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Sorting Through Ski Widths

The width of the skis is a factor as well.  Where do you begin to sort this part of the ski puzzle out?  What does it mean when someone says “this ski is 80 mm underfoot,” for example.  Let’s start with the narrow waists and move up from there.


The width of a ski refers to the waist or mid measurement of the ski.  A typical shaped ski these days might have the following measurements: 118 – 66 – 102 @ 170 cm.  This means that this ski measures 118 mm where the tip touches the snow, 66 in the center under your boot and 102 mm at the tail for the 170 cm long model. 


The skis that turn on a dime usually have narrow waists 63 – 70 mm under foot with 100 mm tip & tail.  The next dimension is 70 to 90 mm at the waist and are often referred to as “the mid fats” and like to ski the bigger GS arcs. The third category is the 90 to 100 mm under foot.  These are the wide skis and then finally, the 100 – 120+ mm or “stupid fats” as the kids call ‘em. 


The first two dimensions are mainly the carving or shaped skis while the latter two will be the “rockered” and “early rise” tip and/or tailed skis.  So once you can get over the extreme width of these “water skis,” take a pair off the rack and place them base to base.  Look at where they actually touch each other and how much the shovel and tail splay away from each other.  Now you’ll understand why you’ll ski a longer ski if you choose this type.  Also, notice that most are either neutral or reverse cambered.


What have we learned here?  If you want to turn on a dime, choose a ski with a lower ranged waist number, typically 63 – 70 mm in a shaped ski and 90 – 100 mm in a free rider.  Maneuverability will likely trump speed or float extremes with the 55+ skier and most likely for the 65+ skier.


If you want to go faster, the 70 – 80 mm in the shaped skis will do the trick and if you want to attain more float in the free riders, the 100+ mm skis will fit the bill.

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