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While you still may be enjoying your go-to bikini and favorite pool floats, cold weather will be here before you know it. With frigid temps comes snow, and with snow means skiing and snowboarding season!
Before buying your next lift pass, it may be wise to check in on your gear. If some of it is seeing its day, it may be time for an upgrade. Whether you’re looking to replace your skis or finally want to make the splurge after renting skis for a few years, we’ve got you covered.
To help you find the perfect pair of skis, the New York Post chatted with two ski experts and asked a few key questions. To skip this FAQ section, click here to jump to the best expert-approved ski brands.
What factors should skiers first consider when starting a ski purchase process?
“The first thing you should do before you start looking through skis and other equipment is paint a picture of yourself as a skier,” Jeff Neagle, Content Marketing Director for SkiEssentials.com, USASA certified free ski coach and long-time skier, told the New York Post. “I encourage people to write it down.”
“What type of terrain do you like to ski? How often will you be skiing, and where? What makes you happiest when you go skiing? Do you like to ski fast and aggressively or prefer moderate speeds and cruisers? What’s an honest assessment of your overall ability level? Will you mostly stay on groomed slopes or venture into off-piste terrain?” These are all questions Neagle recommends a skier asks themselves before making a purchase.
“The most important part of this self-assessment process is honesty. Skiers often buy skis for the skiing they want to do, not the skiing they actually do. Manufacturer marketing typically includes a lot of powder shots, cliff drops, and big airs — is that an accurate representation of what you’re going to be doing? Probably not. [Once] you have an accurate picture of yourself as a skier, it’s going to make choosing an appropriate ski much easier.”
After a self-assessment, Neagle recommends shoppers focus on waist width. “This will narrow down your options, and you can start focusing on differences between skis in a certain category, rather than trying to make sense of a big range of different ski widths,” Neagle said.
What to consider when shopping for skis online:
- Availability: “You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself and excited about a certain ski only to find that it’s sold out in the size you want,” Neagle said.
- Price: There’s a wide range of prices when it comes to buying new skis. Whether you’re looking for a bargain on older or rented skis or you want a brand new pair, the cost is definitely something to consider.
- Bindings: “Some skis come with integrated or “system” bindings. Many, however, are flat and will need to be “drill mounted.” If that’s the case, you need to know your Boot Sole Length so it can be mounted before coming to you,” Neagle explained.
- Waist Width. “This will narrow down your options, and you can start focusing on differences between skis in a certain category, rather than trying to make sense of a big range of different ski widths,” Neagle said.
- Color/Graphics: “It may sound silly, but you will have the skis for a couple of seasons, so you want to love everything about them, even how they look,” said Kevin Jordan, PSIA-AASI National Alpine Team Member and Snowmass Children’s Program Coordinator.
Advice on ski length and how to choose your waist width and ski model?
“For beginners, the length should be between your armpit and your shoulder. For intermediates, between your shoulder and your chin. A longer ski will be more stable at higher speeds. A shorter ski will be easier to turn (ex: beginners working on learning how to turn),”
If they’re a new skier, should they buy skis they can grow into or those that match their current ability level?
“For most skiers, it’s best to choose skis that are appropriate for your current ability level,” Neagle said.
However, if you’re progressing rapidly, one could justify a more advanced, demanding ski. “If you’re learning techniques quickly and easily, a ski like that won’t be a hindrance,” Neagle told The Post.
The other exception would be a highly athletic skier. “An intermediate [skier] who’s strong and athletic should have no problem on a more advanced to expert level ski,” Neagle said before noting, “However if you’re taking lessons, learning to carve, stuff like that — I would recommend sticking with a more user-friendly, forgiving ski. It will give you the best tools for improving your overall skiing [ability].”
What type of skis should each skill level look for?
- Beginner: Lightweight, relatively soft flex, and not too wide. “Achieving higher edge angles is challenging for a beginner and the most important thing for them to learn,” Neagle said.
- Intermediate: “A little stiffer, more edge grip for firm snow, and potentially wider if you’re starting to venture into off-piste terrain,” Neagle explained to The Post.
