Ski Length Considerations – How To Select Your Proper Ski Length

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, Janica Kostelic, 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. Short skis go slower, and who wants to do that?

For many skiers 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: “The Five Decision Factors”.

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