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 In Gear, Skiing Tips

This section of the choosing ski length discussion is not about proposing a “one size fits all” approach to choosing ski length. It is specific to our audience. Given our target demographics (Baby Boomer and older skiers) and their skiing goal (moguls and powder inside a ski area boundary) the following ski length selection guidelines apply:

7 Ski Length Guidelines for Baby Boomers

  1. How you choose the length of your ski should be based primarily upon your age, skiing style, terrain preference, fitness level and how frequently you ski.
  2. The older you are the shorter your skis should be. Not because you are older but because there is a correlation between age and a general decline in strength, fitness level, durability and reflex speed.
  3. If you are more interested in balance and speed control than you are in speed you want to consider a shorter ski. If you prefer to ski slower, select a shorter ski with a smaller turning radius. If you prefer to ski fast, select a longer ski with a larger turning radius.
  4. The more conservative (less aggressive) you are the shorter your skis should be
  5. The higher your level of anxiety the shorter your skis should be
  6. If your terrain preference is moguls (versus groomed runs) the shorter you skis should be.
  7. The fewer number of days you ski per year the shorter your skis should be

Note: don’t base your ski length decision entirely on ski length. The turning radius of a ski is equally as important as ski length. Longer skis usually have a larger turning radius and shorter skis usually have a smaller turning radius. But two skis of equal length can each have a different turn radius. The words “the shorter your skis should be” can be substituted with the words “the smaller your turn radius should be”

So what is short or shorter when it comes to skis? Several years of experience has shown us that when our mogul and powder clinic participants ski on shorter skis (150cm – 160cm for men and 146cm – 156cm for women) – irrespective of their height and weight – that they have substantially better results (better balance, better speed control, less fatigue, more confidence, lower anxiety, and ability to ski more challenging off-piste terrain). And, with no apparent downside for stability from the shorter ski length.

The bottom line: There is no simple formula to give you a precise answer for choosing the right ski length. Rather, it is a judgement call given the above rules-of-thumb.

Continue reading the last segment choosing ski length: Choosing Ski Length – Final Thoughts

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Showing 11 comments
  • Gregory Kay
    Reply

    Thanks you so much for the post as an ageing skier considering a new set of ski’s this information was invaluable and helped reinforce the feeling that I didn’t really want a really long ski (as per the weight height thing) but am better off with a length I am comfortable with.

  • Joe Long
    Reply

    Mr. Nevin, I’m going to sleep better tonight thanks to you !

    I’m in Aspen and fit all of your guidelins 9pro shor0t except # 6.

    Anyhow, I’m 77 , 5’10”, 138lbs

    I am prepared a buy quality product. Help me out. Sir..

    Warmest Regards,

    Joe Long

    • Joe Nevin
      Reply

      Here are two suggestions: Kastle MX84 in a 152 length or Kastle LX85 in a 152 length

      • Carl LaPlante
        Reply

        Joe,
        Picking up on this question – I am 72, 6’3″, 190 pounds but meet all your attributes discussed here. I am a good groomed run skier, but not good in moguls and want to get much better. I am considering K2 244s at 153 cm vs 163 cm. Which do you recommend?

        • Joe Nevin
          Reply

          Carl – It’s tough for us to recommend a specific ski length for someone. We provide a range – which you’re in – and suggest you demo both lengths. If you’re just learning moguls, shorter is better. While we recommend a shorter ski length for all the reasons outlined on our website, we still believe the key focus should be on learning great technique. Bode Miller could probably ski on 2 x 6 because of his great technique. During our 4 day clinics, we suggest that clients wait to rent skis until after the second day of the clinic. After we’ve seen you ski for two days, our coach will accompany you to a rental shop and help select a ski that best meets your skiing ability and suits the snow conditions. (and we don’t receive compensation from the shops!)

  • Michelle
    Reply

    I wish I had read this article when I was younger and before I ended up getting MS and losing mobility. In spite of being in shape (cheer & track) when I was younger, I was never able to ski well due to not being able to turn and control my speed. This post explains why and makes so much sense! Thanks for posting!

    • Missy
      Reply

      Michelle….me too w MS!!! I went to CO when I was 30. Now at 51, I’m still mobile but not exactly like when I was 28. Go figure, lol. I’m afraid my window may be shrinking, but what is it about skiing? I would be thrilled just to live in CO though (like many others). I live in IL now (it’s okay….I’m good…we have mmj), and I started riding horses when I was 9. I’ve had to let that go due to finances & a couple rank mares. I would ride again, but the horse would have to be bombproof. Every day is a fight, some better than others.

  • Henry
    Reply

    Mr. Nevin,

    Great article! I’m 5’9 215 ski a lot of groomed terrain but travel all over and like to ski various terrain. Help me out please on what size ski I should be using.

  • Henry
    Reply

    Mr. Nevin,

    Great article! I’m 5’9 215 ski a lot of groomed terrain but travel all over and like to ski various terrain. Help me out please on what size ski I should be using. Also my ski style is aggressive, I like to go fast.

  • Ellen Purton
    Reply

    Thanks for this advice – it’s just what I was looking for. I’m a larger woman, about 160cm (5’4″) and about 90kg (190llb). I am a fit and active 50 year old – I work hard at the gym, and attend two dance classes a week, plus I cycle everywhere. I’m strong and flexible for a fat woman, and although my balance has never been great, even when I was a skinny child, I am good at and enjoy learning new physical skills. Skiing, though, has bested me so far. I’ve tried a couple of times in various locations and have never gotten to the point where I felt like I could control my speed. Therefore, any slope beyond the very slightest gradient remains scary to me. After a lifetime of ballet I have excellent hip mobililty and can do what looks like a perfect snowplow. But due, I think, to my weight/height ratio, it barely slows me down at all. I dream of skis with little spikes on the bottom for braking. I’m going with my husband and three sons to Lapland again this Christmas and I want to give learning to ski one more good try this year, before giving up on sharing this with my family. In the past I have been given skis as tall as me, presumably because the ski shop person thought it would be better to distribute my weight over a larger area. But I don’t want to ski fast, I want to ski as slowly as possible. So, do you think it would be a good plan to tell them I want 140cm skis? Or even shorter? I have not had any problems getting ski boots that fit me, by the way. My only real problem is speed control and I am hoping shorter skis will slow me down enough to properly get the hang of this. Any further advice? I really want to crack this this year!

    • Joe Nevin
      Reply

      Ellen – Skiing slowly and with good control is part of our instruction. I’d suggest you subscribe to our free mogul skiing tips for specific suggestions on skiing slowly. Also, please see our technique learning center “Why speed control is hard” and read the associated pages for ideas on controlling speed. Hope that helps!

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