No doubt about it, I fully embraced fat, rocker tipped skis last season with the Black Diamond Megawatt. In the powder, they turn with the slightest rotation of the hips, making just about any skier, with any ability, feel like they are the king of the hill, allowing them to rip big bowls and phat chutes like they are a hot shot ski model posing for the next TGR movie.
Many people I know are riding reverse camber skis these days, and why not? They float in the powder like nobody’s business and in soft snow, turn on a dime. They also often make challenging ski conditions like breakable crust and wind funk, a bit more bearable. Now this is all well and good, but what are the drawbacks?
Kind of a poop-stance turn with this guy.
Well, I don’t think there are too many, but I do think there’s one big one worth talking about. The thing with rocker tips skis is that they require very little in the way of hip angulation to make them turn. Often, when skiing fat skis, people are said to look as though they are sitting on a toilet when they ski, just steering their way down the hill with little in the way of articulation in the hips and knees. Not too big of a deal really, but things can get a bit more confusing when you reach for traditionally cambered skis and hit the hardpack.
The thing isï¿½is that traditionally shaped skis need way more hip angulation to engage the edges and drive them through the turn than rocker tips skisï¿½especially on steep, hard snow. For someone like me who has a few pairs of skis, and uses them all, it can sometimes be challenging switching from one construction to the other. With out hip angulation, traditionally cambered skis will skid through turns instead of carve and a relaxed (on the pot) stance will often put one immediately in the back seat and out of control. So what does this tell us?
Much better hip angulation with this guy.
Photo courtesy of OffPisteSkiing.com.
Well, it could tell us that Randosteve is just lacking the skills to be able to switch from one ski to the other without being able to adapt to them quickly. Maybe I do, but in past years when all my skis were traditionally cambered ski, I’d found it much easier to switch from one ski the other. Orï¿½it could tell us that reverse camber skis are really just a crutch for skiing powder. This is closer to the truth I think, and although I enjoy the ease of the turn on reverse cambered/rocker tipped skis, I do think they allow for a lot less refined technique from the skier and lower the learning curve of skiing a lot.
Is this a bad thing? Well, not necessarily, since now nearly every skier can ski fast and fearless down the mountain. But what about the pros that have put years and years into refining their technique and bulking up their quads in order to crank a turn at 90mph on long, stiff, cambered skis?! What about the day when there was only a hand full of hot-shot skiers, like Plake, Schmidt, Peterson, that could rip through the crud with the greatest of ease. Now-a-days, nearly every tall-t’d, snot nosed kid can be seen doing their best TGR impersonation down the mountainï¿½and doing pretty well at it at the same time. I guessï¿½this is a good thing?
So what makes a good skier these days? Is it the ski?
Good skiers make any condition look effortless, period.
I suspect many younger skiers would say “why ski anything else?” The only answer I can come up with is that rocker skis are terrible for touring. But for downhill-only skiers … it’s hard to see why anyone would bother with tradiational skis.
I felt off balance and skiddish when trying out some rockered tip skis this past season…I’m used to staying forward in my stance and engaging my tips with each turn, so the rockered skis threw me off immediately. I figured them out eventually, but the style felt rather complacent…just kind of standing there and twitching your hips back and forth instead of really cranking into a turn and following through on your edge- which is what I enjoy most. I guess it’s all about what allows you to have the most fun…even though I want to get a pair of rockered tip skis for next season’s deepest days, nothing will ever replace a traditionally cambered ski for me.
I agree with Mason. From the days I thought I looked good in the mid 80’s pushing the straight 200’s down a chute to today, there was and still are those guys/girls that cruised effortlessly past me, never changing style or speed. Any condition. Period.
It’s similar to mtb racing. Look at the Masters class. The guys with more money than sense with the full suspension, carbon frame, disk brakes, tubeless, etc… get beat down by some guy with great skills and a big engine on some aluminum bike with caliper brakes and only a front suspension fork.
It’s all be cause of McConkey. (http://www.mspfilms.com/msptv?nid=1358) However, it didn’t matter what he skiied on. He was still better than 99% of the rippers out there. I skied in the US Freeskiing comps for a few years and watched younger kids rip it up and also get really $&*$## up because of the lack of experience. Regardless of your boards, experience and strength is what makes you really good. You won’t make those stupid mistakes that could cost a tree or rocky face some damage. All that aside, I will never go back to traditional skis. My Praxis Mtn Jibs (backcountry) and Powderboards (resort) are about all I need… I like my libtech nas pow’s (resort) also. Sick setup all around. You can pound through about any conditions on any of these rides and have a great day rain, pow, or shine.
