Brody's Guide To Skis
Got questions about skis? This guide should answer all of them. If it doesn’t, feel free to ask us your question directly!
Everything You Need To Know About Skis
When it comes to choosing a pair of skis, there are 5 key factors to consider:
- Gender (Are you an adult male or female, or do you need kids’ skis?)
- Skiing Ability Level (How skilled of a skier are you?)
- Ski Length & Ski Size Chart (How long are your skis supposed to be?)
- Snow & Ski Types (Where are you skiing and what type of skiing are you doing?)
- Style & Feel (How does a ski’s construction affect its performance?)
As you review this guide, record your results in cheatsheet below in case you have further questions for an in-store skiing expert:
Gender - 🚺 Women’s Vs Men’s Skis 🚹
There are two attitudes when it comes to the difference between men’s and women’s skis: it matters, or it doesn’t matter. Everyone seems to be divided on this topic—even the experts.
Women’s skis are traditionally designed for a woman’s center of gravity, which is lower than a man’s (Google "the chair challenge" and you'll see what I'm talking about!)
Because of this, women’s ski bindings are installed farther forward. They’re also more flexible to accommodate for a generally lighter skier.
On other hand, many argue that your height, weight, and skiing ability are all you need to help you choose the right set of skis. Whatever the case may be, your comfort is what matters most. If you prefer a woman’s ski, get it—as long as it can accommodate your weight, height, and overall skiing ability.
Skis for kids are designed to help kids learn and improve their skiing. They’re more flexible and pliable (softer) than adult skis. Boys’ and girls’ skis are pretty similar in terms of construction.
Skiing Ability Level
Your ability level helps determine how flexible, wide, and long your skis needs to be.
Also, consider how often you plan on go skiing—if you’re skiing often in a short period of time, invest in a ski with a higher ability level. You’ll quickly go from “beginner” to “intermediate” and then you’ll wish you had more advanced skis (trust me, it makes a big difference.)
There are four skiing levels:
You gotta start somewhere. Beginners are still learning the basics. They’re working towards having full control of their movement and total confidence on their skis, so they’ll need a ski that’s flexible and forgiving.
These skiers are now pretty comfortable and adept on their skis. They can gain a good amount of speed when skiing. However, they may still have trouble with tougher terrains.
Even in less than ideal weather or on rough terrain, advanced skiers are confident and in control thanks to their solid ski skills.
🖤 🖤 Expert
Experts can ski in any snow condition and terrain, all while maintaining total control of themselves at high speeds. Experts need stiff ski boots that can truly handle speed and precision.
Rule of thumb is that when you stand your skis up straight, they should reach anywhere between your chin and the top of your head.
There are a few unique cases that can affect the length of your skis:
🔻 Reasons To Consider a Shorter Ski
- You’re still learning how to ski
- You weigh less than average for your height
- You like making quick turns and you don’t care about speed
🔺 Reasons To Consider a Longer Ski
- You’re an advanced or expert skier
- You weigh more than average for your height
- You’re buying a twin tip ski or a ski with a lot of rocker in the tip (more on these terms later)
📏 Ski Size Chart
This sizing chart provides suggested ski lengths based on your height (in inches and CM):
|Skier's Height (Feet/Inches)||Skier's Height (cm)||Suggested Ski Length (cm)|
|Your Height (Feet/Inches)||Skier's Height (cm)||Suggested Ski Length (cm)|
|6'4" + up||193cm||180-200cm|
Snow & Ski Types
Ontario’s ski resorts aren’t as elevated as those in BC or Québec, so temperatures can be a little on the warmer side. This means resorts like Blue Mountain or Mount St. Louis Moonstone sometimes need to manufacture snow and will regularly groom their hills.
Since we designed this guide for beginner skiers, we’re going to jump ahead a bit and suggest that beginners skiing in Ontario should get an all-mountain ski.
For those of you interested in learning more about snow and ski types, read on. If you’re good, then skip ahead to learn more about different ski styles & feel.
❄️ Snow Types
Yes, snow is indeed a factor when it comes to skiing performance. Even in Canada, ideal snow conditions can be hard to come by!
There are 8 different types of snow, and once you learn how they can affect your skiing, you’ll be crossing your fingers for heavy snowfall all winter.
