You might have seen them or heard about them—twin-tip rocker skis.Maybe you dismissed them as just for youthful slopestylers. Hardly. Rent or demo a pair, and you’ll immediately see—and feel—what all the buzz is about.
“Rocker skis have completely changed the game, both for powder skiing and everyday skiing,” says Snowbird P.R. Director Jared Ishkanian, who is completely hooked on the skis. “They allow unrivaled float in deep snow, without having to be in the back seat. They just make skiing more fun.”
Snowboarder Meisha Lawson, communications manager of Park City Mountain Resort, tried a pair for this column and fell in love. “These are absolutely wonderful! They make me want to ski again!” she said.
The secret is the “early rise,” or rocker. Regular-shape skis bend up in the middle and down at each end, except for a slightly raised tip. Twin-tip rockers (TTR) have the same camber, or upward bend underfoot, but then the ski begins to curve upward both in front and back so that the contact point of the tip and tail comes up off the snow a few millimeters. They are also a lot wider. It makes the ski easier to control on any snow, and the twin tips allow you to ride in either direction, forward or backward, with ease. Ordinary twin tips have been around for a while. They were originally designed to let skiers trick it like snowboarders, but it was freeskiing’s star—the late Shane McConkey—who invented the rocker aspect. It may be a bigger legacy for the freeskiing legend than his incredible ability on snow—which was aided by his own rocker invention. TTRs were slow to catch on, but now nearly every company makes them, and they are selling out so fast that manufacturers can’t keep them in stock.
Justin Nelson, operations manager for Surface Skis, explains, “Anyone, from total beginners to total experts, can appreciate the effects of a rockered ski. There are different types of rocker skis for different conditions. A larger ski will be more for soft snow or powder. A smaller degree of rocker will be more for groomers on packed powder. They were made to be easier in powder, but the design makes them easier to ski on in any snow.”
Surface Skis is one of the fastest growing ski manufacturers in the country. It’s dedicated solely to TTRs—and it’s a Utah company, located in Cottonwood Heights. It was started in 2004 by Mike Schneider, who began working out of his garage while holding down a day job. He used all his pay to keep his company going, with the goal of creating an affordable ski that would make skiing more fun. It was slow to take off, but 2008 was a breakout year.
Even with that success, the skis are still affordable. Nelson says, “The average pair of rocker skis in the industry is $800; our most expensive ski is $600. Our skis start at $350, with rocker and twin tips. This year, we doubled our production over last year, and this year, we sold out.”
I learned about Surface Skis on the epic powder a few weeks ago. Never much of a powder skier, I rented a pair at Brighton. I was skimming over the snow, feeling like I was skiing on pillows, when I realized I hadn’t had this much fun on skis in years. I could do no wrong. It was like discovering skiing all over again—which seems to be a common reaction from those who try TTRs. Even those who find shaped skis too much work can have fun on TTRs.
You can rent a pair at nearly every resort or ski shop. Ask the rental expert to recommend both the degree of rocker and the length that will work best for your skiing ability and the type of snow you’ll be using them on. Demo several different models until you find the right one for you.
Surface Skis operates its own store and demo center in Cottonwood Heights, at 2258 Fort Union Blvd., Suite B6, 801-733-2655.