In Gear, Skiing Tips

Final Thoughts: So, here is the bottom line. How should I determine my ski length? In the fourth and final part of this discussion we tackle these questions.

What specific type of skis should I be looking at? If you prefer speed, consider yourself aggressive, have low anxiety, are a risk taker, are strong and durable with fast reflexes, ski a good number of days each season, have no history of orthopedic injuries or replaced body parts and prefer top-to-bottom groomed runs or like to run gates … these are all factors which would argue for a longer ski. Why? Because you will likely want to ski faster.

If you are older with slowing reflexes and fatigue easier than you used to, prefer skiing slowly, are not aggressive, have anxiety and want to avoid injury at all cost, have experienced a knee replacement, ski a small number of days per year, are not in as good a shape as you used to be and your intention is to primarily ski moguls and powder you want a shorter ski with a shorter turning radius. Why? Because you will likely want to turn easier and ski slower.

In a nutshell, our experience tells us that shorter skis are more appropriate for the majority of aging Baby Boomers.

Shorter skis have a smaller balance sweet spot that produces a more centered skier and facilitates better balance. Shorter skis turn easier, particularly in the moguls. A shorter ski typically has a smaller turning radius which means that you will spend less time in the fall line and that results in slower skiing and better speed control. The combination of better balance and better speed control will result in reduced anxiety, less fatigue, and the ability to ski more challenging off-piste terrain with more confidence.

Can We Be More Specific? For Boomers we are seeing great results with all-mountain mid-fat skis that have 82mm-89mm in width underfoot in a 150cm – 160cm length for men and 146cm – 156cm for women.

We have no skin in the game re one manufacturer or another. Our primary recommendation is to go all-mountain mid-fat in a “shorter” length.

In all cases, keep in mind that what matters most to good skiing is neither ski brand nor ski length but the ability of a skier to maintain balance and maintain speed control on whatever terrain they are skiing on.

Said another way, it is more about the skier (e.g. technique) than the ski.

So, in the end, achieving your skiing objectives is really 85% about ski technique and 15% about choosing the right ski length. However, choosing the best ski length, given your attributes and skiing goals, will either facilitate or inhibit achieving those goals.

A Final Thought On Choosing Ski length

The recommendations presented here are based upon the demographics, preferences, goals and the many years of on-snow experiences since 2002 of the people who ski in the BUMPS FOR BOOMERS mogul and powder ski lesson program. This profile includes skier’s age (Baby Boomer and older skiers), their skiing style (conservative … with a preference for balance and control over fast skiing … and a desire to avoid potential injury at all cost), their terrain preference (desire to ski moguls and powder inside the ski area boundary), their fitness level (not as physically fit as they used to be … and slowing reflexes) and skiing frequency (approximately 15 days per season).

If you are young, athletic, have lightening fast reflexes, love to ski fast, ski 60+ days a season and/or prefer out-of-bounds back country or helli-skiing in British Columbia then it would be appropriate for you to use a different set of guidelines for how to choose your ski length.

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Showing 22 comments
  • Christine z

    Thanks for this detailed and enlightening report. Has made my choice much simpler, and skis I was looking at all directly in that range.

    • Charlie

      Very helpful information! Thank you.

    • Eddie Polak

      So , after reading this article, I used my wife’s 156cm K2s . It was awesome ! I’m 71 , 6’1” 180 lbs.and and expert skier with 2 total knee replacements! My other skis were 183cm Fischer’s .

      • Sycho

        Eddie, glad to see you are still out there. Tell Rudney I said hello. Sycho

  • Oscar

    Very professional. I will take your advice strongly just over 65.

    • John Hopkins

      I took a 4 day clinic with Joe and his staff last January and found it to be a great experience. Joe is truly a professional and knows the ins and outs of skiing and techniques to improve your skiing. Having asked him about the right skis to buy, he recommended the ones that he skis on. On my next trip I rented them (Kastle MX 84) and immediately bought them. I would never have considered getting a 165cm ski (I’m 6’0″ and 190lbs) but I have never regretted my purchase. They have truly helped me refine the techniques I learned at the BFB course. I’m looking forward to participating in another class this winter! Much thanks to Joe and his staff!

  • Anthony Summit

    I enjoyed the 4 articles. However I think there should have been some discussion of stiffness, shape and weight of the skis. All of these could significantly a influence ski choice.

    • Joe Nevin

      Thanks for your comment. The factors you mention also influence ski selection. We tried to limit this article to a discussion on choosing ski length.

  • Jim Hannigan

    Very well written information that has all common sense behind it. 53 yrs skiing & have seen a lot of change in the industry from my humble beginnings. Still getting 50+ days in a season.

