Know Your Skis

Ski Jargon Explained

So you are about to spend your hard earned cash on an expensive set of brand new skis and you are hit with technical terms and numbers. Make sure you make the right decision and use our jargon buster below to help explain all of the technical lingo!

Tip, Tail and Waist

Starting off nice and simple! The tip of the ski is the front part of the ski in front of your binding, the waist is located where your bindings are located and the tail is behind the bindings… easy peasy!


A bit like the turning circle of a car but for your skis. The natural turning circle of a ski will change massively depending on the purpose of the ski and is defined by the sidecut. So for super tight turns on a slalom ski you will be looking for a turning circle of around 12m and for a big mountain monster you would be looking more like a turning circle of 40m!


The sidecut of the ski relates to the profile of the edge of the ski. As a general rule the curvier a ski, with large tips and tails but a narrow waist will be easier to turn and a wider straight up and down profile will be harder to turn but float through pow. The sidecut is typically shown in reviews and shops in mm eg 128/90/116 this translates to tip/waist/tail

Reverse Sidecut

Some fat powder skis actually get wider from the tip before narrowing at the waist and then getting wider again before reaching the tails. This can mean that reviews and specs on a ski can have a 4 or 5 width measurement. For example the Armada TST would show as 117/130/100/121


The core of a ski represents the material between the base and topsheet. Different materials have an impact on the performance of the ski. Typical materials include metal, wood, kevlar, fibreglass and titanal (an aluminum alloy). Lighter materials mean lighter skis which make them more lively, easier to maneuver and generally more flexible. Denser materials and make for a heavier ski that are more stable at speed and help to dampen vibrations to provide a smoother ride.


Flex does what is says on the tin… the amount that you can bend a ski from side to side and along their length. An increased flex makes for a more absorbent and easier ride and a stiff ski will increase stability.

Sidewall Construction

The side of the ski that links the topsheet and edges. Sidewalls help with stability and provide grip whilst also protecting the core and strengthening the ski.

Cap Construction

When a ski has no sidewall the topsheet extends all the way to the edge of the skis. This results in a more forgiving ski (it is harder to catch an edge) and one that is easier to turn but that lacks the performance attributes.

Ski Profiles

1. Traditional Camber

The classic… the tips and tails make contact with the ground but the centre is arched up. A camber makes it easier to transfer weight to the tips and tails which results in increased grip and turning ability. The bigger the gap, the livelier the skis!

2. Camber with Tip Rocker

This shape improves float in the thick fluffy stuff whilst removing you from catching the tip. The camber in the middle helps the ski to maintain grip on hard packed snow.

3. Flat with Tip Rocker

The tip rocker improves float in the white fluffy stuff and helps to prevent you from catching the tip. If you like to ski both directions or spin then this isn’t for you – the flat tail will catch leaving you with your tail between your legs!

4. Camber with Tip and Tail Rocker

The standard all mountain ski – the camber in the centre helps with on piste grip whilst the tip and tail rocker help with the fresh stuff. A profile that offers all mountain capability without specialising in either on piste performance or a day in the backcountry.

5. Flat with Tip Rocker and Tail Rocker

The tip and tail rocker help you to float in deep snow and improved stability help make this a popular park and powder ski. Most commonly found in park skis. Reduced grip on piste and hard packed snow.

6. Full Rocker (Reverse Camber)

The simplest way to think of a rocker is by thinking of a rocking chair. The flat centre of the ski is flat with the ground and the tip and tail are curved upwards more than normal. This helps a ski to float in powder but can reduce the grip and stability when on piste or hard packed snow. Reserved for the mega-deep powder days.

Posted in Blog, Gear, Scientific - mind blowing stuff... Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.