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Arn’s SIA report: What’s up with rockers?

Arn Menconi
Special to the Daily
Anthony De Rocco, executive vice president of global branding and product development at K2 Sports, demonstrates how rocker technology is the future of skis and snowboards at the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) tradeshow in Denver.
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Arn Menconi, executive director of Avon-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending various ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending periodical dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch comes from the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) Snow Show in Denver.

DENVER – You’ve probably heard the term “rocker” in the ski and snowboarding world – maybe you’ve seen it on an ad, or your friend just got new rocker skis, or maybe your own skis or board are even labeled as such.

But what does it mean, and why are some calling it the future of ski and snowboard technology?

The experts at K2 Sports, one of the biggest ski and snowboard manufacturers in the world, were on hand at the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) tradeshow to give us a tutorial on the technology and why it matters for skiers and riders. The company was among the leaders in the industry in developing rocker skis and snowboards in 2004, and now nearly all their products feature the technology.

“If you want to take away one snapshot of rocker technology for the consumer, it’s that it makes skiing or snowboarding easier,” said Anthony De Rocco, executive vice president of global branding and product development at K2. “The other important thing for people to think about is that rocker is a baseline technology, meaning there are varying amounts of rocker for the different kinds of skiers or snowboarders out there.”

So what is it? Rocker means that the ski or snowboard has some degree of curve, with the tips elevated off the ground, resulting in less of the ski or board touching the ground. In traditional “cambered” skis and snowboards, the shape is straighter, with ground contact from tip to tail.

While that gives you power and speed, it also means there’s more friction with the ground and you have to work harder to turn, especially as skis get wider and wider. According to K2 representative Jeff Krahenbuhl, rocker products feature different combinations of camber and rocker to for different skill levels and terrain. Throwing in some rocker means that the skis and snowboards are easier to handle, feel lighter and shorter, and flow into turns more easily.

However, while most think of Rockers as powder skis, the technology actually is useful for all different terrain and skier types, K2 experts said.

For example, the narrow-waisted, hard-carving Speed Rocker is more traditional and cambered, but has the tips curved up a bit to give you quicker edge-to-edge motion.

“The Speed rocker is for charging on hard snow and going fast,” De Rocco said. “You’re saying, ‘Rocker for hard snow?’ Yes, a little bit of tip gives makes your transitions a lot easier and still gives you edge power once you go on edge.”

Rockers can help beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders as well – K2’s Catch-Free Rocker has a more regular camber, but with lifted tips and tails, which are designed to aid developing skiers and riders by helping initiate and stabilize turns at slower speeds.

The Jib Rocker is for the park, with elevated tips and tails, and zero camber underfoot.

Snowboards have the same concept – traditionally, boards have an arch in the middle. Snowboards with rocker, are reversed, with the section between the bindings flat and the ends elevated.

“You end up with a board that is quicker and more nimble,” said K2 snowboard development engineer Sean Tedore. “The board feels smaller (because of the reduced ground contact), but you still have the full board and that surfy feel. You lose some edge hold, but you gain it back in looseness and quickness.”

The K2 tent was bustling, like all the others booths at the show. This wraps up the two busiest days of the show, but there’s still high energy and excitement at the end of the day. We’re hoping to carry that excitement over into tomorrow morning, when SOS and almost 20 other youth nonprofits will host a youth summit to drum up support for getting kids outdoors. We’re excited to recognize the next generation of skiers and snowboarders. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.


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