Of all ski attributes, length is the most straightforward. Here’s how to pick the right length for you.
Start with your height
A good starting point for ski length is for your skis to come up to about nose-height.
More often than not, this is the ideal length for you, but there are a few scenarios when you should size up or size down.
Size up a few centimeters if:
- You often ski in deep snow or steep terrain. “Steep” meaning that, if you fall, you won’t stop until the bottom. This is typically more relevant to those who ride at western resorts.
- Your skis have some rocker to them. The more rocker a ski has, the more you should size up. A powder ski, which has the most rocker of any ski type, should be 7-10cm longer. For skis with a minor amount of rocker (often called “early rise”), an additional 4-6cm will be just fine.
- If you like a longer ski. If you're not sure if you like a longer ski, then let me tell you — you probably don’t.
- You're on the heavier side for someone your height.
- You're an aggressive skier.
Size down a few centimeters if:
- You’re picking a carving ski. No rocker or early rise here, meaning more of the ski will be in contact with the snow. This makes the skis feel longer so you don't need as much length.
- You ski in tight trees often. I’m talking “I just can’t get enough of the trees!” kind of often. Less ski length will make the ski more nimble and easier to articulate in tight situations.
- You're on the lighter side for someone your height.
- You're relatively new to skiing. Shorter skis are easier to handle.
In the end, it’s all about you
Remember, this is all personal preference. I have some friends who ride a ski that reaches 10cm above their head — but they’re 25 years old and ski 75 days a year. I also know people who ride a ski below their chin because they “just like a shorter ski.”
At the end of the day, a few centimeters one way or the other won't make a big difference. Your body will adapt.
Length is just the start
There’s more to picking the right ski than finding the right length. Check out our How to Pick the Right Ski blog series to get our take on what does and doesn’t matter when it comes to choosing skis.
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