or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ski Length Debate?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am still pretty new to this forum and have enjoyed learning from you all. I love all the ski reviews and like to demo myself. I tend to like very still skis due to the terrian I ski.

I have a question about ski length that I'm hoping you can help me understand. I have gone to several ski company websites, Head, Elan and Volkl to name my favorites, I use their product finders and the skis they recommend for my size is always shorter than the skis I see Bears suggesting for others my size and peoples size in general. Height and sex are the only things ask about physical size, never weight. I'm not in any way suggesting that anyone is wrong with the ski they are suggesting. Only that it almost always longer than what the manufacturers suggest.

Just trying to learn as much as I can. Also would like to hear from instructors on if there is a geneal rule that makes certain ski lengths easier to improve ski skills.

Thanks for your help.
post #2 of 16
First of all, there is no "right" answer, and second, the same answer does not apply to all skis. As a general rule, as ski radius and width goes up, so does the recommended length..at least here. Carving skis with a 13 meter radius are fun skied relatively short, while a powder freestyle ski with a 30 foot radius and especially twin tips should be considerably longer. It really comes down to your intention and comfort zone. There are a lot of young ripping skiers out there who are well under 6-feet tall and a sandwich short of a normal adult weight that think 190+ cm skis are the only way to go. At the same time, there are a bunch of guys over 6-feet and over 200 lbs that think a 165 cm ski is great fun.

Good luck with this question. If you don't narrow down the intention, ability and style, the answers will be all over the place. At least we don't go by the old rule of raising your hand over your head and measuring to the wrist...well , maybe Highway Star.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the response. I understand that there is no absolute. But I have been watching the questions, reviews and recommendations from people and then I take their size abilities and needs I can get from their post and almost 100% of the time everyone suggest longer skis than the manufacture. I wondered if ski manufactures had any liability issues? Maybe the people that come to forums like this are very good skiers(I'm sure they are) and their needs are more demanding than the avg. skier.

I am 5'10 & 1/2" or 178cm tall. I put all kinds of different scenerios(ski fast, very fast, advances, expert, all mtn, powder, trees) in the Head website product finder and not once did ever come up with a ski longer than 177cm. Elan's website with many different scenerios only produced 1 that was over 167cm. Volkl's ski length info had no scenerio with a ski above the top of my forehead.

Thanks for any input.
post #4 of 16
At your height, the "recommended" ski length from most ski manufacturers will be a 170-178 cm ski. Shorter for carving, longer for freeskiing or twin tip. Although some here might say a 190 is appropriate, IMO for you, that would be too much except as a specialty ski for speed or wide open spaces. The effective edge on skis varies with shape quite a bit, so, a 183 Gotama or Bro would probably be a very good ski for you, but then again, so would a 170 Nordica Mach 3. I dunno, make sense?
post #5 of 16
What type of skis are you looking at? Many of the Elan free-ride skis, to pick an example, are recommended to be sized in a range relative to head height (for instance +/- 5cm or 0 to -10cm). These specs are listed on their website directly with the products. Obviously, within those ranges, you'd go longer for off-piste or big mountain skiing, and shorter for groomers.

When I shopped a couple Elans a few years back, I ended up going head height for off-piste and 5cm below head height for on piste, consistent with the ski specs. This worked out well and fits within my general sizing preference. I like nose height for on-piste, and head height or greater for off-piste.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am looking right now for some do everything western ski. I've read all the reviews, looked at the websites, owned and demoed several different ski over the last couple of years. Skis I owned, Volkl karma, Salomon Scrambler, presently skiing Head 1400 for eastern hardpack. Demoed volkl 5 star last year, AC4, Tigershark this year, elan Ripstick and magfire 12(really liked this the magfire, skied it at 176cm came home and looked the info up on the elan website and of course it said I should be on the 167), a bunch of Head narrow waisted skis and a couple others.

I have a brand new pair of mantra 177's that from what I gather most here believe to be to short for me. I have not even mounted them yet, just got a great deal. Thinking about the prophet 90 in a little longer length. Also interested in the Head IM 82 & 88, website suggest 175cm.

