Ski Fit and Binding Selection

Gear West's selection of skis is huge - High School Cross Country Ski Gear Guide

Because of the differences between classic and skating, ski racers will always own at least two pairs of skis (although junior high programs frequently only skate ski in an effort to keep costs down for growing kids).  Skate skis are shorter than classic skis to prevent the skier from catching a tip while skating. They are also far stiffer since, unlike classic skiing, there are no preformed tracks for the skis to follow (skating is done on a flat trail). Classic skis also must collapse under the skier's full weight to allow the kick wax to contact the snow.

In either case, skis are fit based on how much the skier weighs, selecting a ski with the correct stiffness, with the skier's height and ski length being only secondary concerns. It is worth noting that skis are sold by length, but each pair within the same length will have it's own unique stiffness properties, so it is vital to have your skis selected by a trained ski fitter. If you are ordering online however and need to choose a length, the following table provides a good starting point. In general, longer skis are used by more advanced and taller skiers, with shorter skis offering additional responsiveness and ease of use at the expense of a small amount of top speed. Finally, keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules regarding length; often, experienced skiers develop their own preferences based on nothing but what feels "right" to them.

Skier Weight Classic Ski Length Skate Ski Length
<100 lbs <185 cm <175 cm
100 - 110 lbs 180 - 190 cm 170-180 cm
110 - 120 lbs 182 - 192 cm 172-182 cm
120 - 130 lbs 185 - 195 cm 175-185 cm
130 - 140 lbs 187 - 200 cm 177-187 cm
140 - 150 lbs 190 - 205 cm 180-190 cm
150 - 160 lbs 195 - 210 cm 185-195 cm
160 - 180 lbs 200 - 210 cm 190-200 cm
>180 lbs 205 - 210 cm 190-200 cm

Of course, you will need to add a binding to the ski before you can use it. It may seem like there are many options, but sellecting the correct binding is actually fairly straightforward and can be found by answering the following questions and following the flowcharts below.

  1. Am I buying a binding for a skate or a classic ski?

    With very few exceptions, the only difference between a binding built for skating and it's classical counterpart is the stiffness of the bumper or spring that holds your foot flat - skating is easier with a 'snappier' binding while classical skiing should let you kick off of your toes.

  2. What system are my ski boots fit for?

    There are two systems; the SNS Pilot system which is built by Salomon and the NNN system that is maintained by Rottefella. Each boot manufacturer supports only one of these two systems, so if you know your boot's brand you can easily determine the correct system. Salomon, Atomic, and One Way use the Pilot system; Alpina, Fischer, Madshus, and Rossignol boots are compatible with NNN bindings.

  3. Does my ski have a NIS plate?

    While bindings have traditionally been attached by screwing screws through the topsheet of the ski, Rottefella came out with the industry's first screwless system in 2005. Skis which are NIS (short for Nordic Integrated System) compatible are currently manufactured by Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, as well as others, and will have a distinct plastic plate epoxied onto the topsheet of the ski. Although any binding may be mounted on top of this plate, it is specifically designed to allow a compatible Rottefella binding such as the Xcelerator or the Exercise models to be mounted in seconds using nothing but a key included with the binding. Since these bindings are easier to mount and unmount but have no significant drawbacks, there is no reason to use a screw in NNN binding for a skier with an NNN boot and an NIS compatible ski. On the other hand, a comfortable boot is much more important than the convenience of the NIS system, so we don't recommend committing to NIS before choosing a boot.

    *NOTE: Although Salomon does not provide any NIS compatible bindings, their Equipe Propulse classic binding comes in two variants. We have found the RC2 variant works better on skis with NIS plates while the original RC variant is preferable on skis with flat topsheets.

  4. What performance level do I need?

    At this point, the list of possible bindings for you should be fairly short and all of the bindings on that list should work with your ski and boot. The differences that remain between the models will be in degrees of performance. Specifically, more expensive bindings will tend to be lighter, lower riding, and more durable. For newer skiers, these differences probably will not be noticable, but as skiers improve and get stronger, a lower tier binding can quickly become the limiting factor on a pair of skis. As a general rule, however, a ski should be mounted with a binding from a matching performance tier.

Skate Bindings

Classic Bindings

Recommended Skis for High School Skiers


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