Short Skis vs. Long Skis: Understanding Their Pros & Cons

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When it comes to skiing, there is a debate between the pros and cons of shorter skis versus longer skis.

Shorter skis are more maneuverable and agile, making them ideal for novice skiers who are still honing their skills. On the other hand, longer skis offer greater stability at higher speeds and provide more floatation in deep powder snow.

Both types of skis have advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of terrain you plan to ski on and your skill level as a skier.

In this article, we will compare short vs long skis so that you can make an informed decision when choosing which type is best for you.

Comparing Shorter Skis with Longer Skis

short skis vs long skis

Shorter skis offer more maneuverability and agility than longer skis, allowing for quicker and more precise turns. This can be especially beneficial to novice skiers who are still honing their skills.

The shorter length also allows for easier storage and transport, as they take up less space and are easier to carry. However, the decreased stability of shorter skis can make them difficult to control at higher speeds, and they may be less suitable for skiing in deep powder.

Longer skis have greater stability and are better suited to higher speeds, as well as providing more floatation in deeper powder. They are more suitable for advanced skiers who have greater control over their turns and can handle the increased speed and maneuverability that comes with longer skis. However, due to their increased size, longer skis may be more difficult to store and transport.

Advantages of Short Skis

  1. The main advantages of short skis are that the turning radius is naturally smaller, which helps to make turning more sharply and easier. Depending on the terrain, this can be good or bad.
  2. Short skis react faster to your movement as your energy transfer has less distance to travel.
  3. Because shorter skis tend to be lighter and more manageable on hard snow, park skiers tend to go for slightly short skis.
  4. Between shorter and longer skis, shorter skis are better for beginners and can experience greater control throughout your run.
  5. This is irrespective of whether or not you are going downhill or cross-country skiing.
  6. If you are more interested in balance and speed control, it is good to consider shorter skis.
  7. The less aggressive you are, the shorter your skis should be. The fewer days you ski yearly, the faster your skis should be. If narrow twisty trails dominate your favorite hill, look for shorter skis.

Disadvantages of Short Skis

  1. The short skis make it harder to longer S-shaped turns, and turns can also be too sharp when traveling at speed.
  2. At high speed, this ski can lead to more severe injuries in case the skier loses control.
  3. Short skis sacrifice stability as there is less contact with the snow and smaller weight distribution.
  4. According to me, short skis do not float as well in the powder, which can make skiing more challenging if you stray off-piste or if it is snowing heavily.
  5. Shorter skis sink in the deep snow, and you can’t move. Hence, in the deep snow, you will need longer skis.
  6. Short skis are only good for short-radius turns such as slalom races. A short ski tends to wiggle back and forth when skiing fast straight down the hill.
Disadvantages of shorter skis

Advantages of Long Skis

  1. Between short or long ski, the latter one, for a given width, have a greater surface area that provides more flotation when skiing powder or in the deeper snow.
  2. These skis are heavier, but due to the longer edge, it has more contact with the ground, making the ski more stable at higher speeds.
  3. Longer skis generally have a longer turning radius. This means the natural arc of the ski takes longer to turn. This also depends on the shape, weight, sidecut, and stiffness.
  4. Longer skis can still be turned at speed, but this takes a little longer for them to swing around.
  5. In my own opinion, this isn’t bad, as, in certain conditions like deep powder, a longer S shape turn is desirable for momentum and stability with the help of your ski boots.
  6. Long skis are generally heavier, which can be more stable at speed and more effective at plowing through the choppy snow, but it will be worth skating.

Disadvantages of Long Skis

  1. Long skis have a larger turning radius, making skiing on steeper terrain hard for beginners.
  2. They can be difficult to store and transport due to their increased size.
  3. Longer skis also have a higher center of gravity, which can cause them to be less stable on certain terrain and more challenging to turn.
  4. Unlike shorter skis which tend to be more forgiving in powder, longer skis can require a bit more effort when turning and navigating in deep snow.

What is the Ideal Ski Size for Me?

Ultimately, the decision between short and long skis should be based on your own individual skill level and what type of terrain you plan to ski on.

If you’re a novice skier, shorter skis may be the better choice as they are easier to maneuver and will help you develop your skills.

On the other hand, advanced skiers may prefer the stability and floatation of longer skis. Ultimately, the best way to choose the right ski length is to try out both types and see which one you feel most comfortable with.

You can also take the help of a ski length calculator to find a suitable length.

Are longer skis faster than shorter skis?

Speed of longer skis and shorter skis

Typically, longer skis are faster than shorter skis due to their increased stability However, this is not always the case as it depends on the type of terrain you plan to ski on, your individual skill level, and other factors.

You can also go faster with shorter skis, but at higher speeds, shorter skis can be difficult to control because of vibrations.

Conclusion

From my experience, I suggest you take your time and get comfortable with the process.

The most important lesson from this discussion is that no one can tell you what ski you ” should “be using.

Go out there, test different ski lengths, and you’ll start to feel which length is good for you.

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