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How to Fit Downhill Skis

by
author image Timothy Banas
Timothy Banas has a master's degree in biophysics and was a high school science teacher in Chicago for seven years. He has since been working as a trading systems analyst, standardized test item developer, and freelance writer. As a freelancer, he has written articles on everything from personal finances to computer technology.
How to Fit Downhill Skis
Correctly sized skis can make all the difference on the slopes. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Sizing your skis is a science and an art. You will need to take many factors into consideration, including your height, weight, skill level and skiing style. Aside from choosing skis of the correct length, you also have to consider the edge and the sidecut radius, both of which effect the turning ability of your skis. Sharp metal edges grip the ground as you turn. A small sidecut radius--which reflects the degree to which a ski's width narrows from its tip to its waist--will help you turn tightly; a large sidecut radius will force you to take wide, arching turns.

Step 1

Determine the range of ski lengths you should consider based on your height. If you are 4 feet 4 inches tall, your skis should be between 115 cm and 130 cm long. If you are 4 feet 6 inches tall, your skis should be between 125 cm and 140 cm long. If you are 4 feet 8 inches tall, your skis should be between 130 cm and 145 cm long. If you are 4 feet 10 inches tall, your skis should be between 135 cm and 150 cm long. If you are 5 feet tall, your skis should be between 135 cm and 155 cm long. If you are 5 feet 2 inches tall, your skis should be between 145 cm and 165 cm long. If you are 5 feet 4 inches tall, your skis should be between 150 cm and 170 cm long. If you are 5 feet 6 inches tall, your skis should be between 155 cm and 175 cm long. If you are 5 feet 8 inches tall, your skis should be between 160 cm and 180 cm long. If you are 5 feet 10 inches tall, your skis should be between 165 cm and 185 cm long. If you are 6 feet tall, your skis should be between 170 cm and 190 cm long. If you are 6 feet 2 inches tall, your skis should be between 175 cm and 195 cm long. If you are 6 feet 4 inches tall, your skis should be between 180 cm and 200 cm long.

Step 2

Factor your skill level into your ski length. Starting with a length in the center of the range, subtract a couple centimeters if you are a beginning skier, leave the number alone if you are intermediate or add a couple centimeters if you are an advanced skier.

For example, a 5-foot-8-inch skier would consider skis somewhere between 160 cm and 180 cm long. The middle of the range is 170 cm. A beginner skier might subtract 2 cm from 170; an intermediate skier would leave the number alone; and an advanced skier might add 2 cm.

Step 3

Factor your weight into your decision. If you weigh about average for your height, do not add or subtract anything for this step. If you weigh less than average, subtract another couple centimeters from your ski length. If you weigh more than average, add a couple centimeters to your ski length.

Step 4

Factor in the type of skiing you will be doing. If you will need a lot of maneuverability, take off a couple more centimeters. If you generally ski straight downhill and would like more speed, add a couple more centimeters.

Step 5

Demo some skis that match the length you have chosen before you purchase them. You should also demo skis that are slightly shorter and slightly longer than the length you have chosen in case your estimates were off. Ultimately, you should purchase the skis that feel most comfortable on the slopes.

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