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Snow Lover’s Trivia: Rocker technology for skis and boards

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Rocker, though it’s been around for hundreds of years, reinvented itself within the last ten. Don’t know what it is? In its extreme, picture a rocking chair rail. When you set a full-rocker (aka: reverse camber) ski on the snow without putting weight on it, its tip and tail turn up and its very middle sits flat. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a traditional camber ski touches the ground near the tip and tail while arcing away from the snow in between (when it’s unweighted).

For the skier rocker comes in different blends. Most commonly: camber underfoot with a rockered tip, camber underfoot with rockered tip and tail, flat (or “zero camber”) underfoot with rockered tip and tail. The camber underfoot allows for an easier time carving on hardpack snow, while the rocker makes it easier to ski powder and crud (skied-up powder), thanks to improved flotation, shock absorption and maneuverability.

The more rocker a ski has the more powder specific it is. But manufacturers also find that a touch of rocker in the tip makes a ski easier to pivot on groomed snow, which is especially good for skiers who are still learning to set an edge and carve.

Regardless of the type, rockered skis are easier to ski as they shorten the ski’s snow contact edge. So many people can ski a slightly longer rockered ski than they normally would a traditional camber ski.

For snowboarders rocker might seem like a shiny new thing, but it has come around before. Legend Terry Kidwell touches on the topic in a December 1989 TransWorld interview. His original board was built with rocker.

“[It] was a little slippery…we used to call it the Skidwell.” But his next model shifted things around. “It has a bit of camber in it…Once the kids get on my new one, they won’t want to go back,” he stated.

And so, camber dominated for years, until here we are again with rocker choices before us.

What we have now, that we didn’t back then for boarders, is the amount of choices and the cutting-edge technology. These options and technology offer you a different stage to play on. If you like a loose, skate-style ride go with an alternative cambered deck and hold on. If faster, precise ripping is how you roll, then stay in control on camber. If you like to mix it up, get something in the middle. Or if you’re simply a soul surfer, go with a hull-shaped powder boat. However you haul on snow, know that there’s a board to match it, and even some that do it all.

Today all snowboard shops are carrying some type of rocker board alongside traditional camber boards. Shops around the nation from big-box stores to core shops have been educated on the differences between rocker and camber boards and can articulate them clearly.

Check out what ski and board shops around the country think shred best on their local hill.

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