Four Part Series: Understanding & Choosing A Ski

January 5, 2009

In the five years I’ve spent on the demo circuit, one thing that never fails to surprise me is how little some of the most experienced skiers I come across know about their equipment. Skiing is a gear intensive sport, and you’d expect that most people (especially those who strive to get better) would have a thorough grasp on what they like in a ski. The reality is that most people don’t. Read this first part of our four part series and learn how a technical knowledge of what you’re skiing on will improve your ability exponentially.

I’ll admit that I once too was guilty of this – in the first ten years of my skiing career, I had a general idea of what I liked and didn’t like in a ski, but I had a hard time quantifying it. When the time came to buy a new setup I’d always be left wondering if the salesperson truly understood my skiing in the way I’d described it there in the showroom – and if the equipment I was buying was really right for me, or if it potentially was holding me back.

It wasn’t until I became involved in the industry and was responsible for helping other people select equipment that I put forth the effort to thoroughly educate myself on the nuances of ski equipment. I spent a great deal of time pouring over the specs from the seasons’ latest lineups, and made a point of trying every model I could get my hands on in as great a variety of conditions as I possibly could.

All of this effort brought me to a couple of conclusions that have forever changed the way I ski.

One – that the opportunity to try before you buy is invaluable. While few people pay full price for a setup they haven’t had the opportunity to try on the snow, most people don’t try nearly enough models. It is only by trying multiple skis one after the other that you’ll really begin to feel and understand the more subtle differences between them – which is why finding and participating in a demo event when you are in the market for a new set of skis is absolutely vital.

Two – that a baseline of knowledge about skis, their characteristics and their manufacture, is the second important link in making sure that your equipment is carrying you to the next level and not holding you back. If you can’t begin to describe what it is you love or hate about a particular ski, it becomes infinitely more difficult to find your perfect match – you are likely to end up shooting in the dark, trying model after model until you end up with something you can tolerate. I can’t tell you how often this happens (more often than not.)

It’s the latter of the two links in this chain that we’ll be focusing on over the next week in this three part series – helping you to understand skis and how to talk about them. If taken to heart and actively considered when you are actually out on the slopes, the carefully selected and easy to understand terms you’ll read in this series will help you to understand the subtle differences that characteristics like camber and sidecut radius make, and just what type of ski is best suited to the conditions you most often ski on. When all is said and done, the chances you’ll end up skiing on equipment that you are ecstatic about will grow exponentially… and trust us, your skiing will improve.

Stay tuned for the first part of the series, to be released on Wednesday, January 7th.

Links to This Series