Mountain Blog

What's Hot for the Cold

Nancy Story - Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photo Credit: National Library of Norway via Flickr

Assembled for their latest ski outing, this fashionably-garbed couple is ready to ski – about 100 years ago.

Actually, these folks really knew how to layer. It might have been bulky back then – but layers helped keep out the cold, a technique skiers still practice today. Scratchy woolies and cotton longjohns have disappeared into the annals of ski fashion history, replaced by base layer thermals that are ultra-soft, ultra-light, and wick away the sweat. Outer layers with high breathability and tailored jackets featuring techno-terms like "thermoregulation" have stepped into the winter sports clothes closet. Dark, heavy coats of yesteryear have evolved to a broad palette of splashy color blocks, single colors, even some retro-80's neon – yet just like skiers of the last century, "practical" still rules slope fashion.

When this duo was done for the day, they hung up their straight, long boards and no doubt headed inside to rest in their rockers – and rockers are just what today's skiers are looking for. Rocker skis are a twist on the traditional ski design. While traditional skis have tips and tails resting on the ground, with the middle or "camber" rising slightly above ground, rocker skis are wider and flatter with a slight rise towards the tip (dubbed "early rise" or "reverse camber" by the hard goods guys). Powderhounds have been using this Fat Boys style for years to help them float through the snow.

But now, that design style is taking hold of all-mountain skis. Skis are becoming longer, fatter and increasingly including the rocker design features that used to be the province of the steep and deep crowd. On icy or corduroy conditions, a rocker's design shortens the effective edge of the ski which is in contact with the snow, so that despite its overall length, it handles like a shorter powder ski. In the deep stuff, the shape and length of a rocker ski helps stability and flotation. Applying this rocker profile to the newer all-mountain skis means skiers can crank out the turns on heavy crud, soft freshies, boilerplate, or whatever slope condition type prevails.

And just like 100 years ago, it's all about layering up to stay warm, strapping on the boards, and getting out in the cold – which never gets old.

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