ASO Mammoth’s Guide to Basic Ski and Snowboard Terms

We aren’t even going to try and decode the slang terms that Ski bums have invented over the years, but the team at ASO Mammoth does know a thing or two about skiis and snowboards thanks to our time providing snowboard and ski gear to Mammoth Mountain’s riders.

Still, we know how confusing the technical terms like camber, flex, and reverse rocker can be. To help out, we’ve put together a list of basic ski and snowboard terms to make sure that the next time you rent or buy new gear you’ll be ready!

Camber and Rocker

The camber of a ski or snowboard is its shape. While it’s easy to think of the shape of a board or ski as simply an oval, the camber is the shape of the side profile. For example, a traditional camber’s shape is when the board is flexed upward in the middle with the main points where the board contacts the ground being near the ends of the board. Thanks to the flexed middle and pressure put on the contact points, regular camber boards hold strong edges that result in responsive turning and pop from the flexed middle.

Until recently, most snowboards and skis had traditional cambers. However now there are several alternative camber options with the most popular being reverse camber, also known as a rocker, and a mixed camber. As the name suggests, the reverse camber is the opposite of a traditional camber with the main contact point being the flexed, middle of the board. With the middle of the board flexed toward the ground, rocker boards provide plenty of flex and the design actually makes the board more forgiving to ride.

Of course, there are also mixed and flat cambers for snowboards and skis as well, so whatever your preference there is a camber for you!

Stiff vs. Flexible

Just like a camber, the stiffness of your board or skis depends on what kinds of riding you want to do.

The stiffness of a board or ski is more intuitive than a camber. Flex just means how much the board gives or resists when flexed. A stiff board will resist pressure and hold its shape while a flexible board will bend when pushed. The benefit of a stiff board is that it has a better grip which gives it better response, especially at high speeds. The downside to a stiff board is that due to how responsive it is, learning can be difficult because the board can be unresponsive at slow speeds. On the other hand, a flexible board offers the opposite pros and cons.

A flexible board or ski is easy to maneuver, particularly at slow speeds, making it perfect for presses and an accessible board for beginners. Still, flexible boards can be frustrating for riders who need a responsive board for technical or high-speed riding.

Shapes Galore

If you though that there were a ton of options for cambers and flexibility, then you’re in for a wild ride when it comes to shapes.

Although there are several shape options for skis, the most common are free ride, free style, and carving. Carving skis have an hourglass shape that offer the most comfortable ride on groomed runs, making them popular choices for rental or beginner equipment. While free style skis have twin tips that make it easy to ride backwards, and opens up the playbook for terrain parks, they are also be made to ridden all over the mountain. Free ride skis are a more versatile version of powder skis that will ride on and off groomed runs well.

For snowboards, there are fewer options with the main two being all mountain and freestyle. As the names suggests, an all-mountain board will perform well all over the mountain while a freestyle board will give the rider more options in the terrain park as well as all over the mountain.

If you’re ready to try each and every combination of camber, shape, and flexibility, or just want to talk about skis and snowboards, stop by ASO Mammoth so we can get you into shape!

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