpfully many manufacturers call their ski after the centre measurement. e.g. Salomon Rocker & Rockette ‘90’ (90mm in the waist).
‘Reverse side cut’ the tip & tail are narrower than the centre. Found in very few skis, solely for off piste to prevent the tip or tail catching or engaging, very bizarre to ski on the piste. However many ‘Rockered’ skis are now a fraction narrower on the rockered part again to prevent unwanted tip catch.
‘Sidecut radius’ is the radius of the circle from the centre of a ski, it is not the size turns the ski will do, nor a measurement from the entire length of the ski (as that circle would not meet at either end!)
Put simply, a slalom or piste specific ski will have a smaller side cut radius, an off piste or giant slalom a longer one & various radii are found in off-piste & all mountain skis due to the other technologies explained in this blog.
Don’t be afraid by a ski with a longer side cut radius if you want to do shorter turns use rotation!
This is one of the few aspects that hasn’t really changed. As a simple rule if you are a slalom skier a nervous, or lightweight piste skier take skis that are level with your chin.
If you are giant slalom training or looking to go bigger, harder, faster in the off-piste then take skis head height & above.
If you are after an all-mountain, 1 ski does all ski then, nose eye-line is still the ideal.
The ‘New’ exception to the rule here is ‘Rocker’ remember that the rocker is not in contact with the snow, thus you would take these skis a little longer as they will ski as easy as a short ski on-piste (if they have some traditional camber) & the extra length will bring stability & confidence off-piste.
Again the rules here remain similar to those of yesteryear, however skis are now considerably wider across the entire market range.
As a general guideline: –
<70mm under foot = piste performance & Race
<>70 & 85mm = Entry level All terrain ski with a piste emphasis
<> 85 & 100mm = All mountain 50/50 ski, it will still carve & will be great fun to learn & enjoy off-piste skiing
>100mm = off piste machine.
(All that being said there are some fantastic skis out there a little over 100mm that are surprisingly good on piste e.g. Salomon Rocker 108)
Words by Snoworks GAP director, instructor & BASI trainer Lee Townend.
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