You update your hair style. You don’t use the first blocky cell phone that ever came on the market. Your new car has more features, gets better gas mileage, and is more comfortable than the one you drove 15 years ago.
So why use the same skis for decades on end?
Between 1980 and 2000, skis underwent a dramatic change. Once relegated to World Cup skiers, the parabolic, shaped or ‘carve’ ski became available to the public.
Shaped like an hourglass—fat at the tip and tail, and narrow in the middle—carve skis boast ‘sidecut’ to varying degrees. The greater the ‘cut’ or curve in the side of the ski, the tighter a circle it will turn when tipped on edge. And thanks to the stability which meatier planks give the skier, they can be a lot shorter, making it even easier to turn. Carve skis can improve your balance, make turning easier, introduce you to true carving, and simplify your style.
When you step your feet further apart, and let the edges of both skis sit on the snow, you achieve double the edge control when it comes to steering and braking. Add to this the natural curve of the sidecut, and the skis are practically pointing the way around each turn for you, making speed control and turn initiation even easier.
This wider athletic stance gives you a greater balance base, and also allows you more room to tip the skis, biting the metal edges into the snow where they give you grip on the mountain, and speed you around an arc. When you tip them far enough that the skis don’t skid anymore, but ride on the rails, you are carving.
One would think skiing would get easier with the introduction of the parabolic ski. However, since this introduction, slopes are actually harder now. A shorter turn radius means the moguls are tighter and deeper, making them even more difficult for even the skilled straight-ski contestant to descend. Habits built on straight skis like stepping or ‘christie-ing’ around a turn cost you control. With increased stability and steering control, carve skis really are a safer option for your knees. Lastly, you will find the bindings which come with newer skis promise vast improvements and an increase in safety over older models. In essence, you are handicapping yourself by not updating your equipment to match the challenges of today’s terrain.