HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A NEW SLALOM SKI?
WHAT IS THE CORRECT SKI SHAPE FOR ME?
There are two key factors to look at when answering this question the base of the ski and the actual shape of the ski.
1. BASE SHAPE
There are two different types of ski bases on the market; they are the Tunnel base OR Edge to Edge Base.
The Tunnel Base is designed for beginner to intermediate skiers this base has a flat rail on each side of the concave to create stability, and a concave in the middle so that you can still edge around on the ski.
The Edge to Edge Base is for beginners to advanced skiers this base has a concave that runs from one edge to the other making the ski a lot more responsive. More advanced skies have a deeper rocker to them giving them greater turning ability and a more aggressive feel.
2. THE ACTUAL SHAPE OF THE SKI
There are three different shapes of skies on the market to choose from, they are Traditional, Highbred, and Wide Body.
The Traditional Base speaks for its self; it is the stock standard width ski. Most slalom skis are this width and can be found with both bases (Edge to edge or Tunnel base)
The Wide Body slalom has been on the market for a number of years now and most of you may know of it as the Big Daddy. This ski is much wider than most skis and is designed to help you get up and out of the water much easier than a traditional shaped ski. So if you have trouble with deep water starts this could be the ski for.
The HYBRID slalom is the new kid on the block and has only been around few a couple of years, but is becoming more popular each year. This is a ski designed to be wider than a traditional slalom but thinner than a wide body. These skis are normal performance driven top end slalom skis that have a little extra width to help with deep water starts and stability on the water.
There is a little bit of technical talk that you may need to know of before you buy your first ski and get bombarded by the sales person in the store.
More advanced skis have much stronger and lighter compositions (OR cores) materials used in these top end ski can consist of Graphite, Carbon Fiber and Texeailium. While most entry level and beginner slalom skies are made up of a foam core.
All slalom skis have a Flex Ratting; this ratting is measure in three places of the ski, the Tip, Middle and Tail. The higher the number the stiffer the ski is, the stiffer the ski is the faster it will accelerate out of the turn.
All skies have Rocker; this is the curve through the ski from the Tip of the ski to the Tail of the ski. The more Rocker that a ski has the harder it will turn.
All skis have a Bevel; this is the shape of the ski on the edges of the base. This plays a massive part on how the ski performs. The sharper the Bevel the quicker and harder the ski will roll from edge to edge giving you a quicker turn. While the more rounded the bevel the smoother and slower the ski will roll from edge to edge slowing down the turn.
There are two types of fins that you will find on slalom skis, on is a fully adjustable fin the other is a fixed fin. Most slalom skies should also come fitted with a Wing Keel; this is the smaller fin that is attached to the main fin. This Wing Keel is your braking mechanism the greater the angel this is on the greater it will slow you down into your turn. If you are a beginner we advise you start with this off. Adjustable fins are obviously adjustable, my advise is to ride the ski as it is (factory settings) first before playing with the fin. Most of the time they are set perfectly from the factory, how ever if it dose not feel 100% right here are some tips to making it feel better: Forward/backward movement: moving the fin back will make the ski fell longer; it will not turn as easy. But will accelerate faster, the opposite goes for moving the fin forward. Depth: a deeper fin will not allow the ski to slide as easily through the turn, however will not ‘blow out’ of the water at the end of the turn and will also help the ski accelerate by not allowing it to slip through the water under load. Front Fin Depth: the depth of the front of the fin (also known as the surface area) can affect the ski performance. The greater amount of the front of the fin in the water will help to keep the tip of the ski in the water, vice versa goes for less front of the fin in the water.