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How To Buy Slalom Skis

With all the different types of slaloms that are available, how do you know what's right for you? First, you need to make an honest evaluation of your skills and decide what you want to accomplish. Use this guide to narrow the field and do some homework, and you'll find the ski that best matches your style and abilities.

Contents:

Components

Bevel

  • The side profile of the ski is called the "bevel"
  • Bevels determine the way water flows from under the ski and up the sides
  • The lower bevel affects lift. A sharp lower bevel creates more water resistance beneath the ski, resulting in a higher ride. A rounded lower bevel, on the other hand, facilitates smooth water flow and minimizes lift.
  • The upper bevel controls roll. A sharp upper bevel reduces the ski's tendency to lean, while a rounded upper bevel facilitates rolling, but may be more difficult to control

Bottom Design

  • Modern slalom skis feature a concave bottom design
  • The width of this concave tunnel has a marked effect on ski performance
  • Wide tunnels generate more suction, making a ski more difficult to roll
  • Narrow tunnels ride higher and roll more easily
  • Some skis have transition designs that are narrow at the tip and wider at the rear. These are designed to provide an easy roll into turns while keeping the tail of the ski deep in the water.

Flex

  • The stiffness of a slalom ski varies significantly from tip to tail
  • The flex pattern of a ski more important to performance than the ski's overall stiffness
  • One popular formula states that each of the flex points of a ski should be within 20 percent of the next. A good ratio might be 100 : 85 : 60 : 50

Rocker

  • A ski's rocker influences the radius of turns. It is the degree to which the nose and tail are curved, or angled upward.
  • The greater the rocker, the tighter the turn. Too much rocker makes the ski difficult to control and accelerate.

Width

  • Slalom skis taper from fore-body to tail
  • The wider the body of the ski the more support it provides
  • A narrow tail allows the skier to dig into the water, angle across wake, and decelerate on command, while a wide tail reduces drag and maintains speed

Profile

  • Ski profile is the thickness of the ski (see image above)
  • A thin profile provides a deep ride, especially in the tail section, while a wide profile creates lift, keeping the ski from sinking and diving in the pre-turn

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Rides

Wide

  • This category significantly wider than traditional slaloms and is ideal for first-time skiers
  • A wide ride makes getting up easier, doesn't require a quick edge, and provides overall stability on the water

Shaped

  • A hybrid of wide and traditional rides that accommodates both beginning and experienced skiers
  • Performs like a traditional ski does but with added stability at speeds of 34-mph and below
  • Shaped skis are increasing in popularity among the slalom skiing population

Traditional

  • Designed for fairly competitive and experienced skiers who ride on edge the majority of the time and can link a series of turns
  • This class offers stability crossing wakes, responsiveness, and easy turning
  • Ideal for skiers who are working to improve their body form

World Class

  • The most technologically advanced class of slalom skis, containing more carbon graphite than traditional skis and designed for the advanced skier
  • These skis offer quick acceleration, shut down in turns and holds, and a strong edge crossing wakes
  • Because they are very responsive, they perform best when skiing aggressively in open water or in the slalom course

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Sizing

Determine Your Ski Size
 Boat Speed
 26-30 mph (42-48 km)30-34 mph (48-55 km)34-39 mph (55-58 km)
Your WeightSki Size
80-110 lbs (36-50 kg)62 - 64 in62 - 64 in62 - 64 in
95-120 lbs (43-55 kg)65 - 66 in63 - 64 in63 - 64 in
115-140 lbs (52-64 kg)65 - 66 in64 - 66 in63 - 65 in
135-160 lbs (61-73 kg)67 - 68 in65 - 66 in64 - 66 in
155-180 lbs (70-82 kg)69 - 70 in67 - 68 in67 - 68 in
175-200 lbs (80-91 kg)69 - 70 in69 - 70 in67 - 68 in
195-220 (89-100 kg)72 in69 - 72 in69 - 70 in
215+ lbs (98+ kg)72 in69 - 72 in70 - 72 in

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Bindings

Bindings should be loose enough to put on without using soap, yet tight enough to provide responsiveness and edge control.

Types

  • Double high-wraps: enhanced control and feel, custom fit
  • Front high-wrap with rear toe plate: versatile, fits multiple skiiers using one ski on a trip
  • Adjustable bindings: customizable fit and performance

Materials

  • EVA foam: high-performance, custom fit, stiff with increased edge control
  • Traditional rubber: beginner level, soft and comfortable

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