Following our last post about how to choose the perfect ski boots, you will need to know what type of ski is best for you. Without further ado, in this post I will try to advise you which type of skis to choose so you can get the most out of your skiing time and track your runs in the most comfortable way possible.
First things first. There is one thing to consider with all types of ski, regardless of the mode you want to practise, which will make some skis more suitable than others.
Radius of a ski: The origins of carving.
Unlike the skis of the past, modern skis are curved along their length, with different heights at the tip (front end), the waist (central part) and the tails (rear end). This curve affects the minimum turning circle of the ski. The radius of a ski allows you to turn more or less easily.
If you plot the different dimensions of a ski you will see they form a section of a circumference. If you were to complete the circle, the radius would be the distance to the centre of this circumference. The smaller the radius, the faster you can turn, because the pronounced curve of the ski makes it much easier to make short turns. A larger radius, in contrast, makes turning more difficult.
Length of the ski
The length of the ski affects how stable it is. A longer ski will be more stable, but will have a larger radius. A shorter ski will be less stable and have a shorter radius.
Stiffness of a ski
The material which each layer of the ski is made of will play a major role here. Skis are made of layers of different materials that make them more or less rigid. The more rigid they are, the more stable the skis will be, absorbing vibration better at higher speeds. Greater rigidity, however, requires better technique. As we saw with the boots, some skis flex with more difficulty than others. Greater rigidity means faster reaction (back to their original shape more quickly) and more resistance to twisting, making them more stable and precise.
When we understand these three aspects, we can start to consider which ski suits us best.
Here we are going to look at the 3 main categories of skis: freestyle, freeride and downhill skiing.
Which is your group?
- Downhill skiing:
There are several types of ski aimed at different levels within this category.
If you are a starter, you should choose a ski that is between 14 and 18 centimetres less than your height. This will allow you to improve your balance and control the ski easier without having to shift your weight backwards.
As for the type of ski and its stiffness/rigidity, you should choose a medium to low level ski of medium hardness for a moderate or low price, because you will need to change to a better ski as you improve. Personally, I would recommend that you hire them.
If you are at an intermediate level, your ski should be between 12 and 14 centimetres less than your height. This time you should go for skis that are longer and more rigid than the beginner ones, because you will be moving faster on steeper slopes, so the ski should resist without bending.
If you are an expert skier, you need to focus on the objective you want to achieve.
-Making many controlled turns in a small radius: One of the best skis that fits this preference is a competition model designed for the ‘Slalom’ (SL) mode, which are rigid with a short radius, around 14 metres. The FIS (International Ski Federation) establishes two standard measurements for slalom skis, 165 cm for men and 155 cm for women. They are highly responsive and technical skis, but their short radius means that you can make large turns with very little effort.
-Turning when looking towards the slope and with a wide turning circle: You should look for a giant slalom ski (GS), which is another type of downhill skiing competition. The skis should be around 10-15 cm longer than your height and be extremely rigid, because they will have to support the vibrations caused by very high speeds. The turning radius should vary between 20 and 30 metres. These skis require good technique and strength to make them turn, because they are designed with a much longer radius to make larger curves, making them less reactive than the slalom skis.
– Alternating downhill and off-piste skiing: The best choice in this case is a polyvalent, or All-Mountain ski. The radius should be no more than 20 metres. A multi-purpose ski should be neither extremely rigid nor too flexible, so a medium hardness is recommended, with a waist (the narrowest part of the ski) between 85 and 95 mm wide. These skis should be some 5 centimetres shorter than your height and have long, wide tips to ensure good grip on the slope and to float when off-piste.
But what about those with good technique who want a multi-purpose ski for the slopes? Fischer was a pioneer in this aspect with its RC4 The Curv ski. It is built like a giant slalom ski, with great rigidity for high speeds, but at the same time its wide raised deck means you can make tight curves with ease. It is the ideal ski for ex-skiers who want to do different types of skiing on the slopes.
Bearing in mind that this type of skiing involves jumps and grinding on rails in a snowpark or half pipe, you should choose twin-tip skis so you can switch (go backwards), and which are light and flexible to absorb impacts better, giving you more control when doing acrobatics in the park. The ski should have between your height and 5 cm shorter.
Do you want a ski for powdery snow or for harder and more complicated terrains?
Here are two types of off-piste skis.
– Rough terrain: You will need a ski that can absorb a lot of vibration. It should therefore be rigid but also employ ‘rocker’ technology (progressive curving of the ski, arching up from the ground) to ensure that it floats in powdery snow. The skis should be around 10 cm longer than your height and the waist should vary between 95 mm and 115 mm
– Powdery snow: The perfect ski for powdery snow is one of medium stiffness, which will allow you more freedom to perform tricks in this kind of snow. The skis are quite broad, between 105 and 120 millimetres or more at the waist with a noticeable ’rocker’ profile at both tips. The ski should be between 5 and 10 cm longer than your height.
Remember that the most important point is to know your skill level as a skier and what your preferences are when it comes to choosing skis, the kind of skis you want to achieve your objectives. As always, I’d like to remind you to go to specialist centres to get advice and guidance from professional skiers to find out which is the best ski for you.
See you next time!
Alfred Velasco, Skitude Ambassador
Did you enjoy this article? If so, don’t hesitate to share it.
Do you have Ski Attitude? We know you do! Join our community #ihaveskitude on social media and check out all of our news to come on Skitude.