Beginner Skis: How to Choose the Best Skis for BeginnersPublished on 05/19/2023 · 8 min readAs you're getting started in your ski journey, it can be tough to know what skis will be the best fit for you. Skiing Expert Lauren explains beginner skis below!
A few OLD starter skis. Photo by Lauren Dobbins
TL;DR: When buying beginner skis, keep the following recommendations in mind: look for softer flex, a narrow waist width, a rocker-camber-rocker profile, and a durable yet lightweight construction; Avoid stiff skis, advanced ski tech, wide powder skis, and race skis; Choose an appropriate length for your height and weight. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of beginner skis, discussing their function, price, features, and how to choose the best pair for you.
I started skiing at the age of two, and although I don’t remember my beginner days, I still feel so much excitement when I progress in my ability—just like a beginner. Though I know that skiing requires lots of specialized gear. And as a beginner, navigating the vast market of skis can be a challenge.
Not to worry, as a Skiing Expert at Curated, I’ve helped loads of customers find the perfect beginner skis for them. I even taught fellow Curated Expert Raphael Alland (my husband) how to ski many years ago—and now he’s a true skiing virtuoso as well. By the end of this guide, you should have the proper information to find the perfect first pair of skis for you. Let’s get started!
What Are Beginner Skis?
Beginner skis are designed to be user-friendly and forgiving—making it easier for new skiers to learn and progress. They typically feature a softer flex which allows for better control at slower speeds. They also have a small turn radius, which means they are easy to make shorter, more-controlled turns with. Additionally, they often have a rocker-camber-rocker profile for smooth turn initiation, and a narrow width for ease of learning. Durable yet lightweight construction keeps beginners comfortable and confident as they develop their skills on the slopes.
What to Consider When Buying Beginner Skis
1. What Is Your Skiing Ability and Experience?
As a beginner, it's crucial to find skis that match your skill level. Beginner skis are more forgiving and easier to control, with a softer flex and a user-friendly design to help you build confidence and progress faster.
Although beginner-specific skis will make learning a breeze, you may want to consider an intermediate ski if you plan on skiing often and progressing quickly. While an intermediate ski will be a little tougher to learn on, it will continue to provide the support you need as you move faster and start exploring new terrain.
2. What Type of Terrain Will You Ski On?
Knowing the terrain you'll ski on helps you choose the right ski profile and width. For groomed runs, a narrower ski works best for quick turns and easy control. A more intermediate, all-mountain ski offers versatility for varying snow conditions. Keep in mind, a beginner will often spend most of their time on groomed trails.
3. What Is the Appropriate Ski Length?
For a beginner skier, a shorter ski is preferable. Shorter skis are easier to maneuver and control, helping you learn and progress more quickly. The easiest way to find the right ski length is to compare where a ski measures up to your head when standing up. A truly new skier will want a ski that reaches their chin or maybe even shorter. Someone who has been skiing a few times will want to look at a ski that is between their chin and mouth. An advancing beginner to intermediate skier will best be matched with a ski that comes up between their mouth and nose. Besides height, weight and skiing style also factor into determining the ideal ski size.
4. Do I Need Gender-Specific Skis?
Skis of all types are sold as men’s, women’s, or unisex. While most skis are sold as men’s skis, there are a few key differences in the construction of a women’s-specific pair. Generally speaking, women should look for women’s-specific skis, but someone who is new to skiing will have no issue learning on a unisex pair. Men should stick with men’s or unisex skis.
5. How Much Should Beginner Skis Cost?
Beginner skis typically range from $300–600. At the lower end, expect basic construction, materials, and features, but enough to provide a comfortable learning experience. Mid-range skis, around $400–500, offer improved performance and durability for progressing skiers. Higher-end beginner skis, up to $600, may include more advanced technologies and materials for a smoother transition into intermediate-level skiing.
Most beginner skis will come with bindings, which helps reduce the cost for a beginner package. Investing in a quality pair of beginner skis can enhance your skiing experience and provide a solid foundation for progression.
Features to Look for in Beginner Skis
Here are the top features to prioritize when deciding between pairs beginner skis:
- Softer Flex: A softer flex makes turning and controlling your skis much easier. Look for a ski with a flex rating suitable for entry-level skiers, ensuring a forgiving and smooth ride as you learn.
- Rocker-Camber-Rocker Profile: This ski profile makes turn initiation a breeze, while the camber underfoot offers stability and edge grip on groomers. It's a well-balanced choice for beginners, providing an enjoyable skiing experience.
- Appropriate Length: For beginners, a shorter ski is preferable. It's easier to maneuver and control, helping you learn more quickly. Consult sizing charts and consider your height, weight, and skiing style when choosing the right length.
- Durable Construction: While you're learning, you might take some tumbles or encounter obstacles. Look for skis with a durable construction—such as a cap or semi-cap design—to ensure they last as you progress.
- Narrow Width: A ski with a narrow waist width (between 70–80mm) is very manageable, making it easier for beginners to feel comfortable on groomed slopes. A ski with a waist width in the low 80s will be accessible to someone who is learning but will provide more support as they try off-piste terrain. Look for a ski width that suits the terrain you'll be skiing on most frequently.
- Lightweight Design: A lighter ski is easier to handle and maneuver, which is crucial when learning to ski. Look for materials like wood cores with fiberglass layers that keep the ski light without sacrificing durability.
Features to Avoid in Beginner Skis
While there are many great features to look for in beginner skis, there are a few things to avoid:
- Overly Stiff Skis: As a beginner, you want a ski that's forgiving and easy to control. Skis with an overly stiff flex can hinder your progress and make skiing less enjoyable.
- Advanced Ski Technology: Some skis may have advanced features that are unnecessary for beginners, such as advanced bindings or specialized base materials. Focus on finding a ski with the essential features that'll enhance your learning experience.
- Long Skis: Longer skis are more difficult to control. For an easier learning experience, find a ski that, when standing up, reaches your chin.
- Wide Skis: Wider skis designed for powder skiing might be too difficult to control for beginners on groomed runs. Stick to skis with a narrow waist width for an easy ride.
- Race Skis: Avoid race skis if you're a beginner. These skis are designed for hard carving and high speed. This category is much less forgiving than beginner-friendly skis.
How to Choose the Best Beginner Skis for You
Craig: The Brand New Weekend Skier
Needs: Craig is brand new to skiing. He tried it once last year, and he is excited to make this a new hobby. He is a really busy person, so he expects to ski just a few times a year at his local ski resort. He is looking for skis to give him the foundation to one day be able to break out of the pizza stance.
Products to Consider: Craig is going to need very introductory skis to make learning accessible. Since he is a more casual skier, a true beginner pair will keep him happy and safe for many seasons to come. Some skis he should consider are the K2 Disruption 76x or the Rossignol Experience 76.
Imani: A Handful Of Trips Under Her Belt
Needs: Imani has gone skiing over one weekend per year for the past few years. She is starting to become more parallel through her turns. Now that she has moved from Georgia to Utah, she is planning to go skiing much more regularly. She wants to learn as much as she can in order to keep up with her new skier friends.
Products to Consider: Imani still needs a beginner-friendly ski, but she should look for one that is more geared towards an intermediate. Since she is determined to ski frequently and progress quickly, a more advanced ski will help her progress and be able to do more advanced terrain. My favorite skis for a woman like her are the K2 Mindbender 85 Women’s.