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Types of Skis and Their uses

Experts in Ski retail, Outside Sports will provide you with the advice you need to help determine the best Ski for you. Whether a complete beginner or expert skier, Outside Sports will ensure you find the perfect ski suited to your skill level and style. With a great range of new season skis to choose from, pop in store and talk to the team at Wanaka or Queenstown.

There are so many Skis on the market it can be hard to know what you need; talk of waist width, rocker, camber, radius and length can leave you slightly confused. Read our short descriptions to help determine what ski will best suit your needs.

Type of skier:

To help determine what ski to buy, firstly it is important to understand what type of Skier you are, beginner to expert:

  • A Beginner skier is a complete first timer and/or still learning the basic steps of skiing-still very new to the sport.
  • An Intermediate skier skis under control and cautiously on more challenging terrain. Skiing in control at a moderate speed.
  • Advanced Intermediate Skiers have spent time on the snow and have mastered the basics; are becoming more comfortable skiing at moderate speeds on advanced trails in optimal snow conditions.
  • Advanced skiers, need not always be aggressive skiers, but are capable of maintaining solid technique on advanced terrain in most snow conditions. Skiing in control at higher speed.
  • Expert skiers, ski in control in all snow conditions. Ski safely at high speeds with a constant strong technique.

Also take in to consideration your gender whether Male, Female or Child skier. Men's skis can also be used as unisex skis however a women will benefit greatly from a female specific Ski as anatomical shape, weight, and stance of a female has been taken into account. There is no difference in Boys' and Girls' skis; with the exception or colour. Children skis are designed to be soft and forgiving to help learn to ski.

Each skiing discipline requires its own type of Ski. By defining the level of skier that you are will help to match the type of ski/skis that will best suit your needs, defining the flex and width of the ski against the type of terrain that you are capable of will dramatically improve your control and stability on the mountain. From Piste ski, Race ski to Powder skis, here is a breakdown of the Ski terminology and types of skis currently available on the Market.

What is Rocker and Camber?

Camber, Tip Rocker and Full Rocker can be confusing terms which are heard amongst the range of skis today. The traditional ski is a cambered ski, which provides rebound; edge control and stability on trail by having a raised centre when the ski is laid un-weighted on the ground.

A cambered ski provides stability and edge grip whilst a rocker tip initiates a quicker turn and floats better in soft snow. Nowadays you will find Tip Rocker profile in almost every Ski. Rocker can be seen as “reverse camber” shape that is lifted off the ground when the ski is lying flat. Rocker makes a ski more manoeuvrable, helps to absorb vibrations and helps floatation in powder. A full rocker ski represents a banana shape when laid on the ground, designed for maximum flotation in deep powder snow.

What is Rocker, Camber Outside Sports NZ

Waist Width

A general rule of thumb is "The deeper the snow, the wider the waist", a wider waist will help the ski to float on the powder, and allow more stability in the crud-ideal for an off-piste skier. A narrow waist ski is quicker and easier to turn edge to edge, ideal for a beginner or an on-Piste/race skier.

Ski Waist Sizes:

  • 85mm: agile ski for groomed trails. Beginner to Expert.
  • 85-95mm: versatile ski mostly on-Piste skiing with some off-piste.
  • 96-110mm: versatile all mountain ski
  • 111+mm: Floatation and stability in deep powder.
  • FIS Legal: race ski complies with the FIS regulations for that year.

Ski Waist size Outside Sports NZ

Types of Skis:

  • Piste Ski/Carving Ski: beginner to expert models. Piste (aka carving) skis have narrow waists, designed for carving on groomed Piste.
  • Alpine Skis: advanced to race level, Alpine skis are fast, precise and perform at their best on hard groomed Piste.
  • Free ride Skis/All Mountain Skis: perform well in most conditions, great for tough varying conditions anywhere on the mountain. Waist width from 85-95mm.
  • All Mountain Wide Skis: go everywhere, do anything. Carve, turn, and seek out powder and power through crud and bumps. Waist width from 95mm-105mm.
  • Telemark Skis: pioneered by Sondre Norheim of Telemark, Norway. The Binding in a Telemark Ski attaches only at the toe with a notable Waist which makes turning much easier.
  • Cross Country Skis: thin and light, with slightly straight Ski Edges. The binding in a Cross-country Ski attaches only at the toe. This type is usually coated with wax, or has a base pattern to decrease friction when doing a forward motion.
  • Race Skis: The Ferrari of the skiing industry. Race Skis are designed for professional ski racers and speed. Race Skis, SL and GS meet the demands of flex, stiffness and responsiveness needed by the racer. Different types of Racing Skis are manufactured to meet specific needs for Downhill, Giant slalom (GS) and Slalom racing (SL).
  • Freestyle Skis: designed for air and to ride park features. With twin tips enabling skiing forwards and backwards. Also in the class is Mogul Skis for quick and responsive Skiing on Mogul field, with tight control and many turns.
  • Powder Skis: have lots of rocker and are over 111mm Waist width for maximum flotation and stability in the deep powder.
  • Alpine Touring Skis: can have a range of waist widths but are designed with equal abilities for going up by either hiking or skinning and skiing down through fresh snow. They usually are extremely lightweight.

Flex

Determine the flex of your ski on your ability level, weight and aggressiveness. Choose a stiffer flex for a heavier and more aggressive skier. A ski that is too soft will lack responsiveness. In comparison choose a softer flex for lightweight and mellow skiers.

  • Very soft: forgiving skis that are easy to learn on for beginners and children.
  • Soft skis: require less energy and technique, easier to control at slow and medium speed for beginner-intermediates.
  • Medium flex: offer variety, being stable at speed and easy to control at slower speed. Ideal for powder skis.
  • Stiff: responsive at high speed. Advanced skiers.
  • Very stiff: aggressive and fast skiing for racing.

Ski Tail Profile

The tail shape of a ski effects how a ski exists its turn:

  • Twin Tip: ski and land backwards. Found in Freestyle and All mountain, twin tips aid a quick exit out of the turn.
  • Flared: common and most versatile. Provides grip at the end of a turn for strong carving.
  • Flat: racing and aggressive skiing. Provides ultimate grip and power until you decide to exit the turn at high speeds.

Turn Radius

The turn radius of a ski is measured in meters and refers to the size of an arc that a ski will make when it is tipped on edge. A ski with a small radius will be easier to make longer turns that a ski with a big radius. The size of the radius becomes tighter with the greater difference between the skis tip and tail measurements:

  • Less than 12 meters: short turning ski.
  • 13-21 meters: medium turning ski.
  • Larger than 22 meters: long turning ski.

Ski Turn Radius Outside Sports NZ

Now that you are knowledgeable on skis it's time for you to shop.

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