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Skis: Understanding Rocker

Skis: Understanding Rocker

No longer new and innovative, rocker’s here to stay, part of the ski-design landscape.
By Joe Cutts
posted: 09/26/2011

- WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT ROCKER? No one has any trouble understanding the primary benefit: flotation. If you’ve ever seen a water ski you can imagine how reverse camber—rocker—would make a snow ski more buoyant in powder. But rocker has become just as important in everyday, all-mountain conditions. Why? Two reasons: shock absorption and, well, call it “pivotability.” By rockering the tip, thus relieving its downward pressure on the snow, manufacturers can make skis smoother riding and easier to balance on in rough terrain.  Rocker typesThe skier doesn’t get bounced upward as much by the bumps that a rockered tip encounters. (Yes, finally, a technology that all you bumpers can love.) And by subtly rockering both the tip and tail, designers can make a ski easier to pivot and less grabby on the snow. If you’re still foot-steering and skidding turns, rather than tipping and carving, the ski feels noticeably looser, easier to steer. 

- IS CAMBER DEAD? No, traditional camber still has its place, especially if you like rebound or want positive tip and tail pressure on hard snow. But as you’ll see from a spin through these pages, nearly all skis now have rocker in some form.

- WHAT’S NEXT? Designers are still tinkering and, more important, still refining manufacturing techniques. But rocker already feels like a mature technology, and the search is already on for the Next Big Thing.


Wondering how to ski rocker? Here are some tips.

reviews of Skis: Understanding Rocker
Really struggling with the whole rocker concept, grew up with the importance of learning to ski properly, using angulation, not "If you’re still foot-steering and skidding turns, rather than tipping and carving, the ski feels noticeably looser, easier to steer. " I must admit that being a midwest skier, a wide fat ski doesn't have much use on man-made hardpack, so I might be bias, but I struggle to go through these buyers guides of skis that are made to smear instead of carve the slopes, and the hardpack group only contains one pair of race-ready skis (Dynastar Course ti). It would be a bit of a concession in the rocker - antirocker war if you would just bring back a race ski review. I would love to hear about the smooth speed building power of the Atomic D2 GS, or just how tight of a circle you can carve on the Nordica Doberman SL-R Power Race. I am sure that rocker has its place on a wide fat ski and 24" of powder, and there were probably a few days at Mt. Bohemia that I may have enjoyed them, but I think I had just as much fun on the 205 Rossignol 4s's, (because they had the chicken) that I bought for $5 from a ski swap, because guess what, they are mogul ready too. So, I guess rocker is winning the war at the moment, but when I watch the group from Chicago with the brand new 110mm waist rocker skis side slipping over my railroad tracks on the normal midwest morning, I will smile as I use the well groomed side slipped hill to lay them down again. ROUND 2 to CAMBER!
I hear you! Put the rockered skis on anything hard and it would be interesting to see how they do. Maybe the slight tip and tail rocker is meant to be a compromise but I wonder how many +12" days do any of us ever get? Those that get it deep regularly probably have 2 or 3 pairs of skis to match the depth that they ski. I been pretty lucky when heading out west and getting fresh. If it ever gets deep enough for fully rockered skis, I'll just rent some for the day.
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