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Skis

Alpine skis generally fall into various categories based on the conditions and purpose:
  • Big Mountain (Freeride) skis: wide under foot and often with a little rocker so that the tips don't dive under the powder. Sure footed in off-piste conditions.
  • Powder skis: single purpose skis which are very wide under foot and with allot of rocker so that the ski floats on the powder and the tips don't dive. The excess rocker often makes them unsuitable for anything other that for deep powder days as they do not have the ability to hold a good edge on packed groomed runs.
  • All Mountain skis: these skis have to be able to perform in-bounds on the groomers, bumps and chutes while still maintaining some floatation in the powder. These typically have little rocker to maintain edge on icy or packed surfaces.
  • Frontside or Giant Slalom (GS) skis: these tend to be stiffer to hold an edge and have less sidecut for gentle large high speed turns.
  • Freestyle or Park skis: designed for the terrain parks. These skis have twin tips so that they ski equally well backwards as they do forwards. They are designed to hold an edge in the pipes and for general in-bounds terrain.
  • Slalom racing skis: these tend to be narrow and have a deeper sidecut for quick turns. These are tuned for racing. All mountain skis have taken over the consumer market in this category.
Other ski categories include Back-country (also known as Randonee or Alpine Touring (AT) skis), Telemark and cross country skis.

Manufacturers Links:

Complete list of links to ski manufacturers.


Ski Features and Designs:

Rocker: The importance of "Rocker" is most noticeable for freeride skis where you might end up skiing backwards or in back country powder. It is physically apparent when you hold the skis together in the middle and the tips and tails are not in contact but bent apart while the ski is flat under your foot.. Rocker is measured with two numbers measured in millimeters, the first is the distance of the tip rise from the ground. The second measurement is the distance from the end of the ski where the rise or rocker begins.

"Tip Rocker" will lead to more floatation in powder but more washed out turns in packed and groomed slopes. Increased rocker will also reduce the length of the ski which is in contact with the snow reducing your edge hold (not a good East Coast ski).

"Tail Rocker" will allow the skis to pivot more easily and spin as there is less hold on the ground. It allows you to perform a landing switch to ski in reverse more easily. One will usually require a longer ski if rockered to get the enough edge control. Add 5 cm to the length to get your rocker ski length.

Camber: This is the opposite of rocker, where the mid section of the ski is raised off of the ground if unloaded. Rocker is sometimes referred to as reverse camber.

Tip Design: Pointed tips (knife tips) are the traditional pointed designs which have been around since the dawn of skiing. This design is versatile.

Wide tips are more common on powder or wide ski designs. These tips tend to influence the carve of the turn as they will actually engage the ground during a turn. The wide tip has become more popular with the "shaped skis".

Flex: Longitudinal flex refers to how much the ski bends along the length from tip to tail. A stiffer ski holds an edge better on an icy surface as it distributes the full weight of the skier along the ski edge but recoils a rider in the moguls making them uncontrollable.
Torsional flex refers to the resistance to longitudinal twisting. This is important in maintaining an edge on an icy surface. Torsional stiffness allows the ski to hold an edge at the tip and tail of the ski.

Dimensions:
  • Side Cut: This is measured in meters and is the radius of the arc of the imaginary circle which matches the side of the ski. A smaller radius equates to a more aggressive sidecut and a tighter/quicker turning ski. A larger radius gives the ski more straight-line high speed stability but it will take more effort to turn.
  • Length: A longer ski will have more floatation but will require more effort to turn. A longer ski will offer more edge and grip in a turn and on packed or icy surfaces. The ski length is typically chosen to match the skier's height in cm. Advanced skiers will add 5 cm while beginners will subtract 5 cm from their height. When ordering rocker skis it is typical for advanced skiers to add 5 to 10 cm to account for the decreased edge effectiveness. Beginners will want to subtract 5 to 10 cm for stiffer and non-rocker skis. Physical strength can add a few inches as well.
  • Width: Width (in mm) is measured at the tip, waist and tail in mm. Wider skis float better in deep powder.

Skis
Photo taken at Doc's Ski Haus


2014/2015 Ski Review:

Author has no affiliation with any ski manufacturer or distributor.

Ski Measurement: [length cm: shovel / mid / tail widths mm Sidecut Radius m]

All purpose/all mountain skis: Skis for the groomers, chutes, trees and moguls.

This year I concentrated on testing all mountain skis which were good for groomers, moguls, off piste, etc. I generally favor a slalom quick turning sidecut over the GS style skis.
  • Salomon Q-90 - tip rocker. Sold as an off-piste ski "FreeSki".
    [177cm:130/89/117mm 17.4m]
    [185cm:130/90/118mm 17.4m]
    Salomon Q-90 185cm
    A good but not Salomon's best (see X-Drive below for a better option).

  • Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS - torsionally stiff carbon X-chassis. Good all mountain ski (groomed, bumps, some powder). Introduced for 2014/2015 season.
    [179cm:130/88/116mm 17.8m] Lengths available: 165, 172, 179, 184
    Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS
    A premium ski. The product line to replace the X-Wing line of which I have been a huge fan. Great all mountain ski.

  • Goode Sorcerer: carbon laminate (expensive)
    [178cm:137/106/122mm ] Lengths available: 170, 178, 186, 194
    Goode Sorcerer: carbon laminate
    Really holds an edge on ice.

  • K2 Annex 98: freeride with a slight rocker
    [177cm:131/98/119mm 21m] Lengths available: 170, 177, 184, 191
    K2 Annex 98
    Wide freeride ski. Good in the bumps but did not hold the edge so well on ice most likely due to the rocker

  • K2 Shreditor 92: freeride with a slight rocker
    [177cm:124/92/118mm 21m] Lengths available: 163, 170, 177, 184
    K2 Shreditor 92
    Good in the bumps but did not hold the edge so well on ice most likely due to the rocker

  • Nordica NRGy 90: tri-wood construction with slight rocker in tip
    [177cm:126/90/110mm 19.5m]
    Nordica NRGy 90
    Good all round but did not hold the edge so well on ice

  • Volkl BMT 94: carbon fiber touring ski. Sold as an AT back country ski. The lightest ski I have ever encountered. Unique and thin construction. Rocker tip.
    [186cm:130/103/120mm 19.5m]
    Not bad at all for all mountain even though it is sold as an AT specialty ski.


2010/2011 Ski Review:

Author has no affiliation with any ski manufacturer or distributor.

Ski Measurement: [length cm: shovel / mid / tail widths mm Sidecut Radius m]

Carving skis: Quick turning carving skis for the chutes, trees and moguls.

  • K2 Charger - no turn or edge in the moguls
    [174cm:122/74/106mm]
  • Rossignol Strato 70Ti: did not hold an edge well. Great for a weak skier as it moves around easily. Effortless turns. Quick turning but not twitchy. Graphic by Troy Lee.
    [170cm:124/70/112mm 13m]
  • Rossignol Avenger82 carbon - light, soft flex
    [177cm:128/82/112mm 18m]

All Mountain Freeride skis: Like the carving ski above but wider for off trail runs.

  • Salomon XWing Tornado Powerline - my favorite again! Great in the moguls, groomers and at high speed. Quick turns. Wide enough for powder days and narrow enough for moguls.
    [173cm:120/79/107mm 16m]
  • Lib Tech NAS (Narrow Ass Snowboard) - This was a surprise. It has a "serrated" edge (about four waves in the edge), is a new ski from a snowboard company and it skied well in the bumps, groomers and at high speed. How did they get it right on the first try?
  • K2 Rictor: Rocker design for improved powder behavior. Not so great in the moguls.
    [180cm:127/89/109mm]

Fat skis: Single purpose, for deep powder and wide for off trail runs.

  • Rossignol S7: High camber and fat. After the first three turns I was adjusted to the ski. Performs well even on a packed groomed run. It's so fat that I had to widen my stance from my regular close stance with my feet together. I did not dare take it in the moguls, they are way too fat for that.
    [188cm:145/115/123mm 18m]

2007/2008 Ski Review:

Author has no affiliation with any ski manufacturer or distributor.

Ski Measurement: [length cm: shovel / mid / tail widths mm Sidecut Radius m]

Carving skis: Quick turning carving skis for the chutes, trees and moguls.

  • Salomon XWing Tornado: quick turning, stable on fast straight. Good in the moguls and chutes.
    This ski is sold with the Salomon Z12 ti binding.
    [173cm:124/74/106mm 10.1m]
  • Nordica Mach 3 Speed Machine: quick turning, twitchy on fast straight.
    [178cm:119/72/104mm 15m]
  • Volkl Supersport All Star: slow to turn, lack turning response.
    [175cm:116/70/101mm]
  • Rossi Zenith Z9: Not yet rated
    [170cm:126/74/105mm 14.8m]
  • K2 Apache Crossfire: Good all round including moguls.
    [174cm:115/68/99mm 16m]
  • K2 Apache Recon: [Tested 174cm:/78mm/] - Not yet rated

All Mountain Freeride skis: Like the carving ski above but wider for off trail runs.

