I) Know your equipment: technical specifications of a ski
1) The core
The core is the soul of the ski. It defines most of its skills and gives it its personality. There are two kinds of cores :
The composite core: a core made of injected foam. Featured on entry-level and recreational skis, the composite core brings the flexibility, the forgiveness and the lightweight needed for a smooth progression.
The woodcore : wood is a fine material that has been used forever in the ski industry. It ensures responsiveness, great energy transmissions and durability.
Cores are often reinforced with fibers. It can be fibreglass for its mechanic properties, or it can be basalt or aramid or even titanal, they increase stiffness of shock absorbtion without making the ski heavier.
2) The type of construction
The CAP construction
The core lies in a shell. It is the most inexpensive construction but also the most forgiving, this is why it is widely used for building entry-level skis. It is also quite common on wide skis. The construction softens up the strong cores used to make them.
The sandwich construction
It is the sign of quality. Several layers of materials selected for their mechanical properties are added up. It makes the ski more stable, it gives the ski more edge grip, but it also makes it more demanding.
The mini-cap sandwich construction
The in-between, it is the construction that can satisfy either technical skiers or skiers in progress. The idea is to have a cap construction through the tips which delivers a nice forgiving feel.
The ski excels at carving but also allows for runs at cruising speed.
3) With or without frame?
Skis with frames (or rails) offer a wide adjustment range for ski boots and keep you slightly above the ski which enhances control and manoeuverability. Flat skis, without frames, are more technical and provide a better contact feel with the terrain. Their flexibility is also improved.
4) Camber and rocker
The camber defines the profile of the ski and where it excels.
Traditional camber: energy transmissions from edge to edge are fast and precise. Best suited for skiing on piste or groomed snow, the ski grips hard and gives a nice kick out of turns.
Flat camber: Highly forgiving, the ski pivots effortlessly and delivers a nice edge control on piste. It is quite used on freestyle and backcountry skis offering playfulness.
Reverse camber: Excels on powder snow. It enhances the ski floatation and provides an intuitive pivot. Fat freeride skis often combine this profile with two rockered tips which brings manoeuverability to its best.
Rocker: the rocker was borrowed from snowboard. Designers were inspired by the board’s shapes and added to skis a progressive rise of the tip. It can be slightly raised on all-mountain skis or it can be quite important on fat freeride skis. The rocker has two goals. It enhances turn initiations and manoeuverability on one hand and increases floatation on deep powder on the other hand.
A rocker isn’t specific to the fore (shovel) but can also be used through the tail of the ski. It is called a dual rocker and it is generally featured on freestyle or backcountry skis where playfulness and control are very important.
5) Sidecuts and turning radius
Measurements of the ski are called sidecuts. Each measure gives you the widest/narrowest width in three essential points: tip, waist and tail. Example: A ski having the following sidecuts 121-76-111 features a tip width at 121mm, a waist width at 76mm and a tail width at 111mm.
The higher the difference is between waist and tips, the bigger the sidecuts will be. Sidecuts help define the ski category, its turning radius and how manoeuverable it is : a ski with a short turning radius (between 10 and 14 meters on an adult model) will be very intuitive and agile through short turns. A longer radius (from 18 to 22m) will increase the ski’ statbility but will reduce its agility. Long turns are easier to perform.
The turning radius varies according to the pressure applied on the ski, therefore, the figure given is not an exact value but it gives you an idea.
6) What width for what use ?
- 65 - 75 mm: ski designed for piste-skiing
- 75-85 mm: 70% piste - 30% soft snow
- 85-95 mm: 50% piste - 50% soft snow
- 95-110 mm: 40% piste - 60% soft snow
- + 110 mm: 20% piste - 80% soft snow
II) Glisshop tips:
- Try to assess your ski level
- Get in touch with Glisshop staff to help you find the ski that best suits you
- Don't overlook the maintenance of your ski gear
Now that you’ve got the basics, all that’s left to do is picking your new favourite brand. Black Crows, Amplid, Atomic, Black Diamond,Blizzard, Dynastar, Elan, Fischer, Head, Lib Tech, Movement, Nordica, Rossignol, Roxy, Salomon, Scott, Volkl, Zag, Faction, Armada, Line and K2 should be good starting points!