No one has any trouble understanding the primary benefit: flotation. If you’ve ever seen a water ski you can imagine how reverse camber—rocker—would make a snow ski more buoyant in powder. But rocker has become just as important in everyday, all-mountain conditions.

Why? Two reasons: shock absorption and, well, call it “pivotability.” By rockering the tip, thus relieving its downward pressure on the snow, manufacturers can make skis smoother riding and easier to balance on in rough terrain.

The skier doesn’t get bounced upward as much by the bumps that a rockered tip encounters. (Yes, finally, a technology that all you bumpers can love.) And by subtly rockering both the tip and tail, designers can make a ski easier to pivot and less grabby on the snow. If you’re still foot-steering and skidding turns, rather than tipping and carving, the ski feels noticeably looser, easier to steer.

IS CAMBER DEAD? No, traditional camber still has its place, especially if you like rebound or want positive tip and tail pressure on hard snow. But as you’ll see from a spin through these pages, nearly all skis now have rocker in some form.

WHAT’S NEXT? Designers are still tinkering and, more important, still refining manufacturing techniques. But rocker already feels like a mature technology, and the search is already on for the Next Big Thing.

Wondering how to ski rocker? Here are some tips.

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