The good stuff. The stuff every snowboarder and skier wants! A little layer of fresh snow can make for an excellent day of skiing. Nevertheless, it will likely be groomed when you get to the hill.
When skiing on fresh snow, you’ll notice turns with better grip, a smoother ride, and of course, a little more cushion if you take a tumble.
Pro Tip: Go to the hill as early as possible to make the most of freshly fallen snow.
Another favourite among skiers and snowboarders, “powder” comes from heavy snowfall. It has less moisture content, resulting in a “powdery” structure that feels like you’re floating on clouds as you glide overtop it. But, if you’re skiing someplace with a regular grooming schedule, chances are you won’t find any powder.
If you do manage to locate powder while skiing off-piste (French for, “off route”), you’ll want a pair of powder skis [anchor text] to keep you from falling (pulling yourself out of deep snow can be tough.) Powder skis are designed to prevent the ends of the ski from dragging, causing you to lose your balance and take a spill.
This snow type is common at Blue Mountain and other regularly-groomed ski resorts in Ontario. It’s powder that has been compressed and smoothed by a piste basher (aka a snow grooming machine). Layers of packed powder make for easy, smooth skiing conditions and is perfect for those learning how to ski or snowboard—or for those perfecting their technique.
Snow compacts with repeated grooming and skiing. As it warms up in the daytime, its relative water content increases (kind of a no-brainer) and it refreezes overnight as hard-packed snow. Some more experienced skiers and snowboarders enjoy fast runs on hard-packed snow... as long as it’s smooth.
Now, we’ll dive into the more challenging types of snow that most skiers try to avoid.
🧊 Snow Types Pt. 2
Snow that melts during the day can also refreeze as ice, especially if it’s been consistently cold but no snow has fallen for a while.
Ice is tough to ski. It’s great for ski racers who don’t plan on making too many turns. Otherwise, you’ll need razor-sharp ski or snowboard edges and a lot of power to hold your turns and stay in control.
Another type of snow that virtually no one likes (maybe that’s why it’s called, “crud”!) Crud snow forms with lots of skiing on un-groomed powder, usually when snow is falling during the day and the piste bashers haven’t had a chance to groom it. It usually gets pushed to the edges of ski runs.
Skiing crud is tough because it’s hard to predict when you’ll run into it. When you do, you’ll need to adapt quickly to maintain control. My advice is to get in some good leg workouts (even before you begin to ski is optimal) because skiing in crud is a physical challenge.
Slush snow appears on ski slopes in Ontario by beginning of March when temperatures slowly begin to rise and the snow base starts to melt. This leads to heavy, wet snow that slows you down as you turn through it.
Some skiers and snowboarders enjoy the warmer temperatures that come with slush snow. If you’re OK with a slower skiing pace, then you might like skiing in slush!
Sticky snow is a challenge to ski in—fortunately, it’s rare. It occurs when the temperature rises quickly while fresh snow is falling. When the complex crystal structure of snowflakes combines with water, it sticks to your skis or snowboard, causing a vacuum effect. Air can’t get underneath your skis (or snowboard) and it becomes tough to slide.
🎿 Ski Types
Did you know there are 7 different types of skis? They’re designed to match your skiing ability, the type of skiing you want to do, and the terrain.
🤔 I’m new to skiing… what ski type should I get?
Since this guide is primarily focused on helping beginners find the right skis, we’re going to jump ahead a bit again and suggest that beginner to intermediate skiers in Ontario should get an all-mountain ski.
Shop Beginner Skis
If you’re more experienced skier and you want to learn about freestyle skiing (tricks and jumps), skiing moguls (the bumps you see on the hills), or off-piste skiing like backcountry or big mountain, keep reading.
Better yet, subscribe below and we’ll let you know of upcoming our demo days where you can test different ski types and see how they perform differently.
No, these skis aren’t designed for going down big mountains (yeah, it’s kind of a misnomer.) They’re actually a great option for beginner and intermediate skiers because they’re a good all-around ski and designed to handle everything from hard-packed to slush snow.
Racing skis are designed to enable speed and typically longer for added stability. Ski racers can reach speeds of up to 130km per hour!
This ski is ideal for skiers who love groomed slopes and really want to master the art of skiing gracefully with high-speed arcs—a skiing technique known as carving. If you’re working towards increased speed, better edge grip, and precise turning, consider carving skis.
