How to Fit Downhill Skis

Properly fitted downhill skis enhance both safety and enjoyment.

Properly fitted downhill skis enhance both safety and enjoyment.

Although downhill skis look similar, they are not one-size-fits-all. Choosing the proper skis greatly enhances both safety and enjoyment, particularly for beginners. Expert skiers often have a preferred length and style, and notice differences in their performance when using different skis. Sizing downhill skis is an art rather than a science, and the final decision ultimately comes down to personal preferences.

Items you will need

  • Ski length chart

Step 1

Consult a ski length chart to find the proper range for your height. Skis are typically sized in centimeters. If you do not have a chart, stand a ski on its end. Properly fitted skis should reach somewhere between your chin and the top of your head.

Step 2

Narrow down the proper ski length according to your weight. If you weigh significantly less than the average for your height, choose skis near the shorter end of your designated range. If you weigh more than average, choose skis at the top end of the range.

Step 3

Consider your current ability level. Shorter skis are easier for a beginner to control, while longer skis provide maximum speed and trail flexibility for experts.

Step 4

Match your ski length to your preferred skiing conditions. Longer skis are best for soft powder and off-trail conditions, and tend to ski faster on groomed trails. Shorter skis offer enhanced maneuverability and create quick turns.

Step 5

Fine-tune your ski selection by choosing modern technological enhancements. Today’s skis come in a wide variety of widths, cambers and rockers. Ski widths are measured at three points along the ski, creating a range of turning radius and stability options. Cambered skis are best for hard-packed snow, while rockers are preferred in soft powder. Some skis offer both a camber and a rocker, making them a solid middle-of-the road choice.


  • Always try on skis at a reputable shop before making a final decision. If possible, rent the skis that you are considering in order to try them on the slopes. If the skis do not feel right, try a pair that are slightly longer or shorter.
  • Women’s skis are designed to take advantage of women’s lower center of gravity. The skis are typically lighter and shorter than comparable men’s skis, and require less force to turn. Some women prefer the design of women’s skis, while others feel that they ski better in men’s skis.

About the Author

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.

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