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 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 15 comments
  • Christine z
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      Very helpful information! Thank you.

  • Oscar
    Reply

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

    • John Hopkins
      Reply

      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
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    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
    Reply

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

  • Simon Upton
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    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

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