You can find all kinds of nordic ski sizing charts on the internet these days, but if you check any reputable sources they will tell you to get properly fitted at your local ski shop.
Here at Eb's we believe so strongly in the importance of properly fitted skis that we have every customer stand on their new skis on our camber tester before they walk out the door. Here's why.
Your skis have camber, whether they are classic or skate. That's the "bow" in the middle of the ski. If you hold a pair of skis together base-to-base, you'll see a gap in the middle. The purpose of the ski's camber is to lift your weight up off the snow so you glide mostly on the tips and tails of your ski.
With classic skis you want your gliding weight carried on the tips and tails so that your grip zone - whether it's a cut waxless pattern, a skin, or a waxed section - doesn't drag across the snow.
If your grip zone is dragging across the snow you'll be working hard and going slow. You won't have good glide and you'll be getting passed by people who probably shouldn't be passing you. Your wax or your skin will wear prematurely.
A properly sized classic ski will lift the grip zone off the snow as you ski, which gives you maximum glide. You won't have to work as hard. Glide is essential for the development of proper nordic technique, too. If you don't have good glide you will be forced to "shuffle" the skis back and forth in an effort to get anywhere.
However, you also need to be able to compress the ski into the snow for grip when you kick. A ski needs to be stiff enough for your weight to lift your grip zone off the snow as you glide but soft enough that you can compress it to get good grip. There are short soft skis, short stiff skis, long soft skis, long stiff skis... every ski is different. You might fit a 203 cm in one model yet a 195 cm in another, and you won't know until you actually stand on them and get them camber tested.
Skin skis especially need to be properly sized. With a waxable ski you can vary the length of your wax pocket; a skin is a fixed size. You don't want your skin dragging against the snow while you're gliding but you do need to be able to press the hairs into the snow for kick. That's why we take great care sizing skin skis so that you won't be disappointed and discouraged out on the trail.
You want your weight to ride on the tips and tails of your skate skis as well, but for slightly different reasons than with classic skis. The camber of a skate ski is quite different than a classic ski and is designed to keep you lower, close to the snow. It spreads your contact zones to the tips and tails of the ski to reduce friction yet allows you to edge the ski for power.
If a ski has too stiff a camber for you, you'll have trouble edging it properly and will lose a lot of control. If a ski has too soft a camber for you, your weight will be carried in the middle of the ski rather than the tips and tails. This makes for an unstable, squirrely ski that spins and is very frustrating to use. Many beginners struggle with the skate technique, thinking the problem is their own, when in reality they have chosen skis that are too soft or too stiff for them.
How we fit you
When you come to us for new skis, we ask a lot of questions. We want to know how much skiing you've done, where you like to ski, how often you plan on going, what conditions you mostly ski in, what has worked for you in the past, what your fitness and technique levels and aspirations are.. you get the idea. This way we can choose the best skis for you, considering flex, side-cut, flotation, base materials and other factors.
Once we have narrowed your choices down to a model or two that suits you, we have you stand on the skis on our camber tester. Doing this shows us exactly how your ski measures under your weight. Whether you stand on them or have us do them digitally, there is no better way to properly size skis than camber testing.
You can see right on our statement of purpose why we insist on this. We want you to enjoy skiing just as much as we do. And we are fanatics!