Short vs Long Skis – What’s the Difference?

When I started to learn how to ski, I didn’t question the length of the skis I rented. But this all changed when I learned more about the difference between shorts and long skis.

In short, long skis offer more stability even though you’ll need more power to get up speed compared to short skis. Long skis are generally 200 cm or more in length. These are best for beginners due to the extra stability. Short skis don’t offer this same stability, but they allow you to make quicker, sharper turns. However, they are slower than long skis over distance, but they make you more agile when turning.

Difference between short skis and long skis

Short skis and long skis differ primarily in their length. Short skis, for instance, range between 110-165 cm and are usually used by experts for sharp turns.

Long skis can extend to 180 cm or more and are typically used for alpine touring or backcountry skiing, as they are better suited to gliding on powdery snow.

Ultimately, the type of ski to use depends on the terrain and your skiing level. Short skis are best in tight trees, while long skis are better when carving up wide-open slopes.

What are the pros of short skis?

Short skis offer the advantage of improved maneuverability on tighter terrain and more control in fast turns. Skiers prefer short skis because they can swiftly turn and execute quick maneuvers, especially when skiing moguls.

Mogul Skiing

Short skis provide increased agility with less movement due to faster acceleration and deceleration. Short skis make it easier to vary your speed while staying in control. You can move quickly over short sections between trees or other obstacles, making skiing more enjoyable and exciting!

  • Make faster turns
  • Great for mogul skiing

Cons of short skis

With that said, we don’t advise some people to use short skis, especially beginners. Some drawbacks to short skis are that they’re less stable than long skis and can be more challenging to control in harsh weather conditions or on rougher terrain.

Also, short skis lack the power and performance of longer skis on steeper slopes, making them less ideal for aggressive or advanced skiing styles. 

Lastly, short skis also tend to have a short effective edge, providing less grip when carving turns at higher speeds. Although short skis offer excellent mobility and are more user-friendly than longer, heavier models, prospective buyers should consider these cons before investing in an expensive pair of skis.

  • Less stability
  • Not good for beginners

Pros of Long Skis

Long skis can offer several advantages for ski enthusiasts over short skis. Longer-length skis allow the skier to have greater control over their speed. They can effectively navigate turns while providing the necessary support to prevent them from going too quickly.

Additionally, long skis provide increased stability when skiing on uneven or poor terrain, making it easier and safer for them to ski various slopes.

Long skis also provide extra cushioning and dampening, which reduces the impact felt when taking more brutal hits on more rugged terrain.

  • Offer increased stability
  • Increased control
  • Great for people new to skiing

Cons of Long Skis

Long skis also have some cons, though. Longer skis make it more difficult for quick body movements, such as leaning over or breaching hips higher due to the extra length of the ski. This can result in diminished agility and a less pleasant ride when trying to weave through tricky terrain.

Additionally, long skis are less forgiving than short ones when coming up against objects, stumps, and rocks, which is likely to occur during backcountry excursions.

Lastly, long skis can be more challenging to maneuver while skiing at low angles because the extra length creates additional drag, which can make finding speed on gentle slopes much harder than on shorter skis.

  • Movements are more labored
  • Slower turns

Ski Size

Now you’ve learned about the difference between long and short skis, you can select what size skis are best for you.

As mentioned, if you’re new to skiing, we suggest longer skis as they offer more stability.

Choosing the right ski size can be tricky, as ski sizes are indicated in centimeters and only sometimes reflect your actual height.

You must consider ski type, skiing level, weight, and ski length to pick the perfect ski size.

  • Type of ski (all-mountain or powder ski) should match the surface you will ski on most.
  • Your skiing level (beginner or advanced) will also determine your ski size. A more aggressive skier may want a shorter ski for quick turns on groomers. More casual skiers will benefit from a longer ski for better stability and floatability in deeper snow conditions. 
  • Your weight and length of skis should be considered when you buy new skis.

As a rule of thumb: Heavier skiers require longer skis; lighter skiers can get away with shorter ones. With the above factors in mind, you can make an informed decision when picking the perfect pair of skis!

As we’ve made clear, beginners should always go with long skis. Then, more advanced skiers can use short or long skis depending on the skiing they’ll be doing that day.

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