0800 SNOWRIDE 0800 766 97 433
NZ WIDE conditions apply
cart Shopping Cart 0 items

Ski Buying Guide

Ski Buying Guide

Choosing a pair of skis can be a daunting prospect so below we have made this process easy with an 3 step guide to help you chose the perfect ski.
Here at Snowride Sports we are all passionate skiers and spend a lot of time on the snow to select the very best models for our customers if you find you need more info please give us a call 
0800 766 97433 to talk to an expert .

Step 1: Ability Level

performance-indicator.jpg    or Ski Level Marker2

Skiers of different skill levels have different requirements for their ski equipment. Beginners need soft flexing skis which are forgiving to technical errors in their body positioning as they learn to advance their skills. Skis for expert level skiers are typically stiffer flexing than most beginner and intermediate level skis; they are also very rigid torsionally to allow for better energy transfer and precision though out the turn.

Beginner: This is level for skiers who are just beginning their skiing career. The skier has either never skied before or has skied only a few times. Beginner skiers are characterised as making wedge turns  on groomed, green runs (beginner runs)
Advanced Beginner: When a skier is comfortable on the green runs (beginner runs) and is beginning to ski on some blue runs. Advanced Beginners are starting to incorporate parallel positioning into the completion phase of their turns. The Advanced Beginner may make wedge turns and traverse the fall line with their skis parallel.
Intermediate: The comfort level is on groomed blue runs that can be skied with relative ease. The intermediate skier is working toward making complete parallel turns. The Intermediate skier may use a small wedge before the turn to control their speed, while the completion of the turn and traverse to the next turn is made in a parallel position. The Intermediate skier often retreats to the wedge position when on steeper or variable terrain.
Advanced Intermediate: The skier is comfortable on all blues and is capable of skiing some black diamonds and varied terrain. The Advanced Intermediate skier is capable of making skidded parallel turns on most terrain at moderate to higher speeds. Advanced Intermediate skiers are also using pole plants .
Advanced: Advanced skiers are comfortable skiing black diamonds and varied terrain. Advanced skiers are capable of making long and short radius carved turns at higher speeds on advanced terrain. Advanced skiers also use pole plants to help maintain proper timing and body positioning.
Expert: Expert skiers are comfortable skiing at high speeds on all terrain including groomers, tracked powder, powder, moguls, etc. Expert skiers are capable of making long and short radius carved turns at all speeds on advanced terrain in any snow conditions. Expert skiers also use pole plants to help maintain proper  body positioning.

Step 2: Your Ski Type

The next step is to determine your skiing style. We stock a variety of skis, each designed and constructed for a specific type of skiing. It is important to choose the right skis for your style in order to get the most enjoyment and progression out of them. Below, we have outlined the basic factors for each ski type and this should help you to establish the most suitable. 
Piste or Groomer Skis
As the name suggests these skis are designed to perform on the piste. That’s not to say you couldn’t have some fun after a fresh snowfall, but really the skis are set up to help you progress your skiing towards perfect carved turns. They come in a wide range of models from beginner to expert.
Waist widths range is from 68-80mm
All Mountain Skis
The all-terrain ski, perfect for people who want to go everywhere that snow can take them. Off-piste is the main focus; the increased surface area gives greater floatation in deep snow. You can still have a good time on the piste too; side-cuts are deep for stable carving and quick responses when skiing on the piste.All Mountain skis are popular because they perform equally well in most conditions. With waist widths that range from 85-95mm, they spend most of their time on the trail, but can head just about anywhere on the mountain.

Big Mountain Skis
For those of you who want to search out the most radical and challenging off piste terrain these are the skis for you. Big mountain skis have a huge surface area that provides excellent flotation in all conditions, from fresh powder to crud and are a real advantage when learning to ski deep snow. All of these skis now have accentuated sidecuts so they are much easier to turn on piste when you need to. Some of them have twin tips that allow amazing moves, They are your go everywhere, do anything ski. They can carve, turn, seek out powder and plow through crud and bumps. These types of skis have waist widths that range from 95mm-105mm underfoot and can and will do just about anything
Freestyle Skis
Freestyle is the ‘new-school’ style that is currently the coolest thing in skiing. The skis are all twin tip for easy spins and fakie (backwards) moves. Take a pair to a terrain park and see what’s possible. The latest generation of freestyle skis also work well in deep snow due to their increased surface area, opening up even more possibilities to invent new tricks.
Powder Skis
Powder Skis have lots of rocker and are over 111mm underfoot for maximum flotation and stability in the deep stuff.

Race Skis
For the skier that likes to ski hard and fast with complete confidence and control and demands absolute performance from their skis. Race skis provide fantastic edge grip and confidence for skiing at speed but require energy and constant technical input to get the best out of them. Designed for skiing on-piste, they are ideally suited to expert skiers and racers.

