Have you ever wondered what is under your foot while skiing, and why it has certain characteristics? Well I have and knowing about skis is very helpful and interesting. I have loved skiing my whole life, but I have always wondered what makes a ski, ski a certain way. For example, a have had skinny skis that can only ski on groomers and can’t do anything in powder. I have also seen the other side, currently I own a wider pair of skis and they can sort of carve on corduroy, but I have taken them in 3 feet of powder and the do fine. So, I was curious why my current ski that are wider and have a different shape skied different then my other ones that are skinny. I was thinking maybe it had to do something with the shape. My current skis have a u shape to them, and I can find it hard to carve in corduroy. My other skis had no u shape to them but carved. I was very curious on how it all worked. What I have found is that skis have either rocker, camber or a mix.
The definition of a rocker is the amount of curvature in the longitudinal contour of a boat or surfboard. Another definition is a curved bar or similar support on which something such as a chair or cradle can rock. If you were to look at a full rocker ski you would see how its curved. It looks like a u, if you can imagine a ski looking like this you would wonder how it would ski. The ski will rip through moguls and deep snow, but once it gets on a groomer it will struggle finding an edge. Since the ski has a u shape, it struggles on corduroy because its tip and tail of the ski is off the ground. The pros of a rocker ski are, “Great flotation for deep powder conditions. Perfect for helicopter skiing and snowcat skiing in perfect, bottomless conditions” (Ski Camber Vs). But the cons of a rocker ski can outweigh the pros if you aren’t just skiing powder. The cons of a full rocker ski are it has troubles carving in corduroy because it has its tip and tail in the air. This makes less contact points and a flimsy ski. People tend to say that because of the shape of the ski, it feels like you’re on rollerblades. You would imagine skiing down a steep hill on roller blades doesn’t sound like fun.
Another type of ski is camber. “Camber is a slight upward curve in the middle of a ski or board, with the contact points – where an unweighted ski or board contacts the snow – close to the ends. Camber requires more precise turn initiation and offers superb precision with plenty of power on groomed terrain and harder snow” (Rocker guide- what). Basically, the pros of camber are for you to be able to carve a turn with stability and a good grip. That is why a lot of racers like camber skis because of its ability to carve and grip on the groomers. Also, a camber ski will have a good stability at high speeds. But the cons are that it wants a firm surface so skiing powder is challenging. You also need very precise movement in the trees and moguls. The camber ski appeals to so many people because we aren’t skiing powder every day and being able to carve on the corduroy is worth the cons. On top of that most park skiers like camber too because they say it has a lot of “pop” in it. Camber skis appeal to the average skier and are more popular but there is a new design that seems to suite everyone.
A design that seems to be the best of both worlds is a mix. They make rocker camber rocker and rocker camber. Basically, rocker camber rocker is a ski with rocker in the tip camber under the foot, and rocker in the tail. “The addition of tail rocker to the tip rocker design means that exiting a turn is going to be easier, too, giving a much smoother feeling through softer snow. Because there’s still camber underfoot, the ski still helps you apply and keep edge pressure throughout the turn; however, because there’s a shorter effective edge than directional rocker and traditional camber, you might feel less glued to the snow when trying to carve or just tip the skis on edge” (Rocker Camber: A). This ski also appeals to park skiers because it has flex I the tip and tail for rails and butters. But camber under the foot for “pop.” The point of this ski is to get control in bumps and decent powder skiing with camber allowing you to carve better. You won’t be the best at each situation, but you will find less problems. A rocker camber ski is just like rocker camber rocker but without rocker in the tail. The purpose of this ski is NOT for park skiers. It has no rocker in the tail, and you can’t ski it as good backwards. Also, it has no flex in the tail, so this ski isn’t for park skiers. It will carve better than the rocker camber rocker ski because of there being more camber. These two types of skis are becoming the most popular and it makes sense getting the best of both worlds. The pros and cons of these skis are being able to do everything fine; they don’t stand out in one spot and lack in another instead they do good in all categories.
Now I know what I’m skiing on, and why my ski isn’t great at one category. I have a rocker camber with a little bit of rocker in the tail. It does everything good. It won’t ski powder great, but it will do it ok. It won’t carve great, but it will carve ok. Now you know what your skiing on and why its shaped a current way to ski different conditions. Maybe one day they will create a ski that can do it all but until then this is all we have. Do you ski? Do you understand what makes your ski perform so well in different situations?