As you’ve probably noticed on the slopes the last couple of years, rockered skis are in. Really in. This winter you’ll be hard-pressed to find a ski that doesn’t have some blend of rocker and camber, and there’s a good reason for that. No matter what the performance level or intended use, the right blend of rocker makes a ski more versatile in a variety of snow conditions. We caught up with Nick Castagnoli, Communications and PR Manager at Rossignol to pick his brain a bit about this ski design that’s here to stay.
But before we get into that, let’s break down the technical terminology.
- Camber is the opposite of “rocker” and consists of a modest, downward bend along the length of the ski (picture a bow set on its strings). Traditionally when laid flat, the ski’s contact points meet the snow surface near the tip and tail. Traditional camber enhances power, stability, edge grip, and fore/aft balance, features that provide the response skiers need when carving turns on firmer snow.
- Rocker is a catch-all phrase, referring to “reverse camber” or “early-rise” in a ski’s camber profile. Just the exact opposite of camber, rocker describes the ski’s upward bend away from the snow (picture the feet of a rocking chair). Rocker and/or camber used in varying degrees maximize performance depending on the intended use and/or snow conditions, enhancing steering, floatation, and turn initiation.
While rockered skis are prevalent, skis that combine tip and tail rocker with traditional camber underfoot are particularly popular and provide the greatest versatility. With this design skiers enjoy the maneuverability and floatation benefits of rocker combined with the responsive carving performance of traditional camber.
The right balance of rocker and/or traditional camber depends on the level and type of skiing one prefers. Rossignol offers three different rocker/camber profiles, each tailored to the needs of a specific type of skiing.
“Rocker was initially thought of as a powder-centric technology,” said Castagnoli. “Though over the past five years or so, the refinements we’ve made to rocker and camber has made skiing easier and more effortless for every skier type from World Cup racers, to powder hounds, to the cautious first-timer. Today, virtually every ski in our line features some blend of rocker and camber.”
Rossignol’s Experience and Temptation series all-mountain skis, which are featured at more than thirty Rossignol Experience Center resorts across North America in 2013/14, utilize what they call Auto Turn Rocker.
“Auto Turn Rocker is our most versatile rocker/camber blend for excelling in all snow conditions. It still delivers really strong edge grip underfoot while the rockered tip and tail allow you to effortlessly float through softer, variable snow conditions,” says Castagnoli.
“Beginners, who are generally standing flat on the ski and not yet rolling it up on edge to initiate carved turns, can easily pivot and maneuver these skis while standing flat-footed, allowing them more control and confidence, which in turn fast-tracks their learning curve.”
Skiers who prefer high-performance on-trail skiing or primarily stick to groomers will appreciate Rossignol’s on-trail skis with Power Turn Rocker – the Pursuit and Unique on-trail series. While 90 percent of the ski has traditional camber, a subtle amount of tip rocker allows the skier to quickly initiate carved turns for playful, and precise on-trail performance.
“The slight tip rocker with traditional camber throughout the rest of the ski aids in turn initiation while retaining the power, snap and edge grip you want of out a frontside ski,” he adds. “You’ll find this type of rocker profile used all the way up into World Cup race skis today.”
“As the name implies, this rocker profile excels in powder,” Castagnoli said. “But we’ve redesigned Powder Turn Rocker this year to provide increased versatility in variable snow, while retaining the effortless floatation and fatigue-free maneuverability that made the S7 so popular. The tip and tail rocker is progressively lower and longer than the previous version which, with the help of our new Air Tip technology, really aids in tip deflection and eliminates the dreaded “tip flap” generally found in heavily rockered powder skis.”
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.