While I agree good skiers can make anything look effortless, I still think it is much harder to transition from skiing rocker type skis to trad camber skis…as opposed to tow different types of trad camber skis.
Ryan…never say never…or I guess nothing in your case. 🙂
Interesting post Randosteve- I’ve had similar feelings all year long. Two years ago I got a set of K2 Seths for general pow ripping and really loved the slight rocker in the tip- so much so that this past season I picked up some K2 Hellbents. More rocker must be better right? At first the HB were amazing- incredible float, nimble, effortlessly jibbable and playful. By the end of the season though I got to thinking that I really miss ‘feeling’ the snow- on a ski that fat/rockered you just don’t sink enough. They have too much float if anything (I didn’t think that was even possible a few years ago!).
Next season I think I’ll sell the Hellbents and look for something more like the Seths… One nice thing about the ski industry is that there is no shortage of options in the fat twin department. I just don’t think I like massively rockered skis anymore- although some rocker is good. All good things in moderation, no?
Skiing powder is about as easy as the Missionary Position – if you need a crutch for it, you’ve got bigger problems than just your ski geometry.
Singing: ….If powder skis are wrong, then I dont ‘wanna be a right.
Wow…those are both great ‘canned’ comments…and from two different view points. So does that mean you don;t ski any rocker tipped skis Andrew? Your time will come.
I think you have to acknowledge that they are many flavors of the latest generation of powder skis. The Spatuala, Lotus 138 and Praxis Powder are full reverse sidecut, reverse camber skis. I had a pair of the original Praxis mounted alpine, but I got rid of them because at Kirkwood, the traverses can get firm even on a powder day, and because they didn’t help me improve my powder techinique on my touring skis. I now have a pair of K2 Obshethed for resort and a pair of DPS Wailer 105 for touring. Both of these have rockered tips that are longer than traditional tips but traditional camber and sidecut underfoot, although both are pretty minimal. I find the rockered tips keep your tips up in powder or in tricky conditions likte crust, but you still use a lot of tradition powder technique. The traditional traits underfoot let you survive firmer snow conditions much better than the full reverse/reverse skis. I find that they are the best compromise for midwinter snow conditions.
I agree with Tony on the idea of tip rocker + minimal camber and sidecut. With this setup, you can be more forward and aggressive in powder, because it’s hard to push the tips under the snow. For PNW “powder” this is a great thing indeed. And the 2 photos above — those guys would probably look as they do regardless of what skis they were on.
In my most humble opinion, there ain’t no such thing as ‘cheating’. I know a (very) old and bold skier who makes the same claims about skiers ‘cheating’ when skiing on carvers (or any other new-fangled contraption which doesn’t have straight sides)!
I do have and ski on some phatties with rocker and think they do just as everyone says – make powder skiing easier, or make chopped up crud seem like powder. I think as much as anything it is the latest rage, like ballet skis, 210cm “must have” race skis, twin tips, split tails, etc..
Good, better, best? How about different?? It’s about fun isn’t it? If you’re having fun who is to say you are “cheating?”
I do understand the idea that skiing on the new-age powder skis is somehow cheating the learning curve. But on the other hand, I really like the possibility of becoming proficient on a number of different ski styles. As long as you do keep in mind the different skis that you are on then it should just be like adding a new type of bike to your quiver. Different conditions warrant different equipment. I just recently bought my first pair of rockered skis but in no way does that mean that I will leave my Mantras at home even in the powder. It is nice just to have the option to ski on a different technology. I love the options available and the ability to “re-learn” skiing on each new technology that comes out.
That last post is not randosteve, just a colleague And I apologize Steve, that last post came from the shop computer and I didn’t realize it would show up with your name. My mistake.
Get back to work!! 🙂
Whoever wrote that is so wrong…the rocker skis are for freeskiers not for racers so y complain if u dont use them for doing tight turns on the groom or dont use them at all… And rocker skis are the future now. Not all skis are gonna be rockered but prob the majority of them will be… So dont get your panties in a bunch about rocker skis…
rideak…sounds like you are the one in a bunch. it’s just a discussion (and an accurate one at that)…so chill.
Surfers and Kayakers have a verity of equipment. Surfers have Long boards, Short boards and those Jesus Paddle board things. Kayaks have touring, whitewater(rodeo, expidition, …), and surf(with fins). Anyway, if one ski suited everyone then we would all run to Walmart and buy the latest mass produced model. So I would say that part of skiing is the hunt for the piece of equipment that makes you happy. Personally, I like rockered skis because I can ski longer on those vacations that require 5 days in a row.
