Over the years, ski technology has come a long way; from the construction of the skis to the shape. In fact, it is the shape of the ski that has really made navigating the mountains so much easier.
Not trying to get too technichal here, but it's eye opening to see how ski technology has drastically changed. I recently chatted with Nick Castognoli, the PR and Communication Director at Rossignol, for some tips and background info on skis and fitting kids. I will highlight some tips and key lingo as best I can.
What is the right length of ski for the kids?
1. For Beginners: Ski should hit from the collorbone to chin when standing on its tail.
2. For more advanced: Chin to nose.
3. For advanced: Nose and above.
The larger the number, the longer the ski and the more stiff it becomes.
When you have a ski that has a great hourglass shape, it is much easier to turn. Meaning the tips and tails are wider on both. This is where the rocker technology comes into play. Check out this link for all kinds of technical info. In a rocker ski, you have the tips that are drastically turned up. In fact, when looking at the ski from the side, it looks like a smiley face. It is the easiest turner and great for beginners. Here is a great diagram. The amount of ski on the snow starts from where the tip comes down, so with an exagerated tip, there is less snow surface for the ski. When kids are learning to ski, it doesn't "grab" as much and helps facilitate an easy turn. I describe it as riding a trail horse. Even if you try to go the wrong way, the horse still travels the same trail as the others.
As kids go up in size and aggression, they can get more into a race ski which is what we did with Emily this year. She is in a Radical RSX ski. This type of ski she needs to control. Like a horse with a little bit more of its own mind. The "rider" has to have a stronger hold in order to make the horse do what she wants it to do. Need to keep more on the balls of the feet to turn. Power goes to the edges to make the turn and carries more quickly down the mountain.
Camber vs Rocker: Camber is the upward curve in the middle of the ski. Better in harder snow and race skis for even pressure when turning. Rocker pressure is more on the tip and tail-more flex and harder to catch an edge.
Boots are key: They are the steering wheel for your skis. If kids boots don't fit well or are big, they have less control. 3 buckle vs 4 buckle... highest performance with 4 buckles. Tiny guys can use the rear entry boots. They are easy to get on and off.
Keep equipment up to date: Technology has come a long way. If you haven't skied in ages, try again as it has become "easier" to learn.
With beginners, Rocker skis that are shorter will be best to learn.
Good luck sorting through the technical stuff and I'm excited to see how Emily's faster, stiffer ski will do this year. Enjoy!