Q: I’m considering purchasing a new pair of skate skis. I’m curious about skate ski length recommendations. The ski experts at the shops, whether in person or via phone, have made good argument that one should always go with the longest ski available for your specific weight as it will be faster and more stable, like a longer wheelbase bicycle. I’ve also been told that at 5’8″, a 177cm and even the 182cm length is too short. I ride a large frame on a bicycle due to long legs and short torso, but I don’t understand how a skier’s height should dictate ski length, as the ski can only “feel” my weight.
A: Ski manufacturers do know what they are talking about regarding their ski’s fit. Manufacturers ski fit recommends and all around race ski for junior, senior and master racers with good technique and good fitness.
A skate ski is fast over varied terrain because it has a front and rear glide zones connected by a middle bridge that suspends the skier above the snow and springs up and down over the slight variations in terrain or weight transfer changes without bottoming out scrubbing speed. A properly fit ski will ensure that the bridge is always suspending the skier and distributing loads front and rear and not bottoming out and transferring the load straight down at one location directly under the skier. If this happens the ski will slow down dramatically and often pivot under the foot like hands on a clock. If the ski is too stiff all your weight will just be transferred to a small front and rear glide zones and you will be riding a very long bridge that will be unstable from edge to edge and plow in softer snow.
World Cup racers have a quiver of skis for every condition and only ski one length. On the World Cup most all women ski 182, most all men ski 192. This is where most R & D is done so these are often the best lengths from every manufacturer and the most common length made and also sold. And they ski flexes similar to what is outlined here but as they have great fitness and technique they may at times ski slightly stiffer perhaps 10% stiffer skate skis or skis with slightly higher cambers as discussed. We used to have to select skis for super soft conditions and super hard conditions by changing the MF flex % up or down. But now most every brand makes specific skis for Soft Ground, Cold, Warm, constructions so now most often stay with similar flexes across condition and let the ski construction do the snow specific work rather than just the ski flex. This results in much better performance in every condition.
The farther a skier is outside the norm the harder it is find the ski with the perfect fit. Skiers over 90kg require a special ski to distribute their weight and ski brands make such skis, not by lengthening the ski gut by creating special layups and flexes to accommodate.
The biggest improvement in skis over the past decade is in quality control so that pair after pair is arriving at the stores as designed and the MF #’s tell you who it will fit. So you can be confident that if you stay within the brands recommendations you will have a great ski on the snow.
Hope this helps.
– Andy at SkiPost.com