Alpine Ski Buying Guide

Choosing the Right Downhill Skis

Whether you are brand new to the sport or you have been skiing for years, choosing the proper skis for your skiing style can be difficult and intimidating with so many different styles and brands to choose from. Hopefully this guide will help point you in the right direction, and get you on the right skis for your skiing style.

The main questions to ask yourself...What type of terrain will you be skiing on?  

Each category of skis excels on different types of terrain. The main ski categories that we specialize at Ski Hut are all-mountain, freestyle, freeride, and race.

 

What length skis do you need? 

Ski length is not only based on your height, but also your weight. As a general rule of thumb, when stood up on end your skis should land somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. However, if you have a lighter build for your height you may want to consider choosing a ski on the shorter end of the range, and if you have a larger frame consider looking to the longer end of the range. Ski length is also dependant on your skiing style. Shorter skis are going to excel at short, quick turns whereas longer skis are better at long, fast turns. Also, if you know you prefer short skis or long skis, keep that in mind while shopping. It really does come down to personal preference.

 

Do I want wide skis or narrower skis? (What profile ski)(camber)(width)

Wider skis are going to have better float in deep snow but won’t have as tight of a turning radius when skiing groomed runs. Narrower skis are generally going to be better at carving on groomed runs due to their tighter turning radius and will be easier to maneuver.

 

Understanding the difference between camber and rocker and how they affect overall ski performance.

Camber - Traditional ski design, ideal for skiing groomed runs. When looking at a ski with camber from the side, you’ll notice the center of the ski sits off the ground while the tips and tails remain on the snow. Camber creates a lively “spring” sensation that allows you to snap out of turns.

Rocker - Essentially the opposite of camber and sometimes referred to as reverse camber, a rocker ski when looked at from the side will have the center of the ski touching the snow and and the tips and tails raised. This style ski is well suited for skiing in powder conditions as it creates more float than a standard camber ski.

Other things to note - Skis aren’t necessarily just a camber ski or just a rocker ski, some skis have characteristics of both where they will have a camber construction but also have a rocker tip. These skis are ideal in varying snow conditions where you might be skiing some groomed runs and hitting some fresh powder in the same day.

 

 

Downhill Ski Categories

 

All-Mountain Skis

The name says it all, all-mountain skis are designed to tackle varying snow conditions. Skis in this category are going to excel on groomed runs but will also be able to handle a mix of groomed and powder. All-mountain skis are a good option for any age group and any level of experience.

 

Freestyle Skis

Freestyle skis are catering to those who find themselves spending almost all their time in the terrain park, flying off jumps, shredding some rails, and maybe even dropping into the halfpipe. These skis generally have a twin tip rocker construction with center-mounted bindings which enables you to ski switch (backwards) more easily. Freestyle skis are also built a little more heavy duty with thicker edges and a harder base material to withstand the harsh conditions they encounter.

 

Freeride Skis

While having some characteristics similar to all-mountain and freestyle skis, freeride skis are geared more toward the natural, off-piste terrain and are well suited for those who are truly seeking to “shred the gnar”. Most freeride skis, sometimes referred to as big mountain skis, are generally wider and have an early rise (rocker) tip and sometimes an early rise tail as well. The rocker tips and wider footprint are what promotes float in the deep powder.

 

Race Skis

Race skis are built for one purpose, and one purpose only; helping you be the fastest down the hill on race day. Whichever discipline you are competing in, whether it be slalom, giant slalom, or downhill, there is a specific pair of skis specially designed for each one. One thing that all race skis have in common, however, is that they are all extremely stiff and durable. Where they differentiate is in the side cut and the length. Slalom skis are shorter and have a tighter turning radius whereas giant slalom skis are longer and have a wider turning radius.

 

Ski Sizing Chart

Skier Height (ft)
Beginner Length (cm)
Intermediate Length (cm)
Expert Length (cm)

4’6”

125

135

140

4’8”

130

140

145

4’10”

135

145

150

5’0”

140

150

155

5’2”

145

155

165

5’4”

150

160

170

5’6”

155

165

175

5’8”

160

170

180

5’10”

165

175

185

6’0”

170

180

190

6’2”

175

185

195

6’4”

180

190

200

Hopefully this guide helps point you in the right direction while deciding what skis to buy. For further info or questions, either call or stop in to Ski Hut and one of our product experts will be able to help you out with any of your downhill ski needs. 

Ski Hut
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