Junior skiers are constantly growing and advancing, so it can be difficult to figure out what will fit them when it comes to their gear. Will the hand-me-downs from older siblings fit? When are the skis too short? Will beginner equipment work for the more advanced skier? This guide should help you to figure out what you've got, what you need, and what to look for when sizing your kids for a successful season on the slopes!
The first step is to figure out what style of skiing your child is doing. Have they been skiing for several years, are they aggressive or timid, or are they relative beginners or gearing up for their first attempt? Ability is a big factor in determining the appropriate size and style of ski. Second step? Measure your child! Use the following guidelines for measurement:
- Very beginner (under age 3) - measure from the toes to the collarbone/chin
- Beginner/timid skiers - measure from the toes to the chin/upper lip
- Intermediate/moderate skiers - measure from the toes to the nose/eyebrow
- Advanced/aggressive skiers - measure from the toes to the top of the forehead
In the US we use standard sizing (inches and feet) for measurement, but ski companies use the metric system (along with the rest of the civilized world!). The conversion is 1 inch = 2.54cm, or 1 foot = 30.48cm. It is easiest to figure out which is the right size if you have a tape measure that has both standard and metric on it, but for those of you who don't here is an approximation of what to look for, based on standard ski sizing:
- 31 inches = 80cm
- 35 inches = 90cm
- 39 inches = 100cm
- 43 inches = 110cm
- 47 inches = 120cm
- 51 inches = 130cm
- 55 inches = 140cm
- 59 inches = 150cm
- 63 inches = 160cm
- 67 inches = 170cm
For example, if you have a child who has skied for a few years and is pretty confident, skiing mostly blue trails and the occasional black diamond, and measures 49 inches to the nose, you should look for a ski between 120-130cm in length. If your child is just starting out, has only been out a few times and measures 36 inches to the chin, you are best looking for an 80-90cm ski. If you have a very aggressive, afraid of nothing kid who bombs down the mountain and leaves you in their dust...well, I'm sure they'll wait for you at the lift. ;) For those kids, you will want to go with something that can hold up at speed, which generally means a longer length. So if they are 57cm to the forehead, a 140-150cm ski is a good bet.
What about heavier, taller, more aggressive kids? The transitional sizes can throw you for the biggest loop. Kids skis are designed for skiers up to about 140 lbs. The reason for this is that they have are made of lightweight and soft flexing materials to give kids the best ride possible - they are easy to turn and move around. 99% of kids skis have lightweight foam cores, which can mean that they may not be the right choice for your park and pipe kids and those "hucking" themselves off cliffs and jumps you haven't thought about touching since your 20's. Junior skis are, for the most part, geared toward those who are developing their skills and staying mostly in-bounds to do it. There are pipe and park specific skis available for kids who want them, and also race-specific skis for kids who prefer to ski at higher speeds.
That being said, there are also some kids who, for reasons of height, weight or ability, no longer fall into the junior ski category. Don't lose heart - there are plenty of beginner level adult skis that will work great for these kids (who are generally in their teens) and won't price you out of the sport. Adult skis are sized similarly to junior skis. If your child falls into this category and would be better suited in adult equipment, simply go down one size in the length of the skis. So if you have a beginner who measures 62 inches to the chin and would be in a junior 160, an adult 150 would be the appropriate length for them. Or if you have a child who would take a 150cm junior ski but weighs 150lbs or more, an adult 140 would be a better fit for them. Adult skis are made with stronger core and topsheet materials so they can handle the extra weight or aggressiveness much better than a junior ski can.
Still have fit questions? The best bet is to bring your kids to a ski shop and talk to a salesman about fit and available options. Sometimes talking to someone directly can help, especially if you are unsure what steps to take. Feel free to contact us for more info as well, and visit our store to check for available equipment - Alpine Sporting Goods.
Thanks for checking out our guide - have a great ski season!!!