How to Measure Downhill Skis

How to Measure Downhill Skis
Racers, powder hounds, freestylers, mountain skiers, slalom skiers--all require a certain combination of ski dimensions to optimize their experience. This is sometimes more complicated with modern shaped skis. Most recreational skiers buy skis between the height of their chest and the top of their head. Better skiers can control longer skis, although a heavier person can turn a ski disproportionately long for his height. Most skis lengths are measured by physical ski length in centimeters. Less often skis are measured by either the flat part which touches the snow or the length from front to back as it sits on the snow. Shaped skis can afford to be shorter than their predecessors because their greater widths give them more stability. In sorting out the wealth of numbers printed on skis, follow some reasonably understandable rules and be realistic about your skiing style.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tape measure (metric) Bathroom scale Reputable ski shop
  • Tape measure (metric)
  • Bathroom scale
  • Reputable ski shop
Step 1
Measure your own height and weight and evaluate your own skiing style. Determine from tables or from experts what size skis you should consider.
Step 2
Determine a ski's length by tape measure or by reading the numbers on the ski and hold it upright to gauge against your height. Longer skis are faster and more difficult to control. You want the longest ski that you can handle; a fast skier might add five centimeters to his ideal ski. Lengths of 140 to180 centimeters represent the range used by most recreational skiers, and shaped skis only come in about five different lengths.
Step 3
Determine the side cut radius, which is the radius of a circle which fits snugly in the shaped inner curvature or waist (middle) of a ski. Side cut radius helps you determine how long a turn will take to completion and is measured in meters. A smaller side cut radius translates to quicker, tighter turns but these cuts vary widely for different ability levels, ski use and conditions. It is advisable to get help determining side cut radius from someone experienced and knowledgeable.
Step 4
Figure the best combination of tip, waist and tail measurements for your ability and style. Shaped skis are calibrated by width measurements at three locations on a ski--the widest part of the front or tip, the narrowest part at the waist, and the widest part of the back end or tail. A wide waist floats better on powder snow, while a narrow waist is very responsive in turns. Wide tips and tails are also good powder features. The best way to find your comfort level is to ski on several sizes and then find a ski that best fits your preferences.

Tips & Warnings

 
Don't stretch your ability level in buying skis. That's like buying shoes too small. If possible, ski on the model or at least the size of ski you are considering. Recruit help. Most store employees can offer good, objective information and advice.
 
Don't stretch your ability level in buying skis. That's like buying shoes too small.
 
If possible, ski on the model or at least the size of ski you are considering.
 
Recruit help. Most store employees can offer good, objective information and advice.
 
Skiing on a drastically mis-sized ski can lead to loss of control and possible injury.

Article Written By Barry Truman

Barry Truman has published many outdoor activity articles in the past five years with International Real Travel Adventures, the Everett Herald and Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers, Backpacking Light Magazine and Trails.com. He has a forestry degree from the University of Washington.

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