Stability of skis

The ‘stability’ of a ski is something many reviews mention, including our own. But what does that mean, the stability of a ski? And how to value it?

Not absolute

Stability of a ski is not something you can objectively quantify. If anything, it is a feeling that most skiers will recognize, although there is no consensus on its definition. Generally, stability can be best described by phrases such as ‘dependable’, ‘predictable’, ‘confidence-inspiring’, etc. 

And those phrases, in turn, can be looked at in terms of behavior that could be measured and quantified. The grip of a ski on a steep icy slope, for instance, may be subject to the torsional stiffness of a ski. How much a ski loses its line when it hits a little bump – the weight and ability to ski through the bump, rather than be deflected by it? It’s not easy to translate that feeling into absolutes.

Relative

If stability is not absolute, it must be relative. But let me clarify: it is relative to a specific (type of) skier. All these features and attributes of a ski that factor into this feeling of stability – torsional stiffness, dampness, stiffness over the length of the ski, the amount of rocker – they could be rendering that ski unforgiving to developing skiers.  Or ‘unstable’-feeling to aggressive skiers.

For a more skilled skier, these might be the traits of the next ski he or she wants to get them even further in terms of technique or courage. For a less skilled skier, that same ski might be too burly, punishing even. And that will not get you that dependable, predictable, confidence-inspiring feeling you’re after. It may even get you scared and not trusting the skis you’re on. In terms of mental development at least, that’s going backwards.

(c) Ola Matsson
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, (c) Ola Matsson

No straight answer

There is, I am afraid, no straight answer to the question ‘what is stability’. At the same time, however undefined, it is important that people have a good feeling when they’re on skis. It’s worth something to know that the ski is the thing you can rely on, no matter the conditions. And yes, I think a ski can be too much ski for a skier. But I also think that a ski that is too soft in certain ways (this mostly translates to the torsional stiffness), it can hold a skier back. If your input doesn’t translate to output – not just in terms of power and strength, but also in technique – then that process vehicle, the ski, could be something to look at.

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