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How short is too short?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

HI, I'm a 6 ft, 195 lb advanced skier, 55yo.  If I use the sizing formula in "Choosing a Ski Length" I come up with 175 - 180 for modern ski's. I want to ski more moguls and trees. I demoed Volkl Kendos in 170 about 2 weeks ago. I thought they would feel short but they skied great in the hard pack conditions. Does this model "ski long" ?  

post #2 of 24

I'm 5'11, 250 lb advanced skier and tried the Kendos in 170 as well.  I thought they skied great as well.  I wanted to try the 177s but ended up buying the 170s today.  Everyone on here seems to recommend longer skis but I really liked the 170s so figured why go longer.  They were really stable at speeds and on ice but were quick in the bumps and trees.  

post #3 of 24

I'm posting this mostly to be contradicted, please feel free. I've spent the last 8 years experimenting with ski length and violating manufacturers recommendations. I'm 5'11'' and 230 and I'm currently on 158s which are definitely not recommended for me, but I love them and they do everything I want them to do (surprisingly well). I've only discovered two problems with shorter skis: 1) if they're too short they can kick out from under you like ice skates; and 2) if they're too soft then the tips will give too much on steeps and throw you forward. The only thing I've found that longer skis buy you is speed (by distributing your weight over a wider area), otherwise they're just harder to turn and catchier (which makes sense because there's more edge to catch). Stability has more to do with the stiffness and construction than with length. I now recommend chin height. 

post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by athe0007 View Post

I'm posting this mostly to be contradicted, please feel free. I've spent the last 8 years experimenting with ski length and violating manufacturers recommendations. I'm 5'11'' and 230 and I'm currently on 158s which are definitely not recommended for me, but I love them and they do everything I want them to do (surprisingly well). I've only discovered two problems with shorter skis: 1) if they're too short they can kick out from under you like ice skates; and 2) if they're too soft then the tips will give too much on steeps and throw you forward. The only thing I've found that longer skis buy you is speed (by distributing your weight over a wider area), otherwise they're just harder to turn and catchier (which makes sense because there's more edge to catch). Stability has more to do with the stiffness and construction than with length. I now recommend chin height. 

 

Yeah...  For anything other than a purely beginner skier, or somebody that skis exclusively hard snow on a Minnesota hill and is only looking for the easiest ski to muscle around, a 158 ski for a 6 foot tall person at 230 lbs is basically entering snowblade territory.

 

Just an FYI in case somebody doing their first round of ski shopping ventures into this thread for advice 6 years from now- Venturing off piste into soft snow with a ski this much shorter than recommended (Recommendations for an advanced skier 6' tall and 200+ lbs is right around 200 CM rather than 160) will make for some brutal double eject endos when you posthole the tip of the ski in the snow. You couldn't get far enough backseat to make the tips float with that combo- spoken like a 6' 1" guy that weighs 220ish. You choice becomes whether you go off on your ass or your face.

post #5 of 24

That's a good point, I was primarily talking about on piste, but you never mentioned width. There are some good shorter fat power skis. It's area not length.  

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hey, thanks for all the discussion. It really helps with my selection process. As my intention is to spend a lot more time in soft snow I'm going to go on the longer side of an otherwise short radius ski. I was wondering why the ski sizing formula added so much length for off piste when to me that meant tight turns in the trees, but soft snow is a major issue and I shouldn't be depending on cranking my ski's around in those conditions.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by athe0007 View Post

That's a good point, I was primarily talking about on piste, but you never mentioned width. There are some good shorter fat power skis. It's area not length.  

 

For float, yes, area (everything else the same) is what determines float.

 

But length really, really matters for being able to soak up hits and adapt to changing terrain under the snow, and going too short on a powder day can really cause for a tough day. You need the length out front to help with your fore-aft balance when something knocks you off of said balance.

 

While on hard snow, you give up edge grip and (a lot) of high speed stability on a short ski, but I can see it as a matter of personal preference to some extent for people wanting to ski really short for the ease factor.  But with skis that much shorter than generally recommended, off piste can be really nasty.

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

But length really, really matters for being able to soak up hits and adapt to changing terrain under the snow, and going too short on a powder day can really cause for a tough day. You need the length out front to help with your fore-aft balance when something knocks you off of said balance.

 

This. ^^^^^ Plus general stability at speed; a very short ski will fold on you if you overload the tip, which is easy to do it's down to your mouth. Spoken as a thin 6 footer who used to bend a 158 rec SL (with metal) into a pretzel on small mountain groomers. You'd likely break it in half at any speed.

