6 Types of Alpine Skis Explained

Modern-day alpine skiers have the luxury of options. There are a wide variety of different skis available that can help you focus on a single style of skiing or give you the ability to conquer them all. 

I’ve been skiing for most of my life, and I’m an alpine skier at my core. I’ve used just about every type of ski you can step into and have first-hand experience with most of the options you’ll see here. 

In this post, I’ll list all of the different types of alpine skis to give you an idea of what’s out there. I’ll provide information on what the skis are good for and what makes them different from the other types. 

Keep reading to find out more. 

What is Alpine Skiing? 

Alpine skiing is also known as downhill skiing. Basically, any type of skiing you do at the resort is alpine skiing. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but it’s a good way to think about it for anyone learning about the sport. 

If you use stiff ski boots and keep both ends of your boots securely attached to bindings, that’s alpine skiing. But there are plenty of different types of skis in this category, and that’s what I’m about to explain in the sections below. 

Different Types of Alpine Skis

The next time you are in the lift line, look around at the skis all of the other skiers are using. There’s a good chance you’ll see different types of skis on just about every skier around you. It’s one of the great things about the current state of the ski industry. 

Here is a quick look at all of the different types of alpine skis. 

1. All-Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis are designed to do a little bit of everything. They are the most versatile type of alpine skis and the most common ones you will see on skiers. If you are looking to get a single pair of skis that can do it all, this is the way to go. 

This type of ski is suitable for all ability levels, from beginners to experts. All-mountain skis are a lot of fun to ski on because you can truly explore every inch of the mountain. This can help improve your skiing ability. 

You may also want to check out our buying guide about the best all-mountain skis as of 2022.

2. Freestyle Skis

Freestyle skis are another common type of alpine ski. These are generally less wide and lighter than all-mountain skis. They are designed with freestyle skiing in mind, which involves tricks, manuevers, and aerials. 

Freestyle skis are the ski of choice for anyone who likes to spend most of their time in the terrain park. These skis are lighter and easier to maneuver on big jumps and any other feature you find in the park. These can work for any ability level. 

3. Big Mountain/Freeride Skis

Big mountain or freeride skis are a more aggressive type of alpine ski. They are built to handle demanding conditions that you find on the most challenging runs at the resort as well as unreal backcountry lines. 

Big mountain skis are longer and wider than all-mountain skis and generally have a pretty stiff feel to them. This allows the skis to cut through variable snow conditions and easily charge through expert terrain. This type is not really suited for beginners. 

You may also be interested in reading our review of the best freeride skis in 2022.

4. Powder Skis

Powder skis are designed to eat up deep snow and make for a great addition to your quiver if you want to take advantage of fresh snow at every opportunity. These skis are extra wide and feature plenty of rocker in the tip and tail. 

The extra width provides an increased surface area which helps keep the skis above the snow, even if it is really deep. Powder skis don’t always deliver great performance in other conditions, but they are fantastic to have around when you need them. 

5. Racing Skis

Racing skis are built to handle high speeds and excel in hardpack and icy conditions. If you have ever watched a professional ski race, these are the skis that the racers use. They have excellent power and control to allow you to make quick turns and reach high speeds. 

You don’t need to be a professional racer to use racing skis; you just need to love going fast and staying on the front side of the resort. These aren’t as versatile as all-mountain skis but can still get you around most places you’ll want to ski.  

Also Read: What is Super Combined in Skiing?

6. Backcountry/Touring Skis

Backcountry skis or touring skis are built to be lightweight and effective in variable snow conditions. The lightweight is important because touring involves heading uphill with skins on, and every additional ounce will slow you down and make it harder to reach the top. 

This is a specialty type of alpine ski that you won’t really want to use at the resort. They are more expensive than other types because of innovative technology and high-end materials that keep the weight down without compromising downhill performance.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea of all the types of alpine skis available, you can try them out and see which works best for your preferences and ability levels. 

If you are a beginner, an all-mountain or freestyle setup is probably the way to go. If you have more experience, getting several pairs of alpine skis will allow you to stay ready for any type of snow or condition that comes your way.

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