Beautiful ski area view
A Photo of Remco Mensinck

Written by Remco Mensinck

What Length for Powder and Freeride Skis?

As a rule, body height to body height + 5 cm.

Height (cm)Height (feet/inches)Suggested Ski Length (cm)
< 152< 5'0"150 - 160
152 - 1635'0" - 5'4"160 - 170
163 - 1735'4" - 5'8"170 - 180
173 - 1835'8" - 6'0"180 - 185
183 - 1936'0" - 6'4"185 - 190
> 193> 6'4"190 - 195

view of a ski area

Less Effective Edge Means Longer Skis

Freeride and powder skis often have more rocker in their profile. This means that the tip of the ski rises earlier than, for example, a race ski. This creates extra buoyancy and makes initiating a turn on and off the piste easier. As a result, the effective length, the length of the steel edge that actually cuts into the snow in a turn, is relatively short.

This is also the reason why most people choose a relatively long length when they select a freeride or powder ski. The extra length also gives the ski more surface area, and therefore more buoyancy in the powder snow.

view of a ski area

A Reason to Go for Shorter Freeride Skis?

Freeride skis are not often skied in relatively short lengths, yet there are three reasons to take a shorter freeride ski. The first is if you simply prefer a more comfortable ski that is easy to ride. In this case, however, I would rather recommend taking a different model that is, for example, less stiff, as this retains the buoyancy of a longer ski while also being easy to ski.

The second reason is if you plan to do a lot of touring. The extra length also brings extra weight. When choosing a ski for extensive touring, it is often skied about +/- 10 centimeters shorter than a ski that you only use with a lift. If you only want to tour for the downhill, you can of course decide to stick with the "normal" length, as this is mostly a personal preference.

The last reason for a shorter freeride ski is for experts who engage in very steep couloirs and the like. When you are making jump turns in a couloir, it is not pleasant to have to turn around a 190+ cm ski and maneuver through narrow technical sections.