Those of you who mostly ski on the piste
If you ski mostly on the piste, then a slightly shorter, narrower ski suits you best. Don’t however hesitate to buy a ski that is a few centimetres wider than you planned from the start. With today’s skis and technology you can choose a ski that has a somewhat wider waist, which gives better performance in soft snow and afternoon pistes without making too much of a sacrifice on the morning’s piste skiing.
Those of you who ski everywhere
The more time you spend off the piste and the deeper the snow you want, the broader the ski you should be aiming for. Most skis in this range have a waist that measures between 85–100 mm, and the breadth can be increased or decreased depending on how you split your skiing on/off the piste. A wider ski floats better and is easier to handle off-piste, whereas it is easier to find the edge on a narrower ski which has better grip on the piste. Rocker profiles start to appear in this category, and the more rocker a ski has, the longer the ski you can choose.
Those of you who chase loose snow and untouched mountain faces
If you are looking for knee-deep snow then wide skis are best suited to you. They have better float and come closer and closer to that real ‘surfing feel’, plus it’s just as easy to turn on a wide ski with today’s rocker technology . If you want a smooth ski for loose snow skiing then look for a ski with twin tips and tail rocker – they are easier to turn with when it gets tighter between the trees.
Those of you who ski in the park
Twin-tip and park skis are playful skis suited to those of you who predominantly jump and rail. All park skis have twin tips, which means that the ski is turned up both at the front and back in order to be able to ski backwards. Many skis in this category are entirely symmetrical, which means they have exactly the same structure from the centre of the ski to its tip and tail.
What’s most important to consider when buying park skis is their length and being correctly mounted. A centred mount is recommended if you only park ski, but if you also want to ski on or off the piste then a more traditional rear mount is recommended.
A shorter ski is easier to turn, spin and handle on jumps whilst a longer ski is more stable when landing and for normal skiing.
Soft or rigid?
A softer ski is generally better adapted for play and lower speeds than a more rigid ski. It also suits the lighter skier better.
A rigid ski is designed to be more stable at higher speeds and is better adapted to heavier skiers.
Which length suits me?
If you have a wide ski, ski at high speed, and are looking for increased float in loose snow and stability on the piste, then it’s no problem to choose a longer ski.
For a narrower ski, such as a carving ski, you choose the length based on how short a turn radius you want to have, i.e., how fast you want the ski to turn.
The turn radius is determined by the width relationship between the ski’s various parts (tail-waist-tip). The length of the ski and whether it has rocker profile is also relevant. The turn radius is often written on the ski in metres.
What is rocker?
Rocker profile is quite common today and can be found on a large number of ski models. In short it means that the front/rear part of the ski is raised and that the the actual ski surface of the ski starts further in than on a classic ski.
The type of rocker profile influences what length of ski you should choose. The more rocker, the longer the ski you can choose because the actual ski surface, i.e., the part of the ski that rests on the snow, is shorter. Therefore a rocker ski can be seen as easier to handle despite being longer.
Rocker on the ski nose means that there is a longer and softer angle against the snow, which means that the ski floats over the snow easier.
Rocker at the back of the ski is often combined with a twin-tip ski and makes the ski easier to come out of the turn and is smoother in powder snow, which is suitable if you enjoy skiing in wooded areas.
Tip Rocker is when the rocker is only positioned in the nose of the ski. The more raised the nose is, the shorter the actual ski surface of the ski. A ski with tip rocker has good float in loose snow and is often more rigid and stable with speed.
Full Rocker is a ski with both tip and tail rocker and a flat middle. Full Rocker skis are fast in loose snow and also work well on the piste, as the rocker helps to enter the turn when it is on its edge.