It’s fall. The leaves are falling, the temperatures are falling and the snow is either falling or about to fall. If your kids are younger, you pull out their gear from last season and try to decide if it fits or not. If you kids are older, they pull out their gear, announce that it doesn’t fit and ask when they can get rockered skis.
In either case, you, as their parent, need some basic information on how to tell if the gear is the right size or not. I, as the Brave Ski Mom, am here to make that job easier, with some help from Kent Foster of the Board and Buckle Company in Grand Junction, Colorado and Kate and Jack who were willing to model as they picked up their seasonal rental gear.
And let’s start there. My first paragraph assumes you own your gear. If you don’t, and you are going to ski more than just a handful of times, you should consider a season rental, especially if your kids are young. Most ski shops offer season rentals and will fit the gear to your kids.
We had season rentals, including boots, for one season only. The next season we bought boots and rented skis and poles. Once we knew our kids were committed to skiing, we began buying all of their gear. Which makes great sense, especially if you can pass the gear down to siblings or trade around with friends.
In any case…Let’s assume you already own gear for your kids or you are trading with friends or buying at a ski swap – somewhere where you have to make the call on how long the skis should be. How do you tell if their skis are the right length?
Answer: The tip of the ski should reach somewhere between the child’s chin and the top of their head. It should never be taller than the top of the head, but it can be a couple of inches below the chin if the child has just started skiing, doesn’t weigh very much or is a timid skier. Even if the child is light, if they are experienced or aggressive, the tip should reach somewhere between the chin and eyes. The same is true for adults. The tips of your skis should hit you somewhere between the chin and the top of your head, say right around the eyebrows.
Kent suggests that for kids, you reevaluate the ski length each season. If your child had a great season last year on a chin-height ski, maybe the next ski should move up to nose- height. What if you are trying to buy a ski that will last several seasons? That obviously depends on how fast your child is growing.
My oldest son is growing really fast and went from 148 cm twin tips last season to 171 cm twin tips this season. The 171s are a bit long, but twin tips ski shorter than regular shaped skis because the ski is measured from tip to tip and the length of ski touching the snow is shorter (two tips, mean two tips off the snow). Rockered skis ski even shorter, meaning you can get a longer ski that will pivot and turn super-easy because there is even less snow contact. In Kent’s mind, a 153 cm rockered ski will turn like a 130 cm shaped ski. (For an excellent description of rockered ski shape, click here).
Finally, Kent tells me that ski length, while important is overemphasized. “Skis today are so good that a person who is 6 feet tall can have a great day on a 150 cm ski. The more you ski with proper shaped ski technique (ankles and knees flexed, feet apart), the shorter a ski you can ski. If you have equal weight and balance on both skis and are tipping both edges, you will have a better day on any ski.”
A quick word about ski poles….This one is easy. Place the pole upside down. Have your child grasp the pole above the basket, pushing the top of the grip into the floor.. Their arms (or yours if you are checking to see if you’ve grown) should be bent at an approximate right angle.
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