Ski Size Chart - How To Choose The Right Size Skis

Many, an expert skier, will tell you that the right size skis, ski boots and ski poles are the sine qua non for the ultimate ski experience. In this page we aim to provide you with expert advice on how to choose the right size skis, in order to make your ski experience wonderful.

Choosing The Right Size Skis

Choosing the right ski size is a function of a number of factors, namely: ski length and width, ability level, ski style, the nature of the terrain on which you ski, etc. In the following sections, we will explain these factors as well as the relevance of each.

Ski Size Chart

Your
Height
(feet and inches)
Your
Height
(cm)
Beginner
level
(cm)
Intermediate
level
(cm)
Advanced
level
(cm)
3'0" - 3'1" 91 - 95 65-74 - -
3'2" - 3'3" 96 - 100 75-79 - -
3'4" - 3'6" 101 - 107 80-84 - -
3'7" - 3'8" 108 - 112 85-94 - -
3'9" - 3'10" 113 - 118 95-104 105-109 -
3'11" - 4'0" 119 - 123 105-109 110-114 115-119
4'1" - 4'2" 124 - 128 110-114 115-119 120-124
4'3" - 4'4" 129 - 133 115-119 120-124 125-129
4'5" - 4'6" 134 - 138 120-124 125-129 130-134
4'7" - 4'8" 139 - 143 125-129 130-134 135-139
4'9" - 4'11" 144 - 151 130-134 135-139 140-144
5'0" - 5'1" 152 - 156 135-139 140-144 145-149
5'2" - 5'3" 157 - 161 140-144 145-149 150-159
5'4" - 5'5" 162 - 166 145-149 150-154 155-165
5'6" - 5'7" 167 - 171 150-154 155-159 160-169
5'8" - 5'9" 172 - 176 155-159 160-164 165-175
5'10" - 6'0" 177 - 183 160-164 165-169 170-185
6'1" - 6'2" 184 - 189 165-169 170-174 180-195
6'3" - 6'4" 190 - 195 170-174 175-185 190-200
>= 6'5" >= 196 >= 175 >= 186 >= 201

Ski Length

Why is the length of the ski important? Length influences your performance and control of the ski when you are either going in a straight line or making a turn. Skis with a short length (skis closer to your chin when you stand next to them) are usually light and easy to control at slow speeds; this means that the skier is more stable and able to make quick turns when he or she is going at a slower speed. At higher speeds, however, the skier using the short-length ski has relatively less stability and control over the skis, and he or she is unable to make quick turns. On the other hand, skis with long lengths (skis closer to the top of your head) are usually heavy and difficult to control at slow speeds; this means that the skier is less stable, and unable to make quick turns when he/she is going at a slower speed. At higher speeds, however, the skier using the long-length ski has relatively more stability and control over the skis, and he/she is able to make long turns.

So what exactly is the right ski length for you? Getting the right ski length will depend on a lot of factors such as your ability level, your height, weight, etc. However, to make things easier for readers, as a general rule, experts advise people who are neither advanced nor professional skiers to size their skis shorter since such skis are easier to turn and twist. In addition to this category of skiers, other categories of skiers who may want to size their skis shorter include the following:

  • A skier who doesn't ski fast and loves to make quick and short turns while skiing.
  • A skier who has a weight which is less than average for his or her height.
  • A skier who prefers a carving ski that has only camber without rocker.

NOTE: The camber of a ski is the ski's built-in arch – that small upward curve found in the middle of a ski. On the other hand, the rocker of a ski is the opposite of the camber. Some define the rocker simply as an upturned camber.

Categories of Skiers Who Should Size Their Skis Longer

If you fall into any of the categories below, you may choose to size your skis longer:

  • Skiers who are advanced and love to ski aggressively.
  • Skiers who often ski off the trail.
  • Skiers who intend to ski with a twin-tip ski.
  • Skiers whose weight is more than the average for their height.
  • Skiers who use skis that have a huge amount of rocker.

Ski Waist Width

The width of a ski is measured by the width of the waist of the mid section of the blades.

Just like the ski's length, its waist width is equally important when it comes to choosing the right skis. One of the most important things about ski widths you should know is that skis with narrower waist widths are agile. This therefore makes them excellent for making quick edge to edge turns. They are also easier to maneuver for someone who is beginning to learn how to ski. On the other hand, skis with wider waist widths take an extra effort to turn. However, thanks to their wider widths, these skis are very good in providing floatation and stability when you find yourself in the powder. Also, wider skis are capable of giving a skier a significant level of stability when he or she is skiing in broken or crud snow.

