The length of your skis plays a significant part in your experience with them on the snow. Different sized skis will perform differently on the mountain, and you need to match length to your ability levels and preferences.
My name is Christine, and I’ve been skiing for decades. I love every aspect of the sport, and I enjoy helping other skiers make the most out of their time on the slopes. Through first-hand experience, I know how to choose a good ski length.
I’ll provide you with all you need to know to choose a ski length in this post. Whether you are just learning how to ski or are searching for your first pair, this information will help you out.
Let’s get started.
There is no exact way to determine the perfect ski length for every skier. The information I’ll provide you with in the sections below will help you get in the ballpark, but you might need to tweak your ideal size a bit from there.
If you’re a beginner, you will want skis on the shorter side – but this will be based on your height and weight. If you are an experienced skier, there’s a good chance you’ll want multiple skis with variable heights to serve different purposes.
While ski length is pretty important when it comes to on-snow performance, you will be fine with a set that is 5cm or so above or below your ideal height. You might not even notice much of a difference with that slight fluctuation.
How is Ski Length Measured?
It’s also good to know precisely how ski length is measured. Total length is measured from the very tip to the very tail of the ski and will be listed in centimeters. Often the ‘cm’ is left out, and ski length will be listed as 174 or 181, for example.
Most ski lengths for adults will be between 150cm to 200cm. Some smaller-length skis are available for really short people and kids, but it’s rare to find a ski much longer than 200cm these days.
How to Choose Ski Length
There are a few different ways to select a ski length. I’ll provide you with all of them in the sections below. Remember that getting an ideal length is important, but so is experimenting with various lengths once you are ready to see what is best for you.
Method 1: Get Advice from the Ski Shop
If you are gearing up to go skiing for the first time, I highly suggest renting equipment from a ski shop or getting their advice on the best length for you. Ski techs are very skilled in matching skiers with proper ski lengths, and they can help take out the guesswork.
When you go in to rent skis, you’ll be asked some questions or need to fill out a form. Some of these questions will be your age, weight, height, and experience level. The ski techs will use this information to match you with the best length once you answer all of these questions.
Method 2: Use the Stand Measurement
Another pretty reliable way to determine your ski length is to do what I like to call the stand measurement. You’ll need either a few sets of potential skis or a tape measure that displays centimeters to make this happen.
If you have the potential skis you want, take one of them and hold it out in front of you. Make sure that the ski (and you) are standing straight up. The ideal ski length will be anywhere from your chin to your nose.
If you have a tape measure, stand up straight and take one measurement from the floor to your chin. Write this down or remember it. Then take another measurement from the floor to your nose and write it down or remember it.
This will give you a range of lengths (in centimeters) that should work well for you. The stand measurement is a general measurement that isn’t exact but tends to determine the ideal ski length most of the time – especially for beginners.
If you are a more experienced skier, you can change the stand measurement to measure from the floor to between your nose and the top of your head. Follow all of the same steps, but just measure a little higher up, resulting in a longer measurement.
Method 3: Choose Ski Length by Ability Level
Another quick way to determine ski length is to decide based on your ability level. Novice skiers will almost always want a shorter ski, and advanced skiers will want a longer ski. Intermediate skiers will want a medium ski length in between.
What this actual length comes out to be is again decided by your size. If you are a very short beginner skier, you’re going to want a very short ski. If you are an expert skier who is really tall, you’re going to want a very long ski.
If you choose the length of your skis strictly based on your ability level, you might have to experiment with a few different lengths until you find an option you like. The final choice is always a personal preference.
How Ski Length Affects Your Skiing
Some skiers out there don’t follow the rules or advice I mentioned above and instead choose a length strictly based on their preferences of skiing style. That’s completely fine, but you need to have a good amount of experience to figure this out.
In general, shorter skis are suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers who are still getting a grasp on the basics. They are also good for those who don’t like to ski very fast and want the ability to make really quick turns.
Sometimes experienced freestyle skiers will want a shorter ski because it is easier to maneuver in the air and weighs less. You also might want a shorter ski if you are pretty skinny for your height.
Longer skis are better for advanced and expert skiers who have plenty of experience on the mountain. If you like to go fast and ski pretty aggressively, you’re going to want longer skis to reach that objective.
Longer skis are also beneficial in the backcountry or in challenging conditions because they are simply more capable. I’d also suggest getting longer skis if you are relatively heavy for your height.
It can take some time to figure out your ideal length, and it’s good to experiment with multiple lengths to see what you like the best. You can always rent different lengths of skis to help you figure this out.
Choosing ski length is important but not always easy. If you use the guidelines and tips found in this article, you should be able to get pretty close to your ideal length.
From there, experiment with a few different sizes higher and lower to see which one you like the best. Once you figure it out, you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way!