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Buying Skis for Intermediates

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If you have been skiing for a while and you want to get skis appropriate for your skill level this guide can lead you in the right direction. As you are no longer a beginner, and you ski with confidence you also need skis that will be more responsive in order to progress further.

There is a wide range of skis at the advanced level so it is best to focus on where you want to spend most of your time skiing and get skis that are perfect for the type of terrain or style.
Additional details like width, turning radius and different ski profiles will give you an even better understanding of how to personalize your choices. Our goal is to guide you to find the perfect skis for your skiing style so you can have the time of your life on your ski vacation.

If you are new to skiing or are still at the beginner level then we have created a guide for that as well. Have a read through Ski Buying Guide for Beginners for more details.

ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS - The best all-round skis

All Mountain skis are perfect for those that enjoy a mixture of on and off-piste. They will still be most suitable for on-piste skiing but will have the added ability to handle some softer snow off-piste. You can enjoy the whole day skiing and not worry about the changing quality of the snow on the slope. Although they are great for the various snow conditions, they aren't necessarily a master of any one terrain. Another characteristic of All Mountains skis is the rocker tip where the front of the ski rises upwards off the snow. This enables these skis to turn easily and handle bumpy conditions. If you’re only going to own one pair of skis to do it all, this is what you want.

Choosing All Mountain skis:
There is a wide range of All Mountain skis and their performance on different snow conditions can differ. One of the main characteristics of the ski that can help you to narrow down the selection is the waist width of the ski. The waist width for All Mountain skis typically ranges from 80-100 mm. Skis with a narrower width favor on-piste and the wider width increase the performance off-piste. So if you are mainly skiing on the piste and from time to time try some off-piste skiing, it is a good idea to choose skis with waist width closer to 80 mm. On the other hand, if you also like to explore the soft snow next to the slopes you might want to choose skis with wider widths closer to 100 mm.

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PISTE SKIS - The best skis for carving on groomed pistes

If you like to spend most of your time on groomed slopes and focus on your technique then a pair of Piste skis will be right for you. The skis are designed with a narrow waist ranging from 68 - 80 mm and a camber profile. This allows the skis to grip the firm surface of the snow and give you great control.

Choosing Piste skis:
Skiers that spend most of their time on-piste generally develop a skiing style that favors a particular size of turn. Choosing skis that have a turning radius that matches your style will help you get the most out of them. Piste skis turning radius is typically between 13- 17 m where the small numbers produce shorter turns and the larger numbers produce bigger turns. It is also important to note that there is a wide range of Piste Skis so remember to search for skis appropriate to your level. The beginner skis will be softer and more forgiving than stiffer and heavy expert skis.

Within the Piste skis, you can also find high-end Race skis that are typically very stiff and performance-oriented. Slalom Race Skis (SL) will have a very small turning radius around 10-13 m while Giant Slalom Race Skis (GS) has a very large turning radius of 22 m and more creating better stability.

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PARK SKIS/TWINTIP SKIS - The best skis for performing tricks

Park skis are perfect for those of you who desire to spend time in the snowpark practicing jumps, boxes, and half pipes. The main feature is the twintip profile where the skis rise up sharply at both ends. This allows skiers to take-off or land in switch (backward) without the tails catching the snow. Bindings are generally mounted closer to the middle of the ski to help weight distribution when spinning and jumping.

Choosing Park skis:
When it comes to choosing the perfect park skis for you, it is a good idea to know what tricks you want to perform. If you like the idea of having lots of fun and mainly focus on performing tricks on boxes and rails, then you should go for Park skis that have a wider waist width, around 85mm to 105mm, to provide you with better stability. These will usually be also quite soft and flexible. If you are leaning towards more speed and bigger jumps you will need narrower Park skis that are in a range of 80-95 mm in waist width. These will also be much stiffer for better stability when going fast or landing a jump.

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FREERIDE SKIS / BACKCOUNTRY SKIS - The best skis for powder snow

Freeride skis are for those that like to spend most of their time off-piste and in powder conditions. The wide width, generally between 90-120 mm, together with the early-rising tip (tip rocker) will help them float on the top of the snow and make turning easier. Although skiing technique in deep snow is very different from skiing on the sloped, it is a good idea to have a lot of experience from skiing on the groomed snow before getting your Freeride skis. In order to enjoy your adventures and stay safe, avalanche safety gear is always strongly recommended.

Choosing Freeride skis:
When it comes to choosing freeride skis, selecting the optimal waist width for your skiing style will help you to narrow your options and make the right decision. Freeride skiing with a larger waist width (100 mm and above) will help you to stay on the top of the snow, keep you floating and save your energy. Wide skis will therefore be perfect for those that want to do freeride skiing in deep snow. They are not suitable for piste skiing as they are hard to control on hardpack snow for the lack of grip ability. So if you are leaning towards a bit more versatile skis that are great for softer snow but you still want that maneuverability, skis with waist width around 90-100 mm will be a better choice. You will especially enjoy these skis if you love skiing in the forest next to the slopes.
To put it simply, the more wide the skis are the better they float on powder snow but also the less they are able to carve on firm snow.

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TOURING SKIS - The best skis for climbing adventures outside of resorts

Touring skis are for the adventurous ones that want to explore off-piste areas outside of the resort. It involves having appropriate equipment such as touring bindings and skins to allow you to ascend up the mountain before descending. The width of the skis can range from medium to wide (80 - 120 mm) and they are lighter in design to make climbing easier. This is a very niche type of ski that requires lots of experience and therefore is suitable mostly for experts. Avalanche safety gear is necessary equipment for your adventures.

