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Ski Sizing Guide

The most important thing to consider when choosing a ski? Fun. We're not talking TV commercial, happy family at the big box kind of fun—I'm getting at the deep-down, legitimately-life-and-existence-re-enforcing kind of fun that keeps you coming back to the mountain like a junkie because skiing is effing FUN. Ok, back on track… Consider where, how, and when you enjoy skiing most and let those factors steer your choice—don't let your buddy, shop rat, or your Beth Truss-like significant other talk you into a ski you're scared to ski. Here's one HUGE point to consider—strangers, on-lookers, lifties, cocoa sippers, etc., aren't paying attention to the nuances of your skiing up on the hill. No one (no one worth worrying about, anyway) cares what brand, style, shape, etc. ski you're riding because chances are your skis are going to be covered with snow in the lift line, anyway. Don't be a gaper. Choose a ski that YOU are going to like to ski on.

The All-Important Questions:

Answer these three questions and the bulk of your ski choosing work is done. Seriously. Then you'll be in the proper position to whittle over nuances like color, specifics of shape, whether or not the ski has liquid magma inside, etc... If every year NASA discovered purportedly new and amazing technology at the same rate as the ski industry, I'd be writing this article from a forested moon. Know what I'm sayin'?

Where Do You Ski?

An expert skier in Vermont will ski a far different ski than an expert in British Columbia. Consequently, replace ‘expert' with ‘beginner' or ‘intermediate' and this fact remains true. This has largely to do with terrain and snow type. Between powder, groomers, and ice which are you skiing on a more regular basis? Are you a east coast front-side ripper or a slashing, yeti-hunting, BC-pioneering dirtbag? If you ski on the right coast, you probably want to peruse All Mountain Carve Skis for the short and sharp knives. West coasters generally like to browse the Alpine Fat Skis and Big Mountain Freeride Skis for riding the steep and deep. If you're a ski-tripper looking to get a little bit of everything, check out the well-balanced All Mountain Skis. Heading for the park or some urban rails when the sun drops? Check out the Park and Pipe Skis.

How Do You Like to Ski?

This question is not about skill level—this is about experience expectations or how you quantify fun on the mountain. Where do you stand on the skier polarity wherein “I ski my XXL Pros everywhere, at the red line, all the time, so see you at the bottom” and “I'm just here to take pictures of the kids” are the extremes? If you fall on the former side, you definitely want to consider a stiffer flex (core material is the best indication here: foam = flexy/forgiving, wood = stiff, and titanal = real stiff) and wider landing platform, while if you tend toward the latter profile you probably want a more forgiving flex. A more forgiving flex is better for beginners and intermediates who often find themselves riding in the backseat. A stiff ski will pitch you into the pines if you don't stay on top of it, while a softer ski allows for more fudging room on the hill. Moving from fudge to butter—park ski selection will depend largely on durability, followed closely by your weight and size. Midwest urban rails? Shoot for thick sidewalls and edges. Groomed slopestyle? Shoot for the brands with legit quality reps, as well as consistent flex patterns for your size and particular flavor of jib-lust.

Skill Level?

As hinted at before—your skill level is a large determining factor when it comes to deciding on a flex pattern. Gate racers and big mountain freeski competitors like the stiffest planks possible, while dudes like lightweight, switch-riding BC jibber Eric Pollard like a more noodley plank for smears, butters, and style in the pow. That said, the more competent a skier, the more you will generally benefit from a stiffer flex pattern because a more responsive ski is harder to handle, but can be well-wielded in the hands (or feet) of a more-skilled craftsman. And if skiers aren't artisans I don't know who is. Another point to add is that more aggressive and condition-specific shapes and cambers can be found for the refined palate, but as a rule, unless you're filling out a quiver; stick to traditional, proven shapes. And most importantly—contrary to seemingly popular belief, skiing ability resides in the flesh, not the in flash and flaunt in the lift line. Who cares what you're skiing on if you aren't stoked while skiing on it?

Dial Your Size: Size According to Height, Skill Level, and Skiing Style

Once you've answered the Big 3 Q's, you can move on to choosing a specific length for your skill level and preferred skiing style. Check out our guide and dial out your optimal ski size:

Men's Size Guide
Big Mountain Freeride Backcountry Jib All Mountain Park & Pipe All Mountain Carve
Pro 180-200cm 190-180cm 180-190cm 175-185cm 175-185cm
Expert 170-180cm 175-185cm 170-180cm 160-180cm 170-185cm
Intermediate 160-180cm 160-180cm 160-180cm 160-180cm 160-175cm
Entry Level N/A N/A 150-170cm 150-170cm 150-170cm
Women's Size Guide
Big Mountain Freeride Backcountry Jib All Mountain Park & Pipe All Mountain Carve
Pro 172cm + 172cm + 172cm + 168cm + 172cm +
Expert 165cm + 165cm + 165cm + 168cm + 165cm +
Intermediate 160-170cm 160-170cm 160-170cm 160-170cm 160-170cm
Entry Level N/A N/A 150-170cm 150-170cm 150-170cm

Pro: Excels on any terrain, on any snow condition. Enjoys high speeds.
Expert: Comfortable on any terrain and most snow conditions.
Intermediate: Comfortable on Blue trails, exploring Black trails.
Entry Level: Learning to ski Green and Blue trails.