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increasing ski length - how much is too much?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
hi, everyone. newbie here to the forum and to skiing (3 days at Killington two weeks ago when the weather in the NE was actually cold! ).

i have some questions which i'm hoping all you ski veterans might be able to help me with. first some background info which may or may not be helpful...

i'm 5'5", weigh 165lbs, late 30's, fairly athletic - long time runner(over 12 yrs), fitness in-line skater (5+ yrs) who making the transition to skis.

as i mentioned above, i've only had three days of skiing under my belt (took morning lessons all three days). i was able to ski several green trails at Killington by day 3 and can ski under control and turn comfortably (from the wedge position) and was starting to get the hang of parallel turning by the end of the third day. for me, it's easier to just 'feel' myself doing parallel turning by instinct (shin pressure, using edges, and weight shift) rather than following a step-by-step 'how-to' from a book,etc and was able to do linked turns on the bunny slopes, but on the green trails after picking up some speed, i don't think my form or confidence is that good yet.

i know the sensible thing for me to do is to continue renting skis and gradually work my way up to longer lengths as my technique and turning gets better. i was using 130cm skis and was wondering if i can go with a 140cm ski the next time around on the slopes.

is a 10cm transition very noticeable, esp for a beginner like myself? i know ski ability is a very subjective question but i was wondering what your observations and experiences were like when you guys went up in ski size? how much is too much of an increase and how big an adjustment was it before you felt comfortable on the longer length?

reason why i'm asking is i've come across some rather attractively priced deals on skis (fischer cx and elan a-series) and was wondering if i should take the plunge and buy a pair of 150-152cm skis. i don't expect to be using them immediately but with practice and diligence, would it be too much of a stretch to think that i could use them after logging in another 4-5 days of slope time?

another reason why i'm contemplating buying a pair is i'm thinking about going with some family members to whistler in Q1-2007 and possibly hitting Utah and Colorado for a trip apiece in 2007 as well in which case, owning my own pair of skis would probably come close to paying for themselves by then, not to mention the 'comfort' factor.

the first thing i did when i came back from Killington was go to a local ski shop and get myself fitted with some proper fitting boots. after listening to some recommendations and trying a couple of different models, i went with a Head Edge boot because i have rather wide, very flat feet, no arch, a high instep and very large calves.

i'll keep reading all the threads on this forum (lotta great stuff, btw!) and would appreciate any ideas, suggestions that you folks might have.

[edit] typos
post #2 of 10
a) height is far less relevant for determining ski length than weight.

b) ski length is by a big margin a matter of taste.

c) ski length cannot be discussed if not the type of ski is set in the first place. a 160cm slalom ski will be plenty, while a 160cm intermediate allmountain ski will feel like a toy after a week.

d) 150cm is not worth any serious consideration.

e) you should be able to handle a 170ish all-mtn ski sooner or later.

f) get very good boots first and continue to rent. if you know what type of ski fits you, look for some bargain. skis are overrated. i would ski almost anything with my boots. boots really make the difference.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

thanks for the reply and your points.

i absolutely agree that a good pair of boot are the most important gear to have. my concern about ski length was more about on what size progressions i could train with in trying to balance the learning curve of using longer skis while not hindering my efforts to learning and mastering proper form and technique.

but while i'm not completely ruling out using a 170cm when my skills reach that level, i don't realistically see myself needing anything more than an all-mtn carver @160cm (111/70/97) for the next 1.5-2 yrs since in all probability, i won't average more than than 10 days on the slopes per season and my normal year-round weight is usually under 70kg (i'm carrying some extra weight into this winter due to a nagging ankle injury and heel pain which has severely cut into my cardio workouts)

i see a purchase of the 160cm as a decent size ski which should meet my medium-term needs and also a way to maximize my ski dollar$ rather than 'throwing' my money away on rentals each trip and having nothing to show for it after a year or two.

is my reasoning sound or flawed?
post #4 of 10
Go with a 160cm. Sure it might be a little short in the long run, but not drasitically so. I've demoed some 160 skis and though 170 would have been better, 160 was livable. It's been too long since I started, but I would get something like an RX6. Don't buy one that's too low on the scale or it will hold you back. Buying one that's too advanced will punish you as well, or so I hear.
post #5 of 10
you will not notice the effects of the longer length until you are skiing steeper and faster and making tighter turns. Until then a 150 should not be noticably different from a 160. In any case, I would not buy until you are either skiing on a fairly regular basis or advanced enough to notice the difference. But get boots soon. badly fitting rental boots can lead to so many problems that it's not worth the risk. Decent well fitting boots will not have to be upgraded for some time to come.
post #6 of 10
Hmmm... Did you have your Heads aligned when you bought them? If not, please make sure you do that. Now more than ever skiing is about balance, and if you're not in balance when you are in neutral on your skis, you're battle will be more with your equipment than your skills!

That said, take advantage of your new boots and your ability to try different skis in different lengths. See which ones you like and which ones aren't to your liking. You'll be able to tell that they are different, even if you can't really say why. Then, come back here and let's talk about what you've discovered.

160 is decidedly not too short for you in an all-mountain ski, depending on the ski itself. However, I would prefer to see you spend a bit more time trying different skis before you decide to purchase.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
ssh, i was concerned about needing a canting adjustment but the fitter said my stance looked pretty even. he advised me to ski in them and bring the boots back to the shop if i needed any further adjustment.

in any event, even without having put any ski time in these boots, they're already a huge improvement over the Dalbello's that the Killington rental shop was giving out to the students. the Dalbello's were pinching my feet in the midfoot so unmercifully that by the end of day 1, i was already beginning to develop matching blisters on both feet. it's a small wonder that i was able to even ski half-credibly on the remaining days.

aschick & Ghost...appreciate your comments as well. every little bit helps when you're the new kid on the block.
post #8 of 10
They will certainly be an improvement, of that there is no doubt. However, that's not necessarily saying a lot!

What did the fitter do to check your alignment? Did he measure your feet outside the boots (specifically, the amount your ankle was able to dorsiflex--bringing the toes towards the leg)? Did you have a footbed made? How will you know if they need additional adjustment?
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
he did some measurements of my feet outside the boot...nothing specifically on flexing movement, etc. no custom footbed but he did add a low heel lift to both.

i guess i'll see how these boots feel after a session or two and take it from there...
post #10 of 10
Way back when I was learning to ski as a teen, I made a couple jumps in ski size. One particular jump, from 180cm to 195cm (keep in mind this was the late 1980s when we skied long straight skis) caused me to cross my tips a lot. I finally got used to it, but it was rough for a while. In hindsight, I'd say it was skiing in a wedge that caused difficulties with ski length (it's a geometric reality). Nowadays, I have no problem adjusting to length (even when I bust out my long 210cm vintage skis for old time's sake).

If you're still in the wedge stage, I see no reason to go up in length right away -- it will only make life harder. As you progress out of the wedge stage, length will be easier to accomodate. So I might wait until you are zipping pseudo-parallel turns fairly well and frequently before thinking about moving up in size and ski quality.

When picking out a ski, I would do it based on the kind of skiing and the kind of conditions you anticipate will cover 80% of your time on the hill now and in the near future. I honestly feel like you can learn and fumble around on almost any ski, but when you're better you will enjoy having picked the right ski. So don't be afraid to reach a little and upgrade to a better ski. That said, stay away from high-end carver speed-machine skis as these can bite you in the butt if you're not careful. This is the only type of ski that almost always falls into the expert-only category.

Have fun!
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › increasing ski length - how much is too much?