Types of skis:

carving skis

Carving Skis:
These skis are designed to excel on groomed runs. They are easy to turn because of the exaggerated shape of the tips and tails. They have wide tips and tails with a narrow section where the boot and binding are located. This allows the skier to rely on the skis to do most of the work for them. Proper turning technique is easily learned on these skis, so you can ski faster and maintain greater control. The Carving skis are the stepping stones to off trail skiing, although many skiers love the carving sensation and prefer to stick exclusively to the groomed runs.

All Mountain skis:
If you need a ski to do everything from groomed runs to steeps and powder, this is your ski. It is a mix of everything, so it performs well in all conditions. However, this category of skis often suffers from "Cross-trainer Syndrome." This dreadful syndrome stems from cross trainer shoes that are designed for every sport, but are terrible for basketball, running, walking, aerobics, etc. But if you have to buy just one ski to get everything done, this is your best bet.

powder skis

Powder Skis:
When the snow is deep and soft, these skis really shine. These skis are wide and quite flexible. They are the perfect skis to make skiing in the powder incredibly easy because of the added surface area. Their downfall is the sluggish feel on groomed runs and mogul fields. Why would you ski on groomed runs on a powder day anyway?

Park Skis:
"Park Skis" is short for "Terrain Park Skis." These have tips on both ends to allow skiing backwards, or switch. These skis are usually found strapped to teenagers that enjoy jumping, sliding rails, and skiing all sorts of terrain designed to destroy skis. A lot of these skis can be used as a versatile all mountain ski, with the added benefit of being able to shoot rooster tails at your slow friends..

park skis

Freeride Skis:
These are wider versions of All Mountain skis. They hold an edge well on steep, icy slopes, but still offer great flotation for powder skiing. Their ability to ski groomed runs usually suffers. These skiers are good enough to overlook the groomed run performance. These are often lumped into the "PARK POWDER" category.

Shape Skis:
Any modern ski is considered a "Shape" ski. These were briefly called "Parabolic" skis, but that term is no longer accepted. The Shape skis have a wider tip and tail with a narrow mid section. The reason you should be using a Shape ski is it makes skiing easier and more enjoyable.

Straight Skis:
These are the skis that you are hopefully replacing. They are great for going straight and fast, but terrible at everything else. If speed skiing is your thing, then you better hang onto them. If you want to have fun while you ski, or would like to improve, then your straight skis need a final resting home: the landfill.

This video should help you decide on which skis might be best for you:

Now you know the different types of skis, here are all the terms that help describe their characteristics:

Ski Lingo:

This term refers to the dimensions of the ski, which is a measurement of the widest point at the tip, the narrowest point in the mid section, and the widest point at the tail. For example, the Head i.Peak 74 in the 170cm length has a sidecut of 121mm-74mm-107mm, in the Tip-Waist-Tail sequence. A ski that is better for groomed runs is generally 60-80mm at the waist measurement. In contrast, a good powder ski has a waist measurement of over 100mm.

Turn Radius:
If you were to make a perfect turn, then stop to look at the tracks you left, it would look like part of a circle. Just imagine that your tracks kept on that path and made a complete circle. When you take the radius of that circle, you end up with a Turn Radius. A short turn radius means the skis will make a quick and short turn. A longer turn radius means the skis will take longer to make a turn. Shorter turn radius skis are easier to turn, but are a little unstable if you like to ski at above average speeds. A long radius ski requires more work to turn, but is more stable at higher speeds.

Flex or Stiffness:
This is the measure of how much a ski will bend under a given force. A soft flexing ski is better for beginners and intermediates. It makes a ski easier to maneuver. Advanced Intermediates up to Expert skiers prefer stiffer skis that can handle higher speeds without being deflected by bumps in the snow.

No matter what it means, it sounds delicious! This actually refers to the process in which the ski was made. This construction method is just like a sandwich with many different layers squished and bonded together. The excess is cut away, and you can see the different layers if you look at the side of the ski. Sandwich construction skis generally offer better performance than other construction methods.

This is another construction method. All of the components of the ski are pressed together, like a sandwich construction ski, but the cap style has a layer of plastic that drapes over the entire ski. This makes a smooth transition from the top of the ski to the side. Cap skis are lighter in weight and generally more durable than Sandwich skis, but don't offer the same performance level.

Twin Tip:
Just as it sounds, Twin Tip skis have upwardly rounded ends to make skiing backwards easy. The tails don't dig into the snow, so some skiers can go off jumps and land backwards with these skis. All park skis have twin tips, as well as some all mountain, freeride, and powder skis.

Turned up Tail:
Between a twin tip and a flat tailed ski is the Turned up Tail. All mountain, freeride, and powder skis often feature this tail. It helps the skis from getting stuck in tight chutes and for the occasional urge to ski backwards.

This is just the top of the ski that has all the fancy graphics. It can be made of many different materials such as plastics, fiberglass, and metal alloys. The plastic topsheets just keep the water out and have colorful graphics. The metal alloy topsheets offer structural strength and stiffness.

A problem that plagues many skis is the vibration that makes skiing uncomfortable and a little rough. Many ski manufacturers curb this problem by adding anti-vibrational systems that make the ski feel smoother and safer. It is not mandatory that your skis have this feature, but it does help you ski at higher speeds with greater confidence and comfort.