Everything you need to know about skis

Everything you need to know about skis

Practical Skiing Advice

Everything you need to know about skis

After 40 years on skis and almost 20 years working in the industry as a ski instructor, ski chalet operator and ski shop owner, you could say that my opinion is qualified. I own over 1,000 sets of skis and boots!

So this item is really aimed at those who would really like to understand the basics. So, setting aside all you experts, here we go;

Introduction to the ski

A pair of skis comes in two components bolted together on each ski, the ski and the binding.  The ski is normally made of a wood core combined with carbon fibre or plastic and some steel.


The price of renting a ski is related directly to the cost of manufacturing, not your ski ability.

The ski has:

  1. The Tip (front end).
  2. The Tail (rear end).
  3. The  Waste (the middle).
  4. The surface (the pretty bit with all the art-deco graphics).
  5. The Base (underneath in contact with the ski slope).

The binding:

The ski binding is a safety device and secures your foot to the ski. The generally binding has two pieces, the front or toe binding and the rear or heel binding. Modern bindings are often fitted to a rail system. The rail is mounted on to the surface of the skis with screws and a strong adhesive.

Fact, the closer your ski boot is to the ski, the more improvement there will be to your technique.  If you are buying skis, buy good bindings to go on your good skis and eliminate the rail system. Some skis from a hire shop have rental bindings which are designed to fit a wider range of boot sizes. These bindings are often heavier and higher from the sole of the ski.

The binding is a SAFETY DEVICE. It holds your boot (and your body) firmly in the ski. However, it is designed to release your boot from the ski under certain circumstances in order to reduce the risk of injury. For example: if you make an error (even the experts do) and our knee is twisted in a different direction to where the ski is travelling, the binding is designed to release.

Ski Bindings are adjustable and specific to your weight, ski ability and boot sole length.

  • Weight: Know your exact weight. It’s important, remember, we are talking about a safety device adjusted to your specifics. Fact: Most overweight people provide the wrong weight.
  • Ski Ability: Some people believe their ski ability to be better than what experts would consider their ski ability to be.
  • Boot Sole length: not to be confused with your foot size or boot size. The Boot Sole Length can be measured from your ski boot toe to heel under the base of the boot. It’s easier to look for the embossed length on the side of the heel.

Always provide accurate height, weight and ski ability to your ski shop to reduce the risk of injury.

How long should my ski be?

Todays’ modern ski is designed for a technique called carving. The name given to turning the skis under control. This technique relies on the skier up-weighting and down-weighting in order to make the ski carve. Your skis should be the right size for your height, weight, ski style and ability. There is no magic formula for determining the length of your ski once your technique has developed but for the average novice and intermediate, I can recommend the following:

The length of the ski when stood upright should come between your chin and your nose.

To make the simple calculation that’s approximately 95% of your body height. For example; I am 5’11 inches (180cm). 95% of 180cm is 171cm. This is the recommended length for me.

It’s a fact, a taller ski will go faster and will require more skill to turn. So as your technique improves, go longer.

How wide should my ski be?

The ski width known as the waste, has a significant impact on how easy a ski is to turn. Narrower waste widths are perfect for groomed pistes and wider waste widths are better for powder and choppy surfaces. I would say for an adult ski, 60-80mm is a great width for carving on normal piste conditions. For deep powder, 100-120mm is going to suit the conditions best.

Ski Turning (Radius)?

The turn radius is the shape of the ski determined by its length, the tip width and the tail width. A ski with a deep side-cut (short turn radius) will make quicker turns whilst a ski with a subtle side-cut (long term radius) will turn more slowly and suit carving at faster speeds.

Bon Ski.

Oct 2020
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