How to Measure Skis

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When you're looking to purchase skis, it's important to get the correct size, both for your height and for their intended use. To do this, look at the skis' measurements. There are three different ways to do this.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Soft measuring tape or string
  • Skis
  • Measure running length. This is the part of the ski that actually touches the ground. Since skis curve up at the ends, take your tape measure, beginning at the back of the ski, and stop exactly where the flat portion of the ski ends.

  • Measure cord length. This is the physical length of the piece of metal or other material that makes up the ski. It can be hard to measure using the tape measure, since it's not very flexible and can split. Instead, use a measuring tape, like one you would use to measure a piece of cloth. Alternately, you can take a piece of string, cut it to the cord length and then measure the string with the tape measure. The string, or cord, is what gives cord length its name.

  • Measure the actual length, which refers to the number you get when you measure the ski from front to back while it sits on the ground, starting at the rear and extending to the tip, without letting the tape measure leave the ground. This means you will not calculate curvature into your number.

  • Follow this rule of thumb: get skis that are the length of your height plus one arm's reach. You may want shorter skis if you are a beginner or you plan to ski moguls or heavy turns.

  • Apply these numbers to your shopping. Most ski manufacturers will determine ski size using cord length, but this is not always the case. This is why you may have two skis that are, for example, "77s," but they are not in actuality the same length. If you know the length you want, tell an employee in the ski shop which measuring method you've used so he can size your skis correctly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ski width is not uniform for the entire ski, so it is not factored into the traditional size. Width is measured in millimeters and length in centimeters.
  • Never buy skis on the fly. Always talk to the employees at the ski shop to be certain you are getting the right size. If you get the wrong skis, you increase the risk of hurting yourself on the slopes.
  • Photo Credit active senior image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com
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