Here our guest blogger Hunter Avis breaks down rocker in skis and why it matters.
Taking a look at the 2014-2015 season, rockered skis are everywhere. Using Volkl’s product line as an example, virtually every ski in the lineup, from the race-stock Racetiger GS, to the Adora, a ski designed for improving intermediate skiers, has some amount of rocker profile. Let’s take the mystery out of rockered skis, and what rocker can do for you.
An un-weighted ski (meaning a ski that you have not stepped onto and put pressure on) with a traditional camber profile has the shape of a bow if laid on the ground string side down, with the tips and the tails touching the snow. When a skier tips the ski on edge and applies weight to the ski to make a turn, the ski flexes into a “u” shape, creating the arc a skier will follow throughout the turn. As the ski transitions back to its original bow shape, it helps spring the skier into the next turn.
A ski with rocker has some portion of the ski molded up into the “u” shape a ski makes under the pressure of a skier. Rocker comes in many shapes and sizes. Some companies use a very gradual, but long rocker profile from the center of the ski to the tip and tail, where almost the entire ski has a slight curve to it. Other models for backcountry and powder skiing could be flat under foot, and have the tips and tails visibly rockered and turned upwards for float in soft snow. Finally, a high performance front side ski aimed and fast groomed skiing might have a traditional camber profile, with only slight rocker in the tip to aid the ski in variable conditions. The good news is there’s a ski with rocker that will help you ski better at any level or on terrain, and here is why:
A ski with a rocker profile to match the terrain will be maneuverable at slow speeds, yet still be very stable on edge making a turn at high speeds. Imagine we have a 185mm ski with 5mm of tip rocker. When a skier is skiing flat on their bases on a rockered ski, the effective length of the ski is reduced because the rockered portion of the ski is not making contact with the snow. Our imaginary ski would be nimble like a 180mm ski for slow speed maneuvering. As the skier accelerates into a turn and tips the ski on edge, the entire length of the ski including the rockered portion bites into the snow for maximum stability and edge grip. Here, the 5mm of tip rocker would be engaged into the turn as well, and the ski would have the grip and stability at speed of a 185mm ski.
The pre-curve of the tip will help the ski get up on top of loose, soft, or variable snow, instead of diving and giving the skier the lurching sensation that a traditional cambered ski can when a skier hits a patch of soft snow. Even the slightest rocker has a great effect on smoothing out the ride. So, if this is your first season looking at rockered skis, fear not. They make the ride a whole lot more fun.