I skied a pair of Hybrid camber/rocker skies today in late season A-Basin powder and am completely sold. They float so well and I had a blast. Skiing is all about having fun and I believe today I had fun on a rockered ski.
I just scoured the web for another pair of cambered skis and bought them, because I like subtle choices in turn initiation, I like power, and I like rebound. If a ski is bent backward when you are still standing on the flat at the top of the run, you can’t even get a good skate stroke off of it. It does not spread your weight evenly across the snow so at lower speeds you push a bow wave rather than planing. The tip and tail do not seek the bottom of the mountain to carry you there fast. The powerful rebound of the cambered ski to its unloaded shape is what provides the lateral projection of the lower body to the point of initiation of the next turn. Linked turns on cambered skis can be made much faster. The flappy skis are great for the kind of Chugach helicopter 3,000′-in-three-turn drops that make it into the movies, because at those speeds you cannot afford the risk of tips going subnivean, but if you climb for turns or ski at resorts, or still ski on any condition other than bottomless powder, then you need more than a putter in your bag. Reverse camber is a great marketing move to encourage fad-buying by the video-obsessed, but for real skiers, it is like Earth Shoes, or Rear Entry Boots. We’ll just have to wait for it to become an optional shape, rather than the only shape available.
interesting thoughts Randy. i’m not sure it convinces me to trade in my skis with rockered tips though.
Skiing is for me much like dancing. The fun comes from the spontaneity, elasticity, rebound and freedom of movement – and from the interplay with others.
That technology renders skills unnecessary is nothing new: it impacts every walk of life. That it should progressively eliminate fun is another matter. As far as I can make out, on-piste skiing has, with each passing season, become either faster, more dangerous and boring, or simply tedious and more boring.
At the latest with the advent of carvers, I began to feel something was wrong. Where previously ecstatic on a pair of hard, straight 195s, I just felt patronised, cheated and bored with the new fad. Carving seemed from the start little more interesting than driving a car: all the body’s energy, elan and kick progressively eliminated.
I decided early to ignore this, and (much to the amusement of friends) to this day chop up steep slopes with short swings, rebounds and air-time. Dance, pure dance.
What of offpiste, though, where rebound is a danger? My feeling is that, for experienced skiers, rockers offer less disturbance danger to snow under tension, especially as obstacles on an approach are more swallowed than exploited. That skill, safety and environmental impact play so small a role, however, freely saps any pleasure in watching.
For the ski industry, these are perhaps secondary to addressing a need no longer answered on the piste. Can off-piste ease equate to sales? That within their own cerebral confines, Tom, Dick or Harry feel they can ski any mountain, yes. That the skis are a novelty, yes, yes, of course yes.
But that people will experience the hard joy of advance, learn to identify, and come back year after year to hone their skills? As with carving, I suspect not.
I used to race (FIS/College) and has hip initiation and rapid weight trasition drilled into my cellebellum. I cannot get used to the feeling of a rocker ski at all – feel like I’m only passivly in control of things. I enjoy some BC hikes and get into some deep stuff once in a while, but not TGR-style very often. I now split my time on tele and rockers make the situation even worse. O use tom fischer T-Stix which feel like DH racing skis on tele. I can rip and feel in control. Any other ex-racers feel the same way? Any recommendations on a nice reverse camber skio for ripping at very high speed and also modestly capable of soft stuff?
OK some good points here— I had seths 179 and loved Em first time used and up till this year when I got K2 Hardside in 174 because I have waybacks in 174 and tour in them and like them noproblem BUT the hardside’s work great in untracked but anything lumpy and I get thrown on the back seat– I feel as if I have to be toooo far foreward to stop them running out from under me and on steeps same thing going into a turn I want to feel the tip in/ on the snow but find I’m already on the heels when I pass the fall line— I’m thinking I should have got the next length up ??– would they ski more like my Waybacks or would the Rocker still take away the ”feel”–Oh and they don’t control your speed as well in deep snow cos they float toomuch .
raynkeighley…i think i generally prefer flat tailed skis over skis with rockered tails. a longer length may help negate that feeling of falling off the back of the ski, which seems logical since a ski with a rocked tail would most likely be for powder.
of course there are varying degrees of rockered tips and tails…but i think for firm and steep terrain i’d rather just have a flat tail…and maybe a little rockered tip for softer snow.