Purchasing new skis is a big investment and with ski time being extremely precious, it’s critical that you choose the right partner in crime to help you slay the slopes. Here we take you through all the factors you should consider when getting a new set of planks.
Every year, before the start of the winter, a whole range of new gear hits the market. Fresh designs, innovative technologies as well as new versions of timeless classics. No doubt you’ll peruse the web and pop into the ski shops to drool over the latest and greatest skis. And with almost everything getting ‘tested’ these days, there is a ton of information out there to absorb and digest. This can aid your decisions but also make them more confusing.
Skis are a very personal item and the goal is to discover which skis are best for you and only you. So how do you determine this when there is so much choice?
ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE - SIDECUT
For simplicity, most of the description of a ski will be based on a single number. That number equates to the width at the centre of the ski directly under the foot. A ski’s geometry (called the sidecut) is based on three numbers measured in millimetres: the ski tip (usually largest number), the centre (usually narrowest) and the tail (usually less than the ski tip). The geometry, materials that are used to build the ski, how the materials are layered as well as other factors will have an effect on ski performance and how the skis behave. This is why many skis that have a similar geometry may be very different in how they perform.
There is a whole spectrum of sidecut profiles and the width of the ski under foot will be one of the primary factors determining what the ski is suitable for. In general, a narrow ski will be suitable for carving and technical skiing on piste, whilst a wide ski will be suitable for deeper snow and powder, with a mid-range width ski suitable for variable conditions.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER
HOW MANY... ONE SKI OR BUILD A QUIVER?
One of the first questions you must ask yourself is whether you’ll be loyal to just one pair of skis or whether you want to have a multitude of choices at your disposal depending on the conditions and your intentions.
Some people like having a choice that they can match to the day’s conditions, the resort they are skiing and the intended use, but others might be happy with just one pair of skis if they know they’ll only be skiing on the piste, for example, or just want a ski that will serve them well in most conditions.
As you become more committed to the sport, explore more parts of the mountain and take on increasingly variable conditions and different terrain, the allure of adding skis to your collection becomes appealing. Skis can make a real difference to your performance, so having the right ones in your quiver can have a hugely positive impact on your overall enjoyment and success.
LOCATION – WHERE WILL YOU BE SKIING?
The next factor to consider is where you’ll be skiing both now and in the future. Each resort will likely lend itself to a certain type of skiing and this is important to consider if you are only going to have one ski. Is the resort mainly groomed or is there lots of off-piste terrain? How much snow does the resort get… is it renowned for big dumps of powder or is it regularly hard-packed?
If the resorts you’ll be skiing are famed for their powder, like in Canada and Japan, you might go for an all-mountain ski or even a powder ski. If you’re skiing mainly in Europe and sticking to the groomers, you might go for a carver ski.
PURPOSE – WHAT TYPE OF RIDING WILL YOU BE DOING?
What type of skiing do you want to do and what type of skiing will you be doing? This is not necessarily the same – you may want to ski bottomless powder all day every day, but realistically this won’t always be the case, so you wouldn’t go for a fat 120mm+ powder ski if you’re only going to have one in your locker. Consider what you want to ski and what realistically you will be skiing to help guide your decision.
GOALS – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Seeking a ski that will assist you in achieving your goals is the way to go. If you want to master a 360 in the park, you might opt for a park ski on the shorter side. If you’re training to become an instructor and want to focus on performance, you may go for a carver ski. If you want to get better in deeper snow and ride powder, you might go for a wide all-mountain ski or even a powder ski. Matching your goals with the intended design of the ski will certainly help narrow your choice.
A critical part in choosing the right ski is establishing the right length for you. The ideal length will depend on a number of factors including your own height, the type of ski, and your skiing style/ability.
With approximately 5-10cm increments in ski length, landing in the perfect size may not always work out, so a bit of a compromise may be required or considering another brand that may fall closer to the length you are seeking may be another option.
SHOP LOCAL & GET EXPERT ADVICE
It can be extremely beneficial to shop local and have a face-to-face conversation with an expert. They’ll ask you all the questions we’ve discussed: 1. Will you have just one pair of skis or will you have a quiver? 2) Where will you mostly be skiing now and in the future? 3) What types of skiing will you be doing? 4) What are your skiing goals?
As well as this, they’ll find out about you and your ability, what turn shapes you like, how fast you like to go, how aggressive you ski, etc. All these details will help find the right ski for you. On all of our courses you will get an equipment talk at the start of your program. Our head instructor will give you all the advice you need to get hold of the right skis for you. The local shops are knowledgeable of our programs and will be able to advise you as well, and some stores may even provide a discount to Nonstop clients.
It is always wise to demo your skis and you'll be able to do so at all resorts. You can read as much as you like about a pair of skis but you’ll never really know if you like them and if they suit your skiing style and goals until you are clipped into the bindings and turning on snow. In resort most ski shops will offer you the chance to demo a few pairs you’re keen on. Charge on them for the day and you can get a real feel on whether they are what you’re looking for. If not, go back to the store and demo another pair.
Now, for the real interesting stuff. The different types of skis you might consider getting. Take a look at the infographics below to help you decide which type of skis you might want to get.
Join Us In Canada
Discover our courses and find you dream program. You can use this article to help determine which ski will be suitable for you, your course and your goals. Instructor course in Canada? You'll want to all mountain versatile or wide. Off-piste camp? You might go for an all mountain wide or even back side if the snow is deep. Freestyle course in Banff? A park ski will be your choice. Level 3 instructor program, a carver has to be the one. Boulder Hut trip? Touring ski, yes.
We look forward to speaking with you.