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Beginner Ski Length Advice

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 


I'm a relative beginner and just after some advice on purchasing my first brand new pair of  skis (previously hired, then used a mate's old ones).

By beginner I mean I've only had a few weekends in Scotland this year and a few the year  before, but I'm now quite comfortable - can control my speed, pretty comfortable with my turns & confident enough to go quite fast at times.  I'm fine on runs claimed to be intermediate and am pushing towards the more advanced ones.

I'm about 5'9 or 10 and somewhere around 70-75kg, and looking at some Rossignol Alias which are only available in 156 or 166.  I'd have thought 156 too small but I like shorter skis for their control and maneuverability so maybe 166 is too big?  The skis I was using at the end of last year were cheapish 163s, they were OK but I wasn't as comfortable as with the 160s or less I'd previously hired.  Although we sometimes go fairly fast I'm more interested in maneuverability whatever the conditions.

The Rossignol Alias have this "Autoturn technology" which looks very good - the claim is they're firm in the middle but flex at the ends making them easier to turn but still being stable at speed.  If they're significantly easier to turn than your average 166s I might be OK.

Does anyone have any experience whether this autoturn thing actually works or would I be safer going for a shorter ski?  (Or any suggestions on size in general?)



post #2 of 7

Use this guide to figure out what ski length you should go with http://www.frostyrider.com/tips/size-guide-skis.htm


My advice is to choose ski's just slightly longer(1-2cm additional) than the ski's recommended for your CURRENT ski level.  This will help in your advancement as the longer ski's will be harder to control but give you something to work towards.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Yeah I checked that link out thanks, it's good.  Says 164/165 (I'm strictly 5'9" and a half I think) but it depends on the definition of "intermediate" ability and "all-mountain" terrain.


I've been on some "intermediate" runs & lifts that have been a walk in the park, then others supposedly the same grade that have scared the life outta me!  And just because I can make it from the top to the bottom of a run without falling or crashing into anyone that doesn't necessarily mean I'm an accomplished intermediate, does it?  My technique could still be quite poor but being fairly athletic I manage to overcompensate with clumsy heavy movements.


Not sure what "all mountain" is either, guess it just means kind of multi purpose all-rounder.  Although I'm hoping for a trip to Europe soon, usually it's a 7 hour drive to Scotland (or in really cold winters the north of England!) and even the "pisted" runs can at times be pretty shocking at times!  Depends when & which resort you goto, and whereabouts on the resort.  So maybe all-mountain isn't the best description and I'd be better going for something smaller& easier to control on small/twisty/thin/patchy/bumpy/powdery/busy runs?



I can see the logic in your suggestion of buying slightly above my level thanks - suppose although shorter skis might feel better now, as I progress this winter I might start wishing I'd opted for longer ones.

post #4 of 7

I'm 5'8"-5'9", 57 kg and I ski 164 cm skis. Bought them last season and regretted for about two days because they were quite a bit more demanding than the 155 cm rentals I skied previously. I think I had about 3 ski days last season before I got my own skis and 2 ski days the previous season. I had just begun making carved turns. By the end of the season (about 25 ski days) I would probably have regretted getting shorter skis. But... I have been on XC skis since I was 3,5 yo and on alpine skis since I was 7 yo until I was about 19. Never an enthusiastic skier, 1-10 days/season. And then absolutely no skiing (except XC about once every two years...) for about 15 years.


I think it all depends whether you want to buy your next pair of skis sooner or later. If sooner, go with the shorter one, but if you are looking to advance and keep the pair you buy now a bit longer take the longer one.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the example Skise, helps put it in perspective.


I can only manage anywhere between 3 - 8 days a season depending on conditions, work, etc.   Although I go fairly fast on occasions I don't aim to get to a level where I'm go very fast regularly, if I do some more challenging runs I'd focus on turning regularly and controlling my speed rather than going flat out with big long skis.  Not sure whether that'd work it's all a bit guesswork!


So maybe my style and regularity suggests I should go for something shorter.  Well inbetween.  As most've you have pointed out I'll probably get fed up of anything below 160 pretty quickly so maybe around 160 - 163 would be a good compromise?


Still curious about Rossignol's "autoturn" technology tho - if it's really effective then maybe a pair of 166s with autoturn is just as maneuverable as a pair of cheaper 163s without autoturn?  Maybe it's the best of both worlds - the stability of a 166 & easy handling of a 163.  But on the other hand the improvement in handling might only be minor, not enough to affect what size you should choose.  Anyone any experience with this?  It's one thing seeing the technology explained on the manufacturers website but another how well it works in practice.


post #6 of 7

I don't know the autoturn-technology in person, but I believe this is an idea that more brands use by different names. Head for instance has Flow Ride, Dynastar has autodrive fluid, etc, etc. In general I think this is a good idea for your wishes. On the other hand, since so many brands have something like it the exact term is also a bit of marketing. More in general every ski is different in maneuverability as well as in stability etcetera. Therefore it is important to try it.


In your case I don't know the ski, but in general I'd prefer a little bit long over too short. The given link advises me something I'd find rather short really. For instance, on my recent testweekend I tried soms shorter skis and in a little crud even found them heavier to ski, because dampening was an issue. On the other hand, I think I could 'grow into' a little longer/harder ski.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone

Thanks for all your help, gave me a lot of perspective. Thought I'd share with the world how it turned out.

I eventually opted for a 2nd hand pair of 160s - they were fairly cheap so if I need longer ones in future it's no big deal.

I've been out since and am very pleased with them. I think people & websites generally refer to ABILITY and SPEED synonymously - which is true in most cases - as people progress they want to go faster. I'm a bit of an odd ball in that regard tho. I'm hitting the steeper, more difficult slopes but carve my way down quite tightly so I'm not actually going that fast, and most people are overtaking me (which off peak isn't a big issue, I try to be considerate of others!). So although I'm improving my ABILITY, I'm not actually going that FAST.

On occasions we have gone up the gears, such as one run where we wanted to get all the way from the top to the bottom of the mountain before the main lift shut, so for a change I was overtaking everyone else! :D I was quite comfortable on my 160s but remember thinking yes a nice long pair would be great here, they'd give me much better stability and be dead easy to turn at this speed. The 160s were chattering all over the place, which wasn't a problem I was able to keep them under control but longer would've made for a more comfortable run.

However when I hit the narrow, steep, or bumpy terrain where I was going very slow and avoiding obstacles, having to kind of jump my way round from edge to edge rather than nice smooth carving, I remember thinking I'm glad I haven't got great big long clown skis here they'd be a right nightmare!

I'm doing mostly blue runs now (occasionally taking it easy down the greens :) ), and sometimes tackling the reds/blacks (short ones) and so far the 160s haven't been a problem. My technique isn't bad I don't think, I feel very comfortable and in control most of the time.

So IMHO my advice to anyone is: Short skis = slow speed. Long skis = fast speed.

(Worth mentioning I haven't been in much powder in them yet, it was all very hard compact stuff.)

(Also the ones I bought are "expert" skis - quite stiff but I prefer that. Find the rigidity all round better than the beginner ones I was using before that clumsily flopped all over the place. Don't think it's adversely affecting my technique either, still using the arc of the ski to do the work while carving. Maybe a bit tougher on the feet/legs on fast bumpy terrain but I'm OK with that.)

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