The Freestyle skis segment can be divided in two: Park and Moguls. The terrain is the ruler here.
Freestyle park skis are characterized for having a raised tail as if it was a regular tip. This is for backward landings and backward tricks. Bindings are usually positioned forward in relation to the alpine classic position, and even placed in the ski’s very center in some specific models. While being in the air, an oscillating ski can unbalance the pilot and therefore the mass balance aspect is critical when designing this kind of skis. Some profiles are symmetric, making the sidecut as wide in the front as it is in the back. This, along with a forwarded binding position, makes them the more specific models in this subcategory.
Waists are not very wide. One of the critical aspects to bear in mind is how these skis release the pressure. For example, this happens when we leave off a jump. Also, we need to check their behaviour in landings. A too soft ski will leave all the energy for us and our joints won’t like that. A too stiff ski can be even worse for us than the first. This one may absorb anything we throw at it, but it is quite probable it will send everything back to us and chances are we won’t be ready. The key point is to choose our freestyle skis bearing in mind how difficult the module we like to attack is, and the how much inertia we usually generate (specially when jumping and on the pipe). The top model ski can perfectly NOT be our model, that’s specially the case when we are newbies.
One key aspect to think about is the skis height. We must remember that a shorter ski is more maneuverable and less mass is displaced while in the air. But these are slower and that matters in the big modules. Falling short in a big jump is very dangerous. If we are skilled enough and are experienced in the field, let’s not sacrifice everything for mobility. We need to generate quite a high inertia and we’ll find it by waxing well the skis and choosing a bit larger size than the first we chose when we started. And also being smart. Very smart.
Bindings are usually placed directly on to the ski without plates or any interface elements. This is for two main reasons. One is the more liveliness we feel when the binding is connected directly to the ski. Something very rewarding, specially for those who often run on metal modules as rails (San Francisco’s and the like), rainbows and so on. The second reason is directly related to the edge. The more distance between the boot’s sole from the ski’s sole, the earlier the edge engages when inclining the leg. This represents a serious problem, specially when we face modules like boxes, rails, etc. Modules that are not made of snow. Two metal parts slide a lot when in contact. That’s the reason the edge should find more trouble to engage, and that is achieved having the foot as close as possible to the ski. That way the ski slides flat over the module and that’s precisely what we are interested in. Some people (and they are quite a lot) often smooth out the edges and literally make them round in some spots.
However, what represents an advantage can also be an inconvenient, still unsolved by the manufacturers. Dumping from structural elements is lower if the ski does not incorporate an elastic interface between the boot and the ski on landings. The ski’s structure dissipates a great amount of energy, but there are still some landings that are very hard for our joints, specially for our knees. Maybe the future has some surprises awaiting. Although this is something I discard, unless one top sportsman wants to develop something in this direction with his gear sponsors.
The mogul models don’t have twin tips and their profile is quite similar to a modern but smoothed GS ski. The desired reactions in this kind of skis are not abrupt. A ski with a huge elastic response could throw us away easily. During the 80’s and 90’s, the profile was similar to the SL models but with smoothed reactions. And shorter sizes where chosen. Putting a two meter long plank on those lines full of wholes wasn’t an easy task to accomplish then and it isn’t now either. The longest sizes of today are around the 180cm. Watching professional top racers wearing sizes that could be considered a bit short such as 165 and 170cm, is today’s norm.
Mogul skis usually don’t incorporate any plates or interfaces. As with the other freestyle skis, bindings are placed directly on to the planks. This provides a straightforward touch and feel while the boot’s sole can’t be raised too much from the ski. We want to ski them as flat as possible, and have a precise edging control. However, some time ago tests were made mounting plates and interfaces with some athletes involved. Who knows if anytime soon one manufacturer will improve this aspect by making those more useful and functional in this field.
SkiReviewer’s Buying Skis Guide
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