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Time for New Skis? Here Are Tips to Consider

Love that early-season snow.

Colorado resorts opening this week include Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Telluride, Crested Butte, Purgatory, Ski Cooper and Monarch. Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Winter Park Resort and Wolf Creek all opened earlier.

Conditions are good in some eastern mountains as well. Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia opened Tuesday, and Sugar Mountain in North Carolina had its earliest opening in its 43-year history this year.

If you want to get after it on new skis, REI is offering a sale that runs through Monday, Nov. 26. More than 30 pairs of skis feature sale prices and a bunch of other winter gear is also sporting short-term price reductions.

To help, below we've rolled out an REI Expert Advice video on ski selection plus 3 tips from the REI Expert Advice article Downhill Skis: How to Choose.


1. All-mountain skis are hugely popular, but a specialized ski might suit your specific needs.

All-mountain skis (with waist widths up to around 85mm) perform nicely on groomed runs of all levels, including moguls and can handle powder with reasonable effectiveness. What other options can you consider?

All-mountain wide (84mm-105mm waists): Good for go-everywhere skiers who find themselves off-piste and in powder about as often as they’re on groomed slopes.

Powder (101mm+ waists): For serious fans of deep, light snow who stray between groomers, sidecountry and backcountry.

Twin tip/freestyle (80mm-122mm waists): For park and pipe funsters who also take turns on groomed runs and in powder.

Backcountry (randoneé or telemark; 78mm-102mm waists): For those who prefer unmaintained, untracked terrain but also want a ski that performs satisfactorily at resorts.


2. Know your sidecut radius.

The article explains this factor in detail, but if you recall nothing else, remember this: the smaller the number (shown in meters), the quicker a ski will turn.


3. Camber or rocker?

Rocker (and variations of rocker) has become a major design factor in skies in recent years. It has helped make skiing easier by prompting easier flotation and turning. We see its influence growing more prevalent these days in all-mountain and backcountry skis in particular.

Our separate REI Expert Advice article, Rocker for Skis Explained, sheds more light on this topic.

Note: If snowboards are on your shopping list, check out the tips we offered for boarders on Wednesday.

All photos ©2012 REI/Damon Parrish.

Posted on at 4:00 AM

Tagged: downhill skis, skiing and skis

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