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Buyer's guide for freestyle and jib skis

Freestyle and jib skis for male and female park rats

Jib and freestyle skis are designed for maximum fun in the park and when you’re throwing tricks all over the mountain. Ever since the advent of skiing people have been jumping off stuff and particularly since the 1990s when the first twin tips emerged, our sport has been resurgent. At Blue Tomato we have split our selection into jib and freestyle ski. The definition we use is that a more jib based ski will be better suited to rails and boxes and a freestyle ski will be more suited to kickers, halfpipe and bigger features. That’s not to say that you’re limited to these features with these skis, as they will often perform brilliantly around the hill.

  1. Freestyle skis: express yourself on the hill
    1. Freestyle shapes: the ski shapes of the style elite
    2. Freestyle profiles: playful, agile and precise
    3. Freestyle skis at Blue Tomato
  2. Jib skis: the perfect ski for charging obstacles in the park or urban areas
    1. Jib shapes: twin tips for riding switch
    2. Jib profiles: traditional camber and park/jib rockers
    3. Jib skis at Blue Tomato

1. Freestyle skis: express yourself on the hill

The length of a pair of freestyle skis – particularly those designed for hitting kickers – corresponds to your body height. Symmetrical tips and tails let you concentrate your centre of gravity directly over the centre of your skis.

Henrik Harlaut killing it at the B&E Invitational in Les Arcs
Blue Tomato team rider Henrik Harlaut at the B&E Invitational in Les Arcs. Photo: David Malacrida.

1.1 Freestyle shapes: the ski shapes of the style elite

Freestyle skis are designed to be ridden forwards or switch so they are either going to have a true twin shape or a directional twin shape.

A true twin, also known as a symmetrical twin, has the same dimensions in the tip and tail, like for example the Völkl Wall (115-87-115). With a symmetrical ski the bindings are recommended to be mounted on the true centre line for balance and you perform equally well forwards or backwards. Often, the most aggressive competition focussed freestyle skis will be centrally mounted true twins, for massive spins off rails, kickers and landing switch in the halfpipe.

A directional twin shape is a little more versatile for all-mountain riding as the tips and tails are not symmetrical but there is still a twin tip. This means that the ski will perform backwards but still has the added versatility to take your tricks around the mountain and even into the soft snow. Bindings can be mounted centrally on these skis for the best park performance, or one or two centimetres set back from the centre for more all-mountain cruising. Riding and landing switch will not be quite as easy as on a centrally mounted ski but still easy enough.

Skis have widened since the 80’s, as too have twin tip skis. It’s now not uncommon to have freestyle skis which are above 90 mm in the waist. Generally, the park specific freestyle skis will be between 80 and 95 mm in the waist. All-mountain freestyle skis can measure between 90 and 105 mm in the waist. A wider ski may lose a little quickness from edge to edge, be a little slower on rail switch-ups and heavier. However, a wider ski will have better performance in soft or variable conditions and offers a great stable landing platform if you’re sending kickers.

1.2 Freestyle profiles: playful, agile and precise

With the development of ski design and width the profiles which you find on skis has changed too.

On the stiffer more aggressive ski you’re likely going to find the strongest camber profiles, sometimes with a little rocker in the tips and tails. A strong camber ensures good pop and response for a ski, perfect for carving into massive features or having edge grip on the iciest of pipes. Rocker in the tips and tails will keep the skis from catching an edge on landings and keep you quick on switch-ups on rails and boxes.

Less aggressive skis will have less camber and a little more rocker so they’re more playful. This profile combined with slightly more width results in a great all-mountain freestyle ski, like the new ARV line of skis from Armada which work equally in or out of the terrain park. The various brands have different names for these rocker profiles but are generally similar, with camber underfoot and rocker in the tips and tails. Such profiles include AR Freestyle Rocker from Armada, Jib Rocker from K2 and Park Rocker from Atomic.

Park Rocker Profiles

  • Camber underfoot
  • Rocker in the tips and tails
  • Stronger camber on more aggressive performance skis
  • Heavier rocker for a more playful, versatile ski

1.3 Freestyle Skis at Blue Tomato

At Blue Tomato we have one of the largest selections of freestyle and jib skis. Here's a selection of this season’s highlights:

  • Atomic Punx – one of the most storied and successful park skis in history. The Punx is on the stiffer side and the symmetrical build make it perfect for throwing bigger spins and landing backwards.
  • Völkl Wall – another very successful ski. The Wall is stiffer and has a lightning fast Ptex-4500 which means you’ll keep your speed through the bigger features.
  • Armada ARW 86 – Armada have added a new line of park skis and this is THE one model for girls who live to ride the park.
  • Faction Candide 1.0 – If you’ve watched the “We Are The Faction Collective” video series you’ll have seen this ski with lightning fast rail tricks and big spins in the park.

2. Jib skis: the perfect ski for charging obstacles in the park or urban areas

Whether it’s destined to tear up urban rails or spend months lapping the jib park, a jib ski should be agile and playful to guarantee maximum fun on boxes, rails and natural features around the mountain.

Fabio Doberauer beim Blue Tomato Team Gathering im Mai 2016
Blue Tomato team rider at the Blue Tomato Team Gathering in May 2016. Pic by Delia Frohn.

2.1 Jib shapes: twin tips for riding switch

Switch riding is an essential part of jibbing so you’re going to need a ski that rides as well backwards as it does forwards. A true twin or directional twin shape is what you’ll be looking for. With centre mounted bindings your centre of gravity is concentrated over the middle of your skis, keeping things totally symmetrical and giving you maximum control whichever direction you’re riding.

The waist width can actually vary quite a lot with different jibs skis, for example the EDollo from Armada has a wide 98 mm waist whereas the Infamous from Atomic has a narrower waist. A wider ski will be a little more stable with landings whereas a narrower ski will be lighter and quicker to rotate.

Quick overview:

  • True or directional twin shape
  • Centre mounted bindings for maximum control in both directions
  • Thicker, more robust, longer lasting edges
  • Extruded, durable bases that require less maintenance
  • Lightweight and agile

2.2 Jib profiles: traditional camber and park/jib rockers

As with freestyle skis, jib skis can have a wide variety of rocker profiles. The park or freestyle rockers which were detailed earlier work brilliantly as they combine the best of both worlds. Camber underfoot guarantees good pop for ollieing onto rails and features. Rocker in the tip and tail will shorten the ski and reduce hang-ups and the chance of catching an edge. A full camber profile is great for pop but will be a little less forgiving. A more heavily rockered ski will be super playful and great for buttering but you’ll sacrifice a little precision and pop.

2.3 Jib skis at Blue Tomato

At Blue Tomato we have one of the broadest selections of jib skis. Here are some of the best models:

  • Atomic Infamous – designed and developed by Kiwi ripper Jossi Wells the Infamous is tough as nails and a jib ski for urban and park. The softer flex and the symmetrical profile mean the ski is perfect for jibbing the mountain, forwards or switch.
  • Armada Edollo – the weapon of choice for Armada and Blue Tomato team rider Henrik Harlaut. Being super soft with its wider waist the Edollo is designed for urban domination.
  • Line Chronic – a perennial favourite of the Line team the Chronic blends Line’s bombproof fatty base and edges with a snappy 90 mm waist for a lively quick jib ski.
  • Head Frame Wall – for this ski Head developed their 360 degree framewall technology for the most durability for park and rail riding.