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Shaped Skis Hype

by Emilio Trampuz (Dec. 2002)

Due to lack of snow, I recently skied on my “rock” skis, i.e. my old “straight” skis. After 5 years (or more) on shaped skis, I was curious to see if I would notice a difference. Not much! The main difference seems to be that the “straighter” skis tend to come together more naturally. I noticed my feet were closer together, without any effort to do so. Any differences were very subtle, since there isn’t all that much physical difference.

There is no such thing as a “straight” ski.  “Straight” skis are also shaped, only less so. The tip/waist ratio is one simple way to gauge the ski’s sidecut.


 A totally straight ski (which does not exist) would have a tip to waist ratio of 1.0.

Notice that the old straight skis (such as the Elan Comprex GS) are 32% wider at the tips than at the waist (with a ratio of 1.32).

The modern–day fat powder skis (such as the Rossignol Bandit XXX) have only slightly more sidecut, with a tip/waist ration of 1.36.

Some of the specialized slalom race skis have the highest tip to waist ratio, at 1.71.

Also notice that the extreme shovel-like shapes, which were popular for a while when “shaped” skis first came on the market in the early 1990s, have almost disappeared from the stores. Too much shape makes the tips & tails too “grabby” and doesn’t allow skidding sideways (a common technique for breaking).

At the Mt. Hood Museum in Government camp, you can see skis from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Measure them. You will notice that not one of them is straight. They all have a narrower waist.  Interestingly, some of the really old skis actually keep on tapering down toward the tail, so the tail is even narrower than the waist!

For further proof, see this short video, filmed at the Mt. Hood Museum: http://youtu.be/ACWTl3qe_EI


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