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How to find your length and width?

Russellba

Diva in Training
I’m so confused by the recommendations on length and I really need some advice on HOW TO TELL when a ski is too long or too short.

I’m 5’1” and about 140 lbs. I’m an intermediate skier and my local hill is Kelly Canyon in Eastern Idaho. I learned initially a bit as a kid and teen on straight skis in the East coast but since moving to Idaho as a forty-something with a now six year old speed demon-child, I’ve progressed a lot in the last two and a half seasons and I’m pretty comfortable on all the groomed blue and easy black trails at Kelly. More than half of the blues and most of the blacks are not corduroy, they are generally pretty choppy and fairly steep and I’m looking at improving my skiing on them as my late season/next season challenge. I’m not into being super speedy and I’d like to feel more stable in the chop. I’m not sure if that’s a skill level or a gear issue though. There also aren’t a whole lot of demo options for me locally due to my height.

Last year I leased and bought out the lease on 156 cm 92 waist Blizzard Rustler Team Jr skis. I was also 40 lbs heavier when I initially leased them so that may also factor in. They get crossed a lot in lift lines and sometimes on the hill and I definitely can get the tails or tips caught in the chop or in slush. I had a lot of trouble on powder days this year too. I feel like they might be too long but I’m not really sure how to tell?

I’ve been demoing the one ski I could find locally that is shorter the last few days. By chance one of the two shops had a pair of 149 cm 2021 k2 mindbenders with an 88 waist that is just sitting around. At first I hated them but yesterday I was able to move the bindings up about an inch on the ski and that made them feel more stable and I liked how zippy they felt on the groomers after that. A lot of skiers my height seem to be going longer though so I’m not sure how you tell if your skis feel short? Regardless, I’m actually looking for something that would be damper in the chop and these were not it!

it sounds like I am looking for something stable and damp but also more nimble for turning than my current pair? Is this a unicorn? My science brain tells me to go with shorter (148-152) and wider (90-98) to meet my needs (or what I think my needs are….) I’m still new to this and I read that wider is riskier for the knees, especially for petite people.

I’ve seen good reviews for stability for the Nordica Santa Ana 93 or 98 and the Vokl Secret 96 and I can get a good deal online on a demo pair of the Vokls .im worried that these might be too much ski for my experience level though. Reviewers use terms like “demanding” and I’m not sure what they mean. I feel like my current skis are demanding and that’s one reason I’m looking for new ones.

Also, I’m looking at 2021/2022 models because putting out more than a couple hundred bucks is not happening until I’m more advanced and I used had to replace the transmission on my Subaru. Also planning on upgrading my boots next year, I know they aren’t fab but they are serviceable.

Am I on the right track or completely off base? Should I just keep skiing on what I have next season and improve my skills? Are there other models that you Divas would recommend?
Thanks so much!
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
A lot of it can be preference and it varies from ski to ski as some ski shorter or longer than others. It’s helpful when you can demo and figure out what you like. Also, there is a saying the skis see weight not height. This isn’t a rule or anything, as a shorter person with really long legs could also exert more power to their skis or a small person with a race background who is a very powerful skier might do the same etc. but if one is heavier for their height then this should be factored in too.

You can usually tell a ski is too short when you get chatter and instability at speed. You might also find a ski too long when it isn’t as nimble or quick turning as you’d want/expect. Level and terrain choices play into it too.

For reference, I am 5’4” 125lbs and my sweet spot for skis is usually in the mid 160s for length. I do have a couple of pairs in the high 150s as well because they are especially stable and nimble at that length. If I were to get a skinny/stiff carving specific ski it’d also be in that high 150s range If I skied out West and wanted a true powder ski it might be in the low 170s length. I’m a finesse skier, not a powerful one and I often ski advanced terrain. There are a lot of factors that go into it.

If you can demo some skis in various lengths it’d be beneficial to be able to see the differences and your preferences first hand.
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I’ve seen good reviews for stability for the Nordica Santa Ana 93 or 98 and the Vokl Secret 96 and I can get a good deal online on a demo pair of the Vokls .im worried that these might be too much ski for my experience level though. Reviewers use terms like “demanding” and I’m not sure what they mean. I feel like my current skis are demanding and that’s one reason I’m looking for new ones
Demanding tends to mean it requires more input from the skier. These tend to be skis with metal in them that are on the stiffer side. You might also see them described as "hard charging." The other end of the spectrum is playful, which tends to be more turny and less directional. Powder 7 has a filter option on a 1-5 scale. You might like something more on the playful end or at least in the middle.

