Top Ski Features to Look For When Buying For the First Time.

in Skiing

So, you decided to buy your first pair of skis, excited? – I know I would be, usually when we do something for the first time there are lots of expectations, in this case if you are new to skiing there are some things that you may want to consider before getting your first ski set, what’s right for you, length, width, types of ski, buying new or second hand, knowing the basics will help you buy top skis with a little more authority.

This is why I want to give you some tips so you can be sure to buy the best top skis out there and enjoy this great sport/lifestyle.

First Top Ski feature is Types of Skis

The shaped family of skis is divided into various groups:

  • Carvers - for nice tight turns predominantly on groomed trails – narrow waist.

  • All-mountain skis – good versatility across a range of conditions, from groomed to crud to powder – slightly wider waists.

  • Mid-fat and fat skis - predominantly for powder – much wider waists.

  • Twin-tips – skis for tricks and the half-pipe – look like they’ve got two fronts.

In practice, a new recreational skier should be fine with either a pair of carvers or a pair of mountain skis.

Another Top Ski Feature to look for is Straight vs. Shaped

In the old days, way back before the mid-nineties, people consider a top ski the one that looked straight i.e. the sides of the skis ran pretty much parallel to each other and they skied on them. The technical term for these skis now is “plank” (plāngk).

Modern top skis are “shaped” and have sides that are curved in a “waisted” or hourglass shape.

Anyone buying skis today will buy shaped skis. Unless you want to know how granddaddy felt on the snow, it’s that simple.

Ski Basics


Perhaps the single most important top ski attribute to pay attention to. Put simply, longer skis are faster and more stable at higher speeds; shorter skis are more maneuverable and easier to turn.

The length of skis that will suit you will depend on your weight, height and level of experience. The heavier, taller and more experienced you are the longer the ski you’ll need.

If you’re new to this, don’t get dazzled with the idea of speed. Skis that are too long for your ability will be hard to control and you’ll spend more of your time falling than actually learning how to ski well.


The next thing the novice should pay attention to, and second in importance to length in its effect on your skiing experience, is the stiffness of your ski.

A stiff ski takes more effort to turn and control and is more likely to throw the inexperienced skier on a bump. Softer skis are more forgiving, easier to turn and will absorb those rutted Ruapehu slopes better.

Unfortunately, a newcomer will have too little exposure to different types of ski to judge stiffness.

Aren’t they all stiff? So, if you’re on the mountain and can demo a pair, take them for a spin and see how they feel. Otherwise, ask the experts or check online.


The width of a ski is measured in three places: the widest part of the tip (or shovel), the middle (or waist), and the widest part of the tail. Consequently, you’ll see ski widths like: 117-70-109 where tip = 117mm, waist = 70mm, tail = 109mm.

Generally, the wider the waist of the ski, the more “floatation” it will provide. The narrower it is, the easier and tighter you’ll be able to turn. Top skis designed for powder and soft snow will have wider waists. Those designed for fast turns and groomed trails will have narrower waists. For the general recreational skier, anything around 70mm, or a bit less, will be fine.

So, if you are buying skis for the very first time, make sure you get not just what seems popular or cheap or pretty, instead follow these top ski tips to buy what you feel more comfortable with and what will suit you better.

Good luck and happy skiing!

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James J has 1 articles online

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Top Ski Features to Look For When Buying For the First Time.

This article was published on 2012/09/14