Evolution is again at the heart of the newest crop of gear available at shops around Steamboat Springs. New shapes and new thinking about what a ski or snowboard should be able to do will dominate the winter.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Evolution is again at the heart of the newest crop of gear available at shops around Steamboat Springs. New shapes and new thinking about what a ski or snowboard should be able to do will dominate the winter.

New ski and snowboard technology is a cut above

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Learn the lingo

Camber

The ski or snowboard ends curve down toward the ground. The weight of the athlete makes the ski or snowboard level to the ground giving it more carving ability on groomers and hard-packed snow. The raised center gives the ski or snowboard more pop coming out of turns.

Rocker

Also known as reverse camber, the ski or snowboard ends curve up and away from the ground. The curved-up ends help with flotation in powder. Manufacturers offer a wide range of reverse camber gear to cater to an athlete’s specific needs.

— Skis and snowboards have come a long way in terms of shape since each started out as large planks of wood strapped to brave winter engineers.

Evolution is again at the heart of the newest crop of gear available at shops around Steamboat Springs. New shapes and new thinking about what a ski or snowboard should be able to do will dominate the winter.

The largest change for both mediums comes in rocker and camber technology.

Each term refers to the shape of the ski or snowboard and, more accurately, to how much and where the traditionally flat planks bend.

A rocker ski, like the Hell Bent from K2, available at Ski Haus for $729, curves sharply at either end. That makes it nearly perfect for deep snow and cushy powder but greatly reduces the area in the middle of the ski that will make clean contact with the snow on more packed-down runs like groomers.

A ski with camber, meanwhile, bends up slightly toward the point of the binding, so when a boot is in it, it presses down and provides a good, stable platform for smooth snow.

Snowboards share many of the same characteristics, and just how much each ski or snowboard incorporates those bends and breaks dictates how they’ll ride this winter.

Other innovations for the 2009-10 promise to make things easier, safer and more comfortable for owners.

One binding promises to reduce the stress on a skier’s ACL during a crash while another can be transformed from park perfect to all-mountain ideal with a few quick adjustments.

New ski and snowboard boots, meanwhile, promise more comfort and greater versatility.

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