Ski Like a Pro

Gearing Up

With new high-tech materials, women-specific ski gear is lightweight, fits comfortably and is designed for the female form without sacrificing performance.

Skis. Short and wide is in. Pick a ski that stands at a height between your chin and forehead. When in doubt, err on the shorter side. Today, a 170-centimeter womens ski is considered very long. Most women prefer skis that are 145 to 160 centimeters.

Boots. Your heel and ankle should be held securely in place, and you should be able to bend the boot forward at its hinge-point. If youre still in old-fashioned rear-entry boots, its time to upgrade. They may be comfortable, but they sacrifice performance.

Bindings. Manufacturers take the guesswork out of bindings. Most skis come with an integrated pair that allows the ski to flex naturally.

Poles. To judge whether a ski pole is the right length, turn it upside down and hold it directly under the basket, the round plastic disc near the tip of the pole that prevents it from sinking deep into the snow. When your hand is touching the basket, your elbow should bend 90 degrees.

Clothing. You can find skiwear as expensive and fashionable as you desire, but you can get by with layers under a waterproof breathable shell and pant. Avoid cotton, which is cold, and wear technical, moisture-wicking fabrics next to your skin and fleece or wool layers for insulation. On a cold day, a fleece neck gaiter stays snug against your neck and face and is a better choice than a scarf, which could get caught on the chairlift.

Accessories. A helmet and goggles are preferable over a hat and sunglasses. The latest helmets have excellent venting and look rather stylish. Research shows that while wearing a helmet wont save you from a major injury if the impact is hard enough, it will greatly reduce the chance of minor head trauma. Wearing goggles keeps your face warmer, protects your eyes from the sun and prevents them from watering.

The author of Ski Faster! (McGraw-Hill, 1999), Lisa Densmore has taught ski clinics to more than 4,000 women at ski areas throughout the United States. She covers all aspects of snow sports as both a writer and an Emmy-winning television producer and host.

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