There is nothing like your own pair of skis.
Although some hires may look the same, skis made for the hire market are constructed differently in order to cope with the demands of that market. They cannot match your own skis for response, ease of turning, liveliness and the confidence you will gain from simply using the same skis. Think of it in terms of car hire, two cars of the same model can drive completely differently.
Modern ski's will get you across any terrain. However, to get the most out of the terrain - and to ski how you want - may require an element of specialisation. Obviously, this does not rule a specific ski out for other styles or terrains, but it may suit some better than others.
Most skiers will ski on Piste. It is a groomed part of the slope, in which a trail is manicured to follow a specific route, with flat, even snow that is well packed to allow for skiers of a wide range of abilities to enjoy. If you are a predominantly Piste skier, you will probably enjoy going fast, and executing immaculate, graceful turns down the slope.
Piste ski's are narrow-waisted and very responsive to enhance carving ability. Check out the Head iSupershape Speed for a great example.
Good all-rounders, they are designed to handle a bit of everything; stiff and floaty enough to work on powder, yet able to hold a decent edge on icy pistes. Within this spectrum some are more suited to the former than the latter (and vice versa), so be sure to do your homework. They tend to be wider than piste skis, but with a larger turning radius.
A good example of this type of ski would be the Volkl RTM 81.
Freeriding all about you versus the mountain in its purest form; no groomed piste, no pre-determined trails or runs to follow, just the feeling of gliding over fresh powder and the sound of the wind as you hurtle down a path of your own choosing. No rules, and the only goals are those you set yourself.
Freeride ski’s sit in between all-mountain and powder performance-wise. Think of skis such as the Dynastar Cham 2.0.
Also known as Alpine Tourers, heading out into the Back Country requires a lot of specialist skills and versatile equipment. You will expect to carry your skis up to isolated peaks, competently wield an ice axe, as well as be a good enough skier to survive the gnarly trip down! Getting this far off the beaten track is hard work, but all the more rewarding for it.
Back country skis can fit climbing skins and have bindings which can allow the wearer to climb, track along AND descend slopes. For example the Blizard Cochise - Zero G 95.
Not as relevant as it used to be due to the wider range and increased versatility of the industry as a whole, but still worth a mention:
You can easily manage blue runs, but reds are a bit of a challenge. Forgiving, soft-flexed carving skis will give you the confidence and security to practice the manoeuvres that will eventually turn you into a daemon of the mountain.
You eat red runs for breakfast, still enjoy blues for attempts at more daring manoeuvres initially, and will occasionally tackle a black run. You have also started to venture off piste when the powder looks fresh and you know where you are going. Start looking at skis which open up more of the mountain, and more of your ability; such as all mountain, freeride and stiffer carvers.
Lord of the mountain, you like to constantly push yourself to tackle new challenges, and black runs are your bread-and-butter. Here you can start looking at more specialised and stiff all mountains, or big mountain skis. Though regardless of what you choose, you will get the most out of a stiff flex and decent camber.
There are 2 factors universal to all skis that affect overall ride and performance. Once you have found a type of ski to investigate, it is worth considering these characteristics to ensure your ski suits your style and performance expectations:
The Turning Radius is created by extending the exterior line of a ski into a full circle, then measuring the distance to the centre. It is used as a measure of how a ski balances straight line speed and cornering manoeuvrability. As such, it is governed by ski width at each end and the centre, as well as ski length.
Skis which are intended to execute tight turns will have a proportionately skinny middle. This gives a short radius which in turn allows for tighter turns. However, the trade-off for this responsiveness will be a smaller surface area on the snow. This not only reduces the skis ability to stay on top of deep or unpacked snow, but also the overall stability of the ski.
I.e. A narrow-width ski may tend to sink into soft snow, loosing speed and responsiveness, whilst a wide-width ski may be unresponsive on groomed slopes and ice, but may be faster.
Has much the same effect as width, proportionately. A longer ski will have a larger surface area, which will increase stability and speed. However it will also comparatively increase the turning radius, making it less agile.
In a nutshell, a longer ski will have a higher top speed, and greater acceleration, but a larger turning circle.
This is why it is important to match these dimensions to your chosen activity:
Speed and ski jump orientated are long and wide. They are purely interested in high-speed stability, and the ability to corner well would limit this.
Downhill skis are around 215cm. There is some turning required, but still a lot of straight sections.
Slalom skis can be around 165cm, in order to create as tight a turning radius as possible to cut around the gates, where there is not much opportunity for straight line speed.
Radius means nothing if you can’t flex the ski.
Un-loaded skis only touch the ground at tip and tail, bending away at the waist. This is the camber, and it is used to carve corners out of the snow. When force is pushed through this flex around a corner, the ski forms a convex curve, around which the ski edge catches in the snow and propels you out into the direction you want to go.
The amount of pressure required to reverse its natural camber is dictated by how stiff it is. A stiff ski will take more force from the rider to flex, but transfer more of that force into the corner, whereas a soft-flex ski will slide away from you when cornering under high force.
Conversley, a soft ski will have a more forgiving ride under rough terrain, and absorb landings much better than its stiff counterpart. This means stiffness can differ greatly between ski type, and intended skier ability. A soft carving ski would suit a beginner as it will turn well at slower speeds, whereas a stronger skier would probably prefer the responsiveness of a stiffer version of the same.
- Are not stiff
- Are good at absorbing bumps from rough terrain and heavy landings
- Require less force to carve
- Will slide away from the rider when turning too aggressively
- Better suited to beginner carvers, or big mountain/powder skis
- Are stiff
- Are bad at absorbing bumps from rough terrain and heavy landings
- Require more force to carve
- Will turn tighter and faster
Better suited to advanced skiers.
So there we have it, a simple way of zeroring in on the type of ski you need: style, turning radius and stiffness. Pop in for a chat or drop us a line to discuss specifics if needs be and we will help as much as we can.