Please do not take any of my questions to be directed negative in anyway. My main questions in general is why is there such a difference in most of the skiers recommendations and that of the manufactures.

Skier219, I live in Midlothian, VA about 1 hour from Williamsburg. I always enjoys your post since we are in the same neck of the woods.
post #7 of 16
I didn't see where you mentioned your weight, just your height. Generally, your skis really don't care how tall you are, just how much energy you put into them, which is pretty much a function of your weight and how fast you ski. Smaller guy skiing fast more or less equals a bigger guy skiing slower from the ski's perscective. Height plays into it, but not that much.

From my limited experience the 177 Mantras are a good ski for someone who hits it pretty hard and weighs in the 160-185 lbs. range but, as many here have mentioned, there are lots of variables.

Ski companies would rather have you on a ski that is too short than too long, so their charts tend to reflect that. The Atomic chart said I was between a 165 and 175 in the ski I'm on. I bought 185s and love them, which according to the chart I wouldn't qualify for even if I gained 40 lbs., so I don't think much of the industry charts.

For any reasonably good skier length usually comes down to personal preference, so demoing is the only way to get the answer you are seeking. Different skis and different skiers have different styles and personalities. If you want a good match there is no substitute for demoing.
post #8 of 16
Originally Posted by JBB111 View Post
Skier219, I live in Midlothian, VA about 1 hour from Williamsburg. I always enjoys your post since we are in the same neck of the woods.
Ah, so you must be hating this warm weather too! I think it was 78F here today. Thankfully, it's supposed to snow in the WV mountains this weekend, maybe the conditions will recover a bit. We're headed to Snowshoe. Might even get a powder day on Sunday.

I'd say for your height, you could go with 168-170cm skis for on-piste, and 178-180cm skis for off-piste. Anything in between ought to be good. As mudfoot noted, weight should factor in as well.

I have played with ski length a lot over the last few years, especially after losing some weight. What I found, at 6'1" 195lb, is that 175cm skis are great for on-piste skiing and the typical hardpack we get in the mid-A (I ski at Wintergreen a lot). I would never go shorter than 175cm myself. My mid-fats are in the 177-180cm range, and feel OK but don't have a whole lot of float in powder. My longest skis, Watea 94s, are 186cm. This is about as long as I would want to go, and these skis float well in powder while still being fairly versatile overall. They are my new Western bomber skis.

Maybe you can used this data for guidance -- you should go about 7cm shorter, assuming your weight is reasonable for your height. I think the 177cm Mantras are probably just about right for you.
post #9 of 16
These days, it all depends on your weight most of all, and how fast you ski to an important but lesser degree, and on your height to an even lower degree.

Shorter skis are easier to manage in most conditions, and good skis are no longer vibrationally unstable in shorter lengths. With the wider widths, flotation is not so much of a problem in shorter lengths these days. So manufacturers tend to err on the short side to make you enjoy their skis more than you would if your were "over-skied".

The longer skis will be able to transmit a greater total force to the snow. You will need to do this if you want to make the same turning acceleration but weigh more (because you have more mass). You will also be able to do this if you weigh less and ski faster around the same size of turn (F=ma again). Skiing faster only counts for so much as you still need weight to press the edge down into the snow for it to hold.

On the other hand if you don't weigh more and get a long ski to manage the forces at warp schnell, when you are skiing slowly they won't decamber and they will feel worthless. Ski manufacturers don't want you to have that feeling on their skis.

I think the manufacturer's web site assumes that if you had the skill to manage the longer skis and typically cruised at the speeds that would make them useful, you would not be consulting their web adviser.
post #10 of 16
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
I think the manufacturer's web site assumes that if you had the skill to manage the longer skis and typically cruised at the speeds that would make them useful, you would not be consulting their web adviser.
I think there is a lot of truth to that. It is always good to see what the manufactuers reccomend, but if you have to ask they would rather error directing you to a shorter ski. Experienced skiers tend to develop their own formula for reading between the lines of the manufactuer's "rep rap" and the ski tests. This site is a wonderful way to get honest ski test info, but you still need the experience to apply it to your own situation. After years of skiing you can get pretty good at guessing, but buying a ski you haven't tried is always a bit of a crapshoot. On the other hand, depending on your situation that can be part of the fun.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies.

