How to Pick the Correct Length for your Skis

Published by Harry Sowers on

It’s that time of the year again, your child has grown a little taller, and now they need new skis! Or perhaps your current pair of skis has worn out from overuse, and you want to try experimenting with longer or shorter ones. Experimenting with skis can be a fun and enjoyable experience as you evaluate your performance and ask for advice from more qualified skiers. It’s also a great time to purchase some stylish winter gear and a pair of goggles with fans built into it to prevent fogging. 

So, in this guide, we’ll talk about the many factors that influence the length of a person’s skis and go over a general rule of thumb based on a person’s height and weight.

What Influences Ski Length?

man with correct length skis

The length of your skis is not calculated solely based on how tall you are. Your experience, your turning skills, the terrain you’re skiing in, and your height and weight all influence your skis’ length. Choose a ski that is too short, and you will have a hard time keeping your balance, choose a ski that is too long, and you won’t be able to move quickly. You’ll have to put more effort into stopping and turning, and you might gain more speed than you are comfortable with.

Height and Waist Size

Choosing a pair of skis that are the perfect length for your height and body is not easy. But if you want to find a starting point, ski length height and weight charts are available online for reference. Some websites even have ski length calculators to provide a general answer. A few calculators are basic, while other calculators make you fill out a multitude of answers, so you receive the most precise answer.

If you weigh more than what is healthy for your height, you will need to purchase longer skis to have more balance. But if you are underweight, then you must choose shorter skis. Weight, just like height, affects your balance, and choosing the wrong length for your skis can cause you to go flying when you’re trying to round a corner.

Experience

A skier’s experience and capabilities determine the type of gear they can use and where they can and cannot ski. The more experience a skier gains, the wiser they are, and their reactions are faster. Skiers with a lot of experience have more developed muscles than the skier who just started skiing.

If they are an advanced skier, it is easier to stop & start, make wide and narrow turns, and even slow down.

Skis are also made out of different materials that correspond to their expert-level. A skier who is a beginner will have skis made out of a softer material that is not heavy to lift and is flexible. But an advanced skier will use a heavy pair of skis to keep them firmly on the ground. Their skis are not flexible, and the wood will be rigid. Advanced skis are built for speed.

Terrain

Another major factor that influences the length of your skis is the environment in which you are skiing. Skis that you use to ride the slopes leisurely are completely different from skis that you would use to go freeriding or off-piste.

Powder skiing: this type of terrain has a lot of powdery winter snow. The snow tends to be softer, and it is easier to climb up a slope and move off established trails. The point of powder skiing is to prevent yourself from sinking into the freshly laid snow.

Downhill skiing: This is the most popular type of terrain, and most people begin skiing by learning how to ski downhill. Just as the name suggests, all a skier must do is ski downhill and then take the lift back up to the top. Trails or slopes have grades, so people who need to practice on easier slopes don’t go into difficult areas.

Terrain park: if a skier likes to do flips, jumps, and enjoy getting a lot of air, then terrain park is the right terrain for them. The area marked terrain park will be just as smooth as other trails, but there will be more opportunities to spin or fly in the air or make larger leaps.

Off-piste: Practiced by advanced skiers, when a skier is off-piste, it means they are skiing off of the trail. They are navigating the woods all by themselves. Since there is no path, the ground is not kept free of debris, and there could be a lot of fallen trees and bushes in the way.

Your Turning Skills

Turning quickly and without hitting another person is one of the most important skills and all skiing. Your ability to turn will also influence the length of your ski. If you want to turn quickly, you need to have a ski with a turning radius of 48 ft.

But some people have turning radiuses of 56 feet. The wider turns are performed by skiers who use heavy flat skis that are built for endurance, not speed.

How do I Figure Out the Length of the Skis that I Need? 

correct length skis

This guide may feel like an overload of information, but every factor contributes to the length of your skis, and you don’t want to pick the wrong one. At the end of the section body of the article, I have included in an adult ski length size chart so you can give it a quick look and figure out which size is for you. Just make sure to also take note of all the other factors that are included above. The weight in this sizing chart is the healthy weight for the height, so if you are heavier or skinnier, please adjust the length of your skis.

The House ski sizing chart

Ski Length for Children

Unlike ski sizing for adults, sizing children for skis is a straightforward process. The first thing a parent who skis needs to do is understand how well their child performs and if they are beginner, intermediate, or already advanced. Like adults, if they are intermediate or close to advanced, they will need longer skis than the children who are beginners. 

On average, a more experienced child will need their skis to be around 10 cm longer than a child at their same height and weight who is a beginner. So if your child is 55 inches and around 70 lbs, The experienced child will need to use 130 CM skis, but the beginner child will need 120 cm skis. You can take a look at the sizing chart for yourself in the link below.

Child Ski Sizing Chart

When your child grows older, they will need to switch from child skis to adult skis. The cutoff for child children’s ski gear is around 100 lb. However, weight is not the only factor here. If your child is 110 lb but still slips out of the adult-sized boots, they must use children’s gear until they can comfortably fit into adult equipment.

Ski Length When Starting Out

If you are beginning as a skier, then your skis will be smaller than skiers who are your exact same height and weight but have years of experience. The reason why beginner skiers have smaller skis, in general, is that they are easier to control. So how long should your ski be?

As a general rule, a beginner should pick skis somewhere between the bottom of the chin and the top of their head. Choosing a ski with this length makes them easier to turn, especially on full curves. Plus, you must build up the muscles needed to lift each foot and steer the ski. Longer skis are heavier, and a new skier doesn’t have the strength to lift up their legs.

If you feel more comfortable with longer skis, then the beginner ski length should not be more than your full height. Usually, it is advanced and expert skiers that use skis, which are taller than them. But if a skier does not have the training and experience, they will not be able to control their long skis correctly.

If all of this info is a bit too much, then there are many resources online that can help calculate the proper size of your ski length. One easy way to get the ski length that you need is to use a ski length calculator. I suggest using Powder7 Ski Size Chart and Calculator.

Conclusion

Experience, turning ability, height, weight, and the terrain all influence the type of ski you should be using. As a quick rule, beginners received shorter skis than experienced skiers. Even children who are more experienced than others receive longer skis. If a child cannot fit into the adult size boots and skis, they need to remain with children’s gear until they grow into it. Remember that within this guide are several size charts and calculators to help you find the perfect pair of skis for you. 

Categories: How to

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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.