Side cut: the three measurements in a ski (tip – camber – tail) which give you an idea of what type of skiing you’ll be able to do. To give you an idea, a camber which measures 75mm equals to a racer ski, while 115mm is your top choice when there is one metre of fresh powder. Working out these data, you will obtain the turn radius.
Turn radius: the (theoretical) turn radius refers to a pair of skis without any weight over them. The bigger the difference between the tip and the tail, the smaller the turn radius will be. You should bear in mind that we are talking about a static radius, for it is almost impossible to calculate the dynamic one. More weight on the ski during the descent will alter this number.
Structure: Good skis are made of wood. A higher wood percentage, means a better performance on ice, at speed and more precision during each turn.
Race skis: These are divided into Giant slalom and Special slalom. Any abbreviation containing GS, SL, giant slalom, race, FIS Approved, Original Worldcup refers to skis which belong to the competition circuit.
Giant Slalom: They can be used on the slopes at great speed and remain stable, especially on hard snow. They best suit good to proficient athletic skiers who prefer turns with a bigger radius.
Special Slalom: They are perfect if you intend to do short radius turns and they guarantee quick u-turns, exceptional reactivity and manageability. They best suit good to proficient athletic skiers who prefer turns with a medium to short radius. We advise you to purchase skis with dimensions between 5 and 15/20 cm shorter than your height, depending on your body shape and your ability.
Allround: It does what it says on the tin: these skis go pretty much everywhere. Easy to control and guide (you may also direct the turn with your ankles). An allround skier alternates sideslips to controlled turns and medium to big radius turns to short to narrow radius turns. These skis usually have a soft core. This, together with low radius turns (usually around 15 metres) allows to ski safely and have fun.
The allround sport performance skis belong to this category. They best suit beginners as their soft structure adapts to the movements required before each turn. The allround high performance skis are destined to expert skiers, for they are more aggressive and dynamic.
Allround skis often have a wider camber which helps stability and adapts to more types of snow.
All mountain - these skis are similar to the allround ones, but they are wider and in some cases softer. They are ideal for those who often go off-piste, because wider skis make for better floating in fresh snow.
Here we have all mountain sport performance (for beginners to intermediate skiers) and all mountain high performance (for expert skiers).
Freeski – This category is evolving fast and aims at discovering new frontiers in the world of skis. Here we have freeride and freestyle skis.
Freeride – As the name would suggest, they have a wide camber and are perfect for off-piste skiing. If they are pure freeriding skis, they can be heavy on groomed slopes. It is interesting to look at skis with an off-piste and piste percentage (for instance, 70% freeride, 30% piste or, if you are unsure, 50% freeride – 50% piste), with a camber width between 80 and 90mm. you will be happy both on and off-piste with these skis.
Freestyle: these skis have allround qualities but, thanks to the twin tip structures, they can adapt to all situations. They are light and suit everybody. Pay attention to where you fix your bindings. If they are at the centre, the ski will adapt to any adventure in snow parks, while fixing them at the back will increase stability on and off-piste.
As far as height is concerned, they should ideally be of the same height of the person or 5/10 cm less.
Please remember that there are also women-specific models and ski tests are valuable opportunities to check and try new models. Using them will give you an experience that a lot of words may fail to deliver.