I was wondering why not one ski maker included weight in their selectors? Why do they all include height?

I know that it's a personal choice so I guess I keep trying things out.
post #12 of 16
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
I think the manufacturer's web site assumes that if you had the skill to manage the longer skis and typically cruised at the speeds that would make them useful, you would not be consulting their web adviser.
I would be inclined to believe that, but at the same time if you go into a shop, they are advising ski sizing based on the guides (or tech manuals) to everyone. IMHO, the ski industry collectively has it's head up it's rear end. They started pushing short skis a long time ago and they just can't break out of the mold.

That's why I don't ask shops for ski advice anymore....it gets annoying to be told that I should be on a 175, when I'm 6'1, 180lb and like to ski extremely fast.

There are plenty of people I know who can actually ski but are not gear heads. Some of them are underskied, some are not. There's really one simple rule - your target all around ski length should be equal to your height, if you are a normal weight. Size up or down considering the following factors:

- Ability
- Terrain
- Snow conditions
- Intended use
- Your weight
- Ski flex pattern
- Ski weight
- Ski width and sidecut
- Mounting point
- Bindings to be used
- Binding plates or lifters

(that's alot of factors!!)

For the original poster, your 177 mantra's are fine, for all around skiing, east and west. If you skied an area out west that had lots of wide open steeps, few tree or bumps, then you would consider the 184, or a different ski entirely. You may want to be particular about what kind of bindings you put of them, it has a MAJOR effect on how the ski skis.
post #13 of 16
Another point to be made regarding bindings - you can typically go to a longer ski if you are using a light weight binding such as a Z12 or true look turntable. Makes the ski easier to throw around than if you had a heavy binding or integrated plate system.
post #14 of 16

Just another thought on ski length.

After skiing with a high end intermediate for a couple of days I came to a realization about ski useage. If you take an expert and an intermediate of the same size and strength and put them on the same ski the high end intermediate may be skiing the same terrain and snow conditions at the same speed as the expert, but he/she will undoubtedly have their weight more in the back seat and more equally distributed between their skis during a turn. The expert will have virtually all their weight on the turning (carving) ski most of the time. In deep snow this varies, but the bottom line is that the intermediate is applying less of their weight to the turning ski and skidding more. The result is that the length ski that feels great to the expert will not work well for the intermediate because they are not weighting it enough to make it carve or decamber correctly, and it will be in the way when they try to skid it.

IMO one of the biggest dangers for good (but not real good) skiers is that they buy high end skis in a length that is too long and then end up continually fighting the skis and never getting to the next level. Get a ski that is easy for you to ski and learn to stand on one at a time with your weight forward. If you can do that comfortably and consistently in all terrain and conditions then ski length becomes a non-issue. Once your turns are all initiated from the tips you will gravitate to longer skis, and then you can work on learning to initate a turn from any part of your ski when needed.
post #15 of 16
A couple of factors that haven't been mentioned but are related are mount point and running length. Even a few cm difference in mount location can drastically alter a ski's feel and performance. Mounting a ski forward tends to make the tips more accessible and engage more quickly, these improve carving, make the ski more balanced and often ski shorter. Mounting a ski back tends to make the tip seem longer, improves float in soft snow, makes some skis more skid able and ski relatively longer.

The running length has to do with how much of the skis edge is in contact with the ground at any time. When you hold a ski base to base measure the length between the contact points, this is the running length. Many skis have long rise (or rockered) tips or huge twin tails, often other features like a swallow tail will also ski shorter. A ski with a low profile tip and flat tail will ski longer.
post #16 of 16
I've often read here that this ski or that ski would be good in the bumps because of the relatively straight sidecut (among other factors). That would be something like a 17-18m TR (or longer). The turn radius usually relates to something like a 175-180 cm length. The 160cm length of the same model usually has a TR of something like 13-14m.

If someone who needs a short length buys a ski because of a glowing review of the same ski in a longer length, can they really expect the ski to behave the same way everywhere? The 175 is said to be a good bump ski because of the 17m TR, but what of the 160 with the 13m TR?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Gear Discussion