Ski, Service | May 6, 2021

How to find the perfect pair of carving skis

Philippe Moreau
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If you want to buy new skis nowadays, you really can't get around carvers. They’re the type of ski that most recreational skiers are familiar with – and for good reason! Their hourglass shape and relative shortness make carving skis easy to turn. With the right technique and skis, you can master the art of carving and shred down the slopes in style. 

From all-mountain skis to race carvers

Which type of carving ski is the right one for you? It mostly depends on your skiing technique – or rather, your preferred skiing style and terrain. Do you prefer to gracefully glide down freshly groomed blue and red runs? Or do you prefer to ski off-piste, down steep mountain faces and through fresh powder snow? INTERSPORT Rent has compiled a handy buying/renting guide for you, so you can find the perfect pair of skis for your needs.   

Easy carvers

Easy carvers are a great choice for beginners who are new to the slopes and are only learning how to turn. They are very easy to control and very forgiving of mistakes. Easy carvers are all-round carvers for rookies, so to speak. With easy carvers strapped to their feet, even inexperienced skiers will see rapid progress.

Perfect for: beginners

All-round carvers

All-round carvers tend to be shorter, more responsive, and quite nimble. They also provide plenty of stability at medium speeds making them a favourite even among advanced skiers. Beginners appreciate the fact that the agile all-rounders allow them to turn with little effort. All in all, they’re great skis for laid-back recreational skiers of all skill levels.

Perfect for: recreational skiers (beginners and advanced skiers)

All-mountain skis

Experienced skiers who want to occasionally venture out into the backcountry might want to opt for all-mountain skis. They combine the advantages of nimble race carvers and freeride carvers with enough buoyancy for deep powder snow. Fast-paced descents? No problem at all!

All-mountain skis are versatile carvers that can cope with all kinds of terrain. The only disadvantage: Due to the one-size-fits-all approach, you might not always get the absolute maximum out of your skis.

Perfect for: advanced skiers who want to ski both on and off piste

Freeride skis/powder skis

Deep powder snow is where you feel most at home? Then you are clearly someone who should get freeride or powder skis. Off-piste skis are at least ten centimetres wide and rather long. This gives them greater buoyancy and prevents them from sinking into the snow. Many powder skis additionally have rockered tips and a reverse camber, so you won't have quite as much fun with them on the groomed slopes. But that isn’t the point anyway, right? There are two basic types:

  • big mountain skis: made for fast and long descents, require strength in the thighs
  • backcountry freeride skis: agile and nimble, perfect for off-piste tricks

Perfect for: expert freeriders and seasoned powder-snow enthusiasts

Race carvers

If your motto is "the faster, the better", then race carvers are probably the perfect skis for you. They are purpose-built for high speeds and firm snow. Because of their length and less pronounced sidecut, they resemble classic giant slalom skis. Some of the most important features include a wide turn radius and a stiff flex.

It's a wonderful feeling when you carve with them down the mountain, doing large sweeping turns. However, please keep in mind, race carvers require quite a bit of leg strength and a good level of fitness. Quick, tight turns will be much harder to master.

Perfect for: experienced skiers who like to ski on sporty slopes and at high speeds

Sports carvers

Sports carvers (also called crossovers or performance skis) are a mix between slalom carvers, race carvers and all-mountain skis. They provide a high level of comfort and effortless turn initiation. What’s more, they can cope with fast downhill runs as well as with powder snow slopes, which makes these multi-talents among skis particularly suited to sporty and experienced skiers who are looking for variety in their skiing.

Perfect for: advanced skiers who like to switch between different skiing styles

Slalom carvers

Mastering small and medium radius turns (ten to twelve metres) is truly a pleasure with slalom carvers. They are stiff, short, and have a prominent sidecut. The shorter turning radius allows for fast, short turns, even on steep slopes. If you decide to get slalom carvers, physical fitness is a prerequisite because otherwise you might not be able to control them, especially at high speeds.

Perfect for: fit and experienced skiers who love short and fast turns

Freestyle skis

With freestyle skis, you’ll be the star at the snow park. Typical freestyle skis are long, wide, robust, lightweight, and nimble. These features allow skiers to master obstacles and elements such as pipes, rails, boxes, and kickers. Thanks to their twin tip – both ends of the ski are pointing slightly upwards – you can ski both forwards and backwards or land jumps in either direction.

Keep in mind: Even for the terrain park, there are different ski styles, which is something to consider when choosing freestyle skis. Jib skis, for instance, are lighter and shorter, while you need skis with more stability and stiffness for high jumps.

Perfect for: freestyler skiers and park riders

Flex and torsional stiffness of the ski

The flex or bending hardness describes the degree of hardness of a ski (in the longitudinal direction). The higher the value, the harder the ski and the more skilled you need to be. A hard ski is also smoother to ski on. Conversely, the softer the ski, the more forgiving it is of mistakes and the easier it is to turn.

Torsional stiffness also affects the stability of a ski. It ensures that the edges grip well when pressure is applied. The effect: The skis become more responsive and faster to react. When using a ski with high torsional stiffness, you should have mastered the art of the parallel turn. By comparison, a soft ski grips less well on ice and hard-packed snow.

Tip: How hard skis should be depends, among other things, on the weight of the skier.

Choosing the right size ski

What do length, width, sidecut and radius mean for carving skis? Find out what matters when it comes to ski size and shape!

Length

The optimal length for skis depends on the skier’s height, weight and skiing style but also on the ski’s intended purpose:

  • short skis (approx. 5 to 10 cm shorter than skier’s height): nimble, great for tight turns, recommended for beginners, better power transfer
  • long skis (approx. 5 to 10 cm longer than skier’s height): stable and smooth riding feel at high speeds, easier to control with more weight, perfect for sweeping turns, requires some skiing experience

Width

The width of a ski is determined by the type of ski you choose to get. The wider the ski, the more buoyancy. It is also directly related to the waist and the turn radius of the ski.

Waist (centre width)

Waisted means that a ski is wider at the front and back than at the binding. This hourglass shape is typical of carving skis. If a ski has a pronounced waist/sidecut, it is better suited for small, sharp turns. A less prominent waist, on the other hand, is more suitable for long turns with pronounced radii.

Turn radius

The turn radius is a decisive factor when choosing skis. But what exactly is the turn radius? In essence, it’s the radius of the imaginary circle formed by completing the arc of the sidecut. The deeper the sidecut, the smaller the ski’s turn radius.

  • small radius: short turns up to 14 m (slalom carvers and freestyle skis)
  • medium radius: turns between 14 and 18 m (all-mountain skis and all-round carvers)
  • large radius: long turns of more than 18 m (race carvers and freeride skis)

INTERSPORT Rent tip

At INTERSPORT Rent, you can rent and test the latest carving ski models. Our RENTertainers will be happy to advise you on choosing the right type of carver. What if you fall in love with your test skis? Great, then go ahead and take them home with you! At INTERSPORT Rent, you can "test & buy" – but that’s not all: If you decide to buy your test skis, you will be refunded the rental fee for up to two days.