Before rocker, there was (and still is) camber . . . in the ski and snowboard world, that is.
Ski and snowboard technology has come a long way in the last decade. The biggest being the development of camber and rocker designs. Camber describes the shape of a traditional ski – the original shaped ski design since shaped ski technology in the early 1990s, courtesy of the sport of snowboarding. Rocker, also referred to as “early rise,” is more about how camber is shaped and manipulated from tip to tail in both skis and snowboards. It’s the happy medium between the two.
Picture this: A ski or snowboard resting on a flat, hard surface with the base side down. The two contact points correlate to the widest parts of the shovel tip and tail. The section between these two points, called the “waist,” arcs upward. This built-in arc is the camber of the ski or snowboard. It’s also the skis’ / snowboard’s effective edge – section of ski / snowboard used to make a turn.
In skis, camber puts springiness and pop into a ski. It allows easy handling, responsive turning, powerful carving, and stability. With this ski shape, you have a longer effective edge, meaning a more stable and controlled ride when skiing. Plus, due to ample edge contact with the snow, camber gives a good grip on icy slopes, making it a popular choice when skiing groomed trails or on hard pack snow.
In snowboards, camber is the bend in shape, raising the middle of the snowboard slightly. This shape engages the tips of the snowboard, pressing the nose and tail edges into the snow, giving the rider a high level of control and locked-in edge hold on groomed snow. Camber snowboards float less in fresh snow than other shapes and tend to be more catchy and grabby.
Rocker technology is essentially the opposite of camber and is also known as reverse camber or negative camber. In skis, the side profile of a rockered ski resembles the upturned rails of an old-school rocking chair. On a flat surface, the midsection of a rockered ski rests on the ground while its tips and tails rise off the ground much earlier than on a cambered ski.
In snowboards, like camber, rocker is a bend in shape, but this time raising the nose and tail of the snowboard slightly. Rocker-shaped boards engage the nose and tail edges of the snowboard less and in return, give the rider higher maneuverability and float on top of heavy or deep snow. Rockered boards are a more forgiving ride because the tip and tail are engaged into the snow less, making the snowboard less catchy.
What Does Rocker Do?
- Rocker offers skiers and riders alike several advantages including improved flotation in powder, greater maneuverability, and enhanced park experience. Early-rising tips help you stay on top of soft snow and keep those shovels out of the powder. Fully rockered skis and boards designed to stay afloat, have a shorter effective edge. Less edge contact with the snow permits easier initiation of turns. In skis, this allows the sidecut of the ski to be engaged more smoothly and easily.
- Rocker technology also offers an enhanced park riding experience, making sliding rails and doing tricks easier. Skiers – keep in mind, not all park skis are rockered, but those that are tend to make sliding rails for skiers easier as well. There’s also less risk of catching an edge when trick skiing, especially when landing a trick.
What to Consider When Renting / Purchasing
What does this all mean when it comes to renting / purchasing skis and snowboards? Both camber and rocker affect the way a ski or snowboard performs in various conditions. As a result, different styles of skis and snowboards have been designed to meet different conditions. Here are helpful some tips:
- Consider choosing skis and/or snowboards based on the terrain you will mostly being skiing / riding: powder, snow pack, icy conditions, groomers, or park riding.
- Familiarize With Styles of Skis and Boards:
- All Mountain: Designed for all mountain style skiing/riding, from ripping groomers to hunting powder hiding between the trees. You need a ski/board that has a solid amount of on edge control, but still has a great amount of float and agilness for getting through the deeper snow and tighter spaces.
- Twin Tip / Park Riding / Freestyle: A rockered ski / board offers more contact space in the midsection so sliding rails is easier. It creates a more stable landing platform and reduces the chance of catching an edge. If you enjoy free style riding from jumps and jibs to tricks and spins, you want a ski/board with quite a forgiving amount of edge hold and maneuverability. Full rocker is going to be ideal for your style.
- Alpine: Designed for Alpine or Free Carve style riding with high speeds and perfectly carved lines. Full camber is ideal for this style of riding as it provides the best control and precision.
- Back Country / Deep Snow: Whether you are deep into the back country or just off the beaten trail, you want a ski / board that features a great deal of rocker throughout. Full rocker will get you through deeper snow with ease compared to full camber.
The best way to find out what kind of skis or snowboard is right for you, is to ride each style! Christy Sports offers an exceptional inventory of skis and snowboards in both our rental fleet and for purchase. Plus, check out our Demo Test program ( https://christysports.com/theridgereport/to-demo-test-or-to-demo-rent-that-is-the-question/ ) to find your perfect match and put two days of the cost of rental towards the purchase of that perfect ski or snowboard!