What To Look For
Choose the ski that suits your racing style. Slalom skis are designed for competitions with numerous, closely placed gates. They have waist widths of about 65 millimeters, and a tight 12-meter turn radius. Their 165-centimeter length enables them to make tight slalom turns.
Giant slalom skis are suitable for courses with fewer gates, placed wider apart. They are about 175 centimeters long, and have an average waist width of 67 centimeters. These skis have an average turn radius of 19 meters. They are stiffer than slalom skis. Downhill skis are geared for a longer, steeper course. These stiffer skis are longer than the slalom and giant slalom skis. They usually have a 20-meter turn radius.
Recreational racing skis are more flexible for traditional racing skis. Their waists range from 65 to 40 millimeters, and their turn radius ranges from 12 to 18 meters.
If you are racing competitively, you must use an FIS certified ski. Failure to do so may disqualify you from the race. Choosing skis that are too long may affect your on-slope alignment.
Keep in mind that your affinity for a particular ski may be subjective. Some people fall in love with ski graphics, or have an undying brand loyalty. If possible, have a coach observe your performance on a variety of demo skis.
Where To Buy
Online shops such as Skis.com and SkiDepot offer a wide selection of racing skis at reasonable prices. The buying process, however, is complicated. Racing skis should never be purchased without demoing them. In most cases, the price you pay for the demo will be deducted from the price of the ski. Brick-and-mortar ski shops are aware of the competition they face from online stores. They are often open to price negotiations, especially if you are a regular customer. When you factor in the price of shipping and handling, your local shop may be the better deal.
Prices will vary, but racing skis usually cost between $400 and $1,200.
Many ski shops sell their demo models at the end of the year. This may be a viable way to buy discount racing skis. Taking even a part-time job at a ski resort can get you substantial discounts at their gear shop. Joining forums like EpicSki (see References) and becoming a supporter will give you discounts with various online ski shops. You can also check their classified section for discounts on used gear.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.