How to SElect
THe Right SKi
HOw to Select the Right Ski
Information to Help You Pick The Right Ski
Sidecut: The width of a ski at the tip, waist, and tail measured in millimeters.
Most manufacturers will state the sidecut of a ski as the "turn radius". This is a technical term that deals with the difference in width between the tip/tail and the waist of the ski. A larger turn radius means there is less sidecut. A shorter turn radius means there is more sidecut.
Typically beginner skiers will like more sidecut. The more sidecut to a ski the easier it will turn at slower speeds. A ski with a lot of sidecut (aka a short turn radius) will make smooth carving turns on groomed runs without needing to go very fast.
Flex: The physical stiffness or rigidity of the ski.
Softer skis are easier to maneuver at low speeds but can become unstable at high speeds. Generally, beginners will want a softer ski because they are more forgiving.
Stiffer skis carve better and are more stable at high speeds but are difficult to control at low speeds. Generally, advanced skiers want stiffer skis.
Width: Width at the middle or "waist" of the ski.
Narrower skis (less than 80mm at the waist) are generally good for beginners. There is less surface area on the ski which means it is easier to maneuver. They are best suited for groomed trails at ski resorts.
Mid-Width skis between 80mm and 100mm are generally called "All Mountain" skis and are ideal for varying types of terrain. These skis are generally stiffer and better for intermediate to advanced skiers.
Wide skis (greater than 100mm) are mostly for powder or off-trail skiing. These skis will "float" on top of deeper snow and stay more stable in choppy, variable snow conditions.
Camber: The arc of the ski as seen from it's profile when laid flat.
Camber determines the responsiveness of a ski and generally works hand in hand with the stiffness of the ski. A typical beginner ski will have a camber profile with an earlier rise or rockered tip.
Rocker: The opposite of camber. The ski will appear to bend upward from it's center point on a fully rockered ski.
Typically you will not find fully rockered skis unless they are wide, powder specific, skis. It is much more likely to find a ski with a camber profile and a "rockered tip" which means that the nose of the ski begins to bend upward earlier than a traditional ski. This makes turn initiation much easier and reduces the amount of surface area that is in contact with snow which allows for more maneuverability.
Kids skis: A Level Nine specialty.
The honest truth is that there is very little difference in kids skis. For the most part kids are too light to require the varying stiffness and other technologies that are put into adult skis. Unless you have a kid going into the race program at your local mountain, we recommend you let them choose their favorite graphic.