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Choosing A Ski Length

  1. Starting length size: up to 100lb = 140cm; 101-115lb = 145cm; 116-130lb = 150cm; 131-150lb = 155cm; 151-175lb = 160cm; 176-200lb = 165cm; 201 and up = 170cm.
  2. Add 0cm if you are a beginner; 5cm intermediate; 10cm advanced/expert.
  3. Add 0cm if you ski mostly groomed or hard snow; 5cm off-piste or soft snow.
  4. Add 2cm if you ski slalom race, freestyle, or park tricks; 10cm all-mountain, GS race, freeride, or powder.

The result after step #4 is a good starting length. Try a couple of pairs with different lengths. Ski them on the terrain(s) and the skiing style(s) you intend to. The one you feel comfy most is the right size!

Keep in mind that certain skis are designed to be even shorter so you need to read the manufacturer's specs (or listen to the gear talk here). Example: Rossignol T-Power Viper X is designed to be a fast compact ski whose ideal length is about 8cm shorter than other shaped skis. Expect more and more manufacturers to follow this trend.

Good luck and happy turns!

Comments (16)

Question here: I'm 5'9 180lbs. I prefer powder and off piste in and out of trees. I bought the Line Sir Francis Bacons 2012 in a 184 length but haven't mounted them yet because I'm thinking of switching to the 178's.
The 184's look really long and I'm looking for something that will be quick in the powder and trees. Any suggestions?
Also how should I mount these? I don't ride switch but I would love to learn.
I hope you got your answer by now...if not, let me give you my $0.02...
I'm, 6'4" and 210 lbs. I ski 184 Atomics...usually Savage Ti, but also have the original Crimsons I like to get back on. Neither is a great tree ski. If I want trees, I have some old Metron M9s in 178. You are much shorter and lighter than I am. You should be on a 178 or less to ski trees, but still need to consider the turn radius.
When you're talking height, are you talking in bare feet or with ski boots on?
Please consider the idea that your skis don't know how tall you are; but they know how much you weigh and how well you control and work the entire length of the ski. Also "ROCKER" has significant influence when it comes to "pivot" "swingweight" and the skis ability to master crud, powder and less than perfect snow. Demoing does not always yield ideal results. Buy your skis from a reputable shop that will honor a performance guarantee and take the skis back if you hate them (allowing you to choose a different ski, not get your money back, lets be serious) BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR ABILITY, and where you actually ski. Make sure you buy a boot that you can flex and achieve a good range of motion so you can control your skis without endangering your knees so you can ski all day and really enjoy your new boards. Even the best ski racers have coaches and people watching/helping them achieve excellence, so don't be too proud to take a private "session" with a professional instructor once in a while. You might actually become the expert that so many skiers THINK they are. :-}
How do you choose a junior ski size?
For KIDS . . Beginners, never above shoulder height. The tips cross easily if the skis are longer, impacting the fun and confidence levels of the child. Once the kids are out of the wedge "no more pizza" you can go to the chin and gradually size up to "nose high." Safety and fun are paramount so a little shorter is always the safer way to go. Some parents think their kids are experts simply because they ski expert runs. (Sleeping in the library does NOT mean you are a book) Longer skis put more strain (torque) on joints and bones causing needless injury. Finally; Junior racers have the benefit of the manufacturer's suggested lengths on their Race Brochures,
If you already have a ski that you feel is the right length for you, consider where in range of sizes for that model your ski fits. When you look at other skis start with lengths in the same place in the range. In other words if you're favorite ski is the longest offered for that model, you'll likely be happy with the longest ski of other models.
While weight and height do matter, ability matters a lot more. And weight has more to do with how stiff a ski you need than with how long.
This chart seems a very reasonable guide: 185 lbs, expert, off-piste, all mountain skier (165+10+5+10=190cm).
5'8" 190.  Advanced but 56 yo.  Some off piste, some bumps.  Blizzard Magnum 8.5 ti.  174 cm or 181 cm?
This calculation is out of date as now there's are so many models of skis designed for lighter/heavier skiers rather than using length to account for weight.
If you do not know what size you like to ski, 
Go by the rental shop calculation of:
chin length for beginner up to your height for expert/advanced.  Add extra if it's got significant rocker or is a powder ski.  Subtract if you're doing slalom or very tight turns (but you'd know this already).
Then choose the model of the ski for your weight or style of skiing you like to do, but you should not be varying length so much based on weight.

If you're shape is "round" (i.e.  you're a heavy guy for your height), they'll have a model of ski usually with metal or extra width meant for you.  Choose that one.  
If you're a beanpole and have a lower BMI for your particular height, choose the non-metal skis designed for the lighter skier.
I'm 5'11", 200 lb.  Expert skier. I like bumps, steeps, and trees, but also like to make turns on groomers.  I usually ski Tahoe.  I'm looking at the Nordica Steadfast or the Solomon Sentinal (skis from prior years).  I was looking at the ~178s but the calc above suggests something more like 190.  Am wondering how much people would suggest the 177 vs. 184 vs. 191 for the Sentinals or 178 vs. 186 for the Steadfasts. Thx.  
Looking for some advice on ski length and binding choice.

First - Skis.  Torn between the Nordica NRGY 100 in either 169cm or 177cm.
My current skis are old (2003) Volkl 724 AX3 skis in the 170cm length (108/70/96).

I've demoed the NRGy 100 in a 169

I am 5'7" and 153 lbs (age 43)
Have opportunity to purchase almost new 177s with either Marker Jester Pro or Marker Griffon bindings.


1.  Is the 177 too long for my height ?
(I am relatively aggressive, but not expert skier - will go on any trail, or off, but prefer fast groomers and open trees).   I ski Steamboat and Mont Tremblant yearly as well as occasional southern Vermont trips.

2.  My current skis/ bindings are set at an 8 DIN.  That is the low end of he Jester Pro.  Is that a problem to be at the bottom end of the binding DIN range ?  

3.  Knowing there won't always be powder (especially in VT and East Coast), is a narrower ski (like the K2 Amp Rictor 90xti or Head venturi 95) a better choice ?
AND WHAT ABOUT THE NEW NORDICA ENFORCER ?!!   That throws a wrench in the works....
Looking at the Rossignol Soul 7 HD and cant decide on the 172 or 180. I am 5'6, 175 lbs. According to your list up top I should get the 172's (all- mountain, freeride and powder ) but everything I read on these skis say to go longer. Thoughts??
Looking at the Rossignol Soul 7 HD and cant decide on the 172 or 180. I am 5'6, 175 lbs. According to your list up top I should get the 172's (all- mountain, freeride and powder ) but everything I read on these skis say to go longer. Thoughts??
So much has changed. In Colorado, for an "Expert, All-Mountain Front" category of ski, 100 or so in the waist is the new normal, and for powder we go wider. Generous rocker is well tolerated here. In New England a 75-80 waist ski is more often at home, with less rocker, but even on hard snow, folks are discovering wider is often better.  Wider skis can be skied shorter, and so our average ski length is shrinking. 
But the right length for any skier is far more complex than just  height, weight, ability, and terrain choices.  The amount of rocker and ski width determine how long and how 'big' a ski feels.   An 150 lb expert male skier in Colorado may find himself comfortable on a 165cm fully cambered carver on corduroy, but want a 175cm wide ski for the deep. 
In general, over the 20 years that skis have gotten wider, every step up in width has made the mountain larger, more accessible.  So ask lots of questions, demo if you can, and know that there is no magic formula for picking ski length from a chart.
EpicSki › First Run Articles › Choosing A Ski Length