I wrote a version of this piece before the start of last season, and I think my argument would be more readily accepted today than it was a year ago. But two things:
(1) Many people today still want to know what the deal is with this whole rocker thing, and whether they ought to consider a rockered ski.
(2) I still rarely hear the case made that rockered skis are more than just fashionable or fun, that they are potentially more safe.
So take a look, and let us know what you think.
Safer Skiing: The Case For Fatter, Rockered Skis
I spend most of my days skiing on some fairly long (185-195cm), pretty wide (100-125mm) planks, and almost every time out these skis tend to draw responses from other skiers. Typically, the comments run something like: “man, those skis are huge, you must be pretty good.”
My typical response is: “Actually, these make skiing easier.”
After countless conversations like this, usually carried out on the chairlift, it appears that the case for wider, rockered skis still needs to be made. So here goes:
(1) In many conditions, fatter, rockered skis are easier to ski than conventionally shaped, skinnier skis (think waist widths of 65-85mm). This fact leads directly to the second point.
(2) These skis are easier to ski because they are easier to control, and improved control means safer skiing.
Skinny skis certainly have their place, it’s just that this place is primarily in the Olympic games, for skiers wearing those skin tight body suits.
To be fair, it can be fun to pull out a pair of 68mm mogul skis and spend an afternoon running zipperlines through the bumps. And I know a few skiers around New Mexico who enjoy their thin slalom skis on groomed runs when fresh snow hasn’t been seen for days. (Personally, on days when I know I’ll only be skiing bumps, I take out a non-rockered, 78mm ski.)
The problem, however, is that while these skis work well for their designated purposes – mogul runs and groomers – they often become terrible tools when used for other applications, like skiing powder, tracked powder, or chopped up heavy crud.
Skinny skis sink. Since they lack the surface area to float and to allow the tips to rise above or near the top of the snow, the skier is left with one of two options: ski fast, or ski in the backseat.