Over many years of ski instructing we have seen the length of skis change, for people of all ages. On a regular basis we see children turn up ready to ski a wide variety of skis lengths.
Here’s our opinion and thoughts on what is the best ski length for your child.
It is not only about the length of skis used, the type is also important. In the pre 1980’s the 1980’s and 1990’s it was common to see children on a pair of skis held via straps, often wearing welly or snow boots. We no longer see this method being used. Although I’m sure there’s some great skiers that learnt that way (including some of our instructors) it should be avoided as a better alternative is now available.
Children start to join ski school as young as three years old.
As instructors we are introducing key fundamentals from day 1: the ability to walk in boots, steer a ski and how the understanding of the ski and boot connection is really important.
The average height of a three year old is around 37.3 inches (94.7cm), applying the ski length rule: the length of the ski should be somewhere between the top of your chest and nose, however weight is also a contributing factor.
As an approximate guide for the average three year old child we would recommend a ski between 70-80 cm. The stronger and heavier the child will possibly require towards an 80cm ski as the extra length will help their balance, although it will be slightly harder to turn.
Once your child is up and skiing, a common question is – “when do I purchase another pair of skis for my child ?” Or “has my child outgrown their ski’s ? ”
We would recommend remaining on a ski if it is not hindering your child’s performance or development, they will be building confidence and gaining key milestones on a pair of familiar skis. On the other hand, it is not advisable to let your child remain on a ski that is too small or too long. If a child outgrow’s their ski, often they will cut their turn radius too tight, not allowing flow down the mountain and also will feel unbalanced at faster speeds.
We commonly see children with skis that are too long for them, possibly thinking they will go faster in a straight line but importantly on a longer ski it becomes a difficulty for them to control and turn the ski.
Here are a few checks for you to ensure the skis are right for your child.
In summary, when is the right time to change and progress to a longer ski ?
Christmas time is often a good time , as long as the height change isn’t too drastic .The first few weeks of the season we need them to remember the feelings of their old pair and allow them to have fun.
Their new upgrade is often timely around the Christmas period. Your child may take a while to get used to a new pair of skis, like all of us, a few centimeters difference in length can feel completely different. If it is the right ski for them, they will soon benefit from the rewards!
We hope this has given you an insight into a rather debatable topic, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask one of our instructors when it comes to lesson time!