Types of Downhill Skis

Types of Downhill Skis
Before the 1990s, selecting skis was a relatively simple process. You could choose between cross country and downhill skis. Then with the advent of parabolic or shaped skis snow sport enthusiasts suddenly had more choices. Manufacturers began to create skis for all types of terrain. While specific types of downhill skis were once unique to specific companies most manufacturers now make every type of ski.

Carving Skis

The year 1993 was a significant turning point in the history of ski equipment. This was the year that Elan introduced the shaped or parabolic ski. It has a small waist and is wider at the tip and tail which facilitates carving skills.

Powder Skis

Although carving is considered the Holy Grail of ski technique it is inappropriate in certain terrain. For example, powder technique does not involve carving. As such, a wider ski is needed. Powder skis, often called "phat" skis, have a wider waist which enables them to float in the snow.

Twin Tip Skis

If you've recently visited a major ski resort, you've probably noticed the ski area has added a terrain park which usually consists of a half pipe as well as a variety of jumps. The park is the place to show off your best tricks. Many "park rats," as they're called prefer to use a twin tip ski. A twin tip is curved upward at both the tip and the tail, which enables the skier to ski either forward or backward.

Telemark Skis

Telemark skiing is often called "free-heel" skiing. Like Nordic skis a Telemark binding does not attach to the boot heel. The free heel makes Telemark skis a popular choice for back country skiers, since it makes it easier to earn the turns by climbing the slopes.

Racing Skis

Racing skis have a similar sidecut to carving skis. However, they are much stiffer.

Mid-Fat Skis

A mid-fat ski is a viable choice if you ski a combination of groomed and powder terrain. Most mid-fat skis have an 80- to 90-millimeter waist.

Female-Specific Skis

Female-specific skis have been designed to accommodate women. In most cases they are shorter, lighter and more flexible. Female-specific skis often have a forward-mounted binding, which compensates for a woman's lower center of gravity.

Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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