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what does length of ski affect?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
well I just started skiing alot this year and am really getting into it. I've been renting the same skis the past couple times. 160cm Ros cut skis.. dunno the exact model.

i feel i'm just on the verge of an intermediate skier, i can do greens and blues very comfortably and blacks okay (improving). I'm 170-180lb (varies in the winter) and am about 5'8".

my question was what are the effects of going to a longer ski.. say 170?
I will look to purchasing skis next season after I improve some more this season but might get boots this season cuz rentals really arent comfy...
post #2 of 16
Welcome Smokey,

What a great question...

The length of the ski changes the way the ski interacts with you and the snow.
Assuming all the same ski model, quality of tune, your weight doesn't change... the only difference is the length. A shorter ski will be easier to turn (takes less input from the skier) The disadvantage is that as you go faster, the ski is a little more unstable or harder to control. A longer ski will be harder to turn (takes more input from the skier) but will be more stable at higher speeds.

This being said, the same mfg ski in a different model will feel totally different depending on it's design, shape and length.

You have the right idea however, Get the boots first. Do a search on epicski for some suggestions on your boot search. The boot is your most critical interface with the snow. You don't need the top of the line but don't skimp either. Also make sure you spend some time with a good fitter and make sure you don't buy a boot that is too big. Try them all on. Some boots fit certain feet better than others. Also don't be alarmed if someone tells you that "feeling the toe hit the front of the boot is ok" If you are not scrunched into the front of the boot and the toes are just touching the front you are probably ok. When you are skiing your foot should be pulled back in the boot and heel pocket and the toes are probably going to be ok. If you purchase a boot that is too loose it is real hard to fix the fit. (hint: that device they use to measure (like the shoe store) is usually almost 1 size too big)
If you get a good boot fitter, they will pull the liner out and have you put your foot in the boot with no liner. then have you move your foot up so a toe is touching the front of the boot and look at the space in the back. According to some of the best fitters, and the Masterfit University this is the best way to size a boot. It's much eaiser to stretch a boot than fill extra volume.

Good luck and again welcome to Epicski and the wonder of skiing..
post #3 of 16
Within a single model of ski, going to a longer length usually does the following:

a) Increases the total weight of the ski - This makes it more laborious to carry them, shuffle around on them, they pull down on your legs more on lifts, etc. If you are into pre-jumping turns, it makes it harder to lift them off the snow, etc. etc.

b) Increases the "swing-weight" (aka polar moment of inertia) of the ski - This means that there is more material that you have to swing around, and this material is further from the pivot point (the center of your foot). In swivel / pivoting moves, (eg, on top of moguls), this makes the skis much more difficult to swing around to the desired direction using twisting action of your feet.

c) Increases the sidecut radius - Most model lines of skis have a specified tip, waist, and tail width with a nearly circular curve connecting these along the edge of the ski. Make the ski longer and the radius of this circle increases even if the sidecut (width) dimensions are unchanged. A larger sidecut radius means that if everything else is equal, the minimum radius of turn you can carve without skidding will be larger.

d) Often (tho not always) increases the longitudinal stiffness of the ski, particularly in the critical region underfoot. This is something that the manufacturers can decide to do or not do. Typically, they do it because larger (heavier, taller) as well as more experienced people buy longer skis. Generally, the stiffer a ski is, the harder it will be to carve into turns, especially in soft snow and/or at low speeds.

e) Increases the ability of the ski to float in soft snow - More surface area equals less pressure (pounds per square inch) compressing the snow. This is obviously useful in powder, however, you can also increase the ski width and get the same effect. With either, you stay more on top of powder and so (all else being equal) you go faster and turns are easier if you have more surface area under you.

f) Increases the "smoothness of the ride" - Long skis tend to average out terrain irregularities better in high speed long radius turns.

g) Tend to vibrate at lower frequencies in racing speeds on rutted terrain. This means that they are in contact with the snow less, hence less control (again, only if all else is equal such as internal vibration damping, etc.)

I'm sure there are lots of other things, but I can't think of any more right now.

Hope this helped.

Tom / PM
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
I think i'll be heading to the slopes tomorrow and might try some 170s. Just had some fresh snow in the twin cities last night so hopefully it should be good tomorrow.

My problem with moving to a longer ski is that my technique isnt great to start off with, I'm not really confident in my turning skills. After reading your comments i feel that moving to a longer ski may be counter-productive? as I would like to improve my turning skills. would moving up 10cm make alot of difference in the feel of the skis with my height and weight?

thanks for all the input so far. i've been browsing at the boots around town at the local stores and trying to budget them in for this season...

post #5 of 16
These days, lots of instructors and other experts are skiing on 160's and 170's. Give the 170's a try. If you like them, fine, but don't worry about getting to longer and longer lengths as some measure of your advancement in skiing. To answer your question, my guess is that going from 160 to 170 will probably be quite noticeable (ie, more work).

The reason is that most people at your level still try to muscle (twist) their skis around. When you are doing that, length makes a big difference in the ease of turning. However, as you get more advanced, and let the snow itself help turn your skis for you, you will probably feel much less difference in going to a 10 cm longer ski.

