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Ski sizes, newbie help..

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
So I'm still pretty new to skiing but I think I've picked it up quickly. I can ski blues and have skied a couple blacks. This is my first season so I've been renting equipment, I'm typically given skis around my height (6'1) but I went to a different mtn yesterday and was given 142's. I thought that was ridiculously short considering my friend who is a foot shorter got the same and a friend who is 5'10 got 150.
I'm not sure if the employee misread the 6'1 on the rental form as 5'1 or what but clearly they were very short. I decided to try them anyway and found that I had far better control than ever before. I was making very tight turns, going faster, and wasn't getting my long skis tangled up anymore. I felt like a pro by the end of the night!

I did a little research and couldn't find any examples of someone skiing on such short skis, again I'm 6'1 and 250 lbs so not small by any means.

Would like to hear some opinions on this!
post #2 of 14

For your weight and height you'd want to be on some skis that are like 177+.  Not sure why rental shops do this to people but I've seen it often and it has been tried on me before.  I assume they do it when the rental volume gets high or the skier doesn't specify ski ability very well or the shop guy is just dumb.

post #3 of 14
As an intermediate skier, frontside skis should stand from your chin to nose, when standing alongside. Skis should not be below shoulders for adults, ever. Skis too short cause development of bad habits, when learning, as it is difficult to pressure the ski adequately along its edge when too short for you.

The guidelines above are just that, guidelines. Skier weight is as important as height. As a newer skier, you need skis that are short enough to maneuver and long enough to provide good feedback. If you find yourself tangled up or difficult to move, they are likely too long. If you find yourself pivoting the skis too much (think skating or hockey stop type moves, they are too short.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input.. I knew they were way too short but I was pleased at how much control I had. I still felt a little unstable and it was nearly impossible to make tight turns with the proper sized skis.
So clearly at least to me as a beginner there's a huge advantage but I must be missing something.

I was making a lot of hockey type movements as you mentioned but that was mainly to control my speed, it felt like I was going a lot faster than I had before. What would the other disadvantages of shorter skis be?

I don't understand the whole science behind it all I just know I felt way more on control and a far better skier than I did on longer skis..
post #5 of 14
The downside to "too short" skis is too much skidding and not enough progressive edge engagement. What does this mean in layman's terms... poor turn shape, likely accompanied by a lot of upper body rotation, and the risk of picking up the skis in a turn. In skiing, we want to control speed through turn shape... turning fast may feel good as a beginner but isn't necessarily a good thing. Too much time in these poor movement patterns results in "fixing" as you progress vs developing cleanly.

This is why I never recommend purchasing skis until you are a level 5-6 skier. Until then, you may progress through ski lengths and types each time you ski.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Makes sense.. So I guess it's easier but that doesn't really mean it's a good thing for form and learning.. Guess I'll stick to the appropriate length!
It was fun while it lasted though! Lol
post #7 of 14

With proper learning (take a lesson), you'll be maximizing that ski length in no time! Getting the basic ski movements down early in the learning progression is best. Investing with lessons here will go a long way in your skiing enjoyment and safety down the road.

post #8 of 14

I am in my third season, also learned as an adult, so I have recently been through a very similar quest. It is always a good idea to invest in equipment for the skill level you are aiming for in short to medium term, rather than the one you are currently at. It is not at all surprising that you felt a lot more in control on shorter skis, and it doesn't necessarily mean that it would do anything bad to you in the long run, but you are probably better served skiing something closer to your ideal length - based on weight more than height, btw. I will echo what some already said - take lessons every chance you get. It's amazing how your understanding and skill level grow with any kind of instruction. 

Also, I am surprised nobody mentioned getting boots first. Honestly, as your level grows, so will your ability to do well on a rather wide range of skis, both model- and length-wise. But the right boot with the right fit is the most important piece of equipment to invest in. Spend the time and the money on getting this right and everything else will follow. I'll ski a crappy pair of rental skis of the wrong length and do OK if I have my boots on - but I might break my neck in the wrong boots, no matter what skis they are on.

And the most important thing: have fun! 


post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.. I'm def planning on getting a couple lessons in on my next trip to learn proper techniques. I think they would help out a lot, just wish we had a longer ski season here in NC! I'll be in Telluride in March though so I better get my lessons in before then!
post #10 of 14
+1 on getting good boots. Even if you stay on rental skis, it is definitely worthwhile to buy a set of boots that fit you well. I wish I would've done this sooner when I got back into skiing a few years ago. On the topic of skis, when you do get to a point where you are considering buying, get into a demo program and try a bunch of different brands/sizes before you commit to buy. Most rental shops and ski areas have a demo program that lets you try out the newer skis before you actually buy them. It is well worth it to spend the money and time to see what works for you.
post #11 of 14



Others have given you some good advice.  Take lessons from a pro who can teach you proper skiing skills and how to efficiently and safely use skis.  In "ancient" times there was something called the GLM method (graduated length method) where you started out on really short skis and progressed to longer ones.  Good idea but it produced a lot of new skiers who didn't know how to put the skis on edge and balance on them.  Of course, this was 50 years ago and skis were much longer than today.  Many skiers who learned on these developed bad habits and wound up later in another ski school as a challenging beginner intermediate skier.  Much easier to teach a new skier proper skills than correct some bad habits developed by taking a short cut.


Another criteria for selecting length is your weight.  You are a big guy so not only length but stiffness of the ski is relevant.  Any good shop can help you with selecting the right skis.  Boots are the most important as was mentioned and your physical size also is relevant in selecting boots.  Make sure you go to a dedicated ski shop to get the right boots and fit.


Remember to take some lessons, practice as much as you can, invest in the right equipment and you will find the joy of skiing as so many of us have.



post #12 of 14

That GLM was a modern newfangled method, certainly within the last 50 years or so.   The old way was to reach up with one arm and select a ski that reached you wrist, or finger tips if you skied fast.


Now a days, rule of thumb, chin to eye level for newbies, eye level for Sl, head +10 cm for GS. 

More precise method, ski comes in size ranges, and select the size proportionally to where your weight fits into the general skiing population.

More precise still, go by experience and adjust to personal taste.

post #13 of 14
post #14 of 14
Some good advice here, to give support to what has been said.
The first thing to buy is comfortable boots, then buy skis when you feel your doing well. The first thing you should get is a pair of water proof paints, you will be on you back side a bit when learning.
Take lessons right away and do it from the ski school. do not put that off or you will learn bad habits. Lessons also help you learn much faster.
I have had people tell me that a friend taught them how to ski only to ski with them and find that their friend was not very good and was passing bad habits on. Now some friends may have the skills to teach the correct methods but most skiers do not.
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