The short answer is powder skis are meant for powder snow. They’re designed to “float” and move on soft, deep snow. If you’re sticking to groomed hills like Blue Mountain or Mount St Louis Moonstone, you probably won’t use powder skis. But if you’re all about skiing on powder in the Canadian Rockies, then these might be the skis for you.
🏔️ Big Mountain
Now these skis are actually designed for mountains. If you’re a confident skier who wants to perfect your speed while on steep terrain, then big mountain skis may be for you. They’re typically wider yet designed to stay solid at high speeds.
🛹 Park & Pipe
Are you curious about doing tricks with your skis, like spins, jumps, riding rails, and flips? This is called freestyle skiing. Ever heard of “twintip skis”? Yep, “twintips” are park & pipe skis. They’re short, light, and narrow with upturned tails to make landing a cinch. Their symmetrical dimension facilitates backward or forward skiing (aka “switch” riding) and even weight distribution while riding rails or spinning.
🗺️ Alpine Touring
Backcountry skiing takes place off-piste (French for “off route”), which means outside the boundaries of a ski resort. Beyond the resort, there are no snow grooming machines, but there is fresh snow. Alpine touring skis (AKA ski mountaineering skis) are lightweight and designed for trekking and uphill mobility.
Styles & Feel
By now, you should have enough information to help you figure out what type and size of skis you need. If you want to learn more about ski construction, then keep reading!
There are 4 key factors when it comes to how skis are built:
- Waist - The width of a ski.
- Flex - A ski’s level of flexibility.
- Profile - The shape of the ski’s tip (the beginning of the ski) and tail (the end of the ski.)
- Rocker - The shape and design of the ski’s curvature.
A ski’s width can be found at its middle point—it’s often the narrowest point of the ski. Ever seen three ski specs on a ski before, like this: 122/86/115mm? These numbers are referring to the ski tip, waist, and tail measurements. The narrower the waist, the quicker your turns will be on hard snow. A wide waist with more surface area is appropriate for skiing on soft, powder snow.
This quality is pretty self-evident—it refers to the flexibility of the ski. Factors to consider when it comes your ski’s flex are your weight, skiing ability level, and the type of terrain you plan on traversing. If you’re heavier or an advanced skier, or you want to ski on powder snow, you’ll need stiffer skis. The different levels of flex, from most flexible to least, are: very soft, soft, medium, stiff, and very stiff.
When considering a ski’s profile, there are normally three things to look at: its shape, turning radius, and rocker (we’ll unpack this term in the next section.)
The shape is the ski’s tail; the design of the tail will determine how the ski finishes (or exits) a turn. A few common shapes are twin tip, flared, and flat.
- Twin tips are named for skis with identical tips and tails, and are popular for freestyle skiing.
- Flared tips are versatile—they have better grip while carving but release turns with ease.
- Flat are recommended for aggressive skiers and racers who ski fast. It’s tougher to exit a turn in flat-shaped skis.
The turning radius of a ski is defined by its arc when tipped on edge. The narrower a ski's waist width is in relation to its tip and tail, the shorter and faster the turn will be.
|Turning Radius||Turn Type||Skiing Style|
|Under 14M||Short Turns||Carving & All-Mountain|
|14 to 22M||Medium Turns||All-Mountain, Park & Pipe|
|More than 22M||Long Turns||Powder & Big Mountain|
A ski’s rocker is its profile, or the curvature or arc pattern it forms when looking at it from the side.
Now, when you refer to a ski as a “rockered” ski, it means it’s convexed (like a bowl.) A “cambered” ski is concave (take that bowl and turn it upside down.) These qualities can also be combined into a single ski as Rocker/Camber or Rocker/Camber/Rocker.
Rockered skis are great for soft, powder snow. Cambered are popular among Racers and Park & Pipe skiers, or anyone skiing on hard, packed snow.
You’ll often find the Rocker/Camber profile in all-mountains skis, which provide edge and stability. The Rocker/Camber/Rocker profile is more versatile and good for beginners, park & pipe skiers, and powder skiers.
Congrats! You completed this guide. ⛷️
That's it! Hope you found this guide to be useful, but if you still have questions, contact us anytime! Happy skiing!