How to choose the right type of skis
Do you want to buy your own skis so you no longer have to rent them? Do you want to replace skis that look too tired to handle a new season? Or maybe you are ready to purchase a new pair to complete your collection? In this article, we will advise you on how to choose the skis best suited to you and your type of skiing.
If you have decided to invest in a complete ski equipment, you should start by finding the right boots. You will find an article we have written on the subject here.
Choose from a range that is suited to your type of skiing
There is a different range of skis to suit every terrain and every way of skiing, and within each you will find different models to match different technical levels too. Visually, it may seem possible to go skiing in powder with skis dedicated to skiing on the slopes, but reality is another story! So, it’s really important to choose from a range of skis suited to your type of skiing.
If carving your way on groomed slopes is your preferred way of getting to know a mountain, you want to pick the right on-piste ski to meet your needs. Whether you only ski for leisure, are always trying to improve your performance or are looking to crush it in the next race, you will find your perfect pair in this range.
There will be some differences depending the level of your ability, but on-piste skis are generally rigid and narrow (less than 85mm waist width, meaning the width of your ski underfoot) to encourage grip on hard-packed snow and to enable stylish turns on the slopes.
The ski’s sidecut radius depends on its dimensions (ski width at the tip, waist/underfoot and tail). You can see this concept clearly on parabolic skis. Skis with less sidecut radius (around 14m) allow for tight turns whereas skis with a long sidecut radius (over 17m) encourage wide, arcing turns.
Ski ranges made for easy groomed runs are suitable if you only go skiing occasionally or if you ski at an intermediate or beginner level. These skis are generally more flexible and have a waist width between 72 and 84mm. They are designed to be easy to use and secure. These skis have a short sidecut radius and encourage tight turns at slower speeds. These are the skis that allow you to really enjoy the snow, the sun and the mountains!
--- Check out our skis in this range: for WOMEN | for MEN
Performance range skis are for more assertive skiers who want to make marked turns from the top to the bottom of the slopes. If you like to go fast, have good physical fitness and a solid technical level, these more sturdy and responsive skis are for you. Depending on your preference, you have the choice between more sidecut for tight turns or less sidecut for wide turns. ‘Race’ skis are also available for very good skiers. They are developed based on the same technologies used to build the racing skis of professional athletes.
---Check out our skis from this range: for WOMEN | for MEN
Competition skis are specific to each discipline within alpine skiing, (slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill) and are aimed at racers progressing at club level.
It’s a good idea to add a pair of on-piste skis to your collection if you usually freeride, you can use them when backcountry conditions aren’t good.
Freeride and all-mountain skis
Can’t resist the temptation of powder snow? Do you avoid the slopes and always look for wild lines with good snow conditions? If the answer is yes, there’s no doubt, you are a freerider!
The freeride ski range offers wide skis to make sure you stay on top of the powder (waist width between 90mm and 120mm). These skis have flexible tips and large rockers (or sometimes even a reverse camber) that act as shock absorbers and will help you ride as if you were floating over the powder. What is rocker and ski camber? Read our article for more information and to help you choose your freeride skis. All you need now is some powder!
---Check out our freeride skis: for WOMEN | for MEN
All-round, versatile skis that you can use on the slopes as well as for off-piste skiing are called all-mountain skis. These are larger skis than those designed specifically for the slopes (around 85-90mm waist width) and they include a more flexible ski tip with progressive tip rocker for powder conditions. You can go anywhere with these skis! Depending on where you are used to skiing, you can refine your choice by choosing skis 50:50 groomed slopes/ backcountry or 30:70 groomed slopes/backcountry (therefore, these are more freeride oriented skis).
---Check out our all-mountain skis: for WOMEN | for MEN
Backcountry touring skis
Do you look for large open spaces away from the crowd? Do you enjoy the physical effort of skiing uphill? If you do, choose backcountry touring skis.
Backcountry skiing is a fast-growing sport that has its own specific equipment. The weight of the skis as well as the bindings and boots will be some of the most important criteria when choosing your equipment.
Classic touring skis are usually very light and feature a waist width of around 75-80mm. They include rockered tips and there is little difference between the dimensions of the tip, waist and tail (these skis are not parabolic). They allow you to get out easily from soft powder snow and at the same time they grip well on hard packed snow.
Freestyle and snowpark skis
To pull tricks in a snowpark or in a half-pipe, you will need some freestyle skis. They are very flexible, so they absorb shocks, and they are shaped as to ensure maximum manoeuvrability. They are aimed at skiers who are as comfortable in the air as they are on snow. Twin tips and tails help in the approach to jumps and even allow you to ride or land switch (backwards).
Telemark first appeared in Norway and was named in 1868 after the Telemark region, the sport was a predecessor to what later became alpine skiing. Telemark bindings and boots are different from those used in alpine skiing due to the free-heel bindings. The technique used in turns is that of genuflexion (slide the outside ski forward, bend it deeply at the knee and lift your heel up on the inside leg). This movement is like no other and is physically demanding.
There are skis dedicated to telemark, but you can also choose skis from the alpine ski range that can be adapted to your needs e.g. by mounting free-heel telemark bindings.
Which ski length to choose?
Your ski width is primarily dictated by your style of skiing, however, the choice of ski length is related to your physical build and your technical level. More and more ski manufacturers offer the choice of choosing ski length based on your weight, as in cross country skiing. You can also use the size recommendations below to help you, using your height as a guide:
- On-piste skis: Between 15cm and 5cm shorter than you
- All-mountain skis: From 10cm shorter than you up to your actual height
- Freeride skis: Between 5cm and 10cm taller than you
- Backcountry skis: your height +/- 5cm
- Touring skis: Between 5cm and 10cm shorter than you
- Freestyle skis: From 10cm shorter than you up to your actual height
Within these parameters, the longer the ski, the more stable it is at fast speed and when making large turns. Longer skis also allow for floatation on soft powder snow. Short skis are light and easier to handle in tight turns. If you are heavy for your height, opt for sturdy skis and choose the ski height from the bands above.
In order to adapt your skis to your type of skiing there are numerous features to consider – width, rigidity, camber and shape all matter. These will all affect the behaviour of the ski. On-piste, all-mountain, freeride, freestyle or ski touring? Make sure you choose the right ski range and select skis suited to your style so that all you need to concentrate on is your glide!