 

Length matters. wink.gif

post #9 of 24

I agree with the expert responses here, even though I tend to use skis on the short side. I'd say the guy at 195 lbs could live happily ever after on a 170 all things being equal; I'd say the 250 pounder probably not. I tend to ski around 175, which matches my weight (in pounds). I like this length, I'm always thinking trees when I buy (even though we don't have any here, why do I do that?),  but don't go shorter except in SL skis. 

post #10 of 24

I'm also going to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. Most people are on skis that are far too long for them. You can see it in the throngs of rental-wearing skiers wrenching their whole bodies around to get their giant-length skis to turn. (Sloppy boots also play a big part but that's a whole other kettle of fish.) Most people are not skiing at speeds requiring the extra length, and all that extra contact between ski and snow blocks them from turning and reinforces sloppy whole body turning movements.

 

Moreover, an uber-long ski gives skiers way too much fore-aft forgiveness, stunting their development in the long run. Normally forgiveness is good, but the drawback of foregiveness in the fore-aft plane due to length is that a non-centered stance blocks other skills from working properly, like pivoting or pressure control or edging. So the skier may not fall forward or backward so easily, but he will have more difficulty initiating a turn from his rearward stance, or engaging his edges from his forward stance. And the ski's accommodating all these weird stances due to its length. 

 

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating total craziness, like adults on kids skis or anything. And as already mentioned, technologies like rocker reduce snow contact, so in such a case, slightly longer is appropriate. Similarly, it's reasonable to add a little bit more length for an off-piste ski. That said, I'm 6' and 165lbs, and I have no trouble skiing a 170cm ski in powder. I wouldn't want to go shorter off-piste. On piste, I've had a blast on 155cm slalom skis at more moderate speeds. For really going fast though I do need to be on my 170cm ski. 

 

Anyway, I would recommend people demoing in a size below their recommended length for comparison sake. You may be surprised at the fun (or unpleasant, if you've picked up bad habits) sensations of a shorter ski. In other skis it may just feel terrible. Again, depends on the ski and skier. 

post #11 of 24

Yeah, no one-size-fits-all solution. In addition to the specifics of the ski, consider:
-Conditions where you ski, how tight/open, snow types, bumps, etc.
-Your own style. Short turns vs. long, high speed vs. control
-Whether you regularly ski with a loaded pack (which increases your effective weight)

post #12 of 24

Thanks for the comments Metaphor. That's basically my position (no pun intended) and as I originally tried to point out there are some disadvantages to shortness; there certainly is too short. In general, once you determine how short you can go the more fun you'll have. Having skis that are easier to move around makes it effortless and safer. Sidehill, if you could, I'd suggest you try and demo these or some other shorter off piste. Of course, to each his own. Ski what you like. 

 
http://www.icelanticskis.com/ski_detail.cfm?productID=12

 

post #13 of 24

....at 6'4" and 235# most manufacturing sizing guides put me on their longest ski. Is that the appropriate length given average advanced skill level?

post #14 of 24

Papa, Anything longer than what you need is just going to make you work harder for the time you own them, like riding a heavy bicycle. Manufacturers have their own reasons for wanting you on a longer ski. As I was originally suggesting, try different lenghts. Yesterday, because of misfortune (some jackass stole a pair of my skis out of my locker), I was able to sample the available high end rentals at my hill. I believe that many places will allow you to try different rentals and many high end shops have season long demo programs.

 

Thinking a lot about this I would have to concede that freeriding above treeline probably indicates a longer ski, but most anything would indicates short as workable. If you just think about the arc of the tip of a longer ski, based on statistics alone it increases your probably of hooking something. So are longer skis more stable on bumps?

 

I'm not alone in this perspective. Is 143 too short? wink.gif

 

http://www.icelanticskis.com/ski_detail.cfm?productID=7

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPA View Post

....at 6'4" and 235# most manufacturing sizing guides put me on their longest ski. Is that the appropriate length given average advanced skill level?

 

It is possible for you to go shorter, even down to the 150-165cm slalom ski lengths, and still have fun on hard snow.  

 

One downside to doing this is that, at your size, you will tend to beat the snot camber out of skis that size quite a bit faster than the average 175 lber.   At that stage, on hard snow, they will definitely be lacking a good portion of the 'grip' that pulls you into the turn.   This 'new ski' grip can not be revived by sharpening the edges.

