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Everything You Need to Know About Alpine Skis

Find out how to choose your alpine skis, and what’s new for the 16/17 winter season.

Skier in Cerler, Benasque valley, Pyrenees. Photo: Aramon Cerler
The big bets by the main brands for the 2016-17 season, are once again on rockers and wide midcuts. All Mountain is securing its place as the ski of the future, although piste skis still have their place in the market.

Last year Barrabes collaborator and ski expert Javier Menchaka Gutiérrez wrote an article in our blog explaining the evolution and applications of camber and rocker technologies in ski construction and their effect on ski performance. Once again this year we have asked “Menchaka” to present to us the new technologies and novelties. Above all we got him to write a guide helping those of us who, whether being beginners or advanced skiers, get lost between so many types and models of skis, and have doubts about how to choose.

Do you need to change your skis this year? Perhaps buy your first skis? Then this is the article for you!

For some skiers, buying a new pair of skis is a straightforward procedure. They are well informed on the latest developments, already have a defined criteria and know what they are looking for. They are usually more than willing to try out the latest advances the that the industry offers each season.

Furthermore they are very aware of their skiing abilities, fitness level and their own expectations of personal improvement. All this makes choosing skis much easier, whether your shopping at a store or on-line.

If this isn’t the case for you, inform yourself and don’t be overwhelmed by the avalanche of new technologies and materials or bad experiences from past purchases. And most importantly of all, no matter how much you know, always get assessed by experts.

The clearer it is in your mind which type of skiing you want to do and what your expectations are, the easier it will be to make the correct choice.

It also helps to ask yourself questions such as, has your level of fitness seen better days or are you at the peak of your level? Are you looking for just one pair of skis or are you looking for “That ski” for “that snow”? Do you dream of groomed slopes or is POW your thing? What’s your level (be honest) and your expectations on improving on it? Do you ski slowly or quickly? Is your attitude on the skis relaxed or are you on the edges on each turn as if it were the last?

Skiers in Cerler, Benasque valley, Pyrenees. Photo: Aramon Cerler
Try to consider what interests you or what you would like to improve as a skier. Even if you plan to put yourself into the hands of an expert at our on-line store , having the answer to these questions can make all the difference to ensure you get a ski that feels like it was made just for you.

If you’ve done your homework we can move onto more personal questions:: How much do you weigh?. How tall are you?. What is your skiing level? How much do you ski every year and where?. What ski boots do you have or have you had?

We’re not trying to be nosy. There are so many details and nuances in the skis that have been released onto the market in the past years that we can say, without the shadow of a doubt, that there is a ski that is almost perfect for you.

It’s also important that your ski and your boot work in harmony, above all if you are going to get a technical ski. A high level ski requires a high level boot.

We’re going to try to prevent the huge selection of brands, categories and models from clouding your horizon. And remember, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any doubts.

And here’s a tip, before we begin, if you’re not sure what to get, buy an All Mountain ski!


We see lots of people preoccupied by the length when choosing new skis. Choosing the right length depends on so many factors that it’s better not to worry about it until you have decided which ski you want.

In this article we are going to give you lots of tips on how to get the optimal skis for you. Bear in mind that your skiing style, level of expertise, and personal preferences on such things as terrain, snow type, and speed will affect what “optimal” means for you.

Once you’ve done all that, it will be easy to find the right length. We can follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the ski chosen and that’s it.

People often say “I want short skis” when what they are really trying to say is “I want easy skis”. Thanks to rockers and wider waists, easy skis no longer have to be short.

Skiing in Cerler, Benasque valley, Pyrenees. Photo: Aramon Cerler

The categories alpine skis are generally divided into are: Piste, All Mountain, Freeride and Freestyle. The boundaries between the categories are not clear, and sometimes an alpine ski can almost appear to be an All Mountain or an All Mountain seem like a Freeride.

It’s also true that the jargon varies as time goes by, which can make everything even more confusing.

The Versatility Fever - The Spirit of All Mountain

Race skis and pure Freeride skis are the polar opposite of the philosophy of versatility that has impregnated the collections of all of the manufacturers.

The versatility fever has caught on in almost everything. On-piste skis that promise to behave reasonably off-piste. Freestyle skis that promise to carve great turns outside of the snow park. Freeride skis that promise to be light enough to be used for ski touring. Specialized skis are becoming harder to find.

In the last few seasons, manufacturers have developed specific skis for women. These skis are lighter with a more permissive flex and a lower turn radius. Skis specifically designed for women are mainly found in the high end of the all mountain range, although they also exist in other categories.

From here on we will treat each category individually, talking about each one in detail so that you can make the best decision possible.

SKI BOARDS 2016-17
Lets start with Piste Skis.

Within this category we can find two subcategories: one for the “general public” and another one for “competition”. These skis are usually known as Race skis. Be careful because here the border between categories is unclear and within the “general public” category we can still find some very high performance skis.

Race Skis:

A better description would be “race inspired” as it is very difficult to find a pair of real race skis in a ski shop except for SL (slalom). Normally we find Race Carvers and SL in shops. Race Carvers are skis with a medium or wide turning radius. They are a domesticated version of Giant Slalom skis. They put the thrills of a GS turn into the reach of normal ski enthusiasts, thanks to the contained turn radius. The SL (slalom) ski, due to its grip on steep slopes and hard snow and its reduced turn radius (around 12 metres) is still the preferred choice of short turn fanatics.

Looking at the latest SL or a Race Carver we realize that this category has maybe changed the least in the last few years. Having said that, the rocker has also arrived in this category - in this case with the promise to ease the transition between turns. Arguments like maintaining the tip afloat or greater gliding, used to justify the rocker in other c

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