Wath me get a lot of flak over this. About 1/2 will agree and 1/2 will not. I still suggest the proper length for your ski should be right around your hair line. I have the Mod X and the Volkl F4. My mods are 174's and come just barely above my head. My Volkls are 168 and come right to my hair line. I am only 5'4"
I ski them both just fine. At higher speeds I might notice a bit more stability in the Mods. The Volkls seem to turn tighter with a bit less effort.
I love 'em both.
Right around this length you are retaining the high speed stability of a straight ski at proper length for you yet getting the advantage of the lesser swing weight, 66% less energy, quicker floatation, and easier turning of the shaped ski. Therefore it follows you are getting the best of both worlds.
At this point it is up to you, whether you want more of a high speed carve ski or tighter turning radius. Hell's bells... you can ski them waist length in you want. It's what you want to do with them that's important.
Keep in mind the snow contact point of the edges. There is quite a bit of tip that doesn't touch the snow. There is some length at the tail also. What is left is the true edge length of the ski. You want as much edge length you can get away with to hold a good edge in a good hard turn. True- other factors are involved such as ski stiffness/flexability, proper ski position/technique, snow conditions.
I learned on skis that came to the farthest away joint of my middle finger, stretched over my head on solid wood skiis and leather boots, bear claw bindings, and bamboo poles; I learned in two weekends. What's the fuss over needing a ski at nose level?
Often choosing a too short ski is compensation for what is not doing in his/her skiing style/technique. From these people you hear, "I don't like to go very fast... It's too hard to turn a longer ski. I can't seem to get past intermediate level. I haven't had lessons for a long time." So many of these people, bless their hearts, are constantly in the back seat... hands down to the sides, shins not against the tongue of the boot, back bone not curved, upper body swing motion to initiate a turn, etc. or any various combinations of these. So they compensate by going to a shorter ski.
On the other hand, do ski blades and have a blast! In short (pun intended, it's what you want out of your skis that truly counts. Bob