Source: FreeSkier


  • The ski shop makes more money renting out or selling higher performance equipment.
  • Be honest with yourself – if you don’t ski hard and fast you probably don’t need it.
  • Higher performance skis perform worse when not skied hard – they need higher momentum, and more force to get them to work well. Skied slower they can be harder work.  Is that what you want?
  • It may well have been a year since you last skied – maybe more. You likely won’t ski too hard on days one and two.  Try renting an easy, flexible ski first.  If you find you ski hard enough to make it “chatter”, you can always change up.
Dizzy of Dizzy’s boot fitting shop at Big White ski resort shows off an early 1970s ski boot that boasted fantastic ski technology that, sadly, was ahead of the boot’s ability to support it. The boots famously would come apart during skiing.
Credit: Yvette Cardozo


  • Same rules apply. Boots designed for beginner/early intermediate will be less expensive.
  • Priority number one is comfort. Don’t put up with anything less.
  • Very few skiers need boots as stiff as the ones they have; or rent. Most skiers are “over-booted” and it holds back their skiing.  Plus it’s often painful.
  • Start off the vacation with a lower grade boot: it’s easy to exchange them.
  • Why do I say this? Because if you cannot forward flex your ankle very readily, your skiing will never be as good as it could be. And you’ll never be as stable.
  • When you do-up your boots don’t have the higher buckles too tight.
  • When the buckles are done flex your shin forward and hold it there, and only then fasten the unfortunately named “power strap”. It will be somewhat slack until you flex your shin forward.  At first you may feel this is a bit “wobbly” – but for heaven’s sake you don’t have your ankles clamped when you move about at home!  And it doesn’t make you lose control.
Source: Praxis Skis

SKI POLES (The ski shop will have a small fit when you tell them this.)

  • You want them
  • They hate it. They will patiently explain to you as if you were a child that they know what length you need, and will explain how they derive it.
  • At this point listen attentively, take the pole they proffer, and then tell them you want a pair like that but 3” (7.5 cms) shorter. Insist on it. They will suggest that if you do, you will die.  You won’t.
  • Why shorter poles? Because the length ski shops always hand out, makes skiers stand upright and almost lean back every time they do a pole plant.
  • Try it – all experiments are worthwhile. You will very quickly prefer the shorter ones because they will help improve your posture.  Anyway you can always go back up a length later if you want to – it’s not a lifetime contract.


  1. Good advice about shorter poles & the boot power strap. The advice about not buckling the top buckles tight has me confused. Two years ago I was skiing in some super comfortable boots, but the forward flex was too soft & I felt I couldn’t control my skis the way I needed to. So last year I upgraded to stiffer flex boots & my skiing improved. That shin area that the top buckles cover seems to be the locus of control.

    • Hi Jeff
      Both the power strap AND the buckles support the shin. Sounds like your skiing had already improved – hence the need for a somewhat stiffer boot. I’m not saying all skiers should be in soft boots – heaven help the downhill racers if that were the case!
      What matters is being able to use your shins to transfer pressure toward the tips of the skis.

      • Dear Robert
        Good advice about the ski shop.
        I contend what appears to be your view of a “proper” ski stance.

        If your back is not inclined forward, (which requires flexing at the hips not the waist) relative to the slope you are on, at all times, then you do not have a “proper” ski stance. That is, if we define “proper” as the most effective and controlled. Your back should ALWAYS be inclined forward.

        What your comment appears to be recommending, and I apologise if my understanding of that is inaccurate, is a very old fashioned and discredited Austrian style of standing upright. It might have been ok when skis were made of packing-case timber, but not now and not for years.

        Were that the optimal stance every racer in the world would be using it. One of the reasons for suggesting that recreational skiers at least experiment with shorter poles rather than always doing what they have always done, is precisely to be an inducement not to stand upright.

        I would also suggest to any recreational skier that taking opinions from others is a good way to start, what is more effective is to learn to understand the underlying issues and then experiment for yourself. That way you grow.

        There may well not be a “proper” length, which is a rather top-down instructional approach; rather there will be an optimal length for YOU and if you experiment you will find it.

        Bob T
        PS What I should also have said (apology for my omission) is that too stiif, or too tight buckles and staps will tend to induce sitting back when you least want to.

  2. If you bend at the waist and lean forward, you will need shorter poles. If you have a proper ski stance, most likely the standard way to determine pole length will work for you. Do I see people poles that are too long? Sure. But most often they are hand-me-downs. Ask an instructor what is the proper length.

    You might find a ski shop that will let you try different pole lengths using their rentals, before you decide what skis the best.

  3. Richard Kavey says:

    The Scott boot was awful. I never drank the coolaide and remained with conventional overlap. Saw many Scott boots launch skiers forward when the sole ripped off remaining in the binding. I agree that most are skiing in boots far to stiff. You have to be able to flex the boot. I disagree about loose power straps. The strap should be tight, the boot should flex. I’m on an approximately 10 year old Lange Plug, cut to soften the flex w a replacement set of Intuition liners. Very comfy. Amazing control and the Intuitions are incredibly warm. I wear an 11 street shoe, my ski boot is size 9. The shorter the dole length the better the performance. Most boots are sold far too big a complete disaster that can’t be corrected without buying the right size boot

  4. Richard Brewer says:

    You’re right about equipment geared to your current ability, not when you were 25. I went to my new favorite ski shop in Latham, NY and talked to Chris about new skis. After I told him how I ski and my ability he waved at all the performance skis and said I could forget about them. Right then I knew I was in the right place. I told him I demoed some performance skis and they felt squishy and he said that’s because I don’t ski fast enough. They also did a good job for me on boots last year- Burt at the same shop put me in an 90 flex- less than my buddies but right for me. Let it snow!

  5. John Vyverberg says:

    Just a couple of observations- I used 52″/130 cm poles for quite a few years on the theory that I could get more push out of the gate in our beer league and local Masters races. A couple of years ago I went back to 48″/120cm for recreational skiing and cut down my race poles to the same. Yep, gets you more forward or at least not pushed upright by the poles.

    Regarding power straps, I’m a big fan of replacing the stock straps with the Booster Strap. For me, it makes the flex much more progressive and you can leave the top buckles looser. I’ve used them on my last three pairs of ski boots and will change over my new ones as soon as I get them fitted.

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