  • seth brown

    I’ve read your length comments with considerable consideration.
    Me….I’m 65, skiing 60+ yrs, much of it pretty agrssively and competent in most conditions and terrain.
    I weight 210 lbs, but I am fit and work out 3 days a week + ride a road bike several more.
    1 new knee, one bad but strong knee (I now avois bumps)…..I’m currently on a 172 E88 Rossi. Does not feel stable at a quicker (by no means fast) pace.
    I’m thinking of a 2 quiver scenario….a 167-8 Laser AX, K2 84ti and a slightly longer 95-100 underfoot for softer days…..Is the AX too much ski for a non hard charger? What would you suggest in a 95-100 underfoot?
    your advice will be much appreciated.

    • Joe Nevin

      Seth … 85% of good skiing is technique. The remaining 15% are things that you can buy in a ski shop (skis, poles, booths, helmet, goggles, etc.). Since I have never seen you ski it is impossible for me to make a proper ski recommendation for you. In general, based upon what you described, I would recommend a shorter (152cm-165cm) and lighter (84MM-88mm underfoot) ski.

  • Ambrocio Calles

    Great job Joe, you’re very well informed, your experience shows,I’m 70 yrs. old been skiing for 40 yrs. and instruct in in volunteer adaptive ptogram. You should never stop learning and improving no matter what age. I plan to take your clinic soon once I make some. The experience gained comes with miles on the slopes.

  • Geoff Ridsdale

    This is helpful – thanks.
    Could you advise on mini skis for baby boomers like me?
    I am not yet much good, but am advised 130cm, even 99cm ski length is easier and more fun.

  • Monte Glaser

    Excellent comment and discussion, by all! Very informative and helpful.

  • Simon Upton

    Great article Joe. I’ve been skiing for 3 years now and very confident on east coast blue runs. I’m currently skiing on Head Natural Instinct 163cm. I’m 45 years old, 215lbs and 6’3″. I’m trying to decide whether to stick with the 163s, or push in 170+ skis. I love the short turning radius of the 163s, but they do feel a little unstable at speed (30-35mph). Any guidance would be much appreciated.

  • Paul nager

    Took the class and skied the bumps. I was especially successful skiing behind Joel with my brain turned off.
    Can’t wait to next year to go again

    Will no doubt take the course or even better a Joel private

  • Mike

    Excellent stuff. Question: At 6’0″ and 180 pounds, 70 years old now and able to ski steep with moguls on good days 10 years ago, my all mountain skis were head hight. Now, older, wiser, slower, is the same ski, say the Head 93 at 171 cm and chin high, going to be good in the moguls, but unstable, not fun on the groomers, even when I’m going slow.

    Hoping to make it to your course this coming spring

  • Anthony Uriarte

    Great Article!!! Very helpful

  • Lance Schroeder

    I am 55 and intermediate skier, I have been fighting long skis for years and they leave me exhausted after a couple of runs.Your article describes me perfectly and I will try 150s. I want speed control, short turns, moguls, balance, and mostly want to enjoy the mountain safely without setting any new downhill records. Your article is enlightening and I was just about to give up skiing altogether. Thanks for the great advice. Sincerely, “Return to the slopes soon” Schroeder.

  • Marlene Johnson

    I am a 61 year old female. Hardly ski at all anymore. My husband bought me shape skis. Volkl Marker Adora 141. Since then I am unable to ski. I feel very unsteady on them and tend to fall alot. Any tips thinking I would like them shorter not at all confident anymore. Help:)

  • Bill D.

    Thank you for this excellent series, Joe. I benefit from your periodic newsletters and wish I could get to Aspen to meet you.
    Basically got into skiing about 9 years ago at 68, and my go-to skis are Elan 78mm Amphibio 168s which work great on the single and double blacks of the Northeast, but are unwieldy in bumps & woods. Based on your advice, will soon be buying something under 160 cm. ?

  • Tiffany

    THANK YOU for this article!! I’m a woman youthfully aged at 54, not it athletic shape to say the least and started back skiing this season after a 24+ year absence. I left the sport last being comfortable on double-diamond runs on 185cm K2 TRCs…fast forward I was super nervous getting back, but after 2 separate ski days, it was almost like riding a bike i’m hooked again! But so much has changed in equipment. Renting skis this season, but chopping at the bit to get my own new pair and have been overwhelmed by all the new info not to mention ‘squirrel’ moments of shinny new toys. My intuition was to go a bit shorter than what everyone keeps recommending and you have laid out exactly my concerns I feel so validated haha. Thanks and if I can make it to Aspen 20/21 I will for sure take the pow/mogul lesson!!!

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