  • Salomon XWing Fury: quick turning, stable on fast straight. Wide but still good in moguls. Although wider and longer than the XWing Tornado (sister carving ski), it manages the moguls and chutes as well. My favorite all mountain ski (I bought a pair)
    This ski is sold with the Salomon Z12 ti binding.
    [180cm:124/87/115 17.7m]
  • K2 Apache Outlaw: Not yet rated
    [174cm:124/88/111mm 19m]

Fat skis: Single purpose, for deep powder and wide for off trail runs.

  • Salomon Guns: wide, great in trees and powder, turns well. Typically an out of bounds, back country ski. Turns fast but NOT good in moguls. Not a carving ski. No edge hold.
    [188cm:130/92/122mm 22.2m]

Tested with an advanced 185 lbs skier on a variety of terrain.

Ski Bindings:

Manufacturers Links:


DIN Settings:

The binding settings are determined by the size, weight and skill of the skier. The following categories specify the skill level:

I - Cautious skiing at lighter release/retention settings. Skiers who designate themselves "I" must accept a narrower margin of retention in order to gain a wider margin of release.

II - Average/moderate skiing at average release/retention settings. Skiers who designate themselves "II" must accept a balanced compromise between release and retention.

III - Aggressive, higher speed skiing at higher release/retention settings. Skiers who designate themselves "III" must accept a narrower margin of release in order to gain a wider margin of retention.

The DIN chart is a guideline and subject to change. To be conservative, choose the next lower weight category or height category to resolve chart conflicts. If over 50 years of age, go one letter lower (one row higher) in the "Skier Code" resulting in a lighter, more releasable setting.

DIN chart

For a chart with torque settings, see: DIN Chart (Marker and Salomon 2007/2008)

For coverage of ski bindings for back country Alpine touring and ski mountaineering, see our Back-country Skiing, Snowboarding, Mountaineering and Alpine Touring equipment web page.


Knee ski bindings.

This ski binding from KneeBinding offers three release modes to reduce risk of ACL injury. The KneeBinding has the traditional toe and heel release but it has an additional lateral heel release detailed in this video. It is this additional release mode which helps avoid ACL injury.

Ski Boots:

Manufacturers Links:

Ski Boots
Photo taken at Doc's Ski Haus


Video demonstration of the Head ski boot width adjustment.


Boot Insoles:
  • Sofsole - air chambers in heel and arch

Boot Accessories:
  • Buckle Master
Buckle Master
This tool is great for those hard to latch boots.


Boot fitters: Note that it is best to get a pair of boots which fit you comfortably as it will affect your personal happiness. I find that trying a variety of manufacturers provides a greater diversity of fit than different models within a single line of boots. If you find that your boots do need adjustment, talented boot technicians are capable of many tweaks. Boot expander

Boot tech

Alpine Ski Poles:

Skier HeightPole height
inchescminchescm
5'3" - 5'5"160 - 16441" - 43"105 - 110
5'5" - 5'7"165 - 16943" - 45"110 - 115
5'7" - 5'9"170 - 17445" - 46"115 - 120
5'9" - 5'11"175 - 17947" - 49"120 - 125
5'11" - 6'1"180 - 18449" - 51"125 - 130
6'1" - 6'3"185 - 18951" - 53"130 - 135
6'3" +190 +53" +135 +

Manufacturers Links:


Black Diamond Poles

Collapsible. Handle designed for self arrest on steep faces.

Black Diamond - arresting poles

Black Diamond "Compactor" collapsible ski poles.


Collapsible ski poles.


Swix poles
Swix poles with the "Add" grip handle helps the hand to pole position even when not gripped. The shape of the handle is helpful in manipulating AT heel step positions while standing (not intentional in the design but noteworthy).


Leki Trigger Poles

These poles click on and release with a thumb press. One can use gloves with the Leki "trigger" attachments or wrap a Leki "trigger" strap around one's glove. This mechanism eliminates fussing with straps. There are two Leki designs:
  1. The "Trigger S" (my preference)
  2. The "Trigger One"

"Trigger S" attachment: This system utilizes a loop fixed to the glove or attachable band which clicks into a slot on the pole. It can be released with a thumb press. Leki poles - Trigger S

Leki glove - Trigger S Leki mitten - Trigger S
Leki race gloves and mittens are available with built-in Trigger S support.
Titanium knuckle protection is included.

Leki poles - Trigger S Pitfalls: If the pole gets wet then very cold, the mechanism can freeze up and be difficult to release.

The "Trigger One" attachment: I was not a fan of this as it was often difficult to align the male clip to the receptacle. The "Trigger S" as shown above is preferred. Release was also more difficult with the "Trigger One".

Leki poles - Trigger One

Leki poles - Trigger One



Quickpoles: ski carrying system

Poles snap into the bindings to create a handle to carry the skis. Quick release trigger to release the pole from the skis. Available in aluminum or carbon fiber.


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