This section is a comprehensive guide for finding the right alpine shaped skis. To aid in the discussion of alpine ski type, applicable terrain, performance and reviews, it is best to begin with ski geometry. All shaped skis are narrower at the waist (where the boot attaches) and wider at the tips and tails (similar to an hourglass but not that exaggerated). The side cut radius (a.k.a. radius) is the radius of curvature between the tail, waist and tips. In general, the ski is easier to turn as the side cut radius decreases (i.e. the side cut is deeper). Skis with a shallower side cut prefer longer turn radii and will to be more stable at higher speeds and float better in powder.
Length is another important attribute of the ski. Shorter skis are easier to turn but give less stability at higher speeds and float less in powder than longer skis. The length and type of ski you choose is also dependent on your size, weight, ability and type of terrain you like to ski. For adults, beginners should start off very short typically between 140 and 150 cm. As you move to intermediate through expert, the size may range from 155 to 170 cm for women and 160 to 180 cm for men. Big mountain rippers run significantly larger (175-185 cm for women, 185-195 cm for men) for better float and stability off piste. Again, seek professional advice for your specific situation.
Flexure, torsional stiffness and edge side / base bevel of the skis also play a role in their performance (see tuning section for side and base bevel profiles). Ski flexure is important to ensure continual contact with the snow during a turn. Racing skis are the stiffest axially and torsionally. Women’s skis will generally have more flexure than males due to their lighter weight and experts will ski stiffer skis than beginners to gain more stability at higher speeds. Keep in mind these generalities do break down and there are expert women skiers who prefer very stiff skis. Also plan to grow into your skis so choose a pair slightly higher than your current level.
With all this said, SkiEnthusiast.com recommends several sites to obtain ski reviews (see below). However once you narrow your selection to 3 – 4 skis from reviews, be sure to test them on the slopes before you buy through a quality demo shop. Most shops let you test up to five skis over 4 hours.
Please refer to the manufacturers listed below to learn about the unique characteristics of their skis. This includes specific materials, base and side bevel profiles, electronic dampening and electronic torsional and stiffness adjustments.
Atomic | Alpina | Blizzard | Claw | Dynamic | Dynastar | Elan | Evolution | Fisher | Head | K2 | Kneissl
Lacroix | Line | Nordica | Ogasaka | Rossignol | Salomon | Stockli | Volant | Volkl | Zag
If you haven’t already done so, purchase a ski strap to hold your skis together when you travel to and from the mountain. This aids tremendously in keeping the skis together and prevents the edges from rubbing together causing them to dull when you carry the skis.