My dad is a good skier. He loves skiing, has all his life, and in those 120-odd years of skiing, the tools of the trade have changed quite a bit.
I remember learning how to ski, and it sucked. I started on bulletproof ice in Norway of all places, did a few years in the alps, and then discovered snowboarding and that I was a lot happier on one piece of wood between my feet.
Fast forward 20 years, and the completely straight toothpicks that I learned to ski on have gone the way of the laser disc, replaced with much more forgiving and fun, shaped skis. The rise in the popularity of skiing has pushed ski technology and innovation to where it is today. As a first time buyer of a pair of skis, walking into a ski shop can seem bewildering and expensive. Actually that second part never changes… it’s always going to seem expensive, because it is, it’s a wicked expensive sport. Anyway, here is a simple rundown of what is going on in the world of skis today.
Skis can be broken down into four main categories, race, on piste, all-mountain, and powder. Ski categories can get a lot more in-depth and application specific, but for now, let’s keep is simple.
Race Skis are designed to do just that. Race on hardpacked, groomed terrain and do it as quickly as possible. Race skis are going to be the longest ski in your quiver. They are also going to have less shape to them than a lot of other types of skis and will likely feature a square rear tip. Race skis are not what you want to be starting off on. They’re less forgiving than many other types of skis due to less shape through the middle and generally being longer. Check out Volkl’s awesome Racetiger line of skis. The Racetiger line is a little wider than a lot of other race skis, leading to a smoother, more forgiving ski at high speeds.
On Piest skis are designed for all levels of skiers, from beginner to expert, and are built to work well on smooth groomed terrain through to light powder and harder ice. They are wider at the front and back of the ski and will often feature a rounded square tail. This shape allows the ski to turn easily and hold the edge through a turn. The Natural Instinct from Head combines a 20% rocker, that’s the curve at the tips of the skis and 80% camber, that’s the curve through the middle of the ski. Here’s a good explanation of camber and rocker. Basically the combination of 20% 80% means that the ski will perform well in a variety of snow conditions and turn easily.
All-mountain skis are designed to be workhorses for good-intermediate through expert skiers. If you are going to be shredding groomers, ducking under the ropes for some out of bounds powder, and then hitting the terrain park for a couple laps all in the same day then these are the skis for you. Designed to be a one-ski quiver All Mountain skis are twin tipped, and are generally a wider ski. We recommend the Enforcer from Nordica. It’s 100mm wide to give you some lift in deeper snow, but has a low rocker profile to maintain full contact in icy conditions.
Powder skis are for those days when you’re going to be floating down fresh, amazing, wonderful, nothing better on the planet powder. They’re big, they’re bulky, they’re probably going to be pretty straight from tip to tail. It’s their width which allows them to float up and over deep powder and give you that cushy floating feeling that’s hard to describe if you’ve never experienced it before… we imagine it’s what it’s like to be on heroin, although we’re not sure. We do know it’s addictive though. Realistically, powder skis are restricted to very good intermediates, through expert skiers. They’re going to be round at tip and tail and will kind of look like water skis. The Friend by J Skis is a bit more of a forgiving option by powder ski standards. It features a little bit more shape to it, which gives it less of a ornery beast feel when not in deep powder. They also are limited to 100 units per design, so you know you’re riding what a good friend should be; special.
We know that’s a lot of information. Why can’t I just walk into a ski store and tell a sales person what I want, and have them give me something that is perfect for me? Well the thing is, ski stores can be hit and miss, and even the best employee is guessing at what might work for you, from what they have skied and what they have in stock. There is another option though, you can custom order skis. This used to be a very time consuming and expensive process, enter Parlor Skis. Parlor Skis have developed a simple four-step system to allow any level of skier to get custom skis made. All you have to do is answer a series of online questions that measure your height and weight, skiing ability, and the terrain you typically ski on and the terrain they want to ski on, and presto they build you a 100% custom, just for you ski.
While we haven’t had customs skis made, everything that Parlor stands for makes sense. Be sure to check them out if you’re in the market for a new pair of skis.
And if you’re anywhere near Japan this ski season check out how you can get free ski passes at 22 awesome resorts.
And as always, please take a minute to check out our website if you so desire: GogorillaSafe.com