I spent all of yesterday skiing around the local mountain on relatively soft 173's (k2 Enemies) even tho I could have picked any of several pairs of longer stiffer skis that I have. I was going at very decent recreational speeds (but wasn't racing) & I wasn't in deep powder, so I had a blast on the 173's. Its simply astonishing to older skiers like myself how well the shorter skis are working these days. Don't be misled into thinking that longer equals better. These days, longer usually only means "more specialized".

Similarly, don't fall get into the trap of spending lots of money on "expert /stiff" skis either. No one needs them unless they are going very fast and pulling lots of G's, and/or are unusually heavy. It will be more difficult to learn carving on such skis, and they may actually retard your progress.

dchan's advice about spending money on good boots and alignment is wise. At minimum, have a real bootfitter (ie, not a salesman), just do a quick check to make sure that you have no obvious canting problems, and if you do, have him work on them.

Final bit of advice: Have LOTSA fun!

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 15, 2002 12:01 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #6 of 16
This may sound sarcastic, however, it merits being said. You are about to make a substantial investment. Invest in a few lessons. Find a PSIA certified instructor who can guide your skiing progression and help you purchase equipment.

I meet a great many of my clients at a local shop and help them find the right equipment. It's a "value add" for my business.
post #7 of 16

Give us a hint!

Where are you located and where do you ski? All of the info given so far is good but the type of snow and terrain makes a little bit of difference. Also check out AC's bootfitter list. If none of the fitters are in your area maybe we can help you find one.
post #8 of 16
Dchan, I'm guessing that Smokey is from my neck of the woods since he mentioned the Twin Cites.

Smokey, I would second PM's comments about ski length. Although what's been said here about longer ski lengths is correct, in the last two years, ski manufacturers have done a remarkable job of making shorter skis ski longer than they measure. PM's comment on sidecut also explains why everyone harps about ski length so much. If the tips, waist and tail dimensions remain constant, then as you change length, you change the turning radius of the ski. So, some skis ski very differently when you change from a 178 to a 184 or a 188. I believe that Atomic goes the other route and actually changes the widths of their skis as the length changes in order to keep the radius constant across the different lengths.

Finally, ain't it grand to have some snow!?!
post #9 of 16
I'm a begginer (duh!) skiing Volkl Carvers at (gulp) 150 on a season lease. My ski instructor complimented my on my choice of ski and length and commented that in his opinion, 150 was a great length for most recreactional skiers. My shop recommended the length based on my skill level (non-existent) and they've been a blast so far! Get some good instruction and don't be in a hurry to buy just yet.
post #10 of 16
I thought that the longer the ski, the more manly and rugged the skier... what the...???

Seriously, Tom (PhysicsMan) covered it pretty thoroughly.
post #11 of 16
Great ski great choice and yes probably a good length. Good job on the season lease too. Gives you a chance to ski on good equipment and not be locked into that specific ski.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
PM.. I do find myself wanting to "twist" my leg to turn the ski when I'm moving very slowly.. ie on the bunny hill. but at speed I have no problem initiating turns. Last week they had some cones laid out on the bunny hill and I just practiced my turns around them; it took some time and effort for me to run the course but I really enjoyed it. If the cones are laid out again tomorrow I may just stick with the 160s and practice some more.

I am having alot of fun skiing this season. Last year i skied all of 2 times during the whole season. this year I'm practically going every week since dec, even more sometimes. we've had a lack of snow up here and still i've been hittin the slopes. its like half snow half grass on some of the runs.. hehe

thanks again for the help guys..

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
just got back today.

i'm from the twin cities, MN.. i usually ski at afton alps. its nothing special but it works. i just got home from there today.. what great fun.. it was all fresh snow. i went with 160s again and practicied alot on carving back n fourth down the slopes. i got through the day okay, with only a couple falls due to me not paying attention. made it through almost everything except for a black which was gettin setup for racing and the terrain park.

i think i really really have to get some boots because those rental boots are not cutting it. the biggest problem are the pressure points. next is the poor fit and the fact the my heal can pull up part way out of the boot. with a better boot i think i'll have better control. it just feels sloppy right now.
post #14 of 16

get em

go from there
post #15 of 16
Longer skis will make your : : 's produce more testosterone. This will make you extremely aggresive and make you want to ski faster, thereby necessitating even longer skis. At the same time the increase in testosterone will make you prone to boasting. You will need still longer skis to back it up.
Shorter skis, on the other hand, will make your 's shrivel into a couple of worthless raisins. You will have a strange urge to discuss window treatments.

The choice is yours.
post #16 of 16
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by milesb:
Longer skis will make your : : 's produce more testosterone. ...
Shorter skis, on the other hand, will make your 's shrivel into a couple of worthless raisins.
The choice is yours.

I ski shorter skis (181), with a wider stance because I have to keep my legs apart. Boys with long skis tend to ski with their legs together. I just can't do that, cause there's too much going on down there.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 16, 2002 03:38 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Wear the fox hat ? ]</font>
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