SLALOM SKI BUYER’S GUIDE
Finding the right slalom ski is crucial to having a great experience on the water. It is important to consider the speed that you slalom at when choosing the length of the ski. The top end weight chart below is considering that you would be skiing in the 32-36 MPH range. You want to select as short a ski as you can for your weight to make it easier to turn, but keep in mind if you ski slower than 32 MPH you may want to move up in size so that you are comfortable on your slalom. One other factor to keep in mind is your height. If you are taller and thin you may want to move up a size to feel comfortable on your slalom.
SUGGESTED SLALOM SIZES
63” up to 120lbs
64” up to 120 lbs
65” up to 130 lbs
66” up to 150 lbs
67” 130-180 lbs
68” 140 -190lbs
69” 170-220 lbs
71” 200 lbs and up
( Please keep in mind this is a general weight range that can vary depending upon the specific Slalom Ski and the speed at which you ski. Every Slalom responds a little differently due to the shape, & construction of the ski.)
WIDER SLALOM SKIS
Wider Slalom Skis or shaped skis were developed to help skiers achieve a little more lift when coming out of the water during deep water starts. These slaloms tend to be a little more stable on the water and provide slow turning and easy cutting. When these slaloms are shaped with a “Parabolic Shape” they can lose some performance when you are trying to cut, however they are easier to get up on.
Many of the wider slaloms have kept a traditional shape while just adding a little width throughout the ski. These skis while not as fast as their high end counterparts still perform very well on the water and can even be used to course ski since they still turn and respond very quickly. Some good examples of wider skis that still perform well would be the HO Freeride, or the Radar P6 Slaloms.
Tunnel Concave – This is the most stable design for slalom skis. These skis will ski comfortably right behind the boat and will still turn well though not as fast as their full concave counterparts. Most Combo Skis have a tunnel ski design on them since this makes the ski more stable in the water.
Edge to Edge Concave – this is when the bottom of the slalom is scooped out to each edge of the ski. This design is easy to tell when you look at the bottom of the ski since there is no flat spot on the outside edges of the slalom. Edge to Edge or Full Concave Slaloms turn faster since there is no flat spot that you have to move across to get the slalom on it’s edge. Most of the higher end Slaloms will have this bottom design.
Hybrid Concaves – these designs are relatively new and are designed to capture the best factors from Tunnel Concave skis and Full Concave Skis. Usually the top or forward part of the ski has more of a tunnel shape that tapers into a full concave from the middle to the back of the ski. This gives the ski some stability when you are riding it straight in the water but as you ease back to turn you get to the faster edge to edge section of the slalom. This makes the ski turn easier, and quicker when you turn on this section of the slalom.
Stiffness or Flex will make a huge difference in how a Slalom ski performs on the water. In general the stiffer the slalom the better it will slice through the wake and the quicker the slalom will turn. As you get in rough water or going through the wake any ski will bend or flex. Carbon Fiber and other stiffer materials help to limit this flex and make the ski “slice” through the water. This is a delicate balance because you do need a certain amount of flex in the turn to help propel energy coming out of the turn. If you get the ski too stiff it becomes difficult to make the fast turns you need when traveling a course.
R.I.M. Construction – These are low end slaloms that use a process called Reinforced Molded Injection. In this process steel rods are placed into a mold and a fiberglass reinforced polyester material is injected into the mold to create the water ski shape. Fiberglass combo water skis are manufactured with this process. Some of these slaloms may have an Aluminum top skin or a top made of a different material. Slaloms made with this process are made to be cost effective and usually sell for under $250.00.
Traditional Construction – This construction process begins with a foam core that is wrapped in fiberglass and uses epoxy to give the ski strength. These skis are placed in a mold and the extra epoxy is vacuumed out of the mold to give the ski its shape. Phenolic inserts and threaded inserts are placed in the mold for anchor points for the bindings on the slalom.
High End Construction – Every manufacturer has their own way of producing their high end slaloms. Typically they use molded cores made of different materials to make the slalom lighter and carbon fiber, or other materials to give the ski additional stiffness. Lighter and stiffer slaloms are easier to turn and slice through the wake better. Many of the higher end slaloms will also have additional features and construction processes that are unique to each individual manufacturer.
All prices are in USD.