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October 13, 2007

How To Define The Right Length For Your Alpine Skis

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Written by: Marko Pyhajarvi
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Have you ever wondered how to define the right length for your skis? You’ve probably been walking in sport stores while thinking “if I buy new skis for this season, how long should my skis be? What’s the right length for my skis“? Every time I go buy new skis I have this same problem, so I wanted to write down some instructions to share with you.

[UPDATE December 12th 2008: Please check also our more detailed article in ski sizing].

This is a question for which you can quickly get 5 different answers or even more. The truth is that there is no exact answer, and therefore the answers differ a little bit from one another. Anyhow, let’s list the rules of thumb. These should help you to find the right length for your skis when you go buying new guns. The length of your skis depends on what kind of terrain you ski. For example, the length of your skis should not be the same on slalom tracks and backcountries. In this instructional article I focus on traditional alpine skiing, not backcountry skiing, ski-touring or such.

How to determine the right length for your skis?

1. Giant Slalom (Super G): your own height

2. Slalom: your own height – 10/15 cm.

3. Ordinary skiing on slopes: your own height – 5/10 cm.

As you see, skiing different terrains requires different skis. If you don’t ski trails such as slalom or super G, you’re skis should be the length of your height – 5/10 cm.

Do you agree with me? Disagree? Please leave your comments and say how you would decide the length of your skis. As stated above, there is no exact answer. These are my rules of thumb for finding the right length for your skis.

These tips are for adult skiers. If you are buying skis for your child, stay tuned. We will write also tips for defining the right length for kids skis.



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About the Author

Marko Pyhajarvi
I am an old-school alpine skier, snowboarder and telemarker, and I love writing. Therefore I founded Homeboy. I (too) enjoy powder, mountaineering and backcountry skiing as well as photographing. Nowadays, as an old fart, I mostly ski with my kids and focus on financing their hobbies.



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  1. bbells

    2/2/2009 – I disagree – in some cases. Like everything there is no one rule to follow when picking ski length. I am a ski patrol in the midwest and I am finding out something very interesting. Many of the skiers who are not into performance or high speeds are doing better with shorter than suggested skis. These are the people who are just getting back into the sport or hit a plateau between beginner and intermediate and can’t advance. I have seen males 6′ tall go to 155cm from 170cm skis and instantly their ability moves up a level. Same with females, 5’8″ going from 150cm to 135cm and having the same affect. It appears to me that if a person is skiing on the hard packed, crusty, midwest snow, and just wants to do recreational skiing and ‘tour’ down the hill or make it down the slope at a comfortable and not fast, yet controllable speed, they should consider renting some shorter skis. Ski shops and rental areas are not yet suggesting shorter skis for these people because I don’t think they watch the people on the slopes. But, I have suggested borderline skiers go back and swap for shorter skis when they are having problems. This usually gives those people a much more enjoyable day. And, isn’t that what it is all about?

  2. Gourdhedd

    Great advice, bbells, keep saying it.

    I went skiing for the first time at age 53 back in January. On the advice of a relative, I rented equipment from a hardware store in a small town in Colorado. Skis were sized to fall between my chin and eyes in length. Boots were atrociously uncomfortable. I found that I couldn’t turn, and if I went straight, I went too fast and fell. By the end of day, I was beginning to think that this sport was not for me.

    We decided to go again in March. I looked the guy at the rental counter in the eye and told him firmly that I wanted ski that a beginner could use. He handed a set of 140cm ski and a better boot than previously. IT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. I could now turn, and in doing so, could control my speed so that I could ski rather than fall.

    For people like me, all the advice in the world that would apply to the 26 year old hot dogs is meaningless. I need comfort and tractability.


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