Choosing Skis

So you decided not to bow to peer pressure and take up skiing instead of snowboarding? Congratulations! Skiing is just as fun as snowboarding and you don’t have to get a cold bum while you buckle on your board. Just because you have decided to ski doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read Brent’s articles on snowboarding though. He provided a very handy guide to buying equipment and choosing your ski area. This article will just fill in the gaps.

There are 4 main pieces of equipment you need to ski: Skis, bindings, boots and stocks.


Boots are by far the most important piece of equipment you will buy. You can ski down the hill on 2 planks of wood and still have a good time, but I don’t think anyone has had a good time with a pair of poorly fitting ski boots.

The main aim when buying boots is to get a pair that fit. The better the fit, the more comfortable you are. A well fitting pair of boots also transfers power to the skis better and gives you more control.

The first thing to look for is the number of buckles. The more buckles you have, more precisely you can adjust the boot to fit your foot. You should aim to get boots with 4 buckles and a strap at the top.

The second thing to look for is whether the boots are translucent. I know this sounds silly but there are 2 main types of plastic used in ski boots and the better one is translucent. It is less reactive to changes in temperature and is a little bit softer, so it is easier to get your boots on and off.

Otherwise, try to find boots that feel a little bit too tight but don’t pinch. There shouldn’t be any room to wiggle your foot inside the boot. It helps to have an experienced boot fitter to help you, but otherwise just look for boots with an evenly tight fit.


    Types of ski:

The next most important thing is your skis. There are many different types of skis to choose from, but if you are a beginner it is best to go for a basic pair of carving skis. They are the easiest to turn on a groomed run, and they are usually cheapest. You can take them practically anywhere, although they will sink a little bit in powder and won’t handle very well skiing switch (backwards). If you plan on doing a lot of jumping then you might want to get some twin tipped skis. They are designed for skiing backwards as well as forwards. Try to avoid very wide skis because these are designed for deep powder and we don’t get a lot of that in Fukushima. Another option worth considering is snowblades or what the Japanese call ‘fun-skis’. These are very short skis which are very maneuverable and are good for doing tricks. They are too short to be used anywhere except on easy groomed runs, but if those are the only runs you ski then they might be worth a try.


Once you have decided on the type of ski you want you will need to decide the length. You should aim for the skis to end somewhere between the tip of your nose and the top of your head when you stand them up (unless you are getting snowblades). Beginners should choose skis that are a bit on the short side, and advanced skiers should choose longer skis. Longer skis are more stable at high speeds, will go faster, and will give better floatation in powder. Shorter skis are more maneuverable.

    Side cut and Turning radius:

The measurements of a ski should be written on it. These include the length, as well as the width at the widest point at the tip, the narrowest point at the waist and the widest point at the tail. The wide tip and tail combined with a narrow waist gives you a small turning radius. The turning radius should also be written on the ski. The turning radius is the radius of the shortest turn you can do with those skis without skidding. Skis with a shorter turning radius are usually easier to ski on, but don’t float well in powder and may be unstable at speed.

    If in doubt:

If you are new to skiing and aren’t sure what you need, my suggestion is to get a pair of carving skis that come up to somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose. The turning radius will vary depending on the length of the ski, but it will probably be between 15m for skis that are 155cm long and 18m for skis that are 170cm long. I got these measurements from my first pair of skis and Tiffany’s first pair of skis respectively.

Stocks and Bindings:

Stocks make absolutely no difference to your skiing. You shouldn’t waste your money buying expensive stocks. Just buy whatever is cheapest and doesn’t look too terrible.

Bindings do make a difference to your skiing, but unless you are an absolute pro, it’s not worth getting anything special. Most low level skis have bindings that come as a set anyway, so just get them if you can.

Where to buy:

Unlike snowboards, you won’t find a big selection of second hand skis. If you find what you are looking for at hard off, that’s great, but otherwise Xebio is the easiest and cheapest place to buy new skis. Look for last year’s models because they are always reduced and not much different from the most recent models. Always buy new boots. Second hand boots will have adjusted themselves to fit someone else’s feet, and won’t be very comfortable. If after reading this you still aren’t sure what to buy, my advice is to buy some boots but start out renting skis. If you rent a model that you like, then try to find something similar in the shops.

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