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Rocker Ski Technology: Changing the Heli-Ski Experience


Rocker Technology changing heli-skiing

Aaron Ambuske, VP Global Product Development for K2 Skis, gave CMH the skinny on how adding rocker to skis has pushed skiing forward.

Rocker technology has changed the skiing experience in powder forever. 
The concept of rocker on skis was first explained to me by Shane McConkey.  In his typical passionate tone, he explained that skiing powder is more similar to traveling through fluid.  Surfboards have had rocker for years, since they are designed for water.  He continued to explain how traditional camber skis do the opposite of what a powder skier wants.  Camber pushes the tips into the snow and forces a skier to sit back to get the tips to rise out of the snow.  This all made sense to me during that first fateful conversation with Shane, and it became more apparent as we began testing prototypes with rocker over five years ago.

Through our testing and development of hundreds of skis with rocker, the benefits of rocker have become very clear to all of us at K2.  Rocker lifts the tips out of the snow, so a skier does not need to lean back to feel balanced on skis in powder.  Since the tips have a natural curvature up, the fluid snow (powder) contacts the base of the skis and forces the tips upward.  The skis want to rise out of the snow.  With the tips out of the snow and the skier in a balanced position, it is so much easier to turn the skis back and forth to reduce your speed or change directions.  Skiers make turns more by pivoting than driving the tips into the turn.  This gives a powder skier much more confidence and security on a powder slope. 

During our week of testing at CMH Monashees last year, we introduced many skiers to the benefits of rocker.  We had 35 pairs of prototype skis, and they all had rocker.  Most of our skis were wider than the traditional powder skis in the CMH fleet.  The wider widths and rocker scared away many of the traditional skiers during the first day of testing, but it was amazing to see the light bulbs go on as people witnessed the testers skiing with more ease and control in the soft and variable conditions.  By the second and third days, we were having a hard time getting everyone on the widest skis with the most rocker, since they were in such high demand.  Guides were constantly commenting that the prototypes were allowing the groups to stay out longer.  In the evening, we’d sit with the testers and debrief their skis from the day and recommend skis to test for the next day.  It was very rewarding as a ski designer to hear the positive feedback about the prototypes.  It was unanimous that the skis with rocker were easier to ski and people were gaining more confidence every day.  The guides’ feedback was also rewarding.  As everyone knows, they are amazing skiers and were elevating their skiing and speeds to higher levels with the rockered skis.


Aaron Ambuske, VP Global Product Development, started as a Ski Design Engineer at K2 Skis 12 years ago.  Before K2, he developed products for Life Link Int’l.  Aaron feels fortunate to be in a position where he can combine his passion for skiing with his technical background to bring innovative products to market.


Very cool. Rock-er On!
Posted @ Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:37 PM by Rick
So will CMH have rocker skies available this ski season?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:51 PM by chuck marsh
Wanna give your thoughts to K2? CMH and K2 are presenting another test week this winter in the Monashees! From Mar 12 - 19 join us at the Monashee lodge for a week of testing out prototypes with a few guys from K2.  
Spaces still available for this week! $8640 CDN for steep and deep and K2! Call Reservations for details :)
Posted @ Wednesday, September 22, 2010 3:26 PM by CMH Becky Reservations
CMH absolutely will have skis with rocker for the upcoming season!
Posted @ Friday, September 24, 2010 11:16 AM by Mark Piquette
I'm totally stoked to try out these rocker skis when I come to CMH this winter. 
How do the rocker skis do in non-powder conditions (breakable crust, packed down traverses, etc.) that you inevitably encounter during a week of heli-skiing? 
I also see these skis at the area and wonder how they do on groomed snow. Seems like the only ski touching the snow is underfoot. 
Posted @ Friday, September 24, 2010 12:06 PM by Brad Nichols
The rocker skis all have different degrees of rocker.Some have more or less than others. Something like the Coomback is a great all around ski for pretty much any condition you might find. Something like the Pontoon is great in softer, deeper snow...although I have skied them in some pretty "interesting" conditions and they skied like a champ. 
For the resort, rocker still makes the ski better but you would ski something that has less rocker than we ski at CMH.
Posted @ Friday, September 24, 2010 12:53 PM by Mark Piquette
Thanks Mark!
Posted @ Friday, September 24, 2010 1:12 PM by Brad Nichols
Ambuske is a genius!
Posted @ Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:20 PM by Dogger
Can I reserve a pair of 150 cm rocker skis for my upcoming week at the Cariboos 2/12-19 and the Bugaboos 2/19-28 please? They sound great. Also the avalanche balloon pack. I am bringing my own radio. 
Looking forward to my trip. I am going to Golden 2/10 and will meet the bus at the Post Hotel on 2/12 in Lake Louise at 9:15 am. Please confirm back to me. Thank you, Jane Reldan, MD
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 5:13 PM by Jane Reldan, MD
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