Waist Width

A ski’s waist width directly correlates to the condition that you will mostly be skiing in. Skis with skinnier waists are quicker edge to edge, better for on trail carving and easier to maneuver for a new or beginner skier. The wider the ski is underfoot, the more float you get in the powder and the more stability you get in the crud and broken snow. The more time you spend off-trail, the wider your skis should be.
Skis under 85mm are best suited for skiers that will be spending just about all of their time on the groomed trails or firm or icy snow pack. This waist width can range from beginner all the way up to expert and everything in-between. High-powered carving skis for experts usually have a waist width around 80-85mm which makes the ski very agile, yet wide enough to go through the crud that pops up on the groomers. Skis for beginners are in this waist width that will make them lighter and easier to control while learning at lower speeds.
Skis 85-95mm are primarily used for on-trail skiing but have the ability to spend  time off the groomers in good snow conditions or springs snow. They have maneuverability on and off the trail and versatility so you can spend time in the powder, as long as its not waist deep...
Skis 96-110mm are the ideal all mountain waist width for skiers seeking true versatility. They make medium to long radius turns on the groomers with ease and have the ability to float in all but the absolute deepest of powder (and we hope you get those days). They can be a bit slower from edge to edge in firmer conditions 
111+mm waist widths are best for spending as much of your time as possible in the ungroomed terrain. Ultra wide waist widths provide you with the most floatation in the deep powder and the most stability when things get cruddy or bumpy. This ski will generally have a lot more rocker in the tip and tail .
They are not the most agile ski for making short quick turns on the groomers but are easily manageable for making your way back to the lifts for another lap.

Rocker is the slight bend up or reverse camber shape that lifts off of the ground when the ski is laying flat on the ground.
Rocker makes the ski more maneuverable by engaging the tip of the ski into a turn quicker and easier. It also helps you float to the top of the snow Having your skis on top of the snow makes it much easier for you to keep up speed, suffer less fatigue and have more fun. 
Rocker also absorbs  vibrations that can be caused by bumps or crud. Think of a traditionally cambered ski as a loaded spring - when you hit the variations in the snow, the cambered tip will send those vibrations through the ski, back through the binding, past the boots and to your body. A rockered ski will absorb those vibrations rather than sending them to your body. 
Some form of rocker exists in almost every type of ski, no matter what the intended use is.
It is recommend when sizing your ski that you increase 5-7cm for a ski that has tip rocker/camber and up to 10cm for skis that have rocker/camber/rocker or fully rockered skis.
Common Ski Rocker Profiles

snowride  ski rocker profiles2

Rocker gives you more maneuverability and the extra length improves your stability.
Cambered skis have the most traditional shape with the center of the ski raised when the ski is laying flat on the ground un-weighted. They provide the most edge hold, stability and rebound for on-trail skiing and for racing.
Tip Rocker/Camber skis have rockered tip with camber for the rest of the ski. Rocker initiates a turn faster while the camber provides stability. Most all mountain skis have this type of rocker profile.
Rocker/Camber/Rocker skis have rocker in the tips and tails. Rockered tips initiate turns quicker and float better in soft snow. Camber underfoot provides stability and edge grip. Rocker in the tail releases the ski from turns easier for developing skiers and provides better maneuverability off the trail. This combination is the most versatile for on and off trail skiing.
Full Rocker skis have a U shape to them with the base of the ski flat on the ground while the tips and tails rise up. Fully rockered skis have the best floatation are most used in the deep powder and have a playful feel. Some all mountain skis are starting to use this shape for versatility.

Step 3: The Right Size

Ski Length Guide to Sizing
To obtain a guide ski length, please refer to the chart underneath. It is also necessary to adjust the length for your ability level and aggressiveness. Please use this chart as a guideline only, for more detailed advice please consult our trained staff in store or send us an email
The given length from the chart will provide your ideal ski length for Piste skis. . Below are outlines of how to adapt your ski length accordingly for other ski types:

  • For Freeride skis add between 5 and 10cm in length for better flotation and stability in powder.

  • For Big Mountain skis add between 5 and 20cm, depending on how much off piste you ski and for improved flotation and stability in the steep and deep.

  • For Freestyle skis, use the same length as for Piste skis

  • For skis designed to be skied in shorter lengths and any slalom ski, you should reduce the measurement by 10 to 15cm, in accordance with the specific manufacturer’s guidelines.  

  • REMEMBER! This chart is just a starting guide. If you have rented a ski length recently and found that this suited you, do not be afraid to select that size if it differs from the above - Length is a personal thing!  

Ski Testing

In store we have a ski test centre, where we have a range of the latest models in a variety of lengths. Speak to us about your requirements and we will select a model of ski that suits your needs. Testing skis on snow is the only true way to find out whether or not a ski works for you. You can spend an entire day on the skis and receive a credit of the hire cost when you purchase your skis at Snowride Sports.

Visit Us
Snowride Sports
386 Lincoln Road
Christchurch 8011
New Zealand

Find Us
Contact us
ico-phone FREE PHONE
0800 SNOWRIDE 0800 766 97 433