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The Skinny on Rocker

Face it. New skis are cool. And you thought your midfats with that nice carvy sidecut were great. Rocker has changed everything in the past two years. And it’s come of age this season.

You probably know how rocker floats you in powder, saving your legs for more runs. But you might not know that rocker makes turning easier (you don’t have to drive the tip anymore), loosens up the ski when you need it (you can pivot in glop or hardpack), and makes those stupid-fat boards (120 mm-plus underfoot) unnecessary in all but Alaska settings. Look for a smidgen (Frontside) to a ton (Powder Surf) in any ski you buy.

Making Sense of Rocker

Rocker. Camber. Elongated Low Profile. Auto Turn. CAMROCK. Early rise. Elf Shoe Technology. BS? No, not really. But muddling marketing jargon can confuse the hell out of all of us, so here’s a quick breakdown to help sort out the mess.


Traditional camber. The middle of the ski arcs up under the boot. When traditionally cambered skis are weighted, pressure is distributed out towards the tip and tail. This creates the ultimate in hard snow grip and glide. Camber falters in soft snow, however,  because it can cause tip dive.

Full rocker. When set on a flat surface, the tip and tail of the ski are elevated. Full rocker provides the ultimate in ease of use in soft snow by keeping the tips and tails above the surface, allowing skiers to pivot turns. The downside? Loss of edge hold.

Early rise/tip rocker. By moving the contact point in the tip of the ski closer to the binding, skiers gain the soft snow maneuverability and easy turn initiation of rocker with the hard snow grip of traditional camber.

Full hybrid. Camber underfoot and rocker in the tip and tail of the ski. These skis offer the float and pivotability of full rocker in soft snow, but because there’s camber underfoot they also grip hard snow reasonably well.

From the Early Winter 2012 issue. Back to Ski Test 2013.

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