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.
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.
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:
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?
The summit and ski of Tahoma (Mt Rainier) last spring by Paradise Ambassador Kevin Doherty-Regalia! Tahoma is the largest mountain in Washington state, the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 of the United States.