Millions of Americans enjoy hitting the slopes every year at ski resorts throughout the world. One of the ways to ensure you get the most out of your time on the mountain is to wear a snow ski that fits you properly. There are so many varieties of snow skis on the market that it can be difficult to determine which one is the best for you. We'll help you evaluate your options to select your best fit for enjoying the powder.

Determining Your Snow Ski Size


a man holding a snow ski

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There are several elements that you should consider when selecting the best type of snow ski that fits you. These elements include your height, your ability, and the type of skiing you're planning on doing.

Selecting the Right Length


To determine the right length of your ski, you'll have to make a selection depending upon on your height and weight. A general rule of thumb is that you want to have the tip of your ski to be somewhere between the top of your head and your chin.

Remember that shorter skis are easier for making turns. They may be a better choice for those who are new to the sport. Skiers with more advanced skills or those who race will likely need to select skis that are longer.

Determining Your Ability Level


a group of people skiing

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While it's always important to have an accurate assessment of your ability, it's not as relevant when selecting skis as it once was. Before you select your snow ski, be honest in whether you'd assess yourself as a beginner, intermediate or advanced skier.

Not sure? You can use these following points to help you decide.

Beginners

If you are a beginner, then you've only skied a few times before, and, at most, you can stop yourself and turn on blue and red runs. If this describes you, you should consider skis that are narrower and have a softer flex. This will help you when making turns. This will also make the skis easier for you to control.

Intermediate

Intermediate skiers are more confident and may even be able to turn and stop on red and black runs. Intermediate skiers also are more confident on different terrain, but still struggle with icy and steep sections and can't go too quickly on black runs. A slightly firmer flex is ok here, as are medium length skis.

Advanced

If you are an advanced skier, you can easily control yourself on icy sections, steep areas, and in a variety of conditions. Advanced skiers can confidently ride black slopes with finesse and at high speed. You can get skis as long as you need them, and with a hard flex.

a person skiing on a steep area

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Evaluating the Width of Your Skis


two sets of snow ski

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To get the most out of your skiing experience, and to determine what snow ski will best fit you, carefully consider the width of your skis. Typically, this is measured from the middle of the ski, which is its narrowest point. Skis with narrow widths will enable you to turn faster, while those with wider widths provide better "flotation" when you're skiing in the powder.

You will see ski dimensions explained in three numbers. The first number is the tip, the second number is the waist (the width), and the third number is the tail.


Understanding the Turning Radius


This is important because the turning radius is a big factor in how your skis will feel. It's also indicative of how they will perform on different types of slopes. If the ski's width is narrower in relation to its tip and tail, then that indicates a shorter turn radius.

If your skis have a short turn radius, then they are acceptable to use on all mountain skiing. Skis with shorter turn radius are able to make sharper, faster turns. A medium turn radius is useful for all mountain riding and pipes. Skis with a longer turn radius are better for tackling large mountains, and they are much more stable at higher speeds.

a man wearing snow ski

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Examining the Rocker/Camber Type


The rocker refers to the bottom part of the ski. Traditionally, skis are cambered, meaning they have a small, upward arch in the middle. The purpose of this is to ensure that the pressure is distributed evenly through the entire length of the ski.

The advantages of cambered skis are that they provide precising turning combined with maximum energy. A reverse-camber rocker is the opposite of the cambered ski. In this case, the camber is turned upside down. The tip and the tail rise slightly away from the snow. It's perfect for beginners and advanced skiers. It also provides a more maneuverable "feel."

If you are considering flat or zero camber skis, you should realize that these are the better choice for powder skiing. A large part of selecting the best snow ski that fits both you and your ski style is balancing the type of camber/rocker, ski width and ski length to match your ability and the type of terrain on which you'll be skiing.


Considering the Ski Terrain


a woman skiing

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When determining the best type of snow ski to purchase, you must consider what type of terrain you'll be skiing on most often.

All-Mountain Skis


These are the most versatile type of skis and work equally well in powder, ice and heavy snow. However, if you want to specialize in skiing a certain type of terrain, you should opt for a type of snow ski that is more targeted and specific to what you are skiing and what type of slopes you hope to be skiing on as your skills develop.

Powder Skis


snow ski on top of snow mountain

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These are appropriate for deep powder stashes and can help you stay "afloat" when skiing in this type of snow. Remember that the tip and tail are not always the widest parts of the ski as far as powder skis are concerned. While they are specialized, most modern powder skis are versatile enough to handle other types of terrain.


Conclusion


tip of snow skis

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To get the most out of your ski experience, it's important to look at several factors when determining the best type of snow ski to fit you. Consider your height, weight, and ability level. Look at the rocker/ camber of the ski. Finally, you should consider purchasing the type of ski that will work best for the conditions you like to ski in.


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