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Rocker Skis

The Rocker Ski Revolution - Believe It, Demo It and Embrace it

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Rocker Skis

Rocker ski at rest

Mike Doyle
A few years ago I first noticed the late Shane McConkey's ventures on the snow with skis designed - yes, in the shape of the rails attached to the bottom of a rocking chair - naturally bent to allow a rocking motion. My first thoughts were "saucer boy" rides again until I realized the sheer genius of McConkey's design.

Shane's idea was quite simply wider skis, curved up will keep the tips and tails floating in powder snow. As the Guinness commercials say - Brilliant! Of course it's brilliant, when you think about it like McConkey did, i.e. powder is akin to water and to surf you have to float.

Soon after, full reverse camber skis were on the feet of nearly every big mountain film skier, slaying big lines and skiing effortlessly in eyeball deep powder.

Rocker Skis For Powder

It sure makes for great ski porn but who didn't think that's where the crazy bent backward "Rocker Skis" would stay - surfboards for deep powder. After all, ski out of the pow with those full "rockers" and there's very little edge on the snow, only what's underfoot, to turn or to stop with.

Rocker Skis Out of the Powder

Well, like the fishes that crawled out of the surf and learned to adapt in a new environment ski engineers brought the "rocker ski" out of the powder and began experimenting. Ski manufacturers are ever in search of that Holy Grail of skiing, the 'one ski quiver' - a ski that does it all surfs in powder, knifes through crud, skis a dream GS turn on the groomers and holds like glue on the ice. Not going to happen - right? Well, let's say maybe.

While we are not at the complete one ski quiver, and in my mind never will be if you are thinking of taking one ski from Maine to the Rockies, to Alaska. But, engineers are getting close by tweaking the camber range and the shape of the ski and putting skis out on the snow with testers who can bring back definable information well beyond "it's an awesome ski."

Rockers Skis Go Mainstream

The 'rocker' concept has now come to commercial fruition, showing up in mass production, varying by brand and model in composition, amount of rocker, point of rise off the snow, height of rise and ski shape.

My assessment is the rocker ski is here to stay, just as the shaped ski took over all design. Why? Because it makes for easier skiing and an easier learning curve. I know some powder purists call it cheating and some instructors say it cuts technique. To these I say, 'Get over it.'

Skiing is about fun and if a slightly rockered ski, or a wider ski, or one with just an early rise makes a skier's day more enjoyable it works for me.

To varying degrees it also works for every ski manufacturer out there, because they have all incorporated a bit of rocker in at least few models. Here's a video by Backcountry.com that shows differing rocker skis.

I have no doubt you will see the rocker concept implimented to some degree on all skis by every manufacturer including a heavy concentration in beginner models, and all within a few years. The rocker revolution is here to stay, believe it, demo it and embrace it.

Thanks Shane.

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