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Wide Skis and Your Knees: Bigger Isn't Always Better.

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
Interesting article here.

What do you think? And what's your experience with this?
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
This is not new. And been discussed many times on different platforms. All I know is 1 day on groomers with my SA 88's, and I'm talking east coast hard groomers, my knees HURT! Soft groomers like out west I'm fine.

I also find some of the wider skis are not stiff enough for hard groomers. The ski tends to slide away from me instead of gripping. Then you have to change the angle to a higher angle to get it to bite. And then the whole thing starts again with sore knees.

I like that fact that they have explained the geometry of the connections.
 

skibum4ever

Angel Diva
Up until recently I was skiing Nordica Wildfires (105) as my daily driver. A couple of years ago I started skiing my Nordica Nrgy (90) on hardback. Despite having a replacement knee, I never felt any strain from the wider skis.

However, I have been following this discussion with great interest. If I do ski again this season or next, I will definitely look for a ski in the high 70's or low 80's.
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It'll be interesting to see how I feel about this next season, coming off of a torn MCL. But I've never had sore knees after using my wider skis, even on (West Coast) hardpack/refrozen crud... and my widest skis last season were 106. But I'm also 33 and have never had a bad knee injury before.

Ironically, I tore my MCL while on my skinniest skis (hit some slush and caught an edge).
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
I hope this gets studied more by ski manufacturers. I think that it's silly to expect people to have perfect technique to explore their local hill, so wider skis that can help people float makes sense to me. But as consumers we should be aware of the potential long-term damage that could be done from regular use of wider skis.
 

IceHeeler

Angel Diva
It's interesting. I have a full quiver, but I haven't ever noticed a difference on how the different widths affect my knees. The only time I felt pain directly from a ski was when I used an old school unshaped ski (I had swapped skis with my sister). As I learned on shaped, I had never experienced the physicality required to turn on the older style.
 

Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I sure feel the difference.
I mostly ski on 75 and 88 waist now. When I used to ski on 100, my knees felt more fatigued.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
I don’t feel a difference on my knees either. I really like the mid-80s to mid-90s range and most often ski a 92mm waist in the East.
 

Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I hope this gets studied more by ski manufacturers. I think that it's silly to expect people to have perfect technique to explore their local hill, so wider skis that can help people float makes sense to me. But as consumers we should be aware of the potential long-term damage that could be done from regular use of wider skis.
They have done studies. I once went up on a chair with Kastle rep. He was the first one to tell me they just did an extensive studies on the ski waist and the long term knee relationship. He mentioned that I should get on less than 90 waist as a daily pair. It was about 4 years ago. The next season, one of my favourite pair, Kenja, came out as 88, instead of previous width of 90 for the first time.
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
They have done studies. I once went up on a chair with Kastle rep. He was the first one to tell me they just did an extensive studies on the ski waist and the long term knee relationship. He mentioned that I should get on less than 90 waist as a daily pair. It was about 4 years ago. The next season, one of my favourite pair, Kenja, came out as 88, instead of previous width of 90 for the first time.
That's interesting. I'd be curious what the rep thinks the average person is skiing. For example, is that recommendation for skiers usually on firm snow that never go off trail? I wonder if there is a way to get this information.
 

racetiger

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm also curious about that, the difference between firm Midwest/East Coast condition vs West coast condition ski width recommendation.

I also wonder how hip width, leg length, and thickness plays into this.

I learned on 65 width, when I went up to 81 it was quite an adjustment period. I felt like I had two skateboards on my feet. The next skis after that were 88 and 90. Another awkward adjustment period. But no knee pain other than just sore tired muscles while building up the strength and stamina. The widest I've skied was a 94 on a demo day.
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
I'm also curious about that, the difference between firm Midwest/East Coast condition vs West coast condition ski width recommendation.

I also wonder how hip width, leg length, and thickness plays into this.

