How to Choose the Length of Skis

How to Choose the Length of Skis
Choosing the correct ski length has a great effect on how you perform in the snow. Skis that are too long or too short can cause annoying problems and take away from a skier's full potential. You should choose the right length of skis based on the type of skiing you'll do and your height, weight and ability level.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Pick your pastime. Determine what kind of skiing you will be doing most often. Will you be alpine skiing in deep powder, navigating icy groomed runs, cross-country skiing or skate skiing? Also, are you a beginner, intermediate or expert skier? The more expert you are, the longer the ski you can handle.
Step 2
Weigh in. Look for skis that are the approximate length in centimeters as your weight. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, look for skis that are about 168 cm to 174 cm. This is a general guideline for skiers who are of average weight for their height and of intermediate ability.
Step 3
Observe the camber. The camber is the arched space where the ski flexes beneath where you are standing. Lay a pair of skis on a smooth, hard floor and stand about where the bindings will be mounted. You should be able to slide a piece of paper back and forth in this space a few inches in front of and behind your feet. This paper test works for any type of ski. If the paper doesn't slide underneath the ski a few inches on either side of your foot, you need a longer ski. The longer the ski, the more camber (flex).

Tips & Warnings

If you will be skiing in deep powder, use this general rule: Choose skis that have slightly fatter tips, have a more flexible camber and are about 5 centimeters longer than the skis you would use on groomed runs.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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