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Ski length for five year old?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have read anywhere from sternum to chin to mid-face height as recommendations.  I'm taking my 5 year 4 month old son today to get new boots for the coming season.  Last year he skied on 87cm skis which currently come up to his sternum area.  Should I also trade in his skis for skis that are chin height or mid-face height?  We're in a trade-up program so the cost wouldn't be too high (probably about $60-70 bucks) for the skis.  My primary concern is what the "correct" length is for him and my secondary concern is whether his current skis deviate enough from that length to warrant the moderate additional expenditure. 


In terms of ability, his first time out this year (this coming Saturday) will probably be his tenth day on skis.  He could balance on skis right from the beginning 2 years ago and can control himself through the cones.  He goes up the chairlift but hasn't yet been off beginner runs.  On steeper sections of beginner runs, I still feel the need to hold on to him so he doesn't build up to an uncontrollable level of speed.  Most of the time, though, he can happily ski by himself.  I also expect a pretty sizeable improvement this year simply because he's 25% older and stronger.  He'll probably ski 10 days this year.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. 

post #2 of 9

Have a 4 and 8 year old, instructors at several different mountains say bottom of chin to tip of nose. Have never heard of sternum before; pretty short, won't be very stable. At 5, tip of nose this year will work as chin next...

post #3 of 9

Man, that's a good question.  I recently bought skis for my 5 year old as well.  She was on 87's up until now. I was at a used store and found a great deal on some 120's.  They ended up being above her head. Obviously, too long for her but she's growing like a weed so I though - what the heck.


The Result:  Technically I am sure they are too long for her. But I found a HUGE improvement in her skiing and form. She's flexing the ski, making great carving turns - top to bottom she's a far better skier on the 120's. Like night and day. She no longer will result to a power wedge when she gets out of sorts.


Caveat: My daughter lives in Crested Butte, has been skiing since she was 2, skis ~ 2 - 3 times a week including once for "gym". She skis steep blues, blacks and is begging me to take her up on the North Face Lift to hit some of the easy "double blacks" up there.


My Thinking: I am not so sure going too long for kids that age is too big of a deal. If you think about it, their muscle to weight ratio is pretty much off the charts at that age. As long as they can flex the ski that is... The other thing I noticed is that at 87 the skis are basically little planks with very little flex in them. There seems to be some point of critical mass where the ski gets to a length that it can be flexed and carving into a turn.


Anyhow, I am sure I am totally wrong in this and a PSIA type will school me but that's my totally uneducated opinion. 


post #4 of 9

Big Redd, If you can trade up thru out the season maybe try out what you have for now. What I see with kids if the gear is too short is that they overpower the ski and are turning so much that they are spinning out and washing out on the tails with little 180-360 spin arounds. If that is not happening and he is skiing  in good control and having fun wait a bit. Have him start working on arc to arcs making railroad tracks all over the place, the shorter skis will hook up better for that type of stuff, also makes hitting and landing little jumps a bit easier, and walking and skating around is easier on the shorter gear.

post #5 of 9

Sternum sounds a bit short, but I wouldn't aim above the chin.  From what I understand, there's little down side for kids to be on skis that are a bit short.  On the other hand, too long skis can lead to a bad experience and/or injury fairly easily.  My kids are 4 and 7 and both ski on shoulder-to-chin skis.  No complaints.  The older one has been taken down Squaw black diamonds by her instructors.  Her skis won't bust crud or be stable at 60 MPH, though.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all so far (more thoughts certainly welcome).  I take what Que said to heart though my little guy can only aspire to ski like his daughter at this point.  I can see how a longer ski might be easier to flex and less plank-like.  That said, in the store today I basically adopted Snowbowler's approach - I got him the new boots but held off on the skis.  For his weight, the 87cm skis are still the official recommendation by Head though they are only sternum height.  The store readily agreed to swap the skis mid-season and volunteered to do the remount for free if I change my mind based on how the little guy skis.  I'm very excited to see what he can do now that he's 25% older and stronger.  If he overpowers the things, I'll swap 'em out.  He'll be taking a handful of lessons and I will ask his instructors to watch and provide input as well.  Any further insight on drills or things to look for would be appreciated.  I can't wait for this weekend.  If there is a better family activity than skiing, I have never encountered it.

post #7 of 9

IMHO, sternum height is ok for a two year old who is just getting used to being on skis, but for a five year old who actually skis, chin height would work better.

post #8 of 9

My rather tall 5yo skis on 90cms this year.  His 7yo brother is only a couple of inches taller and skis on 100s.

post #9 of 9

i teach and ski with quite a few 5 and 6 year olds this year.  They're cute and don't talk back and usually can be convinced it's fun to be out in the cold and enjoy it.  Makes them fun ski partners!  That said the rental shop has so many short skis 87 ish.  They go to the 4 year olds and small 5 year olds until they're gone, then they get 97's, and hten 107's and then 117;s.  The longer the ski the less fun the little guys have in the majority of cases.  I had one little boy last week who was on his own parent bought ski and and he had such a hard time walking around the bottom , stepping on skis, falling over form stepping on them, keeping them straight to go up the rope tow, etc  I felt really bad for him.  I was able to teach him to ski but it didn't help the coordination issues when skating at the bottom.  I know he will get used to them but he won't gain anything form the longer ski at his age, accept the aggravation of something heavier to carry, heavier to lift when on flat ground and walking up hill.  Long skis offer a skier stability on a fast groomed straight run, a 5 year just won't be skiing that fast.  Chin height is great, switch them up when you see they are growing and it's impeding their ability to ski.  when the ski is too short they will have forward and aft balance issues, spin around in 360's etc.

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