Your Guide To Alpine Skiing
There are few sensations that can match the joys of alpine skiing. You soar down a snow-covered mountain, the wind in your face. You're enjoying a winter playground with your friends, your family. You control your speed, your destiny, with subtle body movements. You reach the bottom of the hill energized, invigorated and with a smile so big your face hurts.
But skiing also can be intimidating for first-timers or those who are re-entering the sport after a long absence. The uninitiated can be confused by what seems like complex equipment choices and a bunch of strange-sounding words. This guide is designed to soothe your fears and give you some basic information that will help get you started the right way.
Before renting or purchasing equipment, ask yourself a few questions: How often will you ski? Will you ski only on a vacation or also near where you live?
Determining your projected commitment level will help you decide whether to rent, lease or buy equipment.
Your equipment options include:
- Renting equipment at a local ski shop or at the ski resort. You can rent equipment by the day or week. This is often recommended for first-time skiers. (Note: Some ski shops will apply the price of rentals toward purchasing new equipment.)
- Leasing equipment for an entire season. Some ski shops offer this service and it can especially make sense for children who quickly out-grow gear.
- Buying used equipment at a local ski shop or ski swap. If you are new to skiing, stay away from garage sales and be careful at ski swaps because you may wind up with gear that is outdated and inappropriate. Ski shops often sell their rental equipment after a couple of years. Though these skis may look pretty banged up, shop personnel have checked them to be sure they meet safety standards.
- Buying new equipment. You might want to consider a package deal that offers a discount when you buy skis, boots, bindings and poles together.
Ultimately, owning your equipment allows you continuity as you progress through skiing's learning stages and can also save you time and money in the long run.
In general, alpine skis are made of a wooden core wrapped in fiberglass and coated in a fiberglass or plastic cap with metal edges. All skis do not perform the same; a number of things influence the performance of a ski, including combination of materials, stiffness, length, weight and sidecut, which refers to the narrowness of the waist, or middle part of the ski, in relation to the wider tip and tail.
Shaped skis, also known as super-sidecut and hourglass skis, have narrow waists and wide tips and tails. These skis are designed for use in shorter lengths than traditional models and make it easier to carve turns and stop.
Fat skis are designed for skiing powder and chopped-up snow. They tend to be wider and have less sidecut than shaped skis.
There are a number of different styles of boots, but the most important thing is that the boots are comfortable and fit your feet.
Bindings hold your boots to the skis and are designed to release when you need them to during a fall. Many bindings also have vibration-reducing features that allow you to ski more smoothly. Your ability and weight will determine the binding you choose.
Poles are used to help you with your balance and rhythm while skiing. Poles can be made from fiberglass, aluminum, graphite or some combination of these materials.
- Next >>