Just like people,skis come in all shapes and sizes. When selecting the right ski, one must take into account how stiffness, width, rocker, conditions, terrain, their height, and ability, Your friend Frank might absolutely love the ski he is on, but what you might not realize is that Frank is bigger, an expert skier, and skis on east coast ice (god bless Colorado) all the time.
Let’s go over each factor.
- Height and Ability affect ski length greatly. Your height and ability will help determine what length ski you need. Skis should vary from chin to above the head in length based on the ability of the skier.
- Beginner – A ski up to you chin is better for a beginner skier or an older intermediate. Short skis are easier to control and maneuver. They also are easier on your knees because it takes less effort to turn them
- Intermediate – Skis should be around the height of your nose. Adding length to the ski helps increase stability at higher speeds
- Advanced – Ski should be up to your eyes or higher. Bigger skis offer more stability when going fast down the slopes and prevent chatter. They can also provide more float in powder conditions.
- Stiffness is important to consider when selecting a ski. Bigger people tend to ride stiffer skis with a woodcore metal laminate construction (imagine a piece of wood sandwiched between two sheets of metal) because they have more weight to flex the ski with.This type of construction makes the ski stiffer. A stiff ski will chatter less when ripping down the mountain and have better edge hold. The other main type of core is wood with no metal laminate. These ski tend to be more springy and lively.
- Narrow vs Wide Skis: A narrow ski allows you to turn make tighter turns. They perform better on hardpack than wide skis. Wide skis are better for busting through the crud and keeping you afloat in the deep white fluffy stuff.
- Rocker: Almost every ski these days has some sort of rocker to it. There are three types of Rocker; camber, rocker, and flat
- Rocker refers to how much the tips and tails come off of the snow. Imagine a on banana on a counter with the ends facing upward, thats rocker. Skis with a lot of tip and tail rocker have more float, are generally wider, and are easier to turn because they have less contract with the snow.
- Camber refers to the arch in the middle of the ski that isn’t touching the snow when no pressure is applied. Skis with chamber are springier and offer more edge hold.
- Flat is a skis that lies completely flat on the snow. Flat technology is more commonly found in snowboards. They have better edge hold than rocker and are easier to move than a cambered ski.
- Conditions: When figuring out the right ski, you need to think about the conditions you ski the most. A lot of people will hear about a popular ski and want rent it when they are on vacation, but sometimes that ski isn’t suitable for the conditions. Generally, the deeper the snow you are skiing the wider of ski you want.
- Terrain: A mogul ski is going to be significantly different from a powder ski (narrow vs wide). Terrain plays a pivotal role in ski selection. For hard pack and groomers, you will want a ski with a narrow waist that widens out at the tip and tail. If you are a powder hound, then go for a ski that is wide from tip to tail (around 100mm and up).