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Jagdhausalmen Alpine Pastures, Defereggen, East Tirol, Austria, Europe

Which Ski is Right for Me?

Updated on 03.02.2021 in Bits & Pieces

TEXT Jan Kirsten Biener | ILLUSTRATIONS Ludwig Haslberger
TEXT Jan Kirsten Biener | ILLUSTRATIONS Ludwig Haslberger

These days you are likely to find more different types of skis on offer in your local sports shop than the toppings available at your favourite pizzeria. So when it comes to winter sports, like good pizza, is it all just a question of taste? Not quite. Only if you know what you want and what you need will you end up getting the perfect pair of skis. We have put together a few tips for your next ski purchase.

Type 1: Cool Carvers

You like nothing more than long, sweeping turns? You spend most of your time on well-groomed slopes? Then a carving ski is the right option for you! These skis, which are typically short and stiff, offer perfect control on the slopes. The shorter the ski, the easier it is to turn. However, don’t be tempted to go too short. The tips of the skis should reach at least up to your chin when placed on the ground. In soft snow and on bumpy pistes, however, carving skis are not the ideal choice.

The right ski for: holidaymakers and cruisers

Type 2: Speed Freaks

These skis used to be known as „giant slalom skis“, but now they are more likely to be called „race carvers“. They are normally about the same height as the skier and are designed for long, carved turns. A 177cm race carver has a turn radius of about 18 metres – that’s three or four metres more than a classic carving ski. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all ski pistes are that wide. Skiers must therefore have the ability to keep a race carver under control. One thing is for sure: a race carver’s natural habitat is, as the name suggests, racing!

The right ski for: advanced piste cruisers, racers

Type 3: Freqeuent Flyers

The trickiest part of a cool jump is the landing. Twin-tip skis are bent upwards at the front and the back, making it possible to land tricks facing both forwards and backwards. More and more freestyle skis these days are at least 90mm wide in the middle. This allows then to be used not only in the halfpipe and the funpark but also for tricks out in the backcountry.

The right ski for: freestylers

Type 4: All Mountain Allrounders

The advantage of „all mountain skis“ is that they can deal with pretty much any snow conditions, be it on or off piste, hard or soft snow. Skiers with good technique and strength will even be able to tilt an all mountain ski onto its edge and carve some nice turns into the freshly groomed corduroy. The only surface all mountain skis don’t really feel at home on is ice. Normally they are around 80mm wide under foot and have a shape known as a „rocker“. This means that the front (shovel) and the back (tail) of the ski are concave and therefore slightly raised from the snow. This design feature makes it easier to ski in deep snow.

The right ski for: holidaymakers and cruisers who want to explore the whole mountain

Type 5: Free Spirits

To realise the deam of skiing off piste you need two things: powder snow and plenty of float. After all, the worst thing is if the ski sinks to the bottom and you grind to a more or less elegant halt. Modern freeride skis are designed to keep the ski and the skier on top of the snow, which is why they are generally at least 100mm wide in the middle and normally 120mm. A freeride ski should reach at least as high as your forehead when placed on the ground. True powder junkies have a second weapon in their arsenal: an extra-wide pure powder ski for days after a huge dump of snow. These skis can often be up to 130mm wide in the middle.

The right ski for: powder hounds and adventurers

Type 6: Nature Lovers

Fans of ski mountaineering, also known as ski touring, should ask themselves one key question before purchasing a new pair of skis: „Is the ascent or descent more important to me?“. Those who want to get from bottom to top as quickly as possible should choose a classic narrow touring ski no more than 90mm wide in the middle, as light as possible and with a slight rocker shape at the front. Skiers who are willing to sacrifice a little weight for a better downhill experience should buy a freeride touring ski with around 110mm width under foot. It may be heavier to drag up the mountain, but the performance on the descent makes up for it.

The right ski for: nature lovers, ski mountaineers and powder fans

TEXT Jan Kirsten Biener | ILLUSTRATIONS Ludwig Haslberger
TEXT Jan Kirsten Biener | ILLUSTRATIONS Ludwig Haslberger

How to Make a Pair of Custom Skis

In many huts you will see old wooden skis hanging on the walls. The Innsbruck-based start-up SPURart helps keen skiers to make their own custom skis with an oak core and wooden top layer. We spoke to co-founder Peter Pfeifer about the search for the perfect ski.

Jan Kirsten Biener was on skis and snowboard as a juvenile, and really anything ski related always came naturally to him. Today, he is a passionate and ambitious backcountry skier and road cyclist. He is working as a freelance journalist in Munich, Germany.

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