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Skills, snow and slopes: How to find the perfect skis for any condition

Skis have evolved over time, and the ones you had as a kid probably aren’t going to cut it on today’s slopes. Here is what you need to know, including terminology you might not be familiar with.

All Mountain Skis

‘All mountain’ means anything from modified carving skis to slimmed down powders or tame versions of big mountain skis. Really, an all mountain ski is sort of like an all-terrain tire or all season tire. They can do lots of things, and they come in all shapes and sizes, but they don’t specialize in anything.

Big Mountain Freerides

Big mountain Freeride skis are for expert skiers who want to ski fast in steep or technical terrain. So, if you’re planning on going to Europe for a skiing expedition, you plan on tackling the more treacherous stuff at Snowbird, the “Black Hole” and Smugglers’ Notch, Paradise Run in Vermont, or pretty much anything at Jackson Hole; then you’ll want these skis.

If you are going to Utah for Snowbird, The Canyon (which has a huge diverse skiing scene), or Deer Valley, then make sure you book a place at Park City Utah lodging – it’s totally worth it.

Backcountry or Alpine Skis

Alpine skis are basically anything from super svelte-trekking and ski-mountaineering to freeride stuff. These skis tend to have some of the most innovative rocker profiles on the market, and they also tend to be lighter weight than other ski types.

But, because of their composition, they’re hard to keep damp and chatter-free on hard snow and you might end up damaging them at the base and on the edges. Widths come in 70 to 90mm, and 90 to 115 mm.

Powder Skis

These skis are for… you guessed it, deep snow. Their focus is on flotation and maneuverability in the soft snow – powder. They can range in size from a 98mm waist to 125mm, with wider widths being suitable for the really deep snow. Do you think you’ll hit 24+ inch days?

Carving Skis

Carving skis are for people who spend most or all of their time on groomed slopes. These skis have narrow dimensions of less than 85mm, and are sometimes referred to as “racing skis” because of how they feel when you are going downhill.

Bar none, these skis will teach you more about the dynamics of fast downhill skiing than any other type of ski out there. So, keep that in mind. If you don’t like, or don’t want to learn, speed skiing, don’t choose this ski.

Park and Pipe or Freestyle Skis

Park skis are what all the young folks are riding these days. These used to be called “twintips.” Park skis are short, lightweight, and narrow skis with the tails turned upwards so that landing (yeah, they’re made for jumping) is easier. If you’re not a freestyler, you don’t like to do tricks on skis; then these aren’t for you. But, if you want to explore some of the indoor or outdoor “trick” parks, then try them out.

Gary Harper is a busy travel agent. He loves writing about vacations on the web. His articles appear on many vacation and resort websites.

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