For many people the word “Rocker” invokes images of some guy with long hair, tight jeans and a leather jacket headbanging to heavy metal in a half-refinished muscle car. But to ski and snowboard gear geeks it also means “Gnarly fun in the park” and “Superior float in deep powder”. Confused? Let me explain…
Although the concept has been around since 1985 (thanks to pro snowboarder Terry Kidwell) reverse camber (aka “rocker”) didn’t explode in popularity until the mid-2000s. When it caught on, however, rocker literally turned the ski and snowboard worlds upside down.
Traditional skis and boards had camber, a convex shape like a banana turned upside down on its tips. Rocker, or reverse camber, is the opposite—the tips are raised higher than the middle (where your boot/weight is). For beginners, rocker means catching fewer edges and for big-air types it means if you’re a few degrees shy landing that 360˚ you can finish the rotation on the snow without bailing. To pow-hounds it translates into more float as the rockered tips and tails stay above the surface of the snow more often than the older, cambered design. Check out this video about Burton’s S Rocker to help understand the Camber/Rocker hybrid concept.
But what if you also love laying down powerful, snappy turns on a freshly groomed cruising run? Rocker? Camber? I asked my friend Gus Cormack at Prior Skis and Snowboards for his take on the best shape to ride in Whistler. Prior designs, tests, and manufactures their skis and boards right here in town so everything they make is influenced by the local conditions, terrain and riding style. Gus literally is a local expert
Graeme— Rocker or camber, which shape is the best for riding Whistler Blackcomb?
Gus— Both. Rocker makes any ski or board float better and easier to turn. Camber gives you enhanced edge grip and creates more energy when cranking hard turns. Both are necessary ingredients for a great ride. Down here at Prior we blend both camber and rocker and use a Hybrid Rocker profile in our All Mountain Freestyle (AMF) Snowboard and Husume Ski. This way you get the best of both worlds and can ride the whole mountain with confidence and stability.
Graeme—Okay, thanks Gus. See you on the hill.
And Gus will be seeing me because I’ll be ripping. I’ve affectionately named my new hybrid rocker profile board the “Rockstar” because I feel like a total hero every time I ride it… or maybe it’s just those tights jeans, leather jacket and Metallica blaring on my headphones… Rocker on!