 

For soft snow  or for skis with any sort of real rocker, yeah, go long, for all the reasons above.

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPA View Post

....at 6'4" and 235# most manufacturing sizing guides put me on their longest ski. Is that the appropriate length given average advanced skill level?

 

The appropriate length is the one which allows you to ski your best in the variety of conditions/terrain/required skills you encounter. It's a 'you decide' kinda thing.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

I'm also going to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. Most people are on skis that are far too long for them. You can see it in the throngs of rental-wearing skiers wrenching their whole bodies around to get their giant-length skis to turn. (Sloppy boots also play a big part but that's a whole other kettle of fish.) Most people are not skiing at speeds requiring the extra length, and all that extra contact between ski and snow blocks them from turning and reinforces sloppy whole body turning movements.

 

Moreover, an uber-long ski gives skiers way too much fore-aft forgiveness, stunting their development in the long run. Normally forgiveness is good, but the drawback of foregiveness in the fore-aft plane due to length is that a non-centered stance blocks other skills from working properly, like pivoting or pressure control or edging. So the skier may not fall forward or backward so easily, but he will have more difficulty initiating a turn from his rearward stance, or engaging his edges from his forward stance. And the ski's accommodating all these weird stances due to its length.  

 One of the most common problems I see for some who might think they are 'advanced' on anyhting tilited much, is the lifted inside ski ending in an upper body over-rotation while coming across the fallline and consequent tail washout. One could blame this on ski length or just call it what it is, poor skill and mechanics. Fact is you can;t blame ski length for a lot of the errors we make.

Shorter skis do mask some poor mechanics/skill, but longer skis don;t necessarily 'force' better skill/technique. I'm not advocating any particular sizing 'theory' just that this is, again, personal choice with tradeoffs. And the 'balance' is obviously not only a 'length' thing but clearly a ski model thing...

I do agree that getting to demo across sizes helps you make a decision, but often you still can expect surprises.

I think a lot of beginners would still be wrenching their bodiess around, regardless of ski length, because they don;t yet have the skills/knowledge/confidence.

Of the skiers I notice, I really don;t think there's a great disparaity in sizing appropriately, based on modern equipment and technique.

Poor boot sizing may, however, be the single biggest hurdle/roadblock most will face.

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

I'm also going to go against the grain of conventional wisdom. Most people are on skis that are far too long for them. You can see it in the throngs of rental-wearing skiers wrenching their whole bodies around to get their giant-length skis to turn. (Sloppy boots also play a big part but that's a whole other kettle of fish.) Most people are not skiing at speeds requiring the extra length, and all that extra contact between ski and snow blocks them from turning and reinforces sloppy whole body turning movements.

 

Moreover, an uber-long ski gives skiers way too much fore-aft forgiveness, stunting their development in the long run. Normally forgiveness is good, but the drawback of foregiveness in the fore-aft plane due to length is that a non-centered stance blocks other skills from working properly, like pivoting or pressure control or edging. So the skier may not fall forward or backward so easily, but he will have more difficulty initiating a turn from his rearward stance, or engaging his edges from his forward stance. And the ski's accommodating all these weird stances due to its length. 

 

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating total craziness, like adults on kids skis or anything. And as already mentioned, technologies like rocker reduce snow contact, so in such a case, slightly longer is appropriate. Similarly, it's reasonable to add a little bit more length for an off-piste ski. That said, I'm 6' and 165lbs, and I have no trouble skiing a 170cm ski in powder. I wouldn't want to go shorter off-piste. On piste, I've had a blast on 155cm slalom skis at more moderate speeds. For really going fast though I do need to be on my 170cm ski. 

 

Anyway, I would recommend people demoing in a size below their recommended length for comparison sake. You may be surprised at the fun (or unpleasant, if you've picked up bad habits) sensations of a shorter ski. In other skis it may just feel terrible. Again, depends on the ski and skier. 

 

Quoting your post because I agree with pretty much all of it. I think its a good idea for people demo around with a few different lengths whenever possible, you might be suprised and find you like something longer or shorter than what the manufacturer recommends.

 

Metaphor given your height and weight, a 170 ski is a lot more in the standard ballpark than if you weighed 75 lbs more.