Below are the various categories of ski widths and who and what they are best suited for:

  • Ski waist width under 85mm: A ski that has a width below 85mm is ideal for skiers who spend majority of their time skiing on groomed trails. Skis for beginners often fall in this category since such skis tend to be lighter and not very difficult to be controlled by the beginner.
  • Ski waist width between 85-95mm: Skis that fall in this category are versatile and easily maneuverable. They are suited for skiers engaging in on-trail skiing. Also, in the right snow condition, these skis can be used off the groomers.
  • Ski waist widths between 96-110mm: If you are a skier looking for the perfect all mountain waist widths that allow for easy medium to long turns on the groomers, then these skis are what you are looking for. In addition to this, skis that fall between these waist widths are also very versatile and float very well in very deep powder.
  • Ski waist width above 111mm: These extremely wide waist widths provide skiers with the utmost level of floatation and stability in the deepest of powder and are therefore excellent for skiers who would be spending most of their time in the ungroomed terrain. They are however, not very nimble, which makes it quite difficult using them for short quick turns when you find yourself on the groomers.

Ability Level

Generally, the separating factor for experienced, intermediate and inexperienced skiers is the ability to make smooth and proper turns. Knowing your ability level plays an important role in determining which ski size is suitable for you. There are roughly five skier ability levels, namely Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced Intermediate, Advanced and Expert.

Experienced skiers are able to make turns without striking the ski blades against nearby rocks/snow, while inexperienced and intermediate skiers often hit the ski blades against nearby rocks/snow when making turns. Sometimes, the angle at which inexperienced skiers tilt the blades when turning could destroy those blades. For this reason, skis for inexperienced and intermediate skiers have softer flexes, capped constructions, and softer wood cores, which pose minimal obstructions to the ski experience – especially when turns are made wrongly. Skis for advanced skiers, on the other hand, are stiffer and do not compensate for wrong turns, but rather enhance the turns at high speeds. Another important thing to mention here is that skis for proficient users are usually long, while those for inexperienced skiers are usually short. The explanation for this arrangement is that inexperienced skiers usually go at slow speeds. Therefore they need more control when making turns, which is something that short skis are suited for. Experienced skiers, on the other hand, normally go at high speeds, at which only long skis can provide stability and control when making turns. Therefore, in choosing the right ski size, you should take into account your ability level.

Nature of Terrain and Ski Type

Not all ski terrains are created equal; some are systemic, mountainous, pipe-ish, park-ish, and carving-like. As different terrains serve different ski activities, so do different skis serve different terrains.

All Mountain Skis and All Mountain Wide Skis

Mountain skis are ideal for mountainous terrains. Mountain skis are roughly divided into two, namely All Mountain Skis and All Mountain Wide Skis. These skis are designed to overcome ice, heavy snow and steeps that skiers often encounter on mountains. Also, compared to other types of skis, mountain skis are perhaps the most multipurpose because they do well on other terrains as well. So if you want a ski that does it all, you should choose mountain skis. What is the difference between an All Mountain Ski and an All Mountain Wide Ski? The major difference between these two skis lies in their waist width. While All Mountain Skis usually have waist widths of between 85-95mm, All Mountain Wide Skis have waist widths between 95-105mm wide in the waist.

Powder Skis

Powder skis are the most appropriate skis for terrains where the snow is powdery and soft, just like deep sands at the beach. Powder skis are very wide skis that usually have waist widths that are over 111mm, which makes their users enjoy excellent stability and floatation in the powder.

Carving Skis

Carving skis are most appropriate for skiers who enjoy moving around curved edges. They are very thin in the waist and have short turn radiuses, which makes it extremely easy for skiers to initiate curves.

Parks and Pie (Freestyle) Skis

Parks and pie skis, also known as freestyle skis, are most appropriate for skiers who spend most of their time in parks or in the air. These days, a lot of freestyle skis incorporate twin tips which come with pointed tips at both ends and provide the skier with the unique ability to do both forward and backward maneuvers.

Alpine Touring Skis

These skis come in different waist widths and are usually light in weight. They are made in such a way that they allow the skier easy uphill travel by the means of skinning or hiking. Once uphill, they also provide the skier an excellent downhill travel by the means of skiing.

Race Skis

As the name implies, these skis are designed for competition and speed.

NOTE: These days it is becoming a common trend for ski producers to produce customized skis. Therefore, you may as well have a ski made for you that suits your preferences.

