WHY ARE SKIS CALLED ‘HEAVY’?
On my website, people often say they want new skis because the ones they have ‘ski heavy’. But what does that mean? That they weigh too much? They have a hard time turning them? And how do they make a turn? Do they try to carve? Skid? Make hop turns? ‘Heavy’ can mean many things. So are some options for specifying what you are actually trying to describe.
Ski weight – heavy metal
The weight of a ski is quite objective, obviously. But a weighty ski does not necessarily ski heavily too. Those are two different things. A ski is heavy, because of the materials used in its construction. Metal is the culprit most times. And metal does two things in skis. Firstly, it is a dampening agent: it generally makes for a smooth ride, filtering out vibrations. Secondly, it has properties that are similar to a spring: you put some energy in to bend it, and then it springs back with some energy.
So there is potentially a little extra boost hidden inside that heavy ski. But getting that rebound – that’s what it’s called – you need to bend and release the proper amount and with precision in timing. If you time it right, the metal in the ski will actually help you transition into the next turn. If you time it wrong, there is only a heavy, damp ski that can feel a bit dull and not very lively at all. I can see how people perceive that as ‘heavy’. Proper technique and timing could help you find that rebound. If you are willing to put in the training, that is.
I once went skiing with a bunch of friends. One of them likes to cruise on skis. No carving, just easy yet stable skidded turns in all conditions. Never fast or aggressive, just easy going. She (the fact that she’s a woman doesn’t have anything to do with it, really) and another (female) friend had swapped skis, just to try them out. After a few turns she cried out ‘wow, these things are heavy!’
They weren’t, in fact. No metal, quite soft in flex, fairly lightweight. But these skis she now was on – K2 Charger – do not skid very easily. They carve beautifully on all speeds. Roll them on edge and they make very predictable but almost exclusively carved turns. And this friend of mine doesn’t carve. So for her, it meant wrestling this carving ski trough every single (skidded) turn she made. And that is hard work, I can imagine.
So, ‘heavy’ still means a few different things. But the bottom line is: skis that are called ‘heavy skiing skis’ take that particular skier a lot of effort to ski. Maybe the skis have a very small sweet spot, a very narrow range in timing the pressure to release the rebound. Or perhaps the style or speed of the skier doesn’t match the strengths of the ski. Of course, you can find ski weight an issue having to carry them to the lift. But other than that, ‘heavy’ mostly just means ‘mis-match’.
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