Let's just think about how the ski works. It is quite a strange shape really. The pointed bit at the front is turned up and the reason for that is fairly obvious, but why does the ski (viewed horizontally from the side), bend up towards the middle, and why is it wider at the front and the back than in the middle?.There are three words to think about here. They are 'camber', 'sidecut', and 'reverse camber'. Lay a new ski without the binding down on a flat floor.
(You can imagine this to save time!) The middle of the sole (the bottom surface) is perhaps three quarters of an inch off the ground. If you push it down with a finger and let it go quickly, it will come up again. This is the springiness in it - just like you after paying eight weeks in advance for your ski holiday. This upward bend in the ski is known as camber.
Now look at the ski from above. It is narrower in the middle than at the tip and the tail. This is the sidecut.Now the combination of the camber and the sidecut produces the real goody - the potential for reverse camber.
In my view understanding reverse camber is fundamental to better skiing technique.Imagine you are standing still across the fall line on a perfectly smooth steep slope. Your lower ski is in the air because you have lifted your lower leg with the ski attached to it. (Strange how things happen.) Lowering the ski horizontally and very lightly on to the slope, you will imagine that the first parts of the sole to touch the snow will be the tip and the tail. The middle of the ski will not be touching yet because of the camber - the bend upwards.
If you lower your leg further and push the middle of the ski further down, it will only be touching the slope along the whole of its edge after you have bent it past the straight position into the opposite arc or camber.The distance you can bend it before the whole edge touches depends on the amount of sidecut; the more the sidecut, the more will be the bend. The downward arc that the ski now describes is called reverse camber.
It is under tension like a spring, not a lot, but more than you imagined doing it earlier because then you had the ski flat, and now you have it on its edge. If you now start moving forwards down the slope with just the ski on its edge, it will automatically curve over the snow because of the sidecut and the reverse camber. Do you understand this? If you don't, try reading it again. It is very important!.
We will discuss this later, but it will soon be possible to achieve added reverse camber by applying more pressure at the right time, and thereby produce the sort of turn you can only dream about..Simon Dewhurst has taught downhill skiing in North America, Scandinavia and the European Alps for 35 years.
He currently runs a ski chalet agency in the French Alps. His book "Secrets of Better Skiing" can be found at http://www.ski-jungle.com. If you have any comments about the above article, he will be happy to answer them.
By: Simon Dewhurst