A terrain park is a great place to push the limits of what’s possible on skis. Instead of simply going down the mountain or across the country, snow parks allow skiers to work on jumps, tricks, and aerial maneuvers.
To do this “extreme skiing”, you’ll need a pair of skis that can handle its intense nature. In this Terrain Park Ski Guide, L9 Sports looks at the design and construction of snow park skis. We’ll help you figure out which features to look for depending on your experience level and what types of tricks you do. We also look at the differences between men’s and women’s twin tip skis.
Twin Tip: Just as it Sounds
Twin tip skis are the ski type of choice for park skiing and freestyle skis. What are twin tip skis? In essence, these skis are designed to go in either direction. They have upwardly rounded ends to make skiing backward easy. The tails don't dig into the snow, so some skiers can go off jumps and land backward with these skis.
All park skis have twin tips — and so do some all-mountain, freeride, and powder skis. Twin tip skis almost always have the durable construction, wider waists, and softer tip/tails that terrain park riders demand.
"But what does that have to do with me?" Joe six-pack asks.
It just so happens that those features are perfect for intermediate and advanced skiers looking to become true all-mountain skiers. The wider dimension, softer flex, and turned-up tails are perfect for learning to ski powder and trees. The team members at L9 Sports are huge fans of getting skiers looking to develop their all-mountain skills into twin-tip skis.
The point is that even if you don't plan to hit jumps and rails on your brand new skis, it doesn't mean you should rule out twin tip skis.
Differences between parks skis & other skis
Terrain park skis differ from many other types of skis, but not a terrible amount. For instance, most park skiers like to have their bindings mounted in the center of the ski to make skiing backward (or switch, as the kids say) more enjoyable. Because of this, many park skis' sidecuts will cater to this. In some cases, the sidecut will be symmetrical to ensure a delightful switch skiing experience.
Furthermore, many ski companies have been using sidewall technology in their park skis. The technology was lifted from snowboards about 10 years ago to help freestyle skis stand up to the abuse of park skiing. This also gives the ski a more even flex to allow for things like presses and butters.
The third major difference involves the cores of park skis. Sometimes, companies will incorporate a "butter zone", or a part of the core that is softer — usually in front of the toepiece and behind the heelpiece — to make it extra easy to do some butters. Sometimes people even ski on rockered powder skis in the park! The possibilities are endless in freeskiing.
park ski Construction
As the sport continues to develop, more and more styles of freeskiing emerge. To accompany this, twin tip skis are created in many shapes, sizes, and flexes so that every park skier can find a ski perfect for them. Some park riders find themselves buttering around the park and doing all kinds of presses. A rider like this would prefer a ski that is specific to park. Typically this means the ski will have little or no camber underfoot. This is combined with a soft flex and tip and tail rocker. A ski like this will be super-maneuverable in the park and will have a wide enough platform to land on.
There are also park riders who prefer to spend their time lining up the biggest gaps they can, sending themselves off huge park booters. Riders like this usually prefer a stiffer flexing ski, as it makes landing big jumps more manageable. As you can imagine, coming down from 20 feet up and landing on the tail of a really soft ski usually doesn’t work out so well. This ski is going to give you the stiffness you need, and still be playful enough to hop around on rails with.
There are also skis that sit somewhere between park skis and all-mountain skis. Typically, skis in this category are a bit fatter under foot, and also feature some sort of rockered tip and tail. In order to increase all-mountain performance, these skis will have camber underfoot to improve edge hold. The stiffness of skis like this has quite the range as riders typically like to be able to select the flex that will work best for their skiing style.
The last thing to consider is the length and width of the ski. Shorter snow park skis spin more easily and maneuver better, which is ideal for jibs. A longer park ski gives you more stability when landing jumps. In terms of width, you should go wider for jibs to regain the stability lost from running a shorter ski. Use a narrower jumping ski for more precise carving and a stronger edge-hold when you land.
Female Park SKis
Of course, park skis are also made for female riders. While the selection isn’t as large as it is for men, there is still a decent selection of twin tip skis for women. Typically, these skis follow the same characteristics as men’s versions but in a slightly toned-down form. When comparing a female park ski and a men’s park ski, the biggest differences are going to be length and flex. Because a majority of females are a bit shorter, it is more difficult to maneuver a long, stiff ski. We have some great options for females looking to get into the park scene with free ski mountain, expert service, and a low price guarantee.