Short Skis vs. Long Skis: Pros and Cons

Every skier will end up having a ski length that is ideal for them. Whether this is shorter or longer comes down to their needs, preferences, and ability level. There are differences between short and long skis that come into play. 

I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life, and I’ve used many different ski lengths over the years. I know the differences and benefits of short versus long skis and vice versa, and I’ve gained this knowledge through first-hand experience. 

I’ll highlight and compare short skis versus long skis in this post. My goal is to equip you with the necessary information to help you choose which ski length is best for you on the mountain. 

Let’s get to it. 

Initial Thoughts on Ski Length

Skis come in all types of shapes and sizes, just like skiers. There is no exact way to determine which size skis work best for you, but there are some general guidelines.

New and beginner skiers will usually want a shorter ski because it won’t go as fast, and it’s easy to turn and control. Advanced skiers will usually want a longer ski because it is faster and allows you to be more aggressive on the mountain. 

What defines a short or long ski is also based on your height. If you are short, a shorter ski might be long for you, and if you are tall, a longer ski might still seem short. It’s important to learn what your ideal size is so you can ski to the best of your abilities. 

Short Skis: Pros and Cons

Short skis are a good place to start if you are a beginner. You always want to start short and work your way up so you don’t get in too far over your head when you are learning the basics. 

Also Read: Best Beginner Skis of 2022

Here is a quick look at some pros and cons relating to shorter skis. 


Short skis are easier to control. Which means they are easier for beginners to use when they are first learning. They have a smaller turning radius, which makes shorter skies easier to turn, no matter what type of snow or run you are skiing on. 

Short skis are also lighter than longer skis, which comes in useful when learning the basics. You can react more quickly to get a fast response out of your skis with a smaller length. This is good for beginners but also freestyle and park skiers. 

Smaller skis can be easier to maneuver on and off the snow. If you like to take to the air or play in the park, you’ll probably want a shorter ski to help you out. A lighter weight also comes in useful in the terrain park. 


The downside of a shorter ski is that they won’t be able to reach as fast of speeds in the snow. This is simply because you don’t have as much surface area on the snow, limiting how fast you can go

Short skis are also less stable than longer skis. This means you can pretty quickly outgrow your skis and start to experience a pronounced wobble when you reach high speeds. That can lead to a loss of control or make it not as fun to ski. 

Shorter skis also aren’t as good in deep or variable snow conditions. You’ll sacrifice some powder performance with a shorter ski and will see limits in your ability to cut through crud and take on other types of terrain. 

Long Skis: Pros and Cons

As you improve as a skier, the length of your skis will also grow. While skis, in general, aren’t as long as they used to be, experienced skiers will still use much longer skis than beginners

Here are some pros and cons of long skis. 


Longer skis are faster and provide better control in the snow than shorter skis. You can reach a higher speed and maintain better stability on the snow when you have longer skis underfoot. 

You also get better edge control because you have more edge in contact with the snow. This can make longer skis better suited for demanding conditions where there is no room for error. 

Long skis also have more surface area, which gives you additional float in deeper snow. Width comes into play here as well, but longer skis are better in deep snow than shorter skis. 


The downside of longer skis is that they take more effort to control, and you need better skills to make the most of them. 

If you can’t handle a longer ski, you will really struggle to stay in control and ski safely. A longer ski is heavier, which means more effort is required to remain in the driver’s seat. Basically, longer skis are harder to use. 

Longer skis also have an increased turning radius and are heavier, which means they aren’t always a good choice for freestyle or park skiing. Some freestyle skiers like the increased speed, but others don’t want extra length or weight so they can focus on aerial maneuvers. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best ski length can take some trial and error, and it’s always best to ask a ski tech if you don’t know where to get started. In general, shorter lengths are better for beginners and skiers who like to stay in the terrain park. 

Long skis are better for more experienced skiers who want added speed and stability. In my opinion, longer is almost always better for high performance. It’s hard to go too long these days if you are a capable skier. 

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  • Jeff Wright

    72 years old, been skiing off and on for 54 years. At peak 20-30 years ago, “leaning” towards advanced intermediate. Long hiatus from skiing 95-2010. Bought in 2010 Vokl Superspeed/Supersport 175cm. Both knees replaced-05 and 18. Just got back into it in 2020. Now, Vokls are too heavy and hard to control. Ht-5’10”, 170lbs. Looking at lighter skis for “mild to medium cruising” groomed terrain-no bumps or powder etc…Have bindings and skis in mind. Question/concern; Would 163 or 170cm’s be better suited for me? Your thoughts? Thank you.

    • Christine

      Hi Jeff,

      That’s awesome you’ve been skiing for so long and are still at it! If weight is your primary concern, then the shorter skis at 163 will shave off ounces and make them somewhat easier to handle. But you will sacrifice some performance and stability if you are skiing in advanced intermediate terrain. Something to think about would be renting a few different options from your local shop or resort to see if they meet your needs before purchasing anything. Hope that helps!