The Structure Of A Ski

By: Ella Wallinger, Journalist

No two skis are built the same, different brands have different manufacturers, designs, plus patented materials and structures. They are all made for skiing advantages and to improve the performance of someones skis and skills. Skis have different parts and levels, the structure is made to stay strong but slightly flexible for easy, smooth turns. Although all skis are made different based on the brand, purpose, and performance, they all have the same main parts: top sheet, core, sidewalls, edges, and a base.

The Parts and Structure

Top Sheet – The top sheet is the top layer of a ski, above the core of the ski. The top sheet is usually patterned with designs, graphics, brand logos, or other decorative materials. The top sheet is a thin layer made of materials such as fiberglass, nylon, plastic, and others. The main purpose of the top sheet is to protect the core and other vital parts of the ski.

Core – The the core, the center key piece of a ski is very important. It is the base component that the rest of the ski builds on top of, it runs from tip to tip. The majority of the skis strength, durability and flexibility come from the core. The core is typically made of wood and can be mixed with other materials. Skis are mainly made of wood because would absorbs vibrations from the surface.

Sidewalls – Located on the side of the ski, the sidewalls are the framing structure of a ski. It helps support the ski and increase the stiffness. It is located on top of the metal edge and can be designed in three different ways based on the design of the rest of the ski.

The first style is the ABS construction, found when the layers of the skis are flat. This is more commonly found in racing skis because the build gives for a better edge and the stiffness of the ski allows for more strength and is less prone to damage.

Cap construction, which is used to create a lighter ski, is used when the layers of the ski curve down to the base of the ski. In this design the core is full protected and enclosed. However, the problem with the design of this ski is that the edge does not have great control or edge hold.

The third style of sidewalls are the half-cap, which is a mix of the other two designs. In this version only the middle/composite layers will meet the base. There are small ABS that the top sheet curves halfway to meet. Out of the three designs this is the most advanced option. It is strong and sturdy but remains lightweight, while maintaining a good edge.

Edges – The steering and carving mechanism. The edge of a ski is made of a sharp metal built on the side of the ski. The metal material helps carve into the ice and snow of the mountain allows the skier to turn and slow down if needed. The edge of the skis is the control of your speed, velocity, direction, and turns.

Base – The base is the ground layer at the bottom that touches the snow when someone skiing. It adds special characteristics to the ski and is mostly constructed based on the purpose or target of the ski. The condition of a person’s base plays a huge factor in ones skiing adventure. The base of as ski most be waxed and smoothed to insure the smoothest riding. It is commonly made of p-tex. The base of a ski has a number that describes the durability and strength of the base the higher the number the stronger a skis base is. The number is the molecular weight.

There are two kinds of bases, extruded and sintered. Of the two, the sintered base is more difficult to make, causing it to be more expensive. The sintered base is more commonly found on the higher end, more expensive skis. It is made by grinding the materials into a powder which is then heated and pressed into the ski shape.

The less expensive version of a base is the extruded base typically more common and found on cheaper skis. The difference is the way it is created. The extruded base is melting, molded, and cut into a simpler shape. It is not at durable and strong as the sintered base but costs less money and requires less maintenance.

Overall, skis are all different and vary from size, shape, structure, and designs. Skis are customized for a number of reasons but anyone can find a perfect ski with all that’s on the market!



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