Posted by Cyrus Schenck on

When we design skis, these are the 4 elements we talk about when deciding on what to build, the rest comes later. 

This could be a book in itself, but let me boil it down for you. I’m not going to use terms like “powder” or “all-mountain” etc because everyone has a different opinion on what each of those skis should be. Instead, I’ll describe different attributes of a ski and what they are good for. All skis out there are basically a mix and match of these characteristics - it’ll be your job to figure out what mixture you want. At the end of the day, there is no perfect ski. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. 

- Camber 

Camber is how much the ski ‘arcs’ in the middle when laid on a flat surface. The more camber a ski has, the more it tends to perform well on groomers. Think of the kind of skis Bode Miller or Lindsay Vonn ride — those skis have camber.

- Rocker/Early-rise

This is when the tips ‘splay’ apart when put together (base-to-base, like you’re carrying them). It can be at the tips only or both tips & tails (I’ve never seen a tail-only rocker). The term “early rise” just means it has subtle rocker. Skis can have both camber (see above) and rocker/early-rise. 

The more “rocker” a ski has, the more the float in the powder, the ‘looser’ (i.e. easier to smear around when flat-footed) feel and less grip on groomers you will have (because more of the edge is suspended off the snow). A ski with rocker/early-rise tends to be more forgiving but you’ll trade off some of that eye-watering grip & rip you get with a full camber ski.

*Reverse rocker is a joke. It’s the same as saying “camber” so if anyone ever tells you their skis have ‘reverse rocker’, you can give them a nice pat on the back and walk away. 

- Sidecut

Sidecut is a skier’s term for how quickly a ski will turn. The lower the number, the “zippier” the ski will be. The higher the number, the more stable it will be when making larger, arcing turns.

<13m - Slalom style - super tight turns. You’ll be turning all day long with this. 

14-16 - Great for carving and on-piste, even when mixed with a little rocker/early-rise. 

17-19 - Usually no longer considered a ‘carving’ ski. Can still perform on groomers but generally seen in skis designed for a wide range of conditions (trees, bowls, groomers powder etc).

20-22 - Typically freeride powder skis. You’ll need higher speeds to carve well on a groomer

22< - Big mountain, large open bowls (if you’re skiing Alaskan lines, you’ll have a 28+ meter ski)

Did I miss something? Email me and I'll add it! 


FACTORS TO CONSIDER: There are 5 things you need to consider when picking out a ski. Remember, these are aspects you need to decide - not your buddy who tells you stuff. Sure, take it into consideration, but remember you are buying for you, not them.




>> Ski Types

Waist Width


FACTORS TO NOT CONSIDER: Just as important are the things you SHOULD NOT consider when picking a ski. In my experience, with all the things to think about, I would worry about these the least.



Technology (yep)

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