A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Ski Length

Published by Harry Sowers on

Are My Skis Too Short?

Skiing is all about practicing your stability and improving your skills to feel comfortable on the slopes. To be successful, you need the proper ski equipment. A lot of beginner skiers do not know this, but the ski length varies from person to person. Therefore, you must find skis with the proper length according to several different considerations.

How to Choose the Right Length for Your Skis

There is no concrete ski length because people can go shorter or longer based on their bodies and comfort. A good size depends on several factors:

  • Your height
  • Your weight
  • Your skiing abilities
  • Your skiing style

When correctly choosing ski length, you should first consider your height and weight. These factors can give you a reasonably accurate length to make you feel the most comfortable on the slopes. As a general rule of thumb, a ski should be between the bottom of the chin and the top of the head.

After finding your weight and height, consider your skiing abilities next. A beginner skier should opt for a shorter pair because they have more control when turning. A more advanced skier would pick a longer pair since they go faster and have more stability when doing more intense turns and jumps.

Your next consideration would be the type of snow or the terrain. However, this is more for intermediate or advanced skiers who have more knowledge of the sport. Although, it is essential to know that certain skis cater to certain kinds of skiing terrains.

To get a good understanding of your ski length, click this ski length calculator to receive an instant personalized recommendation.

When to Size Up or Size Down Skis

After determining the right size range for your skis, you can air on the shorter ski side of the longer ski side, depending on your skills and preferences.

Use shorter skis because:

  • You are a beginner skier
  • You are an intermediate skier
  • You weigh on the smaller side for your height
  • You do not like to ski fast
  • You like to ski with short and quick turns

Use longer skis because:

  • You are an advanced skier
  • You weigh on the heavier side for your height
  • You like to ski fast and aggressively

No matter if you opt for a shorter ski length or a longer length, it comes down to your skiing abilities’ preferences and comfort. When shopping, though, keep in mind that there is no universal method of measuring a ski. Therefore, different ski brands could measure them differently and do not compare to other brands. A good way of finding the right size is to compare the skis to your height.

Why Use Short Skis

skier on short skis

Whether you are a beginner or like to hit the slopes with a bit of caution, there are many reasons to purchase short skis for your next adventure. However, it is crucial to determine if they are a better option for you.


Short skis are ideal for any beginner skier. Overall, they are easier to control since there is not much length to transfer your force.

Short skis also can turn quicker and make sharper movements. Again, since there is not much length, short skis react better to your movement and make smoother, sharper turns.

In general, short skis are ideal for any skier who does not like to go fast. They are also best for those who prefer to avoid rougher terrains and need equipment with pristine control.


Short skis make it harder to keep balance. As a skier, you sacrifice some of your stability by using shorter skis. Since there is not much material on the surface, there is less material to keep you stable.

Shorter skis also have a difficult time making long S-shaped turns, especially when going at high speed. This can lead to potential injuries if there is a loss of control.

Finally, short skis are not full-proof for all snow textures. In fact, shorter skis do not float well on powdery snow. Therefore, you may struggle with short skis when it starts to snow hard. For this, skis on the shorter end are better for the ski park.

Why Use Long Skis

If you are more of a rough and aggressive skier, you should probably get longer skis. A good pair of these would allow you to go faster, among other advantages. The downside, though, is that longer skis are ideal for the more experienced skier. Take a look and see if the longer side is better for you.


Longer skis have more material in contact with the ground, giving you much more stability at high speeds. Even though they are heavier, they can float better, too, on both powdery and heavy snow.

The length of long skis also allows you to make large S-shaped turns. This is especially desirable if you are a more aggressive skier because longer S-turns give you more stability and momentum to keep running down the hill.

Overall, longer skis are best for experienced and aggressive skiers who like to hit more powdery slopes.


Besides the fact that long skis are not great for beginner skiers, there are not too many disadvantages. Seeing as skiing is more of an extreme sport where people like to go faster, longer skis are the most ideal. However, they are heavier than short skis and do not have the quick turning abilities that short skis possess. Additionally, long skis require a bit more strength to turn. There is more surface area, so they require a little more force.

Using Skis for Certain Terrains

Man skiing powder with long skis

A lot of skiers choose between shorter skis and longer skis based on the type of terrain they ski the most in. This is an essential consideration because shorter skis do not do well in powdery snow. Thus, if you still are a beginner, but mostly want to ski in heavier snow, then you should probably get long skis. Here is a more in-depth look for different snow categories.