Do you happen to recall which Mindbender you tried? There are so many, and they range in stiffness quite a bit. The only 88 I see is the 88Ti Alliance, in which case the instability would likely be due to the length more than the ski.

Mid 150s seems reasonable in terms of length, especially on something with tip and tail rocker. Width seems to come down to preference. The most damp but also easy to turn ski I've tried so far is the Nordica Wild Belle 84. It has a rubber layer in between the wood, but you might want more tail rocker if you have issues with catching on the runs. The Volkl Blaze 86 is very popular among the Divas this year. I haven't personally tried it yet. It's quite rockered, but I've seen differing opinions on dampness.

Personally, I found the Santa Ana 93 a bit on the stiff side for me and preferred the Salomon QST 92. Sheeva 9 is probably worth a look, too. I could only try it in a too-short length that didn't feel stable at speed.
 

Tori_j

Diva in Training
Hey there! My thinking is this... The first few days you ski on a longer ski you'll think it's horrible. You might be crossing them and getting all tangled up, but give it a few days and you'll start to notice improvements in stability at speed and likely feel you can better trust your skis. Not all skis are actually the length they claim. You could have a 160 that is shorter, side by side, to a 155 depending on how the brand measures. But generally for someone 5'1, 155-165 is probably a good range for your height and if you are improving then that length should be good for you to progress. Among my female friends, what I often see is that the more advanced of a skier, the longer your skis. I'm 5'3 and like my skis in the mid 160's, but can ski a 170 no problem, I just get a little clunky in trees on a 170 so I don't own any that long. But I have friends my height who are much better than me who only ski 170+.
Nordica Santa Ana's are heavy, so they will put strain on your legs that will take time to get used to. But they are a stable ski, they're just heavy.
Volkl's are indeed "demanding". I ski quite a bit and I demo'd the Secrets the other day and kept catching edges (which is super rare for me). So I deemed them to be the type of ski that you have to learn how to use, def not the type that make you feel like a better skier the moment you put them on.
Regarding width... The wider the ski the longer it takes to build up the strength to ski them all day. But a ski with a good camber profile can reduce the amount of work your legs need to do while still giving you the stability you are looking for.
And it's taken me a few seasons of living in Colorado to learn to ski powder, so that may not be your skis, it just takes time. However as you figured out binding placement is super important for powder skiing. Mount your bindings a few centimeters back from the recommendations and it will be less work to keep your tips up in powder.

Some recommendations I would make given where you ski:
Coalition Snow Rebel
ROSSIGNOL Rallybird 94 or 102
Black Crow Camox
Pandora Line 94
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
So, in simplest terms, you're adult-sized, so you should be on adult skis. The Blizzard Rustler Team Jr skis are probably not too long for you. The 149 Mindbenders are likely too short. BUT, I think the width is appropriate. Tip crossing while moving in the lift line suggests an alignment issue -- i.e., for whatever reason, your skis are not moving forward in parallel. Have you been able to get to a bootfitter to see whether that's the case? Are your tips crossing on one side only? If when you're on a flat moving forward by shuffling and your skis are crossing, you're going to be fighting against a lot when gravity is involved on a slope.

Instead of thinking in terms of length, consider the construction of the ski. As an intermediate, maybe a softer ski, but longer, rather than a stiffer, shorter ski. "Demanding" usually refers to requiring to be precise with balance - vs a forgiving ski has a bigger sweet spot - you can be too far back or whatever and still not lose balance.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I second the thought of not focusing too much on length. I am 150 pounds and have skis that range from 165 to 178 in length. My narrowest skis are the shortest.


I hate anything over 95 underfoot in bumps, but also hate my ultra stiff 165 shortest skis in crud as they are very stiff amd super narrow underfoot. So many combos out there in terms of width, length, stiffness, camber and tip and tail shapes that just looking at length can fail to tell the whole story.

