If you’re just getting started skiing, then you probably have a lot of questions already. One of the biggest questions with beginners is how long their skis should be. We’re here to make sure that you’re 100% clear on that answer by the time you’re reading through our handy guide. Let’s get started so you can spend less time in front of a screen and more time out on the slopes having some fun!
We should mention that before we get started, there’s no simple mathematical equation that will tell you the perfect size of ski for you. However, we will give you some general tips that we’ve known to be reliable over the years and ensure you have the best results possible.
Why Does Length of Skis Matter?
The length will alter the manner in which a ski performs when traveling in a straight line or turning. It will affect your skiing at any speed. For example, if you select a ski which is shorter in length, then they are going to move snappier, offering faster turns and more pliable maneuverability at slower speeds. Longer skis are pretty much the opposite, having longer turns and will be easier to keep your balance with at faster speeds but move like molasses at slow speeds.
If you’re particularly tall, you’re probably going to prefer longer skis as you’re going to have more control over them and they’ll be easier for you to turn with. If you’re shorter and/or more lightweight, then you’ll probably feel more natural with how shorter skis move. If you’re a beginner, then we generally recommend going with shorter skis as they’re easier to maneuver with.
Always Make Sure
Don’t just guess on your height if you’re unsure. Seriously, an inch can make a big different with the length of your skis. To calculate, take your height and convert it into centimeters. This number will be the center-point of a 30cm range of lengths.
For example, if you stand 5’9” tall, then that’ll rank in at about 175cm. 175 is smack dab in the middle of 160 and 190 so your skis should be somewhere in that range in length. If you’re just starting out, we recommend staying closer to the 160 end of that range. This is where most beginner skis land.
The effective edge of your skis is the length of the ski edge which makes contact with snow on a somewhat-hard surface. For example, if you have a cambered ski, you’re going to get a pretty lengthy effective edge as the tip and tail are both making contact with the snow. However, a cambered ski with an early rise tips will feature a shorter effective edge.
So, while both pairs of skis may end up being the same length in total, their effective edges do vary significantly. The shorter the effective edge is, the less control you’re going to have over them, making them more difficult for beginner use.
Width also has something to do with the length as well and how well you can balance on them and keep your stability on the snow. Wider skis allow a more even, balanced weight distribution which will help keep them from tilting. This is why wider skis also keep you “afloat” better than more narrower alternatives would. So, we recommend also looking at skis which are slightly wider than the norm.
Types of Skis
Okay, now we’re going to get a little bit deeper into the types of skis you should look for. There are a few different types: all-mountain, off piste, park, on piste, and backcountry touring.
All-Mountain: These are pretty much what the name states they are: they’re great to be used all over the mountain. If you’re interested in skiing on and off piste then this is what you should be looking for. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want all mountain skis to come up to around your eyes/forehead, otherwise they should be the length of your entire body if you’re more advanced.
Off Piste – These are for those adventurers who find groomed runs boring or not challenging enough. They will help serve you in untouched, ungroomed terrain in typically very deep snow. They’ll help keep you “afloat” and reduce the risk of you sinking in.
Park – Are you someone who gawks at the skiers during X-Games seasons, flying off of ramps and sliding down rails? If so, then you’re probably going to want to get a pair of park skis which will facilitate you learning these tricks. These will typically land around where your nose sits on your face, and as you become more advanced you’ll want skis that are closer to your entire body length.
On Piste – If you like to parallel ski on the nicely groomed runs which always look pristine and offer expectedness and reliability, on piste skis are for you. If you don’t enjoy terrain challenges like moguls, then these are great options.
Alpine Touring – Finally, if you’d like to venture out into the wilderness and just take in nature and your surroundings, you’ll need a lightweight pair of Alpine touring skis.
Now that you’ve read through what we had to say, do you have a better idea of the length of skis you should be looking for? Remember, it comes down to various factors and they should all be taken into consideration to keep you performing and feeling your most natural for the best results possible.
We hope that our guide has been able to help you choose the best pair for you. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon. Enjoy your time in the snow!