Nordic

Cross-country ski length

Whether you’re heading out onto groomed tracks for some Classic skiing or smooth trails for some Skate skiing, the only way to really enjoy cross-country is by wearing the correct length skis. Additionally, your body weight and size are also important to determine the proper ski for you. Skate skiing and Classic skiing call for different length skis, even if they were to be used by the same skier.

Cross-country ski length

Classic

 

Classic ski technique has similar mechanics to walking in regard to the movement, direction, and timing of the arms and legs. The motions are for-and-aft, and the arms swing in the opposite cadence of the legs. Therefore it is generally easier than Skate style for a beginner skier to learn.

 

The ski grips the snow in the middle, under the weight and pressure of the skier, to enable push-off, or kick, for forward motion. This area has different names, but “kick zone” is an accurate description. This area requires special wax, or a stepped “fish scale” base shape on non-wax skis, for efficient movement, especially on upward slopes. More body weight means more grip.

 

The general formula for determining Classic ski length is your height plus 20 to 30cm (8” to 12”). Just as important is your level of skill and experience. Beginners should be on the short end of this range, while advanced skiers will be on the long end.

 

A great starting point is the Fischer Product Finder. Enter your profile information and you’ll receive the optimal length of whatever ski model you’re interested in. If you find yourself between two recommended sizes, refer to the idea above that shorter skis are easier to handle and a better option if you’re not 100% confident in your skill level.

 

Skate

 

Skate ski technique is similar to inline skating or ice skating, though using poles adds an extra dynamic. It is considered more difficult to learn at first, and can be physically more demanding, but the general principle is the same as Classic skiing.

 

Skate skis have no kick zone. They use the hard, sharp inner edge of the ski for propulsion, as it grips the snow when each leg powerfully pushes outward and rearward in one motion.

 

The general formula for determining Skate ski length is your height plus 10 to 15cm (4” to 6”). Just as important is your level of skill and experience. Beginners should be on the short end of this range, or even add only 8cm (3”) to their height if they are complete beginners; advanced skiers will be on the long end of the range.

 

The Fischer Product Finder is also recommended here. Enter your profile information and you’ll receive the optimal length of whatever ski model you’re interested in. If you find yourself between two recommended sizes, refer to the idea above that shorter skis are easier to handle and a better option if you’re not 100% confident in your skill level.

Children cross-country ski length

Children cross-country ski length

Kids as young as three can enjoy the smooth, unintimidating sensation of gliding along the snow! Classic style makes the most sense by far for these little cross-country skiers.

 

Use the following general guidelines as a starting point for selecting skis for children and juniors.

 

  • Skating beginner: height minus 5 to 10cm (2” to 4”)
  • Skating advanced: height plus 5 to 10cm (2” to 4”)

 

  • Classic beginner: height plus 10cm (2” to 4”) max.
  • Skating advanced: height plus 10 to 20cm (4” to 8”)

 

Children’s skis come in lengths from 110cm to 170cm. As always, a shorter ski is always the best recommendation when in doubt.

Cross-country poles length

Cross-country poles length

The correct length of pole makes a huge difference in cross-country performance and enjoyment. They provide a lot of power if they correctly match your body size and skiing style. Skate poles are typically longer than Classic poles due to the different arm motion.

 

Use the following general guidelines for selecting adult poles.

 

  • Classic technique: Height in cm x .85 = pole length
  • Skate technique: Height in cm x .90 = pole length

 

Let’s look at 168cm (5’ 6”) tall woman as an example:

 

  • Classic: 168cm x .85 = 142.8cm pole (ideal length)
  • Skate: 168cm x .90 = 151.2cm pole (ideal length)

 

An even simpler guideline is that a Classic pole should stick out of the snow to around armpit height; a Skate pole should stick out of the snow to around mouth height, and no higher than the nose.

 

A very practical recommendation for young skiers who are growing fast is to get them an adjustable-length pole such as a Fischer Vario. They adjust easily, will be usable for years, and can be used for either skiing style.

 

In addition to high quality skis, bindings, boots, and poles, we recommend you outfit yourself with ski-specific apparel to fully enjoy your skiing, no matter level of cross-country skier you are.

 

Consider the amount of arm and leg movement involved in either style of cross-country skiing and be sure the fit and stretch of your apparel are sufficient.

 

Sports apparel technology, including the use of natural fibers, is now so advanced that there is a nearly unlimited selection of gear at affordable prices.