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Choosing new downhill skis might feel overwhelming when you’re looking at all the different types of skis (especially if you’re a new skier or are shifting from groomers to powder). But finding your perfect pair gets a lot simpler when you know what to look for and how to narrow down your options.

When you’re choosing downhill skis, here are some things to consider:

WHAT SIZE SKIS TO BUY

What size skis do you need? Height, weight and your ability level all determine your ski size. As a general rule, look for a ski length that’s somewhere between your chin and the top of your head when you stand next to the upright skis.

  • You’ll likely want shorter skis if you’re new or returning to skiing, if you want to make quick turns, and if you’re not into high speeds.
  • Longer skis are for generally for skiers that like to go fast, cover varied terrain, and are looking for twin-tips.
  • If you’re skiing powder, you’ll want long, full rocker skis for maximum float.

SKI SIZE CHART

The measurements below are a starting point, not firm rules – it all comes down to personal preference. Heavier and more experienced skiers should size up (longer skis), while lighter skiers should consider sizing down (shorter skis).

Beginner Intermediate Advanced Expert
Groomed runs
(on-piste)
Your height -10cm Your height -7cm Your height -5cm Your height
All-mountain
(on- and off-piste)
Your height -10cm Your height -5cm Your height Your height +5cm
Freeride and powder
(off-piste)
Your height -5cm Your height Your height Your height +5cm

UNDERSTANDING CAMBER, ROCKER, FLEX, AND SIDECUT

Camber and rocker are terms used to describe the way a ski is curved or arched underfoot. It’s easiest to see these shapes when there’s no weight on the ski.

Camber: The tip and tail have contact with the snow when the ski isn’t weighted, and there’s an arch between these points. This helps you hold an edge throughout the arc of your turn, and they generally have softer flex.