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Guide to Park Skis

park skier sliding down a terrain park rail on Line skis and Full Tilt ski boots.

Guide to Park Skis

A terrain park is a great place to push the limits of what's possible on skis. Instead of simply skiing down the mountain, snow parks allow skiers to work on jumps, tricks, and other aerial maneuvers. To do this properly, you'll need a pair of skis that can handle its intense nature.

In this Terrain Park Ski Guide, the experts at L9 will help you understand the design and construction of park skis. We'll help you figure out which features to look for depending on your experience level and what types of tricks you do. 

Twin Tip Skis: It's Just As It Sounds

Twin tip skis are the ski type of choice for park skiing and freestyle skis. What are twin tip skis? In essence, these skis are designed to go in either direction. They have upwardly rounded tips and tails to make skiing backward easy. The tails don't dig into the snow, so some skiers can go off jumps and land backward (also called switch) with these skis.

All park skis have twin tips — and so do some all-mountain, freeride, and powder skis. Twin tip skis almost always have the durable construction, wider waists, and softer tip/tails that terrain park riders demand. What does that mean for you? It just so happens that those features are perfect for intermediate and advanced skiers looking to become true all-mountain skiers.

The wider dimension, softer flex, and turned-up tails are perfect for learning to ski in powder and trees. The team members at L9 are huge fans of getting skiers looking to develop their all-mountain skills into twin-tip skis. The point is, even if you don't plan to hit jumps and rails on your new skis, that doesn't mean you should rule out buying twin tip skis.

Differences Between Park Skis & Other Skis

Terrain park skis differ from many other types of skis, but not by a large amount. For instance, most park skiers like to have their bindings mounted in the center of the ski to make skiing switch more enjoyable. Because of this, many park skis' sidecuts will cater to this. In some cases, the sidecut will be symmetrical to ensure a delightful switch skiing experience.

Many ski companies have been using sidewall technology in their park skis. The technology was lifted from snowboards about 10 years ago to help freestyle skis stand up to the abuse of park skiing. This also gives the ski a more even flex to allow for tricks like presses and butters.

The third major difference involves the cores of park skis. Sometimes, companies will incorporate a "butter zone", or a part of the core that is softer — usually in front of the toepiece and behind the heelpiece — to make it extra easy to do some butters. Sometimes people even ski on rockered powder skis in the park! The possibilities are endless in freeskiing.

Park Ski Construction

As the sport continues to develop, more and more styles of freeskiing emerge. To accompany this, twin tip skis are created in many shapes, sizes, and flexes so that every park skier can find a ski perfect for them. Some park riders find themselves buttering around the park and doing all kinds of presses. A rider like this would prefer a ski that is specific to park. Typically, this means the ski will have little or no camber underfoot. This is combined with a soft flex and tip and tail rocker. A ski like this will be super-maneuverable in the park and will have a wide enough platform to land on.

There are also park riders who prefer to spend their time lining up the biggest gaps they can, sending themselves off huge park booters. Riders like this usually prefer a stiffer flexing ski, as it makes landing big jumps more manageable. As you can imagine, coming down from 20 feet in the air and landing on the tail of a really soft ski usually doesn't work out so well. This type of ski is going to give you the stiffness you need while still be playful enough to hop around on rails with.

There are some skis that sit somewhere between park skis and all-mountain skis. Typically, skis in this category are a bit fatter under foot, and also feature some sort of rockered tip and tail. In order to increase all-mountain performance, these skis will have camber underfoot to improve edge hold. The stiffness of skis like this has quite the range, as riders typically like to be able to select the flex that will work best for their skiing style.

The last thing to consider is the length and width of the ski. Shorter park skis spin more easily and maneuver better, which is ideal for jibs. A longer park ski gives you more stability when landing jumps. In terms of width, you should go wider for jibs to regain the stability lost from running a shorter ski. Use a narrower jumping ski for more precise carving and a stronger edge-hold when you land.