 

athe0007- I also think there is validity to not needing a longer ski on a short vertical midwest hill for an on-piste/hard snow skier. With longer skis come longer sidecuts, And what's the fun of making 2 turns from bullwheel to bullwheel?  But, I think it also needs to be clear that your length ski given your size (which is pretty much my size, I'm not bashing) is quite unconventional and one that carries a significant cost when it comes to off piste.

post #18 of 24

From Footloose Ski Shop:

“Going to the next longer size will add stability and smooth out the ride a little, at the cost of low-speed maneuverability. When you drop a size, the skis feel more responsive, but less stable at high speed. The bottom line is that you should ski the shortest size that you’re comfortable skiing fast on. Anything longer is just unnecessary extra effort, and using skis that are too big can force skiers to develop awkward technique to compensate. The skis should be short enough to turn easily at the speeds you ski at, and long enough to feel stable when you open it up.”

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

athe0007- I also think there is validity to not needing a longer ski on a short vertical midwest hill for an on-piste/hard snow skier. With longer skis come longer sidecuts, And what's the fun of making 2 turns from bullwheel to bullwheel?  But, I think it also needs to be clear that your length ski given your size (which is pretty much my size, I'm not bashing) is quite unconventional and one that carries a significant cost when it comes to off piste.

 

I haven't been arguing that people should use my skis for off piste, I wouldn't. I use a twin-tip with an 85 mm waist. I use them infrequently off piste and as most everyone has mentioned it takes a lot of skill to make them work. I had a pair of Prophet 90s, but I didn't go out West enough to make it worth keeping them; they were more ski than I need for what I do. That said, my 158s do everything I want and do it well. 

The rest of the discussion is whether length is necessary for anybody (other than personal preference), which is interesting to me because I'm interested in skiing "theory." I think that a lot of what is established skiing wisdom is just tradition or opinion. I like how Icelandtic experiments with doing things different. 



 

post #20 of 24

Someone at a shop or maybe here once told me that going up or down one notch in length doesn't really make much difference, you'll get used to the ski and that's that. I think this is true. The important thing is to know your "length range" and stay within it. I figure I could be happy on most skis from 170 to 185, for example. 

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post

From Footloose Ski Shop:

“Going to the next longer size will add stability and smooth out the ride a little, at the cost of low-speed maneuverability. When you drop a size, the skis feel more responsive, but less stable at high speed. The bottom line is that you should ski the shortest size that you’re comfortable skiing fast on. Anything longer is just unnecessary extra effort, and using skis that are too big can force skiers to develop awkward technique to compensate. The skis should be short enough to turn easily at the speeds you ski at, and long enough to feel stable when you open it up.”

This post makes the most sense of any advice I have read. At least for the aveage skier. I am no expert.

 

I am sure that if I asked for ski length advice people here would have me on skis 5-10CM longer that what I use. All well and good, but at speed my brain gets unstable before my skis do. And I value a responsive ski in steeper and/or tight situations.

post #22 of 24

If a 13 year old kid is on longer skis than you, than your skis are too short

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post

 

It is possible for you to go shorter, even down to the 150-165cm slalom ski lengths, and still have fun on hard snow.  

 

One downside to doing this is that, at your size, you will tend to beat the snot camber out of skis that size quite a bit faster than the average 175 lber.   At that stage, on hard snow, they will definitely be lacking a good portion of the 'grip' that pulls you into the turn.   This 'new ski' grip can not be revived by sharpening the edges.

 

For soft snow  or for skis with any sort of real rocker, yeah, go long, for all the reasons above.

 

It's funny that you should mention camber, with the type of freestyle I'm going neutral camber is actually better! So my favorite pair is almost flat now which is better! But they still have a lot of spring to them. I'm been skiing them four years now which is a long time and I bought the next years' same model because I like them so much, but didn't start skiing them much because I hadn't decided the best tune for them and then they were just ripped off this week. I was all panicked because they were suppose to be my goto ski for the next three years and it took me five years and 6 pairs of skis to find them. However, I did dig up a new pair of the same model online. 

As to grip... that's an interesting question maybe you can help me with? My current old pair still carve fine for me and I do a lot of skidding anyway. So here my question: What part of the edge do skis grip on ice? Since these are twin tips I've detuned the tips and tails and it seems that all you need to hold an edge on ice is + or - 6 in. underfoot. I know that racers need the whole edge to be sharp, but is the same true for recreational skiers? I've heard that serious freeskiers want to be sure that they don't catch tips or tails on scary slopes and do detune. Anyone have some good advice?

post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by kano View Post

If a 13 year old kid is on longer skis than you, than your skis are too short

Not that the 13 year old skis are too long?! wink.gif

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