Types of Skiing

By Doug Schnitzspahn, Editor-in-Chief, Elevation Outdoors Magazine

Recreational

Skiers - SnowlinkThe majority of people who ski every year are recreational skiers. If you like to get out, ride the lifts and make a few turns at the local resort or on vacation a few times a year, you are a recreational skier. The whole idea when it comes to your skis is finding boards that make the experience more fun so that you can enjoy those precious days on the hill. You are in luck, recreational skier. New innovations in ski shapes and technology mean that it is far easier to ski than ever before. If you have not skied in a long time, you will soon learn that skis these days are shorter and feature more aggressive sidecuts (the difference between the width of the ski at the tip and waist), making it far easier to turn them. Recreational skis are built mostly to handle groomed runs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself and learn to ski bumps, trees and even powder on a good pair of recreational boards. Furthermore, rentals and demos have improved as well, making it easier for you to try out quality equipment at the resort to make a better decision about what ski is right for you.

Pipe/Park (or Freestyle)

Skier - SnowlinkThe sport’s new school evolved from snowboarding and skateboarding. Instead of turning and following a line down the mountain, freestyle skiing is about creativity on jumps, rails, half pipes and other manmade objects. It’s also the place to showcase your skills — pipe and park skiers flip, twist, spin and often ride backwards. Park and pipe have ushered in a new tribe of skiers led by young stars like Simon Dumont, Tanner Hall and Kristi Leskinen who have made the sport aggressive, fun and acrobatic. Short, stable twin-tip skis are the ticket here, since park and pipe skiers need their boards to perform going in either direction and want to be able to swing them around quick underfoot. That doesn’t mean freestyle skiers need to be confined to the park, however, new school is an attitude and more and more freestyle skiers are taking the skills they have learned out into the off-piste and backcountry.

Race

Skier - SnowlinkAs the most organized form of skiing, racing has historically been the center of the sport and still rules in Europe, where thousands of fans show up with cowbells to cheer on their favorite stars in big races. Here in North America ski racing is popular for school kids and even adult armatures. It’s the way many hardcore resort skiers entered the game. You’ll see ski racing’s big events — downhill, Super G, GS and slalom — on TV during important competitions like the World Cup, and of course the Olympics. Many racers including Jean-Claude Killy, Alberto Tomba, Picabo Street, Hermann Maier, Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn have become household names thanks to their performances on the biggest stages. Ski racing is the one place you will still see big, long skis, built to run and stay stable at the frightening speeds of a car on a highway. Since ski racing is a game of fractions of seconds, race skis require lots of maintenance and need to be tuned and waxed constantly to perform at their highest potential.

Powder/Backcountry

Skiers on the Mountain - SnowlinkAs hardcore ski bums will tell you, “There are no friends on a powder day.” Everyone waits for the days when it dumps — deep, fresh snow is the soul of the sport and skiing powder is a sensation akin to flying. But powder is not just perfect fluff — snow in the backcountry can vary from light “ego snow” to hard breakable crust and a good fat ski can handle all types of wild snow. The stars of Warren Miller and Teton Research movies take powder skiing to new levels and pros like Doug Coombs, Glen Plake, Seth Morrison, Kristin Ulmer, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Ingrid Backstrom thrill audiences with their exploits in untracked snow across the globe. The latest fat skis were developed by extreme ski star the late Shane McConkey, who ushered in the rockered (or curled up tip and/or tail) ski revolution that has overtaken powder skis. Powder requires different technique than carving, or even racing, on groomed runs and can be difficult, but these new rockered and reverse camber skis have made it easier for both casual skiers and veterans to float in the fluff. While a standard cambered ski is built to edge into the snow, powder skis push away from it like a water ski. Plus, new fat skis have been designed so that they can actually hold an edge on groomed runs, too.


 

Types of Skiing

By Doug Schnitzspahn, Editor-in-Chief, Elevation Outdoors Magazine

Recreational

Skiers - SnowlinkThe majority of people who ski every year are recreational skiers. If you like to get out, ride the lifts and make a few turns at the local resort or on vacation a few times a year, you are a recreational skier. The whole idea when it comes to your skis is finding boards that make the experience more fun so that you can enjoy those precious days on the hill. You are in luck, recreational skier. New innovations in ski shapes and technology mean that it is far easier to ski than ever before. If you have not skied in a long time, you will soon learn that skis these days are shorter and feature more aggressive sidecuts (the difference between the width of the ski at the tip and waist), making it far easier to turn them. Recreational skis are built mostly to handle groomed runs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself and learn to ski bumps, trees and even powder on a good pair of recreational boards. Furthermore, rentals and demos have improved as well, making it easier for you to try out quality equipment at the resort to make a better decision about what ski is right for you.

Pipe/Park (or Freestyle)

Skier - SnowlinkThe sport’s new school evolved from snowboarding and skateboarding. Instead of turning and following a line down the mountain, freestyle skiing is about creativity on jumps, rails, half pipes and other manmade objects. It’s also the place to showcase your skills — pipe and park skiers flip, twist, spin and often ride backwards. Park and pipe have ushered in a new tribe of skiers led by young stars like Simon Dumont, Tanner Hall and Kristi Leskinen who have made the sport aggressive, fun and acrobatic. Short, stable twin-tip skis are the ticket here, since park and pipe skiers need their boards to perform going in either direction and want to be able to swing them around quick underfoot. That doesn’t mean freestyle skiers need to be confined to the park, however, new school is an attitude and more and more freestyle skiers are taking the skills they have learned out into the off-piste and backcountry.

Race

Skier - SnowlinkAs the most organized form of skiing, racing has historically been the center of the sport and still rules in Europe, where thousands of fans show up with cowbells to cheer on their favorite stars in big races. Here in North America ski racing is popular for school kids and even adult armatures. It’s the way many hardcore resort skiers entered the game. You’ll see ski racing’s big events — downhill, Super G, GS and slalom — on TV during important competitions like the World Cup, and of course the Olympics. Many racers including Jean-Claude Killy, Alberto Tomba, Picabo Street, Hermann Maier, Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn have become household names thanks to their performances on the biggest stages. Ski racing is the one place you will still see big, long skis, built to run and stay stable at the frightening speeds of a car on a highway. Since ski racing is a game of fractions of seconds, race skis require lots of maintenance and need to be tuned and waxed constantly to perform at their highest potential.

Powder/Backcountry

Skiers on the Mountain - SnowlinkAs hardcore ski bums will tell you, “There are no friends on a powder day.” Everyone waits for the days when it dumps — deep, fresh snow is the soul of the sport and skiing powder is a sensation akin to flying. But powder is not just perfect fluff — snow in the backcountry can vary from light “ego snow” to hard breakable crust and a good fat ski can handle all types of wild snow. The stars of Warren Miller and Teton Research movies take powder skiing to new levels and pros like Doug Coombs, Glen Plake, Seth Morrison, Kristin Ulmer, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Ingrid Backstrom thrill audiences with their exploits in untracked snow across the globe. The latest fat skis were developed by extreme ski star the late Shane McConkey, who ushered in the rockered (or curled up tip and/or tail) ski revolution that has overtaken powder skis. Powder requires different technique than carving, or even racing, on groomed runs and can be difficult, but these new rockered and reverse camber skis have made it easier for both casual skiers and veterans to float in the fluff. While a standard cambered ski is built to edge into the snow, powder skis push away from it like a water ski. Plus, new fat skis have been designed so that they can actually hold an edge on groomed runs, too.