In ski construction, the wood core dictates much of how a ski flexes, rebounds, and absorbs vibrations. Ignoring other construction details (e.g., fiberglass/carbon fiber layup, base material, edge sizing and hardness, cap vs sidewall construction, ...), what are the pros and cons of various wood species inside our skis? From familiar core materials such as poplar, ash, and maple, to exotics such as balsa, paulownia, and even bamboo, why would we want a ski built with a particular wood? Further confusing matters, many ski cores are built by laminating together several species.

All else being equal, how would I choose between a maple & ash ski versus a paulownia & flax ski?

  • 2
    Not an answer because I don't know anything about ski construction, but Balsa and Paulownia are really light, have high strength for weight (though still weak cf. an equivalent size (not weight) board of other trees), and are warp resistant - all features taken advantage of in model plane building, that could also play into ski making. They only grow in relatively warm places though. Poplar etc all grow well in cold areas (with snow), and are strong/springy, though relatively heavy - so would be traditional for skis as they would have been available.
    – bob1
    Apr 3, 2021 at 8:48

1 Answer 1


Structurally, the strength and physical properties come from the layers surrounding the core, not the core itself.

A low weight/high volume/low density core allows more of the weight budget to be devoted to the higher tech materials.

If the core is prone to delaminate or degrade, then it can't hold the outer layers properly separated in relation to each other.

All things being equal, a lighter weight Pawlonia and Flax core would leave more of the design weight for the strong materials.

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