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Not too long ago, skis were very simply constructed planks of wood. While skis went through many changes throughout the years, today's shaped skis became popular in the mid-1990s. Shaped skis are narrower in the center than they are in the tip or tail, and enable the skier to make easier turns. Nearly all of today's recreational skis are shaped.
Skis need bindings, which anchor the foot to the ski at both the heel and toe. Bindings are spring-loaded, which allows the ski to detach from the foot if excessive pressure is applied. Today's bindings also use a special spring system that cuts down on the amount of force felt in the knees and other joints during twisting falls.
The skier wears boots, which are fitted to the bindings. Downhill ski boots are made of hard plastic and have a soft foam liner for both comfort and warmth. Today linings can be molded to conform to the foot, which increases comfort even further.
Most alpine skiers today, especially children, wear helmets to protect their heads in case of a fall. Goggles protect the eyes from sun, as well as enhance visibility in snowy or wet conditions.
Correctly sized ski poles are used by downhill skiers to improve balance, speed, and acceleration.
The downhill skier's clothing should also be carefully considered. A combination of polypropylene underlayers and waterproof and wind-resistant outerwear keeps the skier dry and warm. Woolen mittens or gloves plus warm socks complete the downhill skier's list of equipment.
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Alpine Skiing Guide - Alpine Skis - Downhill Ski Equipment