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  • What Is a Ski Sidecut and Radius?

    December 28, 2023 2 min read

    Skier on a set of Paradise 105 Freeride Skis

    When you're searching for a new set of skis, you'll often hear the term "sidecut" associated with the radius of a ski. While working in the industry, I've found that many people don't understand what sidecut is or how it affects your ski. So, let's dive into this important aspect of skis. 

    What is ski sidecut? 

    Simply put, sidecut is the curve created from the widest point on the tip of the ski (shovel) and the widest point on the tail. 

    Ski Sidecut Example

     

    What does the sidecut of a ski do? 

    The sidecut affects the turn radius of the ski - the radius is the shape of the ski based on its length and tip, waist, and tail widths. Picture a big circle that fits in the sidecut of the ski, the turn radius is the radius of that circle; it's the arc that a ski will follow in a perfect turn. 

    Paradise VICE 105 Freeride Ski

    How does the radius affect your skiing? 

    These measurements give you a basic understanding of how the ski will turn. The lower the radius (measured in meters), the better the ski at making short, sharp turns. The higher the radius, the more straight the ski will want to go - with a tendency to want to do longer turns and faster skiing. 

    • Short Radius: 10-15m - Carving and all-mountain
    • Medium Radius: 15-20m - All-mountain, freestyle, and freeride 
    • Long Radius: 20m + - Freeride, big-mountain, and powder 
    It's important to note that the radius of the ski will change based on the length of the ski, even when the same model. For example, here are the radii for our VICE 105 freeride ski:
    The Specs
    Length
    163cm
    171cm
    179cm
    187cm
    Dimensions
    125-101-114mm
    129-103-118mm
    133-105-122mm
    137-107-126mm
    Radius
    18m
    19m
    20m
    21m
    Weight
    1,585g
    1,723g
    1,859g
    1,996g
    Effective Edge
    1,240mm
    1,316mm
    1,390mm
    1,470mm
    Camber
    2.5mm
    3mm
    3mm
    3mm
    Rocker Tip/Tail
    10/7mm
    10/7mm
    11/8mm
    11/8mm
    Tip/Tail Length
    418/382mm
    420/384mm
    434/400mm
    434/400mm
    Tip/Tail Height
    47/37mm
    48/38mm
    51/41mm
    51/41mm

     

    How is the radius of a ski calculated? 

    Math. That's the answer. According to Bill Jennings, whom I assume is considerably smarter than me, you use this formula to calculate radius: 

    R = C^2/SC

    Where R (the turning radius) equals C (the length of the ski in contact with the snow, squared) divided by SC (the side cut).

    Summary: Ski Radius and Sidecut 

    Sidecut is the curve of the ski based on the widest point at the tip to the widest point at the tail. Radius is the shape of the ski. Together sidecut and radius decide how the ski will want to turn, with lower radii being better at short turns and the higher the radii wanting to turn less.

    I hope this helped! What's another topic you'd like to learn more about? 

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