I learned on 65 width, when I went up to 81 it was quite an adjustment period. I felt like I had two skateboards on my feet. The next skis after that were 88 and 90. Another awkward adjustment period. But no knee pain other than just sore tired muscles while building up the strength and stamina. The widest I've skied was a 94 on a demo day.

In the PNW it seems like the basic rentals are about 75-80mm. Seems like that's the on piste width here. So if you're going off-trail 85-95 mm makes sense.

I Learned on 72/76 mm and then went to 90 and didn't really notice a difference other than a drop off in carving performance. Haven't tried anything beyond that.

~15-20% of days at Mt Hood Meadows get 6in or more of snow...so it doesn't seems too crazy that people have a wider daily driver ski.
 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I don't know if it's my height or maybe just my knees, although gymnastics doesn't seem to bother my knees, but I notice a difference. Maybe not in a single day, but across the season I will. If I stick to my race skis more I can avoid knee soreness/stiffness better vs. when if I ski my Yumis more often (not that they're super wide, but they're wider).
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Haven't had any skis less than 87mm in the last decade and never noticed knee problems due to skiing. Running, yes but skiing, no.

Last trip to Switzerland I rented some Stockli AX 78 (I think) and hated them. That was their widest ski in my size (154 I think). Finally was able to find some skis not available in the US, but they were 84. Better.
 

Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That's interesting. I'd be curious what the rep thinks the average person is skiing. For example, is that recommendation for skiers usually on firm snow that never go off trail? I wonder if there is a way to get this information.
Try Googling.
I know you can find some findings. My friend told me she found articles about latest ski waist topic back a few years ago after telling her.
I believe the study was done by different people.
 

steezeling

Diva in Training
Try Googling.
I know you can find some findings. My friend told me she found articles about latest ski waist topic back a few years ago after telling her.
I believe the study was done by different people.
Google? Never heard of it!

But seriously I have googled and it's mostly scientific articles demonstrating the general principle (usually w/ski racers on hard pack), but no research to guide the recreational skier with consideration of their ski width or location.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
Everyone's knees are different. Age is a major issue, but it doesn't hold true for everyone. My knees have become arthritic. I haven't skied any really wide skis (widest: BP 82s), but I ski in the east and prefer even narrower ones. I haven't experienced knee pain with skiing, but I can tell the difference with the 82s and my knees. It's not a big deal (at that width!), but I have no urge to go wider in Eastern conditions. Except in a blizzard!
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I just love the feeling of narrower skis on hard groomers. I have 70mm piste skis and I would probably prefer not to go any wider than 75 I'd say, for a ski intended for groomers. My daily drivers are otherwise 88mm and they go pretty well everywhere. But especially if I'm able to swap skis throughout the day as the conditions change - I'll go for the narrower ski if the conditions suit it :smile:

The 88mm are still ok on hardpack, but something about the 70mm just feels a lot more comfortable for me, somehow!
 

nopoleskier

Angel Diva
I have old wrecked knees w/torn mcl's (no i'm not letting the surgeon in there)
I've been using CWX compression tights and am AMAZED at how much they help.
I had been using knee braces but don't with the CWX

I ski the East and go West for trips My daily driver is a 76 (liberty 76w) (I want Stockli CX 69 under foot)
I do swap out for my Renoun Z90's when it's heavier snow- they aren't too much on my knees- renouns are very knee friendly, still my favorite all around ski unless it's frozen corduroy. My old black pearls 88's are my knee savers for spring bumps.

I didn't fare so well on Liberty 104's they were too much on my knees- I'm not a 'schmearer' but a carver and laying those over really hurt.. So I replaced them with Sheeva 10's that did not hurt my knees last year at Alta in a wonderful powder storm. Western groomed is usually so much softer than the East and I think that saves my knees too.

Skinny skis definitely are easier on the knees- age, technique, aggressiveness, weight, all add to the formula.
Quicker turning for me is FUN- I can still tire my knees out by making a billion turns but
I found this article https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541126/ It has the photo from the original article-- and quotes from it!
 

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