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What skis should I buy?

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By Derek Lennon EBS Contributor

Trying to find the perfect ski? After looking through websites, checking the latest gear guides, reading online reviews, and browsing the ski selection at your local gear shop, do you feel totally overwhelmed? Picking the right ski can be challenging.

Everyone likes something different in a pair of skis. The best boards for the guy who skis 144 days a season and works at the tune shop are not going to be the perfect skis for a petite gal on her one-week-a-year ski vacation. Choosing the right ski is largely a personal choice.

It’s your responsibility to sort through all of the different options and choose the right ski based on your ability, your budget, the conditions, the terrain, and other variables. When you see how many ski manufacturers and models there are to choose from, it’s easy to wonder where to begin.

Start by doing a bit of honest self-reflection:

What type of skier are you? – Beginner? Intermediate? Advanced? Expert? Aspiring pro?

Where do you like to ski? –  Beginner terrain? Blue cruisers? Bumps? Trees? Terrain park? Big Mountain? Backcountry?

How many days do you ski a year?  – A week? A month? Every day of the season?

What type of conditions do you ski? – Groomers? Bottomless powder? Variable crud? A mix of everything?

Based on your answers to these questions, focus on skis in one of the following ski categories:

All Mountain – Ideal for groomed terrain, moguls, and tree skiing.

Big Mountain/Freeride – Best for fast skiing in steep and technical terrain.

Powder – Ideal for making turns in soft, deep snow.

Backcountry – Skis designed for “out of bounds.” Usually lightweight for earning your turns.

Carving – Ideal for arcing precision turns inbounds.

Park/Freestyle – Ideal for terrain parks and landing tricks.

Beyond the type of boards, every ski has it’s own set of variables—length, width, rocker, stiffness, camber, graphics, etcetera. You’ll also need to pick bindings and boots too, but that’s another topic.

In an ideal world we would all have a quiver of skis. Then we could select the best ski based on the conditions and our goals for the day, but that’s a bit unrealistic and price prohibitive too. You’re going to have to choose the right skis for you.

One great thing you can do at Big Sky and other resorts is to visit a shop where you can test demo skis. Then you can try different types of skis and find the one that you like the best before you buy.

Are you still wondering, “What skis should I buy?” Stop by any of the ski shops in Big Sky and ask their advice. Shops like Grizzly Outfitters, East Slope Outdoors, Gallatin Alpine Sports, Big Sky Sports, and Lone Mountain Sports are more than happy to help you find the pair of skis that’s ideal for you.

Read more about how to choose the right ski for you on and

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains of the world. He is based in Big Sky, Montana, where he lives with his wife Mia and two dogs.

A version of this story was originally published on the Visit Big Sky blog at Read more interesting content about the area on Visit Big Sky’s blog at

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