Looking for your perfect set of skis can be a confusing process if you aren’t quite sure what you need or what all the jargon means. Here is a ski selector guide to help you on your way.
The type of ski can be very important and will help you narrow your search down. Generally skis can be categorised into 3 or 4 areas. Piste, All Mountain, Freeride and Freestyle.
If you are just starting ski lessons then maybe just hold off. Rent skis to begin with, as you will quickly outgrow a basic set of beginner skis within a week or two.
Ski Selector Buying Guide
Buying Piste Skis
This is a more traditional style ski and is used to ski on piste all the time. Can be great fun if your not looking to go off piste where they will struggle. They might be referred to as a front side ski by some.
They will have little to no rocker combined with a decent side cut. Which means a narrow width in the middle of below 78mm and a little bit more girth at the tip and tail.
A decent amount of camber will also be included, meaning when lay flat on the ground with no weight on the ski, the tip and tail will be in contact with the floor but the middle will arch up off the surface. Having this camber will allow you to engage the full edge of the ski when carving giving a strong stable turn.
Having this type of ski will give you fantastic response, tighter turning and of course top speed to help you zip past the out of control grom kid on their flappy twin tips.
If you are a fairly strong skier look for a ski length of around 5-10cm shorter than your height.
Buying All Mountain Skis
All mountain skis come in all different shapes and sizes these days. A lot of companies describe these as a one ski for everything. They give width underfoot to help in deeper snow. Sidecut to let you rip the piste and sometimes twin tips to give you some park freedom. Camber underfoot will help on piste and then rocker at tip and tail for varied conditions. Rocker is the opposite of camber. Tip rocker will raise the tip earlier on the ski meaning the contact point of the ski will be shorter when the base is flat giving more control and easier turn initiation.
Consider what you are wanting to ski most. If your never venturing into the park then don’t be hung up on twin tips. Looking for piste and a bit of off piste, then look for something between 80-90mm underfoot. This will allow an all round performance all over the mountain. The Rossignol Experience 88 is a great example of this. If you want something to take through the park every once in a while then follow a similar formula but add in twin tips.
Buying Freeride Skis
This is when skis get fat. Designed for backcountry and ‘steep n deep’. 95+mm underfoot will give you some super floaty skis in the powder. Plenty of tip and tail rocker will allow you to keep you tips effortlessly on the surface. Be very aware that some of these, especially when you get over 105mm underfoot will not be easy to ride on the piste.
Think about your normal ski length and take the rocker into account. Something like a Rossignol Soul 7 can be ridden 10cm taller than your height. So a 178cm person can use a 188cm. This is because the more rocker on a ski the shorter it effectively rides.
Have a scout around, look everywhere. Virtually all companies supply this type of ski now. Start with something like a LINE Sir Francis Bacon which is a wide ski with rocker and go from there to work out what you want.
Buying Freestyle Skis
Get yourself on some twin tips. If you want to be the next James ‘Woodsy’ Woods you’ll need to get your switch riding in order. Faction, Line, Armada are the brands that live and breath this stuff so start there. Underfoot width of around 80mm is adequate. Remember to think about if you want to centre mount your bindings. This means having them central to the ski rather than set towards the back which is the norm.
Don’t be afraid of centre mounting. The main benefit is to make skiing backwards or ‘switch’ easier. But skiing normally won’t feel to much different until you get to your top speeds or find the powder stash. Take into account that a twin tip will ski 5cm or so shorter look for something again around 5- 10cm shorter than your height so they are nice and nimble.
Whilst we can’t pick out the perfect set skis without going on a shopping trip, (happy to do so, but you’re paying) hopefully this ski selector guide has given you a little bit of information on what to look for past a pretty colour or brand.
Get in touch if you have any questions about what you are looking for or should be buying.