The Crystal Ski Holidays Blog

A guide to buying a new pair of skis – tips from Snow+Rock

Buying a pair of skis may look like a daunting task. It starts off with questions like: Which brand? What length? What width? And just seems to get more technical: What turn radius? Should I have stiff or soft flex? All this can lead people to ask, ‘where on earth do I start’?

Well, Ski-Buzz teamed up with Claire Collins from Snow+Rock who, with 30 years ski retail experience, are well placed to help answer these questions.

Let’s start with some of the ski jargon that you might hear after walking into one of our stores.

Ski Technology

Side Cut. This refers to the hour-glass shape of the ski when viewed from above. Modern skis have more side cut for easier carving – the more pronounced the side cut, the easier it is to initiate turns and engage the self-steer factor. Less of a side cut will make the skis travel straighter and faster.

Radius. The curvature of a ski’s side cut will produce a turning circle. The radius of this will determine a ski’s end use and what category it sits in. The shorter radius (up to 18m) will give skis that are quick to turn (suited to on piste conditions), a higher radius (over 18m) will offer longer turns. Obviously turn shapes can vary based on the skier’s ability and the snow conditions.

Waist Width. This is the measurement of the ski at its narrowest point – generally under your feet. Narrow widths will signify skis that are quicker for edge-to-edge turns mainly on piste. Wider skis are more stable and have better floating characteristics in deeper snow.

Camber vs Rocker. Camber refers to the arch shape of skis (when placed on a flat surface the centre of the ski doesn’t touch the ground). The purpose of a camber is to distribute pressure along the ski. Manufacturers are experimenting with camber to give varying characteristics to skis.

For example, skis without camber will have more pressure in a short area under the foot and, as a result, the ski will pivot easily and behave like a shorter ski. Skis with reverse camber (i.e. rocker), where the tip and tail don’t touch when placed on a flat surface, mean that the ski will float. Skis for groomed snow and carving should have camber whilst skis for powder, backcountry and the terrain park are better with no camber, aka rocker.

Ski Flex

The next thing to look at is the skis’ flex. The flex pattern is a result of the materials used to make the ski and the design of the ski. Your ability and build will determine what type of flex pattern is required. In general:

    • A ski that is soft in the tip will initiate the turn easily and perform well in soft snow.
    • A ski that is stiff in the tail may not finish the turn easily but is well suited to techniques that apply pressure throughout the turn.
    • A ski that has equal flex from tip to tail works well for larger turns and generally has a bigger ‘sweet spot’ and is easier to balance on.
    • Heavier skiers and experts prefer stiff skis for groomed snow.
    • Lighter skiers, softer snow and those developing skills prefer softer skis.

 Snow+Rock’s top recommendations this season:


Salomon Enduro XT 800 – click to enlarge

Piste skis

Salomon Enduro XT 800

Rossignol Pursuit 14 Prestige

Volkl RTM 75

Head Motive 76

 Atomic Blackeye TI PT 

Freeride (over 82mm underfoot for better float off piste)

Rossignol Experience 88 (Ski Only)

Salomon Rocker2 90 (Ski Only)

Scott Venture (Ski Only)

Blizzard Bonafide (Ski Only)

Salomon BBR 10.0 (Ski Only)


Rossignol Attraxion 3 Echo – click to enlarge

Piste – All Mountain skis

Rossignol Attraxion 3 Echo

Volkl Adora

Salomon BBR Sunlite 

Volkl Aurena

Atomic Affinity Pure LT

Freeride (over 82mm underfoot for better float off piste)

K2 Brightside (Ski only)

Rossignol Temptation 82 (Ski only)

Volkl Kenja

Fischer Koa 84

Atomic Millennium

What next?

If you’re looking for a new pair of skis this season or if you’re in the market for your first pair, come and test the range for free* at Snow+Rock’s real snow location (Chill Factore, Manchester) on the first Saturday of every month in the winter season. See in store or the store pages for details.

One of our team will be on hand to help. In fact, we’re so confident that we’ll find your perfect pair we even offer a ‘Ski Suitability Guarantee’, whereby if you’re not happy after your holiday you can bring them back and exchange them for another pair**!”

For more information visit us in store or our website.

*Normal price £15 (refundable off any purchase). You only need to pay for the lift pass.

**A nominal ‘rental’ fee will be applied when exchanging.

This guest blog post was written by Claire Collins of Snow+Rock.

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