- Advanced/Expert: In short, there’s no answer to this. “There are so many different types of skiers. An expert carving skier who loves to rip turns on firm snow will want something drastically different than the skier who’s dropping cliffs and skiing un-groomed terrain most of the time,” Neagle said.
Shopping online vs. in-store
“When you’re shopping online, you’re in control. In a ski shop, you’re likely to get swayed at least a little bit by the shop employee. They might have incentives to move certain products or have their own personal bias towards certain brands,” said Neagle. “There can be benefits to shopping in store too, but that’s the big difference, in my opinion.’
“When shopping online, be patient. You likely won’t land on the right skis for you as quickly as you’d end up purchasing in a store (whether it’s the right ski or not). There’s a mountain of information online about skis,” Neagle said. “Do your research, try to narrow it down to a handful of different skis, then really dive into the differences between those skis. You’ll come away more empowered with new knowledge of ski equipment in general and likely will be even more excited about your purchase.”
Like anything else you’d buy, Jordan also recommends you look at reviews. “Look at the reviews and look at buyers’ guides [and] see what others are saying” about the skis you’re interested in purchasing,” Jordan said.
What is one thing to avoid during the ski purchasing process?
“If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. If you can try or demo a pair of the skis this season and make a purchase next season, that would be a great way to do it. However, buying a ski without trying it may still work; just do your research,” Jordan said.
“Buying a ski that’s going to be too stiff, too heavy, or overall too demanding for your ability level and how you like to ski,” said Neagle of what to avoid. “Skiers are relatively ego-driven, and it’s important to put that aside and think realistically and reasonably about what’s right for you.”
Are you looking for other winter gear? Check out our content on the best expert-approved ski goggles, women’s ski jackets, women’s snow boots and men’s snow boots.
The best ski brands
Note: Most of the following brands sell a wide variety of ski types, including mountain skis, powder skis, terrain park skis, carving skis, mogul skis, beginner skis and more.
Rossignol was born in the French Alps in 1907 and offers a wide variety of alpine skis ranging from $500 to $1,050 a pair.
Völkl Ski was founded in 1923 and is based in Straubing. As one of the biggest ski brands in the world and one of the last remaining manufacturers in Germany. The brand combines traditional craftsmanship and high-tech innovation to create precise, high-end skis. Prices range from $400 to $1,300.
Head is an American-Austrian manufacturing sports equipment company widely known for its iconic tennis rackets but started with manufacturing skis. In 1947, Howard Head designed the first metal ski, and three years later, HEAD Ski Company, Inc. was founded. Looking for cutting-edge designed skis? HEAD is the place to shop. The average cost for a new pair of HEAD skis is $900.
Nordica is an Italian manufacturing company of winter sports products focusing on skiing, founded in 1939. Nordica skis are created with an emphasis on the versatility that provide the perfect blend of playfulness and performance — enabling you to transform the entire mountain into your playground. Prices and styles vary.
Founded in 1955 and based in the Austrian alps, Atomic has helped redefine the skiing experience for skiers of all levels, from beginners taking their first turns to the most outstanding athletes pushing their boundaries at the very top of the sport. According to the brand, they produce almost half a million skis every year. Prices and styles vary.
K2 is a ski and snowboarding brand founded in 1962 in Washington state. The brand expanded into snowboards in 1987 and was the first company to specifically engineer products for women starting in 1999; K2’s Women’s Alliance™. Prices and styles vary.
According to Jordan, K2 is a brand known for mogul skis. “That means they have a straighter sidecut [and] are meant for bashing the bumps,” he said.
Founded in 1924 in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, Fischer Sports GmbH is a global leader in Nordic skiing and one of the world’s leading brands in Alpine skiing, known for innovation and cutting-edge technology. Fischer is also one of the biggest manufacturers of high-quality ice hockey sticks. Prices and styles vary.
Blizzard is an Austrian sports equipment company founded in Mittersill, Salzburg, Austria, in 1945. Blizzard is currently a division of the Tecnica Group S.p.A. and specializes in the manufacturing of alpine skiing equipment, specifically skis and accessories. Prices and styles vary.
For more content, check out the New York Post Shopping section.