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Anatomy of a Ski: Base to Topsheet

Anatomy of a Ski: Base to Topsheet

Don't know your pre-preg from your torsion box? And what's so great about vertical sidewalls anyway? Skis have fairly simple constructions, but it helps to understand a few terms and concepts.
posted: 09/07/2012


› Camber
Convex curvature built into the length of a ski. Distributes the pressure of a skier's weight to the tip and tail, giving the ski more grip on the snow. › Dampening The reduction of the vibrations that occur when a ski is in motion. A damp ski is better able to hold an edge in the snow— but it might lack liveliness. 

› Dimensions 
Tip, waist and tail widths: an expression of the shape of a ski. 

› Mold 
A metal plank with a ski-shaped cavity milled into it. Typically, ski components (and liberal amounts of epoxy) are placed into the mold, which is then subjected to intense heat and pressure to bond the components and squeeze out excess epoxy.

› Pre-preg 
A type of prefabricated laminate used to reinforce cores. Sheets of fiberglass fabric are impregnated with epoxy, cured and then cut to fit the ski's width and placed in the mold.

› Rocker (reverse camber) 
The opposite of camber: The tip and tail curve up off the snow. Makes skis more buoyant in powder and easier to pivot on hardpack.


› Sidecut 
The narrowing of a ski at its waist; aids in turning when the ski is tipped on edge and pressured into an arc.

› Sidecut radius 
A measurement, usually expressed in meters, of the depth of a ski's sidecut curvature.

› Taper 
The difference between the tip and tail widths. A ski with a smaller taper generally initiates arcs easily, resulting in a turnier ride, while a ski with a larger taper is less hooky and easier to skid.

› Titanal 
The brand name of the aluminum alloy commonly used in laminates.

› Torsional rigidity 
A ski's ability to resist twisting, often achieved by aligning glass fibers across the core at an angle (see "torsion box"). By increasing torsional rigidity, a manufacturer can make a lighter, metalfree ski that still holds an edge on hardpack.


reviews of Anatomy of a Ski: Base to Topsheet
Really- That's all you can come up with for ski construction? Wow- talk about dumbing things down. I would expect more from this article. Your lead in asks what's so great about vertical sidewalls and then.....nothing. Skis represent some of the most sophisticated types of composite constructions out there. I would hope that there is some follow up article that really tells us SOMETHING. How about the new 5 point sidecuts- why they call it a turn radius (its a part of a circle)- what sidewalls do and how are they made, etc.
I, too, was expecting a more detailed explanation. Maybe this could be addressed in a future article. Thanks
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