When you are skiing on rough, steep or rather challenging terrain, you might have noticed an annoying vibration coming from your skis that you can feel in your legs every time you take a sharp turn.
This particular vibration is called ‘ski chattering’ and is something most skiers have to endure, especially ones who ski fast and take speedy turns.
While most skiers do not know why it happens and simply shrug it off, ski chatter can most definitely be avoided, resulting in a smoother skiing experience.
In this article, I’ll go over what ski chatter is, why it happens and what you can do to prevent this from happening next time you head out to the slopes for some fun.
What Is Ski Chatter?
Ski chatter is the chattering sound that comes when the front end of your skis starts vibrating (moving up and down rapidly) over the terrain. It marks the continuous engaging and disengaging of the skis with the terrain.
Therefore, this vibration isn’t necessarily connected with the smoothness or the roughness of the terrain, but instead with how the ski edge interacts with the surface of the run.
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When the ski edge bites the surface, and releases before it bites again, it creates a rapid movement that results in the vibration.
Ski chatter starts at the ski edges and the vibration can move up the boots to your legs where you can strongly feel it, which is why it can be annoying at times!
Why Do My Skis Chatter?
Here are the main reasons why your skis chatter:
Variations In The Stiffness Of Your Skis
Skis that are made with beginner skiers in mind are softer and have ample flexibility so that they can build up their technique over time.
And this flexibility can create a very obvious ski chatter once these skiers enter higher speeds over time because these skis are built to handle slower speeds. And they will end up vibrating a lot due to the lack of stiffness.
Professional and experienced skiers have more stiff skis, and they will have reduced ski chatter when they take high speed sharp turns.
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While making sharp turns can be a pain with stiffer skis, the lowered chatter can really help with having a smoother ride, but still, a ski chatter will DEFINITELY be there to some extent.
You’re Moving Up On The Technical Scale!
One interesting fact about ski chatter is that it is often experienced by skiers who go faster – they are much more experienced.
Ski chatter is directly linked with the amount of pressure you put on the ski and the speed at which you’re crossing the terrain and taking those sharp turns.
So if you’re experiencing ski chatter rather suddenly, it would mean you’re becoming more technically advanced, and getting into higher speeds and tougher terrain!
The Manufacturing Process
Skis are usually made with wood, and that tradition has existed for quite a long time. Wood is the perfect material for ski production because it does not degrade fast, and maintains its flexibility for quite some time.
And the strength of wooden skis does not change even with repeated use, and the ski chatter will also be at a minimum – because wooden skis are flexible but also STIFF.
This dense stiffness manages to absorb a lot of the energy coming from the vibration, so they don’t travel up to your legs.
However, skis made from material like carbon fiber are LIGHT, despite being stiff. They will have a lot more ski chatter because they do not absorb the energy of the flapping and resultant vibrations.
So, you will feel a stronger ski chatter with carbon fiber skis – which means the material used to manufacture your skis have a hand in creating and deciding how much you feel ski chatter.
How To Stop Ski Chatter
Since the skiing techniques change from person to person, and body types are also quite unique, advice on reducing ski chatter is not as simple as it sounds.
However, there are some common principles you can try out and see if they have the ability to bring down the ski chatter to a considerable extent – one method is to bring your body’s center of gravity forward towards the front of the skis by leaning forward.
This will send pressure to the front ends of the skis and stop them from vibrating a lot.
And since ski chatter happens a lot when you’re taking sharp turns, you can try minimizing the angle of the edge of the outer ski, as this will help the ski to simply slide over the surface at the very end of the turn, thus minimizing ski chatter.
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You can also seek help from a professional ski instructor, who can observe and monitor your movements, and also inspect your skis and determine other ways to reduce ski chatter.
In conclusion, ski chatter can happen at high speeds when you take sharp turns and give increased pressure to your skis resulting in a vibration of the ski’s edges against the terrain.
While the vibrations that happen because of this can be an annoying occurrence, you can use certain movements and opt for skis made out of certain materials, to avoid ski chatter, and have a smoother, faster and QUIETER run down the slope!