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Rock on: The evolution of ski design

First there were wooden skis. If you've  seen these snowsport artifacts (there's a pair decorating a wall at the Kinghouse Hotel, near Glencoe, Scotland) you'll have wondered how on earth the skier managed any control, let alone stylish turns. Some of us oldies will also recall the long, narrow skis that offered a fair amount of stability, especially at speed, but were also pretty hard on the muscles [caption id="attachment_1285" align="alignleft" width="259" caption="Wooden skis, as seen at Sveriges skidmuseum, Sweden's ski museum"][/caption] and took a lot of skill to turn.

The next generation in skis

Then designers started making wider skis – the kind we’re much more used to seeing these days. The advantage of ski width is that there’s a bigger platform for more balance. The designers added shape, sort of like a waist to the middle part of the ski. This makes for easier turns. Then they created tips that turn up at the end, like wizard’s shoes, and tails – or twin tips – for even greater balance and lots of maneuverability, making these skis the top choice for freestyle, terrain park style skiing, and especially good for kids.

The 21st century ski invention

And now… what next in the evolution of ski design? The latest ski technology sees skis with super-rounded “rocker” tails. Rocker skis are available in different versions, such as early rise, full rocker, or tip and tail rocker. What all this means is that the reduced contact length of the base on snow results in a shorter running length so that the skis turn much more easily and cope much better with bumps. [caption id="attachment_1286" align="alignleft" width="309" caption="Rocker skis"][/caption] One ski expert said: “These skis are going to really change skiing for so many people. The camber profile puts more pressure where your weight is so you get a lot of edging power. It’s really easy to roll into a turn because it’s pre-bent.” But the rockers aren’t just for newbie skiers, they will also help all skiers to perfect their turns because the skis make it much easier to gain the centered stance that makes skiing and turning so much efficient. Even mogul skiers and experts will benefit from rocker because this is when you need to pivot quickly to make turns and the rocker motion really helps with this. One surprise, however, is that these skis are longer, but only by 5cm to 10cm, and the length of skis, as ever, depends on your ability, height, weight, the terrain you'll be skiing and how much rocker you want. Although rockers have been around for a few seasons, most major brands have converted stock to mostly rocker for winter 2012. We reckon you're going to love them.