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Ski Glossary

There's a variety of ski terms used in the industry which can leave you feeling a bit confused and all over the place. Hopefully, this guide can help shed some light on these terms and have you talking the lingo at your next apres session.

ABS Sidewall

  • A plastic insert used to strengthen a sidewall that is using sandwich construction.

All Mountain Skis

  • Skis that are available to handle a variety of conditions well, be it on or off-piste.

Alpine Touring Skis

  • Lightweight skis that sacrifice some downhill performance in order to save weight and therefore energy to make it easier to climb or ‘skin’ uphill.

Base

  • The base is found on the underside of the ski and is made up of a Polyethylene Molecule that can (hopefully) be repaired when damaged.

Bi-Axial Glass

  • Fiberglass

    strands that are laid perpendicular to each other.

Binding

  • The binding is on the top side of the ski and it is what is used to attach the ski boot to the ski.

Camber

  • The slight upward curve of the ski in between the tip and tail. This allows the skier's weight to put an even and concentrated pressure on the edges of the ski to enable more precise turn initiation on harder pack snow.

Cap construction

  • When the top sheet of a ski rolls over and joins with the ski edge. It is softer flexing and usually found on womens and junior skis.

Carving Skis

  • Skis that are primarily designed for turning on the edge, on a groomed surface.

Chatter

  • A term used to describe the flapping sound a ski tip may make against the snow when travelling at speed. More prevalent in skis with more dramatic tip rocker.

Climbing skins

  • Strips of fabric usually made of Nylon or Mohair with an adhesive backing that is attached to the bottom of your skis. The angle of the material allows the ski to slide forwards but prevents it from sliding backwards. Skins are used for ascending slopes and made to be removed when descending.

Corduroy

  • When a slope has been prepared by a grooming machine, it takes the appearance of corduroy.

Corn

  • Snow that develops during a melt/freeze cycle. Usually, in springtime, warmer weather starts to melt the snow during the day, but then it freezes again overnight. Ski corn snow at the right time of day when it’s softened enough is a big goal of backcountry skiers.

Dimensions

  • Three dimensions which state (in order) the widest part of the tip, the narrowest part of the ski (waist), then the widest part of the tail.

DIN settings

  • The tension release setting that determines the amount of pressure required for a ski binding to release; stands for the German “Deutsche Industrie Normen.”

Edge

  • The sharpened metal strip on the sides of skis, used for gaining control by biting into the snow for smoother carving and cutting. Holding an edge is a key to a good turn.

Effective Edge

  • The length of metal edge on the ski base that is in contact with the snow when it is on edge and turning.

Forgiving

  • A term used to describe a softer flexing ski.

Horizon Tech

  • A technology used by Atomic which mimics a boat hull shape in the tip and tail of their skis to increase base surface area in powder snow.

Integrated binding

  • A binding that slides straight onto a track on the ski. In this case, the user has to use the binding that comes with the ski.

Junior Skis

  • Junior skis are typically made with lighter and more flexible cores to allow for easy turning, and rapid progression of skills.

Longitudinal Flex

  • Used to describe how stiff or flexible a ski is in a longitudinal (lengthways) direction. A soft (flexible) ski is generally more forgiving

Off-piste

  • Skiing any run that has not been groomed. This can be inside the resort, or outside the resort area.

On-piste

  • Skiing a trail or run that has been groomed.

Pillows

  • When powder snow accumulates on a rock face, and a skier is able to descend the face jumping from pillow to pillow.

Powder

  • The holy grail! Light, dry, and fluffy snow that is untouched and effortless to ski.

Powder Skis

  • Skis that are designed for skiing in deep, fresh snow. They usually feature a wider waist to increase float in deep snow, and substantial tip and tail rocker to make turning easier.

Rocker or Reverse Camber

  • Designed to mimic the attributes of a water ski to increase flotation and allow for greater maneuverability.

Sandwich construction

  • When ABS plastic or P-Tex is placed between the top sheet and the edge. It stiffens the flex of a ski, allows for more direct energy transfer from the skier into the edge, and is generally easier to repair any edge damage.

Shovel

  • Used to the describe a rockered tip of the ski.

Sidecut

  • The difference between the narrowest part of the ski waist, and the widest points at the tip and tail. This curved shape helps to create the turning radius.

Sidewall

  • The part of the ski that joins and runs perpendicular to the base and top sheet of a ski.

Structure

  • The valleys and troughs that are in the base of the ski. Structure helps break the surface tension of water (snow) that a skier is sliding on and allows them to ski faster. Varying structures can be ground into a ski base to move water in different directions.

Tail

  • The end of the ski behind a skier.

Taper

  • Where the widest part of the ski is in relation to the tip. A ski with minimal taper will see the widest part closer to the tip, whilst a ski with more taper will have the widest part of the ski closer to the skier.  

Tip

  • The end of the ski in front of a skier.

Topsheet

  • The graphic that is on top of the ski.

Tri-Axial Glass

  • A fibreglass weave that lays fibreglass strands at -45deg, 0deg and +45deg.

Turning Radius

  • A function of sidecut, the turning radius equals the natural circle that a pair of skis can make on edge. The more dramatic the sidecut, the tighter the turning radius.

Twin-Tip Skis

  • Skis that feature a turned up tip and tail to make it easy to ski backwards.

Radius

  • Radius is a measurement of the sidecut or the curve on the side of the ski in metres. The smaller the number, the tighter the turn of the ski.

Waist Width

  • Measurement is taken of the narrowest portion across the ski, usually the middle of the sidecut.

Womens Skis

  • Women’s skis are typically designed to better match females lower centre of gravity and hip angles. They may use slightly different materials in construction to allow for easier flexing of the ski, and the narrowest part of the ski tends to be further forward.

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