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How to choose the right skis for you

To rent or buy your skis? If you hire skis on your one ski holiday of the year – or every other year – you can be pretty sure that the skis will be the right fit for you and reasonably up-to-date. Of course, you need to pay for the hire of skis, boot, poles and helmet each year but this might be the only time that you use the skis so it’s a safe purchase. If you plan to ski more often, perhaps in your home country, such as Scotland,  as well as on several holidays abroad and year after year then the cost of skis will likely outweigh the repeated ski hire price. Buying during the ski sales will help with this outlay, although you should remember that each time you fly with your skis you’ll need to pay for carriage in the plane. So you’ve decided to splash out and buy your skis The length of skis, whether you hire or buy, depends on a wide range of factors, including where you’ll ski, your ability level, how often you’ll ski each year, and your height. Here are the questions to answer when deciding on the right skis for you: What type of terrain do you most love?
  • All mountain skis?
  • Freestyle in the parks and pipes?
  • Off piste on powder?
  • Carver style on piste?
Where are you at with your skiing?
  • Beginner: Can pull off a good snowplough turn (or wedge turn) and mostly stop when you want to. Do you ski green and blue runs?
  • Intermediate: Can you ski parallel on blue and red runs and also handle limited sections of moguly snow? Do you prefer blue or red runs but can manage black if they are wide and smooth?
  • Expert: Do you love the challenge of red and black runs, especially if they are full of bumps and rough snow? Can you ski beautiful carved turns on almost any surface? Are you a qualified instructor?!
How often do you ski? The number of days that you spend on the slopes will also determine the type of skis that you should buy, because the longer you’re out there giving it practice the quicker you’ll progress.  For example, if you’re a beginner skier who plans to ski 30 days a year, you might want to buy intermediate skis. Now for the ski sizing guidelines: As a general rule, a ski held lengthways from the ground should reach to somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. But most people agree that there is no set perfect size according to the skier’s height and weight. Professional and expert skiers will choose skis that are slightly taller than their height, while beginner skiers will be advised to go for a shorter ski, somewhere around their chin height. Here’s a ski height guide to think about. Choose longer skis, closer to the top of your head if you are:
  • Skiing fast and aggressively
  • You weigh more than average for your height
  • You plan to do the majority of skiing off piste
Choose shorter skis, closer to your chin if you are:
  • A beginner or intermediate skier
  • Your weight is lighter than average for your height
  • You like to make short, quick turns.
And to add to the mix of buying skis: A shorter ski is easier to turn on piste but it is not as stable as a longer ski.  A carving ski with skinnier waist and a smaller turn radius can be skied at a shorter length than an all mountain or freeride skis, which have larger and longer turn radius and fatter waist width. Male or female skis?: As a general rule, men are taller and heavier, while women are shorter and lighter. But as we all know this isn’t always the case and so the same guidelines as above should be applied to buying skis whether you’re male or female. However, you will find that most brands split their skis into gender and so their female skis will be more prettily designed while their male skis tend to be more “butch” in colours and design. Hmmm. Well, it’s up to you what you buy, really. You might be a guy who likes pink, or a girl who loves black. If you're still not sure about the right skis for you: Take the advice of a quality ski shop or think about heading off for a ski test weekend? Many resorts offer breaks for skiers early in the season who want to test new equipment.