Beginner vs Intermediate vs Advanced Skis

No matter what level of skier you are, there is always room to improve. And there are skis designed to help you go from beginner to intermediate to advanced styles and beyond. These might look the same, but they have a few differences you should know about. 

My name is Christine, I’m a lifelong skier who has been on the slopes for decades. I consider myself an expert skier these days, but I had to start somewhere just like every other skier. I have experience with every ski ability level and have used different models in each category. 

I’ll break down all the differences between beginner, intermediate, and advanced skis in this post. This should help you understand what each ski will allow you to do while assessing your ability level in the snow. 

Let’s jump to it. 

Beginner SkisIntermediate SkisAdvanced Skis
LengthShorter Shorter to Medium Longer
Width Skinny Variable Wider
StiffnessSoft Medium Stiff
Weight LightMedium Heavy 

Beginner Skis 

Let’s start at the beginning and take a look at beginner skis. These are the skis that nearly every skier begins with. Whether you were lucky to start your skiing career at a young age or are just getting started today, beginner skis are the foundation for everyone. 

The modern-day beginner ski will look similar to intermediate and advanced skis on the surface, but it actually has a few key differences. An all-mountain style of ski is a good beginner ski because of the versatility this allows for. 

Beginner skis are usually shorter than skis designed for more advanced skiers. This is important because shorter skis allow the skier to move and control the skis on the snow easily. It also reduces their overall weight, making them easier to move around on all day long.

You’ll also notice that beginner skis are usually thinner at the waist than intermediate and advanced skis. This helps keep the weight down and makes the skis easier to maneuver on groomed and regular frontside conditions.

Beginner skis will also have a softer flex than models designed for other ability levels. This makes the skis more forgiving on the snow, making them easier to control in just about every type of situation. 

The downside of having a shorter length, lighter weight, and softer flex is that beginner skis aren’t always capable in variable conditions. They will perform fine on groomed runs but struggle to keep up when the snow starts to stack up.

Also Read: Best Skis for Beginners 2022

Advanced Skis

Advanced skis are different in all the main categories I just described above. These skis are far more aggressive and rugged by design to give anyone who uses them high-end performance in the snow. 

The first thing you’ll notice about advanced skis is that they will be quite a bit larger than beginner skis. They will be longer as well as wider at the waist. This gives them much more surface area, which helps performance in a few ways. 

A longer ski can reach faster speeds and is more stable when cruising fast. This speed and stability are desirable for advanced skiers who are going to experience variable snow conditions all season long. 

Advanced skis also have a much stiffer flex than beginner or intermediate skis. The stiffness helps with stability and also gives them the ability to bust through crud and other questionable snow conditions that can be encountered on expert runs and extreme terrain.  

Skis for expert skiers can come in many shapes and sizes, but they are almost always longer, wider, and stiffer when compared to beginner and intermediate skis. The result is top-notch performance in serious conditions. 

Advanced skis are obviously for advanced skiers. If you try to use them before you are ready, they can easily overwhelm you and be very difficult to handle on the mountain. If you’re not an advanced skier, you won’t enjoy using advanced skis. 

Intermediate Skis

Intermediate skis sit somewhere in the middle of beginner and advanced skis. There are more options available in this category than any other, and most skiers you see on the mountain will technically be using intermediate skis. 

All-mountain skis are typical intermediate skis. They are versatile and effective in various conditions and have an average length, width, and stiffness. They don’t always look much different than beginner or advanced skis, but they perform differently on the snow. 

Intermediate skis can come in different lengths, but they will be a little longer than beginner skis and a little shorter than advanced skis. This helps them sit in the Goldie-Locks zone of performance. 

These skis will also have a medium stiffness that will allow a skier to get adequate performance in all sorts of situations. They are stiff enough to let you reach higher speeds and stay stable but not too stiff to be challenging to get used to. 

If you have been skiing for a while but don’t quite consider yourself an expert, you will more likely than not want a set of intermediate skis. Even expert skiers like myself often use an intermediate ski because of the versatility and all-around purpose they offer. 

Intermediate skis can come in a variety of thicknesses as well as lengths, so it’s good to have an idea of what you like before you make a purchase. You can always ask a ski tech or fellow skier for advice on which option is best as well. 

Read More: Best Skis for Intermediate Skiers

Final Thoughts

When looking at a new pair of skis, they might not be described as beginner, intermediate or advanced. But if you keep the information in this article in mind, you’ll be able to tell which is which based on length, width, and stiffness. 

All skiers need to get skis that match their ability level, so keep this in mind when you’re looking for your next pair!

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