Downhill or Alpine skiing: Types of Ski

Friday, 02 April 2010 17:10

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Skiing, both alpine and traditional, first appeared in Chile around the 1930's, and has evolved to such an extent that nowadays it is very easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the range of equipment that is offered. The variety of materials, designs, slopes and conditions have made possible a huge number of different techniques and types of skiing.

In choosing your skis, the most important things you need to have in mind for your decision are your level of experience and the type of skiing you want to practice.

Although it is still possible to find classical skis, these days the tendency is towards curved or parabolic skis. Before, the measurement was determined 5 or 10 cm greater than the skier, these days the trend is completely the opposite.

Parabolic skis are wider to cover a greater surface area and therefore are more stable. Due to the materials and technology from which they are constructed, they are shorter and are easier to maneuver. For beginners and intermediate skiers the ski must measure 10 or 15 cm less than the height of the skier. For more advanced skiers, the ski can measure 5 or 10 cm less than their height. Another important point in the choice of skis is their weight, especially for short skiers. In general, shorter people and women need lighter skis, which are much easier to control.

General Ski Types

Competition skis (Racing)
These are narrow, stiff skis designed for competition for shock absorption and high speed vibrations. They can be of two types: Giant Slalom (large and fast turns) which are sometimes chosen by expert skiers for deep and wet snow because of their edge hold and stability. Slalom (for faster turning power than giant slalom) have an excellent hold on ice and give short, quick turns on steep and icy terrain.

Skis for on and off the slopes
Designed for intermediate and advanced skiers who want to ski off and on the slopes. They are wider and slower than competition skis and don't require a perfect technique.

Carvers skis
Similar to the type above, these are designed for beginners or intermediates, and are slower and allow for carved turns, that is, cutting the snow, or using the edge of the ski. These are typically for occasional skiers, for example, on the weekends.

Freeride skis
Used in all types of snow and for all parts of the mountain. Thanks to their versatility, they are very popular. They are wider than competition skis but narrower than powder skis for powder slopes.

Freeride skis for powder snow
These skis are heavier and are used mainly for powder snow but are not recommended for groomed surfaces as they can be difficult to maneuver.

Freestyle skis
Referring to the name "new school", these were designed for tricks a and jumps, similar to snowboards. They are shorter than traditional skies and have excellent maneuverability.

Ski Boards
These are characteristically short, usually between 60 and 100 cm long. One of the first models of this type that appeared was the Big Foot. They are used for tricks and jumps, but are unstable at high speeds.

Women's skis
Generally lighter and more flexible than those designed for men. The fixings on these skis are put further forward to make them more stable and to allow for easier turns.

These skis are designed for children between 10 and 16 years old, and come in all types: competition, parabolic and freeride, for example. In general, they are lighter, more flexible and shorter.


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