How to choose skis to enjoy skiing
We’ll show you how to buy the right gear for trails, parks, and more.
Choose a ski model for your skiing style.
Before choosing specific skis, you must decide what you plan to do on the slopes.
Carving or trail skiing
Carving (piste) skis are designed for skiing on ready-made ski slopes; they allow you to easily enter sharp turns and ride not on the entire sliding surface but only on the edges. These are narrow metal strips along the edges of the ski.
Such skis have a fairly thin waist (the narrowest point) and a small turning radius, allowing you to conveniently move from edge to edge and simultaneously, develop high speed.
Such models are suitable for skiing on prepared slopes and descending on broken slopes or virgin soil.
Universal skis have a waist of about 80-110 cm, which allows you not to sink in loose snow. And also – a slightly more pronounced front rocker (deflection of the bow), due to which the ski will not stick into hillocks on the slope.
It is worth considering this option if you are open to more than just prepared slopes.
Skis for professional racing
These are special carving skis for Slalom (SL), Giant Slalom (GS), Super Slalom (SG), and Downhill (DH). Models vary greatly in geometry and features, are designed for athletes, and cost a lot. Beginners may not even consider such options: waste your money, but you will not get any benefit.
This is an option for skiing on unprepared slopes. The increased width of the skis keeps the free rider on the deep fluffy virgin ground and allows you to jump from rocks without harming your health.
Park skis, freestyle
These are skis designed for acrobatics and ski jumping in special parks, passing mogul tracks.
Often park skis are twin-tip models with the same curved toe and heel. This geometry allows you to land comfortably after a ski jump with your back and your face.
Decide on the length of the skis.
When placing the ski next to the body, its end should be somewhere between your chin and the top of your head or slightly above it.
The specific length depends on the following:
1. From the level of skiing. The more confident you feel on the slope, the longer skis you can take. For example, a beginner with a height of 183 cm is suitable for a length of 170 cm, an advanced skier – 180 cm, and a pro – 190 cm. In the same way, you can choose the length for any height. If you are a beginner, subtract 7–10 cm from your height; if advanced, buy skis flush with the top of your head; if a pro, 7–10 cm higher than you.
2. Skiing style – if you want to make fast turns, take shorter skis; if you plan to develop high-speed – longer ones.
3. Places to ride. Due to their high maneuverability, short skis are more suitable for narrow slopes with frequent turns. Long are good for wide straight slopes and virgin soil.
Decide on the stiffness of the skis.
The stiffness of the skis should be selected, focusing on the following points:
- Riding level. Rigid skis, such as carving or professional, allow you to develop high speed without losing stability, including during turns. Such models are suitable for advanced and experienced skiers. Softer ones, such as universal ones, provide comfortable riding, are suitable for driving at low speeds, and forgive errors in technique.
- Skier weight. For beginners up to 75 kg, soft skis are suitable. Those who weigh over 90 kg should consider stiffer options, even at entry-level riding. Also, hard models are suitable for lighter skiers if they feel confident on the slope and are going to ride at high speed.
Check your ski sidecut radius.
The sidecut radius depends on the geometry of the model. The larger this indicator, the wider the arc along which your skis will pass. The choice of radius depends on the place of skiing and the level of the skier.
These skis are very maneuverable; they listen well on turns and allow you to ski on rather tight, crowded slopes. At the same time, they are quite responsive, so beginners who make a lot of unnecessary movements may need to be more comfortable riding them.
Skis with an average radius are more suitable for those who are just starting to master the mountain slopes and also occasionally ride on broken tracks.
Over 18 meters
Such skis are suitable for wide slopes, where you can develop high speed, moving in a large arc. To fully experience their potential, you need decent riding, so beginners are not advised to take them.
Pay attention to the design of the skis.
There are three basic ski designs and many mixed options.
The core of such skis consists of several layers of wood and synthetic materials and is reinforced with a carbon or fiberglass mesh. From the sides, it is closed with plastic walls, from above – by a decorative strip, and from below – by a sliding surface. Due to several layers of the core, the strength of the ski increases, and depreciation increases.
Unlike a sandwich, such skis do not have side and decorative strips, and the core is closed with one monolithic structure that reaches the edges.
The cap provides less weight and greater torsional stiffness of the ski, which, in turn, increases its handling. In addition, production is less expensive, so such skis are sold at lower prices.
This is the development of the Salomon brand – a one-piece composite case to which a sliding surface is glued. Inside it is a core made of wood or light synthetic materials.
Skis made using monocoque technology have high torsional rigidity and low weight, which ensures cornering stability and less sensitivity to track irregularities.
In addition to these three designs, there are many mixed options. For example, a monocoque sandwich or even a cap sandwich, when the middle of the ski is made according to one technology, and the ends according to another.
Choose ski bindings
Skis are often sold as a set with bindings. But if you buy them separately, there are a few things to consider.
Several binding standards are suitable for boots with a certain type of sole.
1. Alpine (ISO 9462). The most common type of binding is in which the front head and heel are attached separately. During skiing, the boot is completely fixed, so it will not work, for example, to unfasten the heel and go up the slope. Alpine bindings are compatible with ISO 5355 smooth-sole boots.
2. Walk to Ride (WTR). Developed by Salomon. Boot bindings with WTR outsole with tread for comfortable walking. They will also work with GripWalk boots and ISO 5355 soles.
3. GripWalk. Bindings are GripWalk and ISO 5355 compatible.
4. Multi Norm Compatible (MNC). These bindings will fit any sole standard: ISO 5355, ISO 9523, WTR, and GripWalk.
5. Sole.ID, or just ID. Like the MNC, these bindings are compatible with a wide range of soles, including ISO 5355, ISO 9523, WTR, and GripWalk, as well as various inserts.
6. Frame. In such bindings, the front and back parts are connected by a frame so that you can not only go down but also release your heel and climb up the hill. These bindings are designed for ski touring and work with ISO 9523 (Touring) boots.
7. Pin (Pin, Low Tech) – light bindings for comfortable walking during the ski tour. In such models, the boot is connected to the mount due to four pins, or pins. They will work with any boots with tech inserts.