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Width and skier weight

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dumb question: can you get away with narrower skis (and so retaining better frontside performance) if you are a lightweight or should you just ski the same width in a shorter length?
post #2 of 11
post #3 of 11
This classic might be useful


The following is copied over (with slight modifications) from , provided by PhysicsMan:

"One should be very careful about extrapolating from one's own experience using normal width skis in soft snow when making ski recommendations for people of substantially different weights. Here's why:

Lets assume that there is some validity to the oft-heard claim that mid-80's skis are the best thing since sliced bread for average weight guys (say, 175 lbs) in soft snow. Then, one can estimate the width of a ski that would give the same amount of float to a skier of a different weight. Here's a table that does this:


Thus, if you are a little slip of a 120 lb woman, you will have the exact same float on a 58 mm wide pair of skinny boards that Mr. Average Guy (at 175 lbs.) has on his 85 mm "lite-fat" skis.

Basically, on any sub-70 mm ski currently being sold (because they are all greater than 60 mm), Ms. 120 Pounder will sink in less than Mr. Average Guy on his Rex's, so its to be expected that a light weight person might not fully appreciate the need for fatties (at least from direct personal experience).

At the other end of the spectrum, at 210 lbs, I will need to be on 100 - 105 mm boards to achieve the same float as Mr. Average Guy on his sticks.

Bottom line - guys, especially big guys, have a valid point in wanting to be on wide skis in soft snow. And, to head off any comments, yes, we have all skied powder in 207 cm long, 64 mm straight sticks from the past, so fatties are not absolutely required, but sure are fun and make marginal snow much easier.

This issue has been discussed *many* times before on Epic, for example, most recently:


Tom / PM

The general opinion is that a lighter skier does not need a wider ski. How light is user?

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by barrettscv
The general opinion is that a lighter skier does not need a wider ski. How light is user?
Thanks. Sorry if this is dragging up a much debated issue! I did try a search.

I'm 5'10" and 145lbs and wondering if I really need 90-100mm skis for out west. Even my 65mm SL skis seem to float fairly well but just the tip and tail...
post #5 of 11
My 130 lbs daughter can ski knee deep powder on her 160cm RX9 (109-69-96) better than I can ski powder on a midfat.

You might consider a 167cm Watea 84, Probably more float than me on a Watea 101 (but I'm at the other end of the scale ).

post #6 of 11

"5'10" and 145lbs and wondering if I really need 90-100mm skis for out west", - let me give you my perspective...

I am 130lbs, live in Colorado and have been skiing 90mm waisted powder skis for years (currently K2 AK Launchers and before that Chubbs). They are by no means too wide for what I use them for - untracked tree skiing, sometimes in very deep snow. : They are also my preferred ski for for bumps, etc. when there is about 8" or more of fresh snow over a soft base (if there's hardpack underneath, my narrower skis work much better). However, I would not consider them a one-ski quiver (they handle packed snow marginally).

And I intend to go wider. Now that my K2's are worn out I will be moving up to something closer to the 100mm range - I find that the K2's sink into deep snow quite far (we're talking light Colorado powder) and get rattled by the heavier crud underneath. OTOH the really wide skis that I've tried (110mm+) floated so much that I missed the sensation of being in the snow.

Sure I can ski powder in narrower skis, but it takes more work, is less fun, and increases the risk of injury. So, from my perspective lightweights can benefit from wide skis too (in a shorter length of course - my K2's are 174cm). However, your "need" for wider skis depends on whether you will be truly using them for what they are meant - deep fresh snow. For multi-condition purposes (especially if you ski a lot of groomers or packed bumps), some sort of midfat ski would be way better.

