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Choosing Your Ski Length

What are the important parameters to consider when choosing the ski length? 

  • Is your age a relevant factor? 

  • How about your strength and reflex speed?  

  • How about the style of skiing you prefer to do?

  • Should you decide if you are generally a passive or aggressive skier?  

  • What about your preference in terrain?

  • Your fitness level and the frequency that you ski?

I would say that most or all of these points are legitimate considerations when trying to make a choice in skis.  But how will you really know which characteristics pertain to what category of ski?  So, before we get to length, we need to consider the category of ski we want to ski on.


With a little research and by word of mouth, most skiers usually arrive at a reasonable solution.  In my opinion though, there is one way that really works ; make the time to go out and demo a number of skis, and whittle it down from there.

Carving Or Shaped Skis?

Start by asking yourself whether you plan to spend most of your time on piste, and if so, concentrate on the Carvers.  The main characteristics of these skis is powerful edging ability and a silky smooth ride from arched turn to turn.


Here is my guidelines to narrow the search.  If you are looking at the « carver » men should be looking for something between 158 and 177 cms while the ladies should be looking for skis between 140 and 163 cms.  When stood on end, the ski will come up to somewhere between your chin and your nose. 

Off Piste or Free Ride Skis?

If it's off piste and in the powder that you want to be, start looking at the Free Riders.  Although the early adapters to this type of ski tended to be the younger, wilder set, the question is: is there a place for these skis in the quiver of the senior skier at Whistler? 

Judging from what the SST membership has been telling us in survey after survey, you want to either learn to ski the powder with ease or be off piste as much as possible.  If this is you, then something in this category should be your tool of choice. 

Many of these skis now combine reverse and traditional camber, sometimes referred to as adaptive camber,  to allow them to hold well on hard pack yet steer and float well in the powder, bumps and around the trees.

The off pisters will measure +5 cms or longer than the carvers  depending on the characteristics of the ski.  Men : 163 to 195 cms and Ladies: 145 to 175 cm.

In both categories, the shorter the ski, the more it will help you to:

  • balance and attain speed control,

  • ski in uneven terrain [bumps] or ski with less effort.  

  • be more suitable for the person who skis less days per year, 10 to 20 versus 50 or more days per season. 

  • the older you are the more likely you’ll prefer the shorter ski because it doesn’t require as much « bossing » and as we age we can use a shorter ski to compensate for diminishing strength, reflex speed and fitness levels.

For the 55 to 64 year old crowd, you’ll likely prefer the longer end of the spectrum and for the 65+, you should start your search towards the shorter end.

Please go to "Choosing Ski Width" next

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