"Skiing can be thought of as a control and guidance activity, sliding down on a varying surface."Kids love to ski and if you want them to master the slopes, then it is important to pick the right equipment. Whether you have to buy a ski for a young three-year-old, or a teenager who is an advancing intermediate, choosing the right ski and determining the appropriate size and style of ski is important. Unlike adults, children outgrow their skiing equipment, and it is difficult to find the perfect gear for them. What size of ski should I buy? How do you know if the ski is too short or too long for the kid? Will a beginner-level ski work well for an advanced skier? These questions and many more assail parents who are out to buy a ski for their child.
―David W. Murrie
Although it might seem like an overwhelming task, choosing the right ski is not that difficult, all you need to consider is the kid's height and weight, and his/her level of skiing. Here is a detailed guide to choose the right skis for kids.
One of the common misconceptions is that there are skis that are suitable for all skill levels. Before picking a ski for your kid, it is necessary to understand his/her skill level. A ski that is designed for a pro can seriously impede a child's learning process. A beginner ski designed specifically for kids who have never skied before, or has skied only a few times, is softer and easier to manipulate. The rocker in the tip and tail makes it easier for the kid to take short, quick turns employing little technique. This ski is not meant for higher speeds, and is usually shorter and closer to chin height. Some of the characteristics of beginner skis include:
✷ Softer flex
✷ Narrow width
✷ Composite foam or soft wood cores
✷ Capped construction
On the other hand, advanced level skis, designed for kids who are adept at skiing on various terrains, are stiffer and require better technique for control. They are longer and often measure from toes to the nose or head. Some common characteristics of such skis include:
✷ Strong wood core
✷ Sandwich sidewall construction
✷ Camber or rocker
You need to measure the child's height and weight to find the perfect ski size. It is important to note that ski manufacturers measure the skis in centimeters. While in the US, we tend to use feet and inches for measurement. Here is a size chart that will help you find the correct size skis for your child.
|Age (yrs)||Height (in)||Weight (lbs)||Ski Length (cm)|
|3||37||34||70 - 80|
|4||40||37||80 - 90|
|5||43||42||90 - 100|
|6||45||46||95 - 105|
|7||47||50||100 - 110|
|9||53||63||115 - 125|
|10||55||70||120 - 130|
|11||57||79||130 - 140|
|12||59||89||135 - 145|
|13||61||100||140 - 150|
|14||65||112||150 - 160|
There are various types of kids' skis, but the basic type is the mountain ski, which is a versatile ski that is made for groomed runs. For kids, weighing less than 110 lbs, there are special skis with binding. Attached to the skis by a track system, the bindings ensure a perfect fit. This type is best for beginners as the attached bindings make it easier for the skier to take turns.
Skis without bindings, which are essentially flat skis, are usually not easy to find. However, if you want to customize the skis with binding that is most appropriate to their size and ability, then these skis work best for your child.
Twin Tip Skis, which are skis with even widths at either ends, are quite popular among teenagers and youngsters. The shape and size of these skis allow the skier to ski backwards, hold an edge, and land from a jump with ease. It is also known as freestyle ski.
If your child is interested in downhill skiing, then you will need junior race skis. The stiffer flexing of these skis requires advanced skiing skills, and these skis are designed for kids weighing an average of 145 lbs. These skis are available for both Slalom and Giant Slalom disciplines.
You can buy these skis at most ski stores or at sporting good stores. Specialty ski stores are a good option as they are able to guide the buyers regarding the correct size. The ski fittings should be done at a ski shop or by a professional. The downside to this is that you will be able to find only a select range of skis, and the prices are generally on the higher side. Many people prefer buying from internet retailers and online stores. Do look at the description, size, shipping options, and returns policy before buying.
Some really good brands of skis for kids include:
Before buying, do check the reviews and if possible, let the child checkout the ski and try it on. It is best to let the child choose a design and color that he/she likes. It is also important to choose the right pair of boots and binding to be combined with your kid's skis.