Straight, shaped, rocker, reverse camber, carving, fat, narrow under foot. Just as I am singing the praises of my shaped carving skis that rip turns, manufacturers bring a whole new spin to skis. Now you need to be on wider boards with less sidecut and reverse camber. Carving is passť and now smearing your turns on twin-tip all-mountain planks is so this minute.
Last weekend at Ski Magazine's People's Test at Okemo, ski reps from all the big companies offered demos of this year's gear. Much of their fleet looked too fat to me for Eastern conditions. So I tried the women's boards with some shape, since I am not skiing a lot of deep pow right now. I was surprisingly pleased by the Fischer Styles - so silky as they glided in and out of my turns. I also loved the K2 True Love on groomed corduroy. The Volkl Feugo and the Blizzard Viva were my top picks for all conditions, with a shout out to Head's Great One (Lindsey Vonn's freeki, and who does''t want to ski like Lindsey?)
My husband Greg liked all things Volkl - the Grizzly, The Tiger Shark and the AC50 - but also gave a nod to Blizzard's Magnum and Head's Titan, the skis Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are on.
For now, with only inches of snow on the ground around New England, not copious, fluffy feet, I am sticking with shaped all mountain carving skis. I am just not ready to rock the rocker skis. I tried them and felt like I was skiing on two spatulas that flapped when I went fast, and wanted to skid when I hit hard pack. To me, reverse camber is an oxymoron, and not suited for machine-made groomed surfaces. But that's just me. The good news: ski companies are making every ski imaginable in every shape and size to suit your style. You should definitely try before you buy - since it's totally about personal preference. And if you get the chance to demo some gear, just do it.
For more of Heather's family ski tips go to www.familyskitrips.com. Photos by Greg Burke