Short vs. Long Skis

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Short skis allow you to make shorter sharper turns but are slower in general and have less control at higher speeds while longer skis have a larger turning radius but will let you ski faster and give you more control at higher speeds.

The general rule is to pick a ski that is between your chin and the top of your head when you stand it next to you in street shoes. Skis in this range will be great all-mountain skis. Pro and expert skiers may choose skis that are slightly taller than their height.

What Are The Advantages of Shorter Skis?

Shorter skis are lighter and easier to turn and maneuver. This is especially true if you are mostly skiing packed snow or well-groomed trails where the skis won’t sink into the snow as much. 

Shorter skis are faster to react when you want to turn. This is great for beginners who ski slow and want more control.

Shorter skis are great for beginner skiers or even experienced skiers that are getting a little older and don’t want to work as hard to turn the skis. You won’t go as fast, but you’ll use less energy which might mean more time on the slopes. 

Some advanced skiers may also opt to keep a pair of shorter skis specifically for moguls or rough terrain. Short and wide skis may be very helpful for tree skiing.

Downsides of Shorter Skis

While shorter skis may be easier to handle and quicker to turn, there are some disadvantages as well, especially if you are skiing steeper and faster slopes. 

The smaller turning radius can be problematic if you are skiing at high speeds. Tight turns at speed can put more pressure on the legs and result in more muscle and tendon strains. Too tight of a turn at high speeds can even cause a wipeout and more serious injuries.  

What Are The Advantages of Longer Skis?

Longer skis have more surface area which prevents them from sinking into the snow as much. As a result, you’ll glide over the top of the snow faster and with less friction, allowing you to reach higher maximum speeds.

The increased surface area also makes it easier to ski deep powder areas because you’ll sink less into the snow. 

The longer edge means more edge contact with the snow when turning. This means that you can have more control at higher speeds and your skis will be more stable. 

Longer skis also have a wider turning radius. For many downhill skiers, this is desirable as it allows you to make smoother longer turns while maintaining your downhill momentum. This helps you stay in control while skiing fast and also helps you maintain your speed while turning.

The stability of longer skis can actually make for more comfortable skiing and less stress on the body. They also handle icy conditions a lot better than shorter skis. 

In general, if you like skiing fast and aggressively, then long skis are the choice for you.

Downsides of Longer Skis

With the advantages of longer skis also come some disadvantages as well. 

Not all skiers want to or need to ski faster. So the increased speed from longer skis may be too much for the beginner or inexperienced skiers. 

Longer skis take more leg strength or weight to maneuver. In order to turn your skis, you need to be able to put enough pressure on them to bend the ski and get it in the proper position to have the edge in contact with the snow. 

The larger turning radius also means that you need to have the skill and experience to plan your turns more in advance. With longer skis, it’s more difficult to make quick cuts to avoid hazards like ice, rocks, or moguls. 

Tree skiing or tight chutes can be a real problem with long skis. Long boards don’t provide a lot of options in these kinds of situations.

This may not be an issue if you stick to the freshly groomed trails, but can be quite dangerous for steep trails if you aren’t careful. 

Are Longer Skis Faster?

Longer skis are faster because they have more surface area which prevents them from sinking into the snow as much as shorter skis, but a skilled skier will be able to control their speed even on longer skis. 

What If Your Skis Are Too Short?

If your skis are too short then you will ski slower and may have trouble maneuvering in softer conditions.

Smaller skis will sink into the snow more than longer skis. So if your skis are too short for your size and weight, then you could get stuck in the snow or at least be slowed down considerably. 

Does Ski Width Matter?

Ski width is dependent on what type of terrain you want to ski on. Wider skis will help you float over powder but will take more work to turn. Narrower skis are better for groomers or hard packed and icy conditions. 

If you’re looking for an all-mountain ski, a good width is around 100 mm. This will give you an everyday, fairly universal ski for most resort skiing. That is wide enough to handle variable snow and you can vary the sidecut to be more aggressive to help with carving. 

Are Longer Or Shorter Skis Better For Beginners?

Shorter skis are better for beginners because they are smaller, lighter, and easier to handle. The tighter turning radius makes it easy to learn to turn and carve down the mountain.

What Size Ski Should I Use?

If you’re not sure what ski size you should be using, then this sizing chart will give you a good starting point based on your height.

Keep in mind, though, that beginners and less skilled skiers should consider a size at the low end of the range on the chart for more control, while advanced skiers that intend to ski fast should consider a ski at the higher end of the range or perhaps even longer than the chart indicates.

Height (ft/in)Height (cm)Suggested Ski Length
6’4″ >193180-200
Size chart from evo website.

How To Choose Skis