Length really has more to do with our weight and skill level and desired ski outcome as the ability to properly flex it without overflexing it is the key. I have tall yet very lanky women on the same ski that only goes to their chin while I would need it to the top of my head as I am heavier than they are for it to feel stable.

So many more things to add but unsure where to even start. Skis crossing can be a result of being too wide to easily manage, or input error, or boot issues....
 

Russellba

Diva in Training
What skis were you on when you felt comfortable?

EDIT: as in not crossing your tips, etc.
I’m pretty comfortable on my existing 156 cm 92 waist Blizzards but I do cross tips occasionally and I got a bit freaked out when I started reading charts online that suggested 140-144 cm for my height. After trying the 149 cm 88Ti mindbenders the last three days I only felt stable on them on groomed hard pack. Today we had a few inches of fresh powder and I was all over the place until I switched back to my own skis.
 

Russellba

Diva in Training
I second the thought of not focusing too much on length. I am 150 pounds and have skis that range from 165 to 178 in length. My narrowest skis are the shortest.


I hate anything over 95 underfoot in bumps, but also hate my ultra stiff 165 shortest skis in crud as they are very stiff amd super narrow underfoot. So many combos out there in terms of width, length, stiffness, camber and tip and tail shapes that just looking at length can fail to tell the whole story.

Length really has more to do with our weight and skill level and desired ski outcome as the ability to properly flex it without overflexing it is the key. I have tall yet very lanky women on the same ski that only goes to their chin while I would need it to the top of my head as I am heavier than they are for it to feel stable.

So many more things to add but unsure where to even start. Skis crossing can be a result of being too wide to easily manage, or input error, or boot issues....
Thanks so much! I’m coming up to Jackson to ski snow king once or twice before the season ends do you know if it is better to do demos from their shop or from someplace else in town.
 

Skac1919

Diva in Training
Greeting from another 40-something with a 6 year old speed demon. It’s a fun time!

What you describe seems a little rough just for ski’s being one size too short. They shouldn’t be crossing and causing you that much trouble in lift lines. I am a little curious if they don’t need tuning or some type of binding adjustment that would improve performance for you.

You may be on to something about your boots too. If they are too big or the buckles are too loose, you’ll be struggling to steer as the terrain gets more challenging, regardless of ski. Esp if you are now getting into a wider variety of terrain than previously (like the ‘kids glades’?!?!) If you’re going to invest, boots with an intermediate level of flex, the right size and buckle configuration are probably worthwhile, along with some sharpening/waxing depending how often you’re going out.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I’m pretty comfortable on my existing 156 cm 92 waist Blizzards but I do cross tips occasionally and I got a bit freaked out when I started reading charts online that suggested 140-144 cm for my height. After trying the 149 cm 88Ti mindbenders the last three days I only felt stable on them on groomed hard pack. Today we had a few inches of fresh powder and I was all over the place until I switched back to my own skis.
What were you on before these though? Has there been a time where you felt your tips didn't cross so much? I think most charts online suggest too short skis because they are calibrated for the average male height and things get out of whack when it comes to us more petite people (short males included!)
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I don't know much about the King's rental shop. Likely to be the most convenient relative to where you are skiing. Hoback Sports also does daily rentals and they are in town as well, so only a 5 minute drive, if that.

May be worth looking at the brands and models each one carries.
 

Russellba

Diva in Training
What were you on before these though? Has there been a time where you felt your tips didn't cross so much? I think most charts online suggest too short skis because they are calibrated for the average male height and things get out of whack when it comes to us more petite people (short males included!)
The last skis before these were rentals over 20 years ago so I don’t have great context.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The last skis before these were rentals over 20 years ago so I don’t have great context.
Hmm, well I would consider a lesson with an instructor who can see you first hand. Mention your concerns to them and they might be able to give you more valuable advice since they will be there with you.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
I'm with the crowd that thinks you're on the wrong ski. The Rustler Jr, is a kids ski, or maybe a tweener. You need adult skis. So women's ski would be the answer. Then you need a longer ski. It's not just height, but add in weight and strength. I really shouldn't be able to ski a metal ski, but I love my tuned down race skis.

So, I think first is to find the right ski in construction, then length. Then maybe a tune up lesson to see what just is or isn't happening
 

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