Powder Skiing: Those who ski on the freshest snow in the backcountry or tend the head to the ski resort mostly encounter powder snow. This is where skiers opt for long skis since they do better for balance and stability. There are also powder skis explicitly made for this snow texture. Typically, they have a broader base and a softer flex.

All-Mountain Skiing: When it comes to all-mountain skiing, there is no definitive answer on ski length. Whether you should get shorter skis or long skis is up to you. All-mountain skiing is the idea of skiing the entire mountain. Therefore, you can expect terrains and textures of all sorts, including snow, ice, powder, and steeps. All-mountain skis, too, have a variation of sizes depending on skiers who prefer long or shorter skis.

Ski Racing: For ski racing, an activity that is explained in its name, skiers typically go for a pair of longer skis, since they pick up more speed and provide better stability.

Big Mountain Ski: Big mountain skiing is a variation of skiing where skiers have the intention of going fast and jumping high. This type of ski, in general, is stiffer and heavier to keep the skier balanced and comfortable. There is a varying degree in length and width for this type of ski activity, but they mostly cater on the longer side to pick up speed.

Alpine Touring Ski: The alpine touring ski activity is just as fun of a venture as it is a workout. Also called backcountry skiing, alpine touring is when skiers go both up and downhill, so they must have a special form of skis. These have a wider width and a lighter feel to carry you better. Alpine touring can be physically intense. Therefore, it is essential to have a comfortable ski supporting you. As for length, longer is generally the way to go. It can carry and distribute weight better and more comfortably.

How Do You Know If Your Skis Are Too Long?

After making a size comparison between you and your skis, you may be asking, “are my skis too long?” This is a fair question, especially after hitting the slopes and not feeling comfortable with the way your ski adventure went. The longer skis are catered more towards experienced skiers. However, to find the right pair, you must find what is most comfortable for you.

If you want to know how to tell if your skis are too long, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have experience skiing?
  • Do you feel comfortable going fast?
  • Do you tend to be aggressive on the slopes?
  • Can you successfully carve an S-shaped turn with ease?

If you answered no to these questions, then it is likely that you have skis on the longer side. You may want to consider switching them out for shorter skis. By starting with shorter skis, you can build your comfort on the slopes until you can successfully graduate to longer skis.

Usually, skiers who weigh on the lighter side for their height do not experience difficulties with a longer ski dimension. They are most likely not going to sink into the snow, but they may go faster than they are comfortable with. If this is the case, it would be best to downgrade to the shorter end of skis.

How Do You Know If Your Skis Are Too Short?

Making a size comparison between you and a ski can leave you wondering whether your pair is too short. Although not as dangerous as longer skis- since shorter skis are more comfortable to control- mistakenly purchasing skis that are too short can be disappointing. If you want to know how to tell if your skis are too short, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you accumulated experience on the ski slopes?
  • Are you comfortable with going faster downhill?
  • Can you maintain your balance and stability successfully?
  • Can you complete a good S-shaped turn?

If you answered yes to any or all of the questions, then it may be time to move on to a bigger and better ski adventure. Longer skis are calling your name, now that you have acquired the proper experience.

Additionally, if you find yourself sinking into the snow or going to slower than the others, you may have the incorrect length for your weight. Shorter skis cannot support skiers who are heavier than intended. This can disrupt the experience. To make things better, go a size up.

The Final Word: How to Choose a Length for Your Skis

It is incredibly important to find the right equipment for when you ski. Short ski dimensions allow skiers to get comfortable with the slopes before ramping up the speed. A longer ski is for experienced skiers who can successfully complete turns, jump, and carve while going at a faster pace.

To choose the right equipment for your next ski adventure, keep the idea that it is to find what makes you feel most comfortable. If you are not ready to step up on the longer skis, take the time to learn the basics. If you feel like graduating from the shorter ski dimensions, then opt for longer ones with more intense speed. There should be no shame in finding the appropriate ski dimension. Hitting the slopes for a ski day is all about fun and learning how to get better at the sport. Purchase the equipment that can lead you on the right path to ski success.

Remember the four primary considerations when shopping for a new set of skis: height, weight, ability, and style or terrain. All four factors influence your speed, balance, and comfort on the slopes. Therefore, you should not skip the measurements or the self-assessment on your ski abilities. 

When you consider your height and weight- in addition to your ski style and abilities- before making a purchase, you can surely find the right skis for your next trip down the slopes.

Categories: How to


Harry Sowers

Harry grew up outside of Denver Colorado and has been skiing and snowboarding since he was 3. He is most passionate about skiing and when he was in college at UC Boulder he even participated in the olympic trials for the USA Olympic Downhill Ski team.