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Downhill Skis

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Each year, ski manufacturers compete among themselves to produce skis better than past models through a combination of technology, production, and design improvements. When shopping for skis, here are some tips:

  • Alpine skis are generally made of layers of plastics, fiberglass, and metals. The use of wood for their construction became outmoded long ago.
  • Length is quoted in centimeters (approximately 2.54 cm equal an inch). The shortest adult skis are about 150 cm (roughly 59 inches). In general, shorter skis are slower and easier for beginners or less adept skiers to control. Expert skiers tend to prefer longer skis, which facilitate more responsive maneuvering.
  • Conventional skis are roughly the width of the boot for most of their length, sometimes with a modest outward bulge at either end. Today, it is increasingly common to see wider skis with more exaggerated bulges at each end. Skis of this sort are designed to help beginners and other skiers of modest ability.
  • Skis usually have metal bands running the length of their sides. These are designed to add control on icy slopes, providing traction in a manner somewhat similar to the blades

    of ice skates. Periodically, skis need a "tune-up" which includes sharpening of these metal edges.
  • Skis generally require periodic waxing to reduce friction with the snow and to add a protective coating.

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