Skis have become a marvel of technology, and picking the right pair can be a complicated process. Shoppers should at least learn the basics to finding the right fit before they buy.   

Skis have become a marvel of technology, and picking the right pair can be a complicated process. Shoppers should at least learn the basics to finding the right fit before they buy.    


The first thing alpine skiers need to consider is their level of ability and the kind of turns they like to make, said John Byrne, owner of Buckles and Boards Ski and Surf in Marshfield, Mass. The tighter the turns, the shorter the ski should be.


“For an intermediate skier, certainly shorter is better,'' Byrne said. “They're more maneuverable.''


Generally, for an intermediate skier, a ski that measures from the ground to between the chin and nose is ideal in terms of length, said Rick Lawson, a buyer and boot fitter for Sportworks Limited in Duxbury, Mass. 


It isn't only length that affects a ski's maneuverability but also how flexible the boards are. The softer the ski, the easier it is to turn, Lawson said.


Wide skis are good for heavy powder, while a narrower waist is better for hard-packed snow and ice. Lawson recommends that intermediate skiers stick to a ski that's 72 millimeters to 76 millimeters wide.


A good option for skiers who want to explore a variety of terrain is an all-mountain ski.


If you spend a lot of time in the park, twin tip skis - meaning both the front and back tips curve up - might be your best buy. With reinforced edges, they're good for durability.


“They're designed for jumping and spinning, but you can also ski them traditionally,'' Bryne said. “It's a little more versatile and can give you more options.'' 


Ski prices range dramatically, from $350 for a pair of beginner skis to $1,000 or more.


“There's no mystery in the ski business: You get what you pay for,'' Byrne said.


A quality pair of skis for an intermediate skier, Lawson said, should cost around $600 and last eight to 10 years. 


Ashlee Fairey may be reached at afairey@ledger.com.