On Piste with Rocker
Written by Dan Morgan, Wednesday, 05 January 2011
To most alpine, recreational skiers, skiing is about having fun. As all seasoned skiers can attest, having tools which make learning easier and skiing fun are very important.
Our ski of the year, is not a single ski, is not the most glamorous ski, the fattest ski, or the ski with the most rocker (though it does have some).
We first saw Rossignol’s Alias pre season (note this ski is called the Avenger 74 in the US), and agreed even then that this ski had the potential to popularise the already popular rocker phenomenon onto the feet of beginners and accomplished piste skiers alike. Not simply because it utilised a small amount of rocker technology and therefore was fashionable, but because such an implementation actually made a beginner through intermediate ski easier to turn on, not to mention giving a little extra float through powder.
Rossignol aren’t the only ones to do it - there are a fair few brands subtly adding small amounts of rocker to their skis, for example Salomon’s Enduro in their all-mountain ski range, and pretty much every ski in K2’s all-mountain range (A.M.P for men, T:NINE for women) for another. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find a ski in K2’s line up this year that is not rockered.
So, a technology primer. Rocker describes a range of changes that can be made to a traditionally cambered ski to help it float better in powder. Best illustrated in visual form:
The rocker or reverse camber shown in the example is extreme normally found in full on rockered powder skis in order illustrate it easily, but rocker can be applied to many parts or a ski and to varying degrees. What we are talking about with skis like the Alias, Enduro etc. is simply to make the tips of the ski start to curve up towards the sky a little bit earlier than normal, bring the contact point of the ski on the snow a little closer to the skier’s boot.
How does that help?
Easy turn initiation - Rossignol have used early rise tips and tails as part of their auto turn technology on the Alias. Imagine going to make a turn, and the tip of your ski is already making less contact with the snow. The ski’s actual pivot point is closer to you, meaning an easy turn, and your tips are out of the way a bit more too. Less hooky, less caught edges.
The effective running edge of the ski, or the parts of the ski making contact with the snow as you turned, skidded or carved, is shorter so the ski feels more nimble.
Float - If you venture off piste, even occasionally, just to the side or it’s one of those days where you beat the piste bashers onto the slopes after snowfall, you’ll benefit from the more “upturned” tips and tails helping you float without adding more surface area to the ski. Remember the effective edge being shorter doesn’t matter in deep snow so you get the benefit of all the skis lengths, plus the additional float from the float friendly tips.
So rocker, reverse camber, early rise, whatever you call it, is here to stay and now accessible to all skiers.
Having had a number of beginners through intermediates use these skis this season and seen the results, I encourage anyone to seek them out in the rental shop, or consider them if you are buying.
Links below for more information:
K2 piste rocker skis
Rossignol Alias with Autoturn
Salomon Enduro piste rocker ski
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