Looking for a playful off piste ski this winter? Staff writer Sophie tests out Roxy Shima freeride models in Meribel 

For anyone who has never tried freeride skis, the prospect of having a significantly wider planks underfoot can be a little bit daunting. Having mostly skied on piste with a little bit of off piste here and there, it was new to me, but I was keen to see what the fuss was all about.

I headed to Méribel, France, where the weather gods had delivered a few centimetres of the fresh stuff. To warm up my ski legs, I started with a few runs on piste to get used to the shape and feel of the ski. My normal ski is the K2 Missconduct, which is an all-mountain model and one I couldn’t help but compare my experience to. My initial impression of the Shima was that they were a heavier ski which I found slightly challenging to handle on piste. Being used to a narrower waist and shorter rocker, I was accustomed to having more control, and took some time to adjust to the change in movement required. 

There are two things which are important to take note of with freeride skis: rocker and camber.  
Camber refers to the slight upward curve in the middle of the skis, with the contact points (where an unweighted ski contacts the snow) close to the ends. Skis with camber require more precise turn initiation. The Shima has a 3mm camber which means you need to put a little bit more pressure and effort into your turns to accentuate them. This may explain why I found that my turns weren’t as sharp as I would like on piste.    

The rocker refers to the curve of the tips and how much contact they have with the ground. The rocker on the Shima freeride is 350mm which explains why, compared to my K2s, I found them slightly harder to control: because there was less contact. Rockers help the ski to float in snow of varied depths, as well as making it easier to change direction. Having tested the ski on piste, it was time to see what it was made of in the wild. Venturing off the beaten path, I found it much easier to float in untouched snow, in areas where my normal skis would struggle and sink. The Shima Freerides come into their own where the groomed piste stops and nature takes over. 

It was brilliant having the freedom to cruise around untouched areas of snow, without the fear of my tips sinking and stopping me. The skis carried me effortlessly over varied terrain and also allowed me to tackle some choppier patches which had already been tracked. The twin tips of the Shimas allow the rider to swivel around easily if they want to. Due to the large rocker, swapping around into switch is very easy. I had fun doing little spins on the piste and felt comfortable cruising along backwards where the gradient allowed me to test my ability safely.  

The Shimas are designed to be used primarily off piste, while also retaining the ability to perform well on piste. Personally, I found them weighty and less responsive than I would like on piste, but off piste they allowed me to push my limits and discover new and fun ways to tackle the mountain. They are 6mm wider underfoot than their all-mountain sibling, with a 96mm waist. Overall, I would say that the Shima is a great option for adventurous girls having a go off piste. They aren’t dramatically different from an all-mountain ski, so the change in shape is a comfortable step, allowing you to dive headfirst into uncharted territory. 

 Find out how the ski fared in our ski test page here