*WARNING* do fat skis cause knee damage….?
I’m always amazed when I see people skiing on piste with fat powder skis! Powder skis have become very popular due to thier ability to make skiing off piste very easy. They have an image that states “I’m a big mountain skier” which some people can’t resist – but should this should come with a warning attached to it.
To become a 1st choice ski and stand out amongst its competition fat skis are now offering a sufficient turning radius on piste to become a rounded ski but the fact is a powder ski belongs in the powder. This is a benefit of renting skis….you have the ability to change the ski according to what you intend to do that day…ie technical short turns are going to be best learnt on slalom skis…like wise entry carving as it gives the ability to carve at slower speeds whilst learning about skelatal alignment. Once these skills are learnt you can move towards GS skis or all mountain skis which require higher speeds to learn the same skill.
Back to fat skis – why could they potentially be harmful? It’s all about increased pressure on the first unsupported joint, the knee. It’s all about leverage. The ski is wider under the foot on a fat ski and this therefore results in increased leverage. As shown in the diagram A is the fat ski and B is the slalom ski. The best analagy is lifting a car with a jack; if you use a short handle it is difficult to push down, if you double the length of the handle, it becomes twice as easy. in this example the jack handle uses the same angle and range of movement. So applying this to your skis, if you double the width of your ski under the foot, you dramatically increase the pressure/leverage back through your joints.
I’m not knocking powder skis, I love mine and it is worth remembering that the above is only the case if you are skiing on hard packed snow. The minute you have soft snow under the base of the fat ski, it becomes far more supportive and will elimate the pressure…then they do exactly what they were built for…to eat POW POW!