Turning Radius of Ski

When a ski is tipped on edge, the size of the arch that it makes is what is referred to as the turning radius of the ski. The turning radius of a ski can also be defined as the size of the arch a ski makes when the shape of the ski as a function of the width of its blade's tip, waist and tail. We say that a ski has a short turn radius when the width of the blade's waist is smaller in comparison to the blade's tip and tail. Consequently, the skier is able to make quick turns at slow speeds that leave sharp incisions in the snow. On the other hand, a ski has a long turn radius when the width of its blade's waist is larger in comparison to the blade's tip and tail. As a result, the skier is able to make slow, stable turns at high speeds that leave gentle incisions in the snow.

NOTE:

  • Short turning skis have radiuses less than 12 meters.
  • Medium turning skis are those that have radiuses that fall between 12 and 21 meters.
  • Long turning skis have radiuses that are 22 meters and greater.

Camber or Rocker?

Which of the two is better – rockered skis or cambered skis?

Before answering that question, let us first understand the difference between rockered skis and cambered skis.

Camber

What is camber? The shape of a typical traditional ski is just like that of a cambered ski in the sense that when a cambered ski is put un-weighted on a flat surface such as the ground, its midsection or center will arc upward while the entire ski rests on its tip and tail. The midsection that arcs upward is what is referred to as the camber of the ski.

The camber offers skiers a number of advantages including the following:

  • Responsive turning
  • Stability
  • Excellent grip on icy slopes
  • Good carving

Rocker

A rockered ski is the exact opposite of a cambered ski, which is the reason why it has the alternative names negative camber and reverse camber. When you place a rockered ski on a flat surface, its midsection, unlike the cambered ski, will rest on the ground while its tails and tips do not rest on the ground.

The rocker comes with the following advantages:

  • Good floatation in powder
  • Better park experience
  • Easy maneuverability

So which of the two is better – camber or rocker? Because of the numerous advantages that come with both rocker and camber, today many ski manufacturers combine features of the two in making their skis.

Flex of Ski

There are roughly five groups of flexes of skis, and depending on such things as your weight and how you ski, you will fall into at least one of the groups. This means if you are one who skis very aggressively, it is not likely you would be using the same ski with one who skis very cautiously and slowly. The groups of ski flexes are as follow:

Very Soft Flex: Skis that have very soft flex are best suited for children or adults who are now learning how to ski for the first time. The reason why such skis are good for these groups of skiers is mainly because they are forgiving and are also pretty easy for beginners to learn with.

Soft Flex: Skis that have soft flex are good for skiers who are either beginner skiers or mellow intermediate skiers and are looking for skis that are easily controllable at speeds ranging from slow to medium.

Medium Flex: A ski with a medium flex is suitable for skiers who often ski at various levels of speeds since they are capable of providing stability at top speed and also allow the skier to easily control them when going at slower speeds. A number of skis, most notably powder skis, are medium flex skis.

Stiff Flex: A ski with a stiff flex is suitable for experienced skiers since these skis are not very responsive at slower speeds except at very high speeds.

Very Stiff Flex: Skis that have very stiff flexes are meant for none other than the most aggressive of skiers. If you are not an extremely aggressive skier, then you are going to find it very difficult using these skis.

Ski Tail Shape and Performance

A ski's tail shape also has a number of significant effects on a skier's performance, most notably it affects the way in which the ski exits a turn.

Below are some of the most common tail shapes and how they make the ski to react:

Flat Tail Shapes: Skis with flat tail shapes are more often than not aggressive race skis or carving skis. The advantage of the flat tail is that they provide the skier with excellent power and grip. The problem with them is that the skier has to put in an additional effort when it comes to making the ski exit a turn. The nature of the flat tail shapes makes skis that incorporate them perform very well at high speeds.

Twin Tip Tail Shapes: A ski is said to incorporate the Twin Tip tail shape when its tail and tip are both significantly turned up in a similar way. In addition to a twin-tip-tailed ski allowing the skier to ski forward and backward, it also helps the skier exit a turn quickly.

Flared Tail Shapes: A flared-tailed ski has a tail that is not only turned up slightly but also tapered. A ski that falls into this category will still possess a solid grip even at the end of the turn, which is very important for strong carves. In addition to this, a flared-tailed shape allows for the easy and quick release of the ski at the finish of a turn.

Conclusion

Now that it has been explained how things such as the length of a ski, one's skiing ability level, the nature of the terrain on which you ski, etc determine whether or not a particular ski is appropriate for you, we hope that next time you find yourself in the market looking for skis you will find it much easier getting the right size of skis. In addition to this, the information contained in our ski pole size chart article also helps you in determining whether or not a particular ski pole is appropriate for you.

At this point, we are confident that you are better informed to choose the right size skis and ski poles for your skiing adventure. Happy skiing!

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