In Gear, Skiing Tips

One of the most discussed topics in our mogul and powder clinics is the question … “What length ski should I be on for mogul skiing?”. To help you answer this question we are providing four discussion articles on how to make a ski length decision.

What length ski should I be on?

In the first of this four part discussion we will take the first step toward answering this question, beginning with some historical context.

The sport of skiing has its roots in racing and, over time, most of the “heroes” of the ski world have been FIS World Cup or Olympic racers (e.g. Stein Erickson, Phil Mahr, Hermann Maier, Sarah Schleper, Bode Miller, Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin, etc.). These racing “heroes” have defined the standard of excellence for being “the best in the sport of skiing”.

Why did we bring this up? It is because we believe that conventional thinking regarding ski length is biased around the notion that skiing is about going fast and that most recreational skiers either want to, or should, ski fast. After all, mounds of testosterone and screaming down the slope at Mach 5 is supposed to be what skiing is all about! Isn’t it?

The unintended consequence of assuming that most people want to ski fast is a bias toward recommending and selling longer ski lengths. Why? Because longer skis generally have a larger turning radius. Therefore, they spend more time in the fall line … which means they can, and do, ski faster than a shorter ski. Shorter skis go slower, and who wants to ski slower?

For Many Skiers A Shorter Ski Can Have A Significant Advantage Over A Longer Ski

There are many reasons why a shorter ski can have a significant advantage over a longer ski. For example, if the skier is older, doesn’t want to ski fast, prefers mogul and powder terrain versus groomed runs, is fearful or has anxiety, is out-of-shape or has slowing reflexes, has a medical condition or has had an orthopedic injury or only skis a small number of days each season. All of these factors, and more just might make a shorter ski a better choice for achieving your skiing objectives.

If your skiing objective is to be the fastest one down a race course then you may want to be on a beefy long ski. However, if you are more conservative and have little interest in being the fastest one on the mountain then you might discover that a longer ski is actually making it harder for you to achieve your objectives.

The way you should pick your ski model and ski length should be based upon your own personal skiing objectives, not because it’s the ski that Hermann Maier uses or because you saw the ski marketed as a “hot” ski, or the latest thing, in SKI Magazine.

Continue reading the next segment on choosing ski length: Choosing Ski Length – The Five Decision Factors.


Recommended Posts
Showing 4 comments
  • Chas Spano

    Best article on selecting a ski length I have seen.

  • Liza Julien

    I had a terrible time trying to find skis under 150 cm this year. Most skis have gone longer than shorter. I’m 5 feet tall so short makes sense for me but even in women’s skis the shortest I found for my ski style was the Icelantic Maiden 101 in 155 cm.

  • Mike

    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.

    • Eric S

      Get a second, longer pair of skis, expert rated from 2000-2010, for carving groomers. They’ll cost you under a hundred bucks (probably under $50).
      Have newer bindings put on them. (Or…depending on your degree of technical experience.)

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search