The Perfect Fit: Choosing the Right Size Ski
Ready to drop some cold hard cash on a new pair of skis, but not sure what size is right for you? Chill, we got you.
Turns out finding the right size ski is way easier than finding the right pair of jeans because unlike the fashion industry which arbitrarily assigns random numbers that are supposed to indicate whether something is “small” or “large,” the snowsports industry stuck with the metric system, which is universal around the globe. Whew!
So now you just need to figure out how many centimeters of ski it takes to get to your happy place.
A good starting point to figure your size is to try is to take your height in centimeters and use that to the mid-point of a 30 cm range of ski sizes that will work best for you.
For example if you are 165 centimeters tall you’ll likely be shopping for skis between 150-180 centimeters. This probably sounds like a huge range of sizes, so next we’ll narrow it down a bit by considering ability level
The general rule of thumb that most ski shops follow says that beginner skiers should pick a ski that comes up to their chin, an intermediate skier will want a ski that comes up to their nose and an advanced skier will want a ski that comes up to the top of their head.
This is generally a good place to start but weight is another, likely more important factor to consider when it comes to ski sizing. Typically the heavier you are the more comfortable you’ll be on a longer ski so someone who is 5’3” and 135 pounds might end up enjoying the same length ski as someone who is 5’5” and 115 pounds.
But wait, there’s more! Height and weight aren’t the only things to consider. The type of terrain you’ll be riding, and the design of the ski also factor into finding the right size.
What is “effective edge” and how does it affect ski length?
The effective edge is the part of the ski that is in contact with the snow - essentially it’s the the length of the ski between where the tips and tails curve up. A traditional camber ski has a longer effective edge than a hybrid camber ski which usually has more of an upward curve in the tip and tail (referred to as early rise or rocker). A fully rockered ski has the least amount of effective edge, usually just a short section under the boot.
A fully rockered, or hybrid camber ski with a shorter effective edge is going to feel shorter than a traditional camber ski so you’ll typically want to opt for a longer ski to make up for the difference.
What about terrain and style of riding?
We can go on and on about height, weight, and effective edge but the most important factor is how you want the ski to feel. A shorter ski is going to feel more nimble and playful while a longer ski will feel stronger and more stable at high speeds.
If you’re someone who prefers carving quick, short turns, skiing tight trees, and having a quick playful ski, pick a ski that is on the shorter end of the range. However, if you’re someone who prefers high speed straight lining, hitting cliffs and booters, and big turns in wide open bowls, go for something longer.
A special note for beginner skiers
Your first couple days on skis are going to be awkward, and a shorter ski (something around chin height) will be much easier to manage as you learn the basics of stopping and turning, but you’re going to quickly outgrow this length and as soon as you’re ready to ski something beyond the bunny slope, a shorter ski might actually start inhibiting your progress because it won’t provide the support and stability you need on a steeper run. We recommend renting a shorter ski for your first few days and purchasing something longer once you start to get more comfortable.
Similarly for intermediate skiers, if you’ve been confidently skiing blue runs but can’t seem to find the same confidence on steeper black runs, it might be the skis that are holding you back. A shorter softer ski, while being easier to maneuver, doesn’t provide the same support. Try demoing a longer, stiffer ski for a few days and see if it makes the difference.
Not sure what size skis are perfect for you? Hit us up and we'll help you out.