the skis' secrets


Yesterday mere wood planks, the skis that follow you in your best adventures on snow are now little gems of technology. Let's uncover together the secrets of the skis.

Les deux The two things that will turn a ski into your best ally in the mountain are its structure and its shape. Altogether, they will give to your ski its character and will make you happy on the pistes.


Structure et materials.

The ski structure comprises 4 essential parts:


- the core: this is the heart of your ski, which gives it its soul, its strength and durability. Yesterday exclusively made of wood, today it can be made of composite material. However wood remains often used for the core, with different types : beech will bring strength to your ski, while poplar is used for its absorption capacities, for stomp landings when trying out that new trick...


- the top sheet: that's where the design is, what makes of your ski a unique piece of art...


- the sole: as in a shoe, it's the part that will touch the snow. its role is to make you glide. With good car, it will become your best friend when Spring comes and the snow softens…


- the edges: sharp metal edge on each side of your sole, the edges will make the ski carve into the snow when you turn.


These four parts are designed given a particular shape, the assembled together to create a ski. The materials used to manufacture these different parts will either bring more resilience, or less absorption to your ski, lighten the front or stregthen the back... Every little bit has its say in the final product.


Add a pair of bindings and there you go: the ski is ready to run dowhill at your feet!



Shape and sidecuts dimensions.

You will always find these three parts in the shape of your ski:


- The nose: it's the front part of your ski, the part that will first be in contact with the piste or the powder. More or less wide and curved, it will partly decide which program the ski is made for, all-mountain, freestyle, freeride…


- The waist: this part gives the "hourglass" shape to our modern ski. Positioned underneath your foot, it is essential to the general shape of your ski. The wider the waist, the more floatability in powder snow, but the lesser maneuverability on hard packed snow. The thinner the waist, the better the carving characteristics of your ski. Your preference, your choice…


- The tail or tip: at the back your ski, as for a car, it plays a great role in your ski's behaviour when changing direction. It can make your ski easy and soft, or on the contrary stiffer and stronger. Depending on how you like to ski and your level of experience, you'll prefer one or the other.


The sidecut dimensions are the measurements of each of these parts. Together with the length of your ski, they will give it more carving or freeriding characteristics. In a few words, depending on the shape of your ski, you will be able to better appreciate the terrain on which you like to ride.



The camber

One last thing is important when it comes to how a ski is designed and which, together with the materials and the dimensions, will decide the type of your ski: the camber.


The camber is the arch you ski makes when laid flat on the ground. To see the camber, you'll need to look at your ski's profile.


- It can be classic, in which only the tail and nose of your ski will be in contact with the floor. With a classic camber, once you've initiated a turn, the whole length of the edge will be carving the snow. A real pleasure when you like big turns!


- It can be flat: the whole length of the ski between the nose and the tai lis in contact with the snow. You will enjoy the great floatabilitly this kind of camber brings, as well as the easy turn inititation. However on hard packed snow, you might be surprised by the lack of grip of your ski. Beware.


- It can also be reversed (also called a "banana" camber or shape): only the centre of your ski, a little before and after the waist, will be in contact with the ground. A real gift for powder snow, very easy to maneuver in that kind of snow and with unrivaled floatability, but very difficult to ride on hard snow. A ski reserved for the "big powder days".



The rocker

This word rings a bell but you still can't figure out what it stands for? And you know for sure this is not about a musician with an electric guitar on the design of your ski… You're certainly right!


The rocker is an early rise of the nose or the tail. Basically, when your ski is on the ground, the nose isn't in contact with the snow, the contact point being closer to the waist.


You got it right, the rocker is an extra on your ski, often considered as essential by freeride enthusiasts as allows the ski to stay at the surface of the snow when riding the powder. You will appreciate it as it enhances the shock absorption characteristics of your ski and makes it easier to maneuver by reducing its contact surface with the snow. But what is gain on one side is lost on the other, so your ski will lose some of its grip. So piste or off piste, if your heart is not set, just consider getting two pairs of ski…



The combinations of the sidecut dimensions, the camber, the materials and the addition of a rocker are infinite. So to make it short, just remember this when you want to chose the ski that will suit you best: for the piste, whether you're into speed and carving or you just like to wander around, a thin waist is the key to your happiness. To charge the big powder days, your ski will need a large waist, with the extra front rocker, and an additional flat or reverse camber. And if you rather want to ski like a freestyle champion, go for a twin-tip ski (i.e a ski with a front and a back tip), essential if you want to ride switch and become the king of the snowpark.


Now that you know about everything on the skis secrets, all you have to do is chose your terrain and the ski that will match it, together with your expectations. Ready ? Set… GO!

Rédactrice, blogueuse et passionnée de ski
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