BTW - The 167cm Watea 84's recommended by WILDCAT are now my everyday ski. They handle powder quite well (I had them in a foot of fresh recently), though they also handle other conditions much better than my K2's. They might be a great one-ski quiver for a lighweight, though given what I prefer to ski when the conditions are right a set of wide powder boards are just too much fun to leave them for only the big boys!:
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that ski-ra. Ideally I'm looking for a 2 ski quiver since that is most I can get away with on airlines and want to haul around going abroad. 3 would be nice but just isn't practical.

One pair will be my atomic sl12s since I love slalom skis (especially these!). Even in crud or new snow I find them tolerable as long as it isn't deep and I can carve the base. The second pair need to be able to handle most conditions off piste OK, marked runs when it dumps and when they subsequently get cut up/tracked out.

Perhaps a slalom race ski isn't the best choice for a 2 ski quiver but they are amazing to ski groomers on
post #8 of 11
I have yet to try the new fat skis, but my old 190 cm Volants (2002) worked just fine in a 40 cm dump (a lot for these parts) of wet snow for my 165 lbs. You can save a lot of money getting some old skis off e-bay. I think the new fatness trend has taken off because it will allow you to get a much shorter ski that doesn't require quite as much skill. I don't know if you can get some for cheap yet though.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by narc View Post
Thanks for that ski-ra. Ideally I'm looking for a 2 ski quiver.... Perhaps a slalom race ski isn't the best choice for a 2 ski quiver but they are amazing to ski groomers on
I would agree with your last statement (even if you are from back east). During the recent demo when I chose my Watea 84's I found that all of the current mid-80mm waisted ski's I tried had at least very good edge grip (some of the beefier skis, like the Nordica Afterburners were amazing). You will give up very little edge grip by stepping up to one of these, but will gain so much capability in most other conditions except, IMO, real deep snow, which is where I think some type of even wider Powder skis would make a great second ski (if you haven't skied a 90mm+ waisted ski in fairly deep snow you are missing something amazing .

Depending on your skiing technique and abilities you may find that some of the harder snow-biased midfats may provide you with essentially as good a edge grip as your slalom skis. My Elan M666's (76mm, but no longer made) are the best hard pack and bump ski I have ever owned (though, while other skiers have not found this to be the case, I am not happy with its crud and fresh snow capabilities - hence the Wateas). In addition to the Nordica's mentioned above, the Dynastar 8000's that I tried provide a much better hard/soft snow balanace than my Elans. I've also read amazing things on this website about the Head im78's, which sound like they supposedly do quite well in fresh snow too. The Watea 84's however, are more biased towards soft snow, which is what I wanted since I ski only in Colorado (and now have my Elan's has my hard snow skis). One warning - most of these harder snow biased mid-fats are less-friendly to lightweights due to their stiffer flex (the 170cm Nordica AB's were too much ski for me).

OTOH if you like your slalom skis (you ski alot of ice/gates/groomers), and want to keep them, then moving up to a slightly wider mid-fat might be a better approach than buying both a mid-fat and powder ski. Even though I haven't tried them, some of these skis, like the Head im88, Dynastar Mythic Riders, Watea 94's should provide even better crud and fresh snow capabilities and, due to their added stiffnes and torsional ridigity, seem to also provide amazing edge grip too. One warning - due to their extra stiffness these types of skis are probably less friendly to lightweights (that's why one reason I didn't choose to take this approach), so this may not be the better approach no matter what you think of your slalom skis.

For me though, the days of wanting a slalom-type ski are long over.
post #10 of 11
You can get away with skinny skis even if you're a huge guy, but its not about what you can get away with, its about what works best.

If the snow is soft fatter skis are going to work better provided you know how to ski.
post #11 of 11
I could see using a SL ski & a fat ski as a two ski quiver if I was at the lighter end of the scale. Many of the 95mm to 110mm wide skis are great on 70% groomed & firm days.

If you can demo these try the K2 Coomba, this is the same ski as the Phat luv in the shorter sizes. Dims are 135-102-121mm. This is my 165 Lbs sons ski in a 174cm, consider the 167cm size.

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