Buyer’s Guide for Downhill Skis

Purchasing downhill skis (also commonly referred to as alpine skis) can be a frustrating and nerve racking task for both beginner and expert skiers. When shopping online at The Ski Bum, it is easy to be intimidated by the number of options we have to offer. But in reality, our vast selection serves a distinct purpose, as there are inherent advantages in being able to customize them exactly to your liking. This guide will assist you in alleviating your worries and guide you making the best, most informed, and stress-free decision possible. When purchasing, be sure to use these tips for specifically for gender, as men’s and women’s skis do differ.

Determining Ski Level

The first step in purchasing skis online is accurately pinpointing your truthful skill level. When you are shopping online with The Ski Bum, do not over-value your aptitude, as this will do far more harm than good. Conversely, selling yourself short will also impede your progress. Since there is a diverse population of skiers, skis are not created in the realm of “one size fits all” simplicity. Rather, skis are uniquely designed to fit all sizes, shapes, and skills to guarantee that everyone can equally enjoy the slopes. Here is an example of how some skiers may be labeled:

  1. Beginner - The level for those who have never skied or have only gone a few times. Beginner skis will have a soft flex to enable easy turning and thus being more forgivable.
  2. Intermediate - This skier knows his way around a mountain, but is not quite ready for the toughest blues, and still need some work before tackling black diamond trails.
  3. Advanced - At this level, you can successfully traverse black diamonds and most terrains in any weather condition. At high speeds, you are able to make high and low radius turns. Advanced skiers usually require top-of-the-line models.

Obviously, it is impossible to snuggly place yourself into one of these categories; far more nuance goes into determining your level. The key is to be honest with yourself while simultaneously choosing skis that offer room for growth, as the hope is these news skis will improve your craft. If you are caught in-between ski levels, go with the option that encourages improvement.

Types of Skis

Once you have settled on your skill level, you are ready to choose your ski type. Skis are created to suit the different needs of everyone, so ensure that your choice is a ski that fits what you will be doing. For example, it will be a waste of money to buy a freestyle skis if you never plan on doing tricks or fancy maneuvers. The basic types are:

  1. Recreational Skis - These skis cater to the novices. The length is short, and the flex is soft, enabling smooth turns and easy control. If you are not an avid skier and avoid most obstacles like powder or moguls, then these skis are your match.
  2. All-Mountain Skis - This is the closest you can get to all-purpose skis. As the name implies, all-mountain skis are effective on various terrains, including icy conditions and powder. Because of the versatility, these skis are perfect for the intermediate skier who wants to explore the different aspects of a mountain.
  3. Powder Skis - The widest skis you can buy, these skis are generally light to prevent sinking into deep, fresh snow. With their innovative design, they smoothly glide across the powder keeping the skier afloat. If you ski in high storm areas like Colorado or Utah, powder skis are the choice.
  4. Racing Skis - As you can guess, these are built for speed. Longer, stiffer, and narrower than all mountain skis, racing skis maximize acceleration on hard snow by specializing in reducing vibrations and holding an edge in harder snow. These should only be purchased by intermediate or advanced skiers who enjoy going fast on hard packed snow or spend a lot of time in race courses.
  5. Twin Tip (Freestyle) Skis - Another niche ski, these are lightweight and stress maneuverability. The name comes from both the tip and the tail of the ski being turned upwards, easing the difficulty of landing tricks and skiing backwards. Buy these if you spend most of your time in the terrain park.

 Ski Length

One last factor you need to consider is the length of the skis. Length is very important, because it affects both your overall comfort and your performance. A good place to start when selecting your length is height and weight. Generally, tall and heavy skiers require longer skis, while smaller and lighter skiers should look into shorter skis.

Skill level also comes into play when determining your ski length. As you read earlier, certain beginners should research shorter skis. For example, a common rule applied to beginners is to use a ski that comes to about your chin. These shorter skis promote control and help limit speed, which is what the beginner or casual skier needs to succeed.

The more experienced or vigorous skier may look for something longer, which allows you to aggressively and swiftly carve. Long skis allow you to fly down the mountain while taking wide, bold turns.

Obviously a lot goes into buying skis. The important thing is to take your time to make an informed decision. The Ski Bum’s online store offers everything a skier needs. Whether you are a beginner looking to go out for the first time, or an expert in need of new gear, we have what you are looking for. When you are ready, purchase from The Ski Bum and have some fun on the slopes!