Buying skis can be a confusing task with so many styles and sizes out there. Here at Tignes Spirit we do our best to guide you through the process and get you onto the best possible option.
The first thing you will want to figure out is where you like to go when you ski? Do you stay on the piste? Are you a powder hound always looking for fresh snow? Do you spend your time in the park, hitting jumps and rails? Or do you like to do a bit of everything?
Piste skis (sometimes known as carving skis) are typically the narrowest skis on the market, usally ranging from 60-80mm in the waist. This allows them to be super nimble and transition from edge to edge quickly. The narrow waist allows you to put more power into the edge of the ski, so they will grip better on firm snow and ice. The downside of this narrow waisted style of ski is that in deep snow they tend to sink more than other skis, this can make them harder work in fresh snow. Piste skis tend to have a shorter turn radius than other skis. This means you will be able to perform short quick turns with relative ease compared to other skis on the market.
All mountain skis are designed to cope with everything the mountain offers. They are slightly wider than piste skis, with a range of between 80-100mm in the waist. This extra width gives more surface area which allows the ski to float on top of fresh snow better than a piste ski could. The downside of the wider waist is that it will feel less nimble on firm snow and usually wont grip quite as well as a piste specific ski. All mountain skis are a great option if you only want 1 pair of skis that can handle a little bit of everything.
Park and pipe
Park and pipe skis (commonly known as twintips or freestyle skis) are designed to be used and abused inside the snowpark. They feature raised ends at both the tip and the tail of the ski, making it easier to ski switch (backwards). They tend to be similar in width to all mountain skis generally between 80-100mm wide. This means they share many similar characteristics to all mountain skis. One thing to note is that with they raised tail, they tend to not carve quite as well as a similar width all mountain ski with a flatter tail. This is because a flatter tail will grip through the length of a turn better than a raised tail.
Choosing the correct ski length for you depends on many different factors. Height and weight are often the first things to look at, but by no means are the only factors to consider when buying a ski.
Height and Weight
As you might imagine, the taller you are, generally the longer ski you will need. The same rule applies for weight, a heavier skier will be able to bend a short ski easier, over flexing (bending) a ski will lower its ability to hold an edge, especially on firm snow. On the other side you need to be able to flex the ski enough to initiate a turn, so a lighter skier will more likely use a slightly shorter ski.
Type of ski
Length of ski also depends on what type of skiing you will be doing. If you are purchasing a powder ski, you will most likely want a longer length as it will increase surface area and therefore give you more float in fresh snow. If you are using a piste ski, a shorter length would be advisable as it will turn easier.
In general a more advanced skier will opt to use a longer ski, this however does have exceptions as mentioned in above paragraphs.