Carved ski turns require you to tip your skis onto their edges and chisel geometrically precise circles into the snow. The ability to carve separates the novices from the divas. Lessons help, but you need the right ski. Just about every manufacturer has a woman's ski, and every female skier thinks her brand is best. "Best" really depends on personal preference, but if its carving you crave, only specific features satisfy the need.
The Female Ski Mystique
When the first women's skis came on the market, their flowery top-sheets were their only distinguishing characteristic. Through trial and error, manufacturers learned to build a female-specific ski from the ground up, explains "Ski Magazine." The skis' waists sit farther forward to accommodate a woman's lower center of gravity, and a wider shovel facilitates easy turn initiation. Women's skis are generally lighter and have a softer flex. Some designers' female-specific skis use lightweight wood or foam in the ski core. This makes the ski easier to flex and easier to turn.
Waist Widths and Sidecut
Carved turns have sexy curves. So do carving skis. The word "sidecut" refers to the dimensions of the ski's waist, tip and tail. The curvier the sidecut, the better the carve. Skis with narrow waists allow you to quickly tip your skis onto their edges and perform tight, speedy carved turns. Waists measuring 60 to 72 millimeters work best for carving, but there's one caveat. Although skis with smaller waists happily embrace groomed terrain, they lack stability in other conditions. Unless you have no intentions of ever leaving the security of the corduroy snow, aim for 70-mm waists.
Measured in meters and resulting from a ski's tip waist and tail measurements, turn radius describes size of the smallest turn a ski can execute when placed on its edges. The smaller the turn radius, the smaller the turn. Women's skis usually have a turn radius ranging from 11 to 20 meters, says Steve Kopitz of Skis.com. If you prefer short, tight turns, stay within the 11- to 15-meter range. Go bigger if you favor longer, wider turns.
When your husband flexes forward on his skis, his center of gravity aligns with his toes. When you flex forward, your center of gravity probably shifts toward your heels, says women's ski gear expert Jeannie Thoren. This issue often occurs with with women with wider hips. Because ski turns initiate from the tips, weighting the tails impedes your ability to control your skis. Some women's skis come with an integrated binding system, which mounts the binding in a forward position and helps you achieve correct alignment.
Integrated bindings, lightweight and flexible skis work well for many women, but not all women are built the same way. Your particular body type might not require a forward binding mount. If so, skis and bindings sold separately provide a better option. The same applies to lightweight and flexible skis. If you're taller and stronger than most women, you might overpower them. Always try before you buy. Test the carving skis in different conditions, and have someone video you as you ski. Watch the video at lunch, note your alignment, and note whether you are actually getting your skis on their edges.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.