Choosing touring skis:
When it comes to choosing touring skis, it is a good idea to know whether you are a more uphill or downhill oriented skier.
Touring Skis that are more oriented for downhill and used more in powder conditions would generally be longer (not more than 10 cm of body length). Also to float better on the top of the snow, the skis are generally a bit wider waist as well (95 mm and up). In contrast, skiers oriented more for uphill would prefer shorter skis for lowering the weight as much as possible, typically around the chin height as well as narrower skis (width 95 mm and below).

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Choose the right Ski Length

The length of your skis should mainly be a reflection of your height, skill level, and the type of skiing you wish to do.

Most skis come in 4 or 5 sizes so you can pick the size that is closest to your recommended length from the size chart (3cm longer or shorter than the number is not a problem).

Weight and skiing style can be secondary factors that you can use to determine the best ski length. If your weight is considerably lighter or heavier than the average person, you can choose shorter or longer skis. Shorter skis for lighter people and longer skis for heavier people. Skiing style is similar to speed, so for the more aggressive/fast skiers, longer skis will improve stability. For a skier that is more steady and cautious, they can maximize the maneuverability on shorter skis.


The picture illustrates the ski length for an intermediate skier

All Mountain/
Piste skis
Twintip/
Park skis
Freeride/
Backcountry
First-timer your height -20 cm -10 cm -5 cm
Beginner your height -15 cm -10 cm -5 cm
Intermediate your height -10 cm -5 cm your height
Advanced your height -5 cm your height your height
Expert your height your height +5 cm

Skis with or without Bindings

There is no doubt that bindings are an important part of your skis. Not only will they keep you attached to the skis but also ensure your safety. Conveniently, all Piste skis and most All Mountain skis already come with bindings. This way you don't need to worry about choosing the right bindings as they are matching the level of experience of the chosen skis. Skis that come with the bindings are easily sized adjustable which can be very convenient if you are renting ski boots or sharing skis within your family.

Skis that come without bindings require purchasing bindings separately which gives you an option to customize your choice and select the placement of them on the skis. This is especially convenient if you are an experienced Freeride or Park skier. Mounting service can be quite pricey however if you order skis with bindings with SkatePro, we mount and adjust the bindings free of charge. More information on bindings can be found on the Buying alpine ski bindings guide.

Waist Width

As well as length, ski width can have a big influence on performance with the waist width measurement being the most important one. The waist of the ski is found at the narrowest part and is the distance from edge to edge given in millimeters.

The number describing the width measurement is always shown in the ski specs and written alongside the tip and tail measurements: Tip - Waist - Tail. The waist width is therefore always located in the middle. Example: (i.e. 141/108/124mm)

Skis that have narrow waists are generally easier to turn as it takes little time to change from one edge to another. The pressure and weight from the skier is more concentrated over a narrower/smaller area which in turn, increases the grip on the snow. Wider waisted skis have a larger surface so this increases their ability to float on powder snow. They also provide good stability when riding over choppy or rough terrain.

Turning Radius

To put it simply, the ski radius will determine how easily the skis turn. This information is usually shown in the specifications of the ski model.

There is no universal answer to which turning radius is best as it depends on the preferred style and type of ski. The turning radius can be divided into 3 categories - small, medium, and large.

A small turning radius is typically on-piste skis with a radius of 17 meters and less. They are great for skiing on the groomed snow and for the skiers that prefer making short, quick turns.

Medium turning radius found mostly on All Mountain skis with a radius between 17-22 meters is great for those, who enjoy the mixture of on and off-piste skiing.

Large turning radius which can be found on Freeride skis ranges from 22 meters and more. Skis with a large radius will be really stable when skiing in deep snow or at high speeds so they are suited for the fast aggressive skier.

Ski Profiles - Rocker and Camber

CAMBER

Skis with camber have an arcing curve that runs along most of the ski which makes the middle part rise off the snow. This shape increases pressure at the tip and tail and therefore improves edging ability. Camber is found in nearly all Piste skis as well as many All Mountain and Freeride skis.

ROCKER/REVERSE CAMBER

Skis with rocker are characterized by ski curving upwards at the tip of the ski or the tip and tail. Rocker increases the ability to float on top of deep snow and makes it very easy to enter and exit turns. It is found in nearly all types of skis with there being some exception within the Piste Skis.

FULL ROCKER

This profile is aiming to excel in powder snow and makes turning easier. It is very forgiving and generally feels shorter in length than it actually is due to both the tip and tail not being in contact with the snow.

TIP ROCKER

Provides a nice balance between maneuverability and effective edging. The camber is shaped along the length on most of the ski to provide great edge grip and control and the tip rocker creates some playfulness and improves its capabilities in powder snow.

TIP AND TAIL ROCKER

This mix of rocker with camber is a very popular profile due to its versatility. The tip and tail rocker means it will excel on powder snow but it has the added advantage of camber to improve its All Mountain ability. When taken on-piste it will feel a little shorter in length due to the rockered tips and tails.

TWINTIP

The raised tip and tail allow you to easily ski backwards, take off or land a jump backwards, and generally just make the skis very playful. The bindings are usually mounted close to the center of the skis for a better feel of balance when doing tricks.

Other Useful Guides

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