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Ski Anatomy 101: Tips to Tails and All Thats In Between

You asked we listened. We get it, skis look like these awkward long planks that some how magically get you down a mountain. After thousands of years of evolution we now have a standard ski construction with some trivial differences (chamber rocker construction etc) for alpine skis.

From tips to tails, top sheet and base each ski has a direction in which it prefers to go down.

Tip/ Nose: This part of the ski is located at the very top. This can also be called the shovel of the ski. Think of this as the hood of car but for your skis. Sure you can drive in reverse, but do you really want to go do the freeway at full speed? Probably not. The tip is the front of your ski. This part is often rounded and not touching the ground when you lay it flat.

Waist: As you work your way down to about the mid point you get to the waist. This is can also be referred to as the underfoot of the ski. This is where your binding is mounted. The waist has a width that can range from 72-130 mm. The waist is a measurement that depending on your skill level you will want to ensure you have the proper waist width for the day.

Tail: This is the back of the ski. Tails come in a variety of options from twin tip to partial. Partial tip is where the tip raises slightly but not at an equal height as the tip. Most skis will have this construction. Twin tip is where the tip and the tail have the same shovel or shape to them. Most park skis for example have this feature for skiing backwards on features etc. Its a personal preference if you prefer twin tip or partial.

Sidecut: Think of this as the shape of your ski. If you look at a ski front on you may notice that it comes in at the waist then expands again at the tips and the tail. This is your sidecut. Your sidecut determines your turn radius. The turn radius is the measurement in meters that determines if your ski likes short turns ( smaller turn radius, ex: 10 meters ) vs a long turn radius, long turns ( ex: 14 meters ).

Edge: This is the sharp part of the ski on the side. Often with metal, titanal, glass, carbon, etc. This is the point of contact with the snow to get a carve. Edges require maintenance so be aware when its time for a good edge tune. This helps keep your skis in ready to send shape.

Base: This is the bottom of your ski. The base is where you have to wax after every x amount of times. Fresh wax= happy and fast skis.

Top Sheet: The top of the ski where the binding gets mounted. Often with dope graphics.

Check out our video below for those of us who prefer a more real life explanation.


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