How to Pick Snow Skis

How to Pick Snow Skis
After standing in a lift line for 15 minutes, it occurs to you--there are literally hundreds of different types of skis in all shapes, sizes, colors and purpose. So, if you're interested in buying your first pair of snow skis, how do you decide? It's simple. By doing your research and making an informed decision.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

The Steps

Things You’ll Need:
  • Selection of snow skis
  • Ski boots
  • Ski bindings
 
Step 1
Do a little research before you begin seriously shopping for skis. You'll discover that there are many different types of skis. The majority of snow skis sold are alpine or downhill skis. There are also backcountry or telemark and cross country skis. The skis that you buy should be appropriate for their use. With the exception of telemark skis, no types of skis will satisfy more than one application.
Step 2
Choose a price point that's within your budget. While you may need to fudge a little to get the skis you really want, make a point to stay within your budget and skiing ability. Also look for special features and decide if these are just bells and whistles you'd like to have or are deal breakers.
Step 3
Alpine and telemark skis are similar in construction, even though they have completely different applications. Some things to look for in both are length, width and design, weight and whether or not they are sold with bindings. Some skis are sold as ski systems--the bindings are integrated into the skis. Others are sold separately from bindings, so you can mount whatever bindings you wish to the skis. Cross country (often called skate skis) are made using a completely different design. They are thinner, longer and built for skating down groomed, prepared tracks instead of skiing on traditional ski runs.
Step 4
Choose a ski width and shape that meets your needs. Virtually all new alpine and telemark skis today are shaped skis. Shaped means that the tip and tail are wider than the waist of the ski under foot. The skis are designed to be tipped on their edges to turn. The more radical the shape, the tighter the skis will turn.
Step 5
Try renting several different types of skis that fit within your budget and meet your needs. Experiment by trying skis with a large amount of sidecut. Sidecut is the difference between the width of the tips and tails relative to the ski's waist. The more pronounced the sidecut, the tighter it will turn. Skis with radical sidecuts are said to have a tighter turning radius, so they can make tighter turns.
Step 6
Test skis of different lengths. The shorter the skis, the tighter they'll turn but will often be less stable at higher speeds. Evaluate the importance of being able to turn quickly vs. stability while skiing fast.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Try a number of different skis from different manufacturers. Evaluate different skis under identical skiing conditions. Experiment with different sidecuts and ski lengths.
 
Try a number of different skis from different manufacturers.
 
Evaluate different skis under identical skiing conditions.
 
Experiment with different sidecuts and ski lengths.
 
Avoid buying rental skis that have been skied hundreds of miles in a season. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Buy skis from ski shops with qualified salespeople.
 
Avoid buying rental skis that have been skied hundreds of miles in a season.
 
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
 
Buy skis from ski shops with qualified salespeople.

Article Written By Allen Smith

Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.

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