What you need to know in order to choose the right skis
There are a lot of different skis to choose from today. The most important in the selection of skis is to see to your self and your own ambitions. Are you going to ski the groomed slopes, hang out in the park, ski the off-piste, deep powder, only carving or a bit of everything? The choice of skis depends, naturally, on where you ski and what you like skiing the most. The skis continually develop and news are launched with every new winter. Generally speaking, it has become easier to be a good skier concurrently with the progressing development of the skis. Remember to take good care of your skis; sharpen the edges and wax the bases. It gets much easier and more fun to ski when your equipment is in mint condition.
What length you choose depends on the type of skiing you do, skiing on-piste, off-piste or jumping in the park. It also depends on your height and weight. If you get a ski that is too soft, it will be unstable at higher speeds. Your experience as a skier also determines the length of the skis. In general, a beginner finds it easier on shorter skis. As a reference for the ski length of a beginner's ski, the ski should reach to your chin. An intermediate skier's ski should reach somewhere between the chin and the forehead, and the skis of an experienced skier should be the same length as his or her full body height.
Beginner Intermediate Advanced/Expert
The traditional ski has a slight camber in the middle, extending from just behind the top of the ski to just before the tail. The camber facilitates the initiation of the turn, once the ski gets put on edge, as well as distributes the power evenly across the ski. Today there are skis with different types of camber, depending on what and where you intend to use the skis. Carving and on-piste skis still have a traditional camber, as does all mountain skis usually. Park skis are today built with less camber and sometimes completely without camber. Extreme off-piste skis are today built with a negative camber, a so called "rocker".
Traditional camber: On firmer snow the camber will help initiate the turn and distribute the power evenly across the entire ski so you can utilize the ski's capacity fully and maximize your turning and edge grip.
Twin Tip Ski without camber: A completely flat camber is designed for riding in parks and on rails with. In the jumps you'll get a balanced contact area on the snow without having to turn, as well as better balance out from the take off. A flat camber is also beneficial when skiing rails since the ski won't grab as easily, especially if you're rotating on the rail.
Skis with negative camber/ rocker: This shape is taken from water skis and surfboards. Rockered skis are designed to give better float and buoyancy in deeper snow, and to provide easier turning when the skis are put on edge. Deeper snow doesn't provide the same solid grip that firm snow does, thus the already curved shape of the ski gives you advantages also when turning.
Type of skis
There are several different types of skis categorized by which form of skiing they are designed and built for. Your demands can be anything from getting the most possible out of your skis at high speeds on hard pack, or getting a good flow in really deep snow. It can be to find a ski tailored to jibbing or park skiing or a ski facilitating for you, as a beginner, to making the first turns. It may sound as if you need to buy a whole quiver of skis in order to adjust to all the different conditions of the snow and the hill? However, this is not the case. In each segment you can find a ski suited for almost all snow conditions and ways of skiing, yet a bit more suited to one of the following categories. The best is, as always, to try out the different types of skis before you decide.
Normal Ski Slalom / Carv Giant Slalom Twintip Allmoutain Fatski / powder
Carving has become a concept, but today all skis designed for the groomed slopes are carving skis. The technique is a more pronounced waist of the ski, which helps us turn as soon as the ski gets put on edge. Depending on where and how you ski, you can choose between more or less carved skis (measured in "turning radius"). The more extreme carving skis have a turning radius around 12-15 meters whereas the radius of a more normal ski is just below 20 meters. The turning radius of skis designed for higher speeds are from 20meters and up.
Twin tip is just what the name describes: a ski that is bent up both in the tip and the tail. This is because the tricks made in today's jumps and parks build on taking off or landing backwards. These skis also have a more centered balance point to provide better balance in the air. The tops of the line models of twin tip skis usually work excellent also for skiing on and adjacent to the slopes.
As the name indicates, this type of ski handles everything from powder to groomed slopes. It provides a good grip on-piste but also has the advantage of being a little wider, giving good buoyancy off-piste. The ski is slightly wider, somewhere between 75-100mm under the foot. A ski that is 100 mm may not be fully optimal for skiing on the groomed slopes with, although seeing that the manufacturers now make also wider skis more torsion-stiff and rigid, a 100 mm waist ski work alright also on groomed runs.
You'll have to decide where you need the advantages depending on how much you ski on-piste versus off-piste. A wider ski takes a little longer to get from edge to edge. An all mountain ski si a good choice for those who want to be able to ski everywhere on one and the same ski (while keeping in mind that a bit of sacrificing is needed when it comes to the ski's full adaptation to snow condition, turning radius and slope gradient, respectively).
Extreme powder skis are now very wide, from 90-100 mm under the foot and up. This is to provide good buoyancy in deeper snow. That's also the reason they're usually also somewhat longer than regular skis, commonly 5-10 cm longer than the height of the skier. There's a rapid development and a lot of experimenting when it comes to powder skis today. Some of the experiments involve negative waist and rocker (negative camber). Everything to optimizing the skis and making them perform best in powdery conditions. These skis are not recommended for skiing on the groomed slopes, except for transportation to and from the deep snow.
Race skis can be divided into four categories: Slalom Skis (shorter skis with very pronounced waist and about 12-15m radius, suitable for skiing on firm snow in a slalom course). Giant Slalom Skis (longer skis designed for higher speeds but still with plenty of turn, about 20-23m radius). Super G Skis (longer and significantly straighter skis that are very rigid and with a stiff flex in order to withstand speeds and turning at speeds around 90 km / hr),
Downhill Skis (are fully customized for ski racing straight downhill and turning at speeds of up to 120 km / hr).
Race skis are designed for skiers with good physical and technical abilities, who can make us of the skis' unique characteristics. Are you a passionate carver or like big sweeping turns on a hard pack, a slalom or giant slalom ski could be an option, but this will require that you have additional skis available for other skiing, since the race skis are very demanding and will be tough to ski with elsewhere than in the conditions they are designed for.
The turning radius is a commonly used term for today's skis. The turning radius is determined by the side-cut of the ski a measure of the ratio between the width of the top of your skis, middle of the ski and the ski's tail.
The measure of the ski's waist / the width under foot is important and would normally be somewhere between 60-90 mm. A Carving ski for groomed slopes usually measures 60-70 mm in the waist. An all mountain ski usually measures between 70-85 mm in the waist. A ski designed for powder and off-piste has a waist of anywhere from 85 mm and up. Today, skis wider than 100 mm in the waist get more and more common.
Fatski / Powder Twintip / Park Carving / Ski
Describes the ski's torsional rigidity in the longitudinal direction. A torsion-stiff ski works better in the slope since the edges grip better, while a less rigid ski is more forgiving off-piste and for less experienced skiers on the slopes. Think about where you ski the most, on-piste or off-piste, and how stable you are. If you're a beginner not yet skiing very fast or turning too sharply, ideally you want a ski that adapts easily, with little force, to the terrain. And when skiing faster and turning more, you'll want the advantages of a more rigid ski.
The flex measures how much and how easily the ski is to bend. Generally speaking a softer ski is better suited for a beginner since it won't require as much speed and power to adapt to the snow and to turn. A softer ski gets squirrely and difficult to maneuver in higher speeds. A stiffer ski requires more speed and a tougher and more technical skier in order to give the same response. There are also skis with different flex in the tip and tail, depending on what response one wants from the ski during different sections of the turn.
Which flex you want also depends on your weight, your skills and your strength (i.e. how many times your own weight you can handle when turning). If you have the chance, the best is to try different skis before deciding.