Proper Length of Cross Country Skis

Detail of Cross-Country Skiers
A close-up of a man and woman wearing cross country skiis in the snow. (Image: Steve Mason/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Cross-country skis that are the proper length will ensure that the ski is working at its optimal level and doing what it is designed to do. Improper length of the skis can result in you having to do lots of extra work because of increased friction or drag on your skis. Take the time to determine your ski length range now to avoid frustration on the trail.

Step 1

Determine your height in centimeters. Calculate your height in inches and then multiply this number by 2.2 to find your height in centimeters. For example, if you are 5 feet 6 inches tall, multiply 5 by 12, which equals 60. Add 60 to the remaining 6 inches, which equals 66 inches. Multiply 66 inches by 2.2, which equals 145.2 cm.

Step 2

Multiply your height in centimeters by 1.1 and then again by 1.2. These numbers will give you a range of 110 percent to 120 percent of your height, which is the recommended traditional cross-country ski length. Using the same example, if you are 5 feet 6 inches tall or 145.2 cm, multiply 145.2 by 1.1, which equals 159.7. Multiply 145.2 by 1.2, which equals 174.24. You now have a ski-length range of between 160 and 175, if you round up to the nearest whole number.

Step 3

Refer to the ski manufacturer's weight and sizing chart. Having a ski-length range is a good place to start. Use the weight sizing chart to find the best length for you within your range. If you are heavier, you will most likely need a ski on the longer end of your range. If you are lighter in weight, you will need a ski on the shorter end of that range.


Knowledgeable sales staff will want to know your height, weight, skiing patterns and skiing ability in order to help you find the right ski. Anyone who asks for your height only is probably not the person to help find the perfect ski for you.


Shorter skis are easier to control, particularly for beginners. Selecting a ski that's too long may cause you to fall while you're skiing.

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