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Speed control in the world of new ski design

Ski design has changed again recently, with the introduction of “Early Rise” tips and “Rockered” skis. When skiing on these new skis, it’s all about being centered when it comes to speed control.

First lets review what these terms mean, what the designs allow skiers to do, then talk about how to control speed.

“Early Rise” skis may or may not have camber under the foot. When choosing a model first decide what percentage of groomed slope skiing do you do? If its 40% or greater a ski with camber might be for you. Camber skis will provide more grip because as the ski flexes in the middle of the turn and de-flexes at the end of the turn the edges to bite into the snow and thus provide a bit more grip like a traditional shaped ski.

“Early Rise” skis without camber under the foot will still edge well on groomed trails but will preform better in the woods and in deeper snow because they will pivot under your foot easier. And finally “Rockered” skis will be best for skiers who ski 20% or less on groomed snow because they are designed to float in deeper snow and will provide more stability at higher speeds than “fat” skis with camber.

The benefit of these new skis is that when the ski is on edge the tip and tail are pre bent in the arc of the turn. This predetermined shape takes less body movement to initiate the turn once the ski is on edge. Plus a ski with no camber (flat under your foot) or a ski with reverse camber (tips and tails bend upwards just before and after your foot) will pivot or skid easier and this is helpful off of groomed slopes.

Traditional shaped skis allow us to edge early in the turn and decelerate through edge pressure and turn initiation. To accomplish this you need to create pressure on the edge early in the arc and this is initiated through pressuring the tip. Also with the advent of shaped skis, we saw shorter skis introduced to the market.

Now with these new designs skis are getting longer again, because with the early rising tip we need more ski in front of the binding for grip with both cambered and no cambered skis.

Here is the key, the skis want to tip and grip and the sweet spot is in the center. On a traditional shaped ski we can ski with a bit more forward and aft motion. But because with these new skis the tips and tails are pre bent fore and aft motion can create instability.

To gain stability stand solid in the center of the skis and create edge angle and ride the arc this will create the desired controllable acceleration with little or no fore and aft motion.

With the new reverse camber and early rise skis, the sweet – or balance – spot on hardpack snow is smaller. In deeper snow, the sweet spot is larger because the softer snow supports the arc of the ski. If you adjust your balance points on these newer skis, you’ll grow to love them.

Solid ski technique still remains the same and a centered stance is the key to controlling your speed.

Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and is the host of New England Ski Journal television on Comcast Sports Net Tuesday’s at 9pm. He also teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Killington, where he’ll be teaching January 23-14, February 20-21 and March 19-20. Other locations include, Big Sky, Val D Isere France, Valle Nevado Chile and Iceland.

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