Skis 101: How Do You Find the Right Ski for You?

Kelly B
Posted by Kelly B on September 23, 2013

Kelly's Evolution Skis

A Ski Story - For my 40th birthday,my husband had good intentions to really surprise me with something he knew I would love. He did not ski at the time and he thought he’d married a Downhill racer. I guess I stretched my ski stories just a little bit. So unbeknownst to me, he had a pair of custom Evolution Skis, with a piano keyboard painted on them, made for me. I am 5 feet tall; these beautiful custom skis are 183 cm. We're talking LONG. Yes, I could go really fast on them but it scared me to death. I still have these skis and will never give them up; they are too pretty and a fun reminder of the good heart of the man I married.

When it comes to skis, throughout the years I’ve seen and tried them all; long, short, wide and thin. After skiing on my current skies more years then I want to admit I am ready for a new pair. Doing your homework, asking a lot of questions and trying out demos is a great way to know what works for you. Here are the basics to help you narrow down your choices if you are thinking about investing in a new pair of skis.

Ski Sale

1. Gender makes a difference:

Women’s skis are designed to function more efficiently for a woman than men’s skis are, therefore as a general rule of thumb women should always ski on women’s skis and men should always ski on men’s skis.

2. Type of skis:

 All-Mountain Skis:  All-Mountain skis are designed to perform in all types of snow conditions and at most speeds. Narrower All-Mountain skis are better for groomed runs, while wider styles handle better in powder and cruddy conditions.

  • Powder Skis: Designed wider to float atop powder, these are a popular back-up pair of skis.

  • Twin Tip Skis: Twin tip skis have a curved-up tail along with the standard curved-up tip. Originally, Twin Tips were most popular with the freestyle set, and were used to take off or land jumps backward. Nowadays Twin Tips are also available as All-Mountain skis.

  • Race Skis: Typically stiffer, longer and narrower than the average All Mountain Ski.

3. Skill level: 

A ski built for all skill levels simply does not exist, so it’s vital that you buy a ski matching your ability. Picking a ski that’s either above or below your level can seriously impede your ability to get better. There are six different levels of skiing ability that you may be classified under. The levels are Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert. The key is to pick a range that you are comfortable with, but one that you can also improve with.

4. Turning Radius:

With skis, the turning radius can range from as low as 10m all the way up to 25m or more. This figure is often printed on the skis themselves. If you like quick, snappy turns, look for a turning radius in the 12–16m range. If you prefer making big, wide-open turns, then look for a turning radius of 16–22m.

5. Ski Length:

With the advent of shaped skis, the typical length of skis has changed. Most men’s skis fall in the 165–185cm size range and women’s skis fall into the 140–160cm range.  Although they are shorter, they are just as fast, turn better, and are more stable due to shape, new materials, and better flex patterns. As a general rule, a ski should reach up to the chin for beginners, the nose for intermediates, and the forehead (and above) for advanced skiers. Typically you will want to get as much length as you’re comfortable with for your ability, as it gives you more ski on which to learn to carve.

There are some terrific web sites that will increase your knowledge about skis – A great website that I found is:


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