While you may have skied for years, decades even, on countless different pairs of skis, have you ever sat down and thought about what actually makes up those sticks you strap to your feet and send down a mountain?
Every material and method used in the construction of a ski influences its personality on the snow: how stiff or flexible it is, how heavy it is, how well it can hold an edge — the list goes on. “One of the proprietary elements of a ski is its feel,” said Matt Sterbenz, founder of 4FRNT Skis. “That feel ultimately derives from the materials used in the construction of that ski.”
So, before you go buying your next pair of skis, study up on what goes into that $800 pair of pleasure planks.
One of the last remaining pieces of modern sports equipment that still relies on good ol’ fashioned wood, most ski manufacturers today use a combination of different woods to achieve a perfect balance of weight, strength and flex. The wooden core is at the, well, core, of defining how a ski feels, says Sterbenz: “When your ski hits the snow, it’s the materials used in the core that reverberate that unique feeling up through your boots and onto you.”
Ash, maple, poplar and aspen are among the most popular woods used in ski cores. Maple and ash are two of the stiffest and most durable woods available, making them a go-to for most hard-charging big-mountain skis. Poplar and aspen are much lighter woods and can be found as a blend in more playful park and all-mountain skis. Touring skis take advantage of the lightest of woods, like Paulownia or bamboo.
While the wood used in the core can have a big effect on a ski’s performance, the materials used for reinforcement are what truly give a ski its personality on the snow. Every ski utilizes two basic composite layers: a fabric,…