Choos­ing the Cor­rect Ski

Match­ing the Ski to the Skier

SkiTrax - - Wax Worx - By Jack Cook and Pa­trick Moore

The best way to wax a ski is to start with the right set of skis. So, with snow com­ing and before we get into the world of wax, let's take a look at choos­ing the right ski. Per­fect race skis are a com­bi­na­tion of con­struc­tion and ge­om­e­try, premium ma­te­ri­als and care­ful se­lec­tion. Each com­pany has a broad se­lec­tion of race-wor­thy skis, in­clud­ing race-per­for­mance mod­els and per­for­mance mod­els.

The race-per­for­mance skis are top-tier, World-cup-level prod­ucts, and the per­for­mance mod­els are based on the same en­gi­neer­ing and ge­om­e­try. But, by us­ing slightly dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als in parts of the con­struc­tion, the man­u­fac­tur­ers are able to re­duce the price point with­out sig­nif­i­cantly com­pro­mis­ing the on-snow prop­er­ties of the skis.

The main dif­fer­ence be­tween the two cat­e­gories is that the race-per­for­mance skis con­tain sig­nif­i­cantly more car­bon. This al­lows the com­pa­nies to bet­ter con­trol the stiff­ness of the ski while main­tain­ing or even low­er­ing the weight.

How­ever, the race-per­for­mance skis also have a more spe­cific range of use for each pair and of­fer dif­fer­ent tip/tail splays in all mod­els – dis­tinct splay for warm con­di­tions and slight splay for cold con­di­tions. There are more flex ranges and cam­bers avail­able in the race-per­for­mance mod­els, while per­for­mance skis have a wider range of skier weight and us­age area for each model. The race-per­for­mance series skis of­fer a cold and a warm ver­sion of each model, while the per­for­mance mod­els are de­signed to be all-arounders.

It is pos­si­ble to mea­sure the flex, cam­ber and splay in the per­for­mance skis just as ac­cu­rately as for the race-per­for­mance skis, us­ing the same tools and tech­niques. The most im­por­tant fac­tors are the skier and the avail­able bud­get. Get the right ski for your weight, tech­nique, am­bi­tion level and the con­di­tions where you will use the skis the most. The right flex for your weight and tech­nique, as well as the cor­rect splay for the con­di­tions are crit­i­cal fac­tors for per­for­mance.

Pre­vi­ously ski length was often matched to racer height. While the charts pro­duced by man­u­fac­tur­ers still give a de­cent start­ing point, racer weight and pro­fi­ciency are more im­por­tant fac­tors in de­ter­min­ing the length of the ski.

For in­stance, ac­cord­ing to the siz­ing charts, a skier who is six feet tall should have a Clas­sic ski that is ap­prox­i­mately 205cm to 210cm long (pre­cise length of ski is dif­fer­ent for each com­pany). But, de­pend­ing on weight, the skier might even con­sider a ski that is 200cm. A light and tall racer us­ing Clas­sic skis that are too stiff, won't be able to get the wax onto the snow and get proper kick, and the skis will feel too slip­pery. Hence, it's more im­por­tant that skiers get the right flex for their weight, even if that means a shorter ski. Typ­i­cally, Clas­sic skis for warm con­di­tions will have a taller cam­ber height and be stiffer in flex.

Also, keep in mind that with the new low tip of skate skis, a ski that is 187cm will act like a more tra­di­tional 192cm with a regular tip in terms of how much base is touch­ing the snow, but low­er­ing the tip saves weight.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it's im­por­tant to use skis with the right splay for the con­di­tions that you will en­counter the most. Skis with a warm-con­di­tions con­struc­tion won't give proper glide in cold con­di­tions, and vice versa. So you need to be hon­est with your­self about weight and tech­nique, and also know in what kinds of con­di­tions you plan to use the skis. The splay de­ter­mines the pressure points of the skis. A dis­tinct splay found on the warm-con­di­tions mod­els cre­ates shorter pressure points to the snow and helps shorten the wa­ter film that cre­ates a suc­tion ef­fect in wet and warm con­di­tions, and thereby im­proves the glide. Con­versely, the slight splay on cold-con­di­tions skis cre­ate longer pressure points. The longer pressure points help cre­ate a wa­ter film and re­duce fric­tion in cold snow, and thereby im­prove glide. In the race-per­for­mance mod­els, all mod­els come in a cold ver­sion with a slight splay and a warm ver­sion with a dis­tinct splay.

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