How-To: Ski Fitting
Finding the Right Skis for You:
The Importance of Ski Fitting
Skis have been our focus at BNS since day one, and we invest a huge amount of time, energy and money to understand the skis we carry. We place a huge emphasis on selecting and fitting skis to our customers because we recognize that both the fit and quality of your skis provide the foundation of your skiing experience. Whether you are looking for a basic model to shuffle around on with your dog or the pair that will win the Olympics, we find the skis to match your skiing ability, body type, and goals to provide optimal performance in whatever conditions you intend to use them.
This means going beyond looking at a size chart and choosing any ski that matches up in length and “soft,” “medium” or “stiff” flex. Every pair of skis has a unique flex and camber profile that will suit a particular weight range, temperature range, and track condition. Too often, we see skiers who have had a disappointing skiing experience that is directly attributed to having purchased equipment that was wrong for them. At BNS, you get the value of our knowledge and experience to help you choose what model is right for you and then fit you to the right ski out of our well-stocked inventory.
Every pair of high-end race skis that we have in inventory has been hand-selected to meet our quality criteria. We travel to factories in Europe every year to meet with the engineers who design these skis and the World Cup technicians who support them. We also work with elite athletes and test skis extensively on our own to get a better understanding of how they work in the real world. We combine this knowledge and experience to bring together an inventory of skis that is unsurpassed in quality—anywhere.
While high-end race skis are our specialty, we are passionate about getting all of our customers set up on the right equipment. Whether you are looking for your first pair of skate skis, looking for something to go touring in the park or just want to shuffle around the Nordic center; our staff will set you up with gear that will keep you smiling for years to come. We invite you to take advantage of our experience and knowledge. Drop by one of the shops, call or go to bouldernordic.com for detailed product information and expert guidance to help you find the perfect ski for you.
Hand-Selected Skis: Finding the Cream of the Crop
Every spring, our staff travels to pick out our inventory of high-end skis. Each pair is individually examined by our most experienced staff members long before they ever show up in our stores. Skis are evaluated to determine their absolute quality and what conditions they are suited for. We have spent years correlating how skis perform on snow with data from flex testing machines and inspections by hand. We use that experience to sort through the many nuances of cross-country skis in a way that provides unparalleled access to the perfect ski for you.
As part of our commitment to “bring World Cup service to everyone,” we also provide a pre-ordering service every spring. Customers who place ski orders before June 1 will have skis selected specifically for them during our ski selection trip—just like a World Cup athlete. The best part is that there is no additional charge for this service. The skis arrive in the US with our customers’ names already on them and are delivered by the beginning of November, usually earlier. To take advantage of this unique service, call 877-BNS-SKIS or visit any one of our three locations to place your order. The process is simple, straightforward and in the end, you get the skis that are just right for you.
Classic Ski Selection
"Do you guys need me to stand on the skis?" Nope.
Tradition has long held that to correctly fit classic skis, the customer needs to be right there to stand on them and get a paper test to check the flex of the ski and mark the wax pocket. And to be sure, a well-executed paper test can still give good information about a pair of skis, but there are a lot of variables at play and it can be tricky or even impossible to achieve accurate, repeatable results. It’s difficult to know if the customer is standing in the wrong spot in relation to the balance point, or with weight shifted to the wrong part of their foot. It’s difficult to know if they are reducing their weight on the ski by leaning on a pole for balance. And using paper of different thicknesses or roughness affects where it is gripped under the ski.
This is a very “analog” way to test skis and as a response many overly complicated digital flex testers have popped up. While those do address the concern above about making tests “accurate and repeatable,” knowing the exact pressure along every inch of the ski butts up against our firm belief in KISS, Keep It Simple, Stupid. Too much information can lead to paralysis by analysis and a little blip on a computer screen that shows up along the overall flex of a ski can be jarringly visible enough to mask what is actually a very good ski and needlessly send it to the reject bin.
All this is a prelude to set up what we believe is the perfect middle ground of ski testing. A simple system using calibrated equipment that gives us the accurate results we are looking for, without muddying the waters and introducing indecision into the ski selection process. Most importantly, it allows the customer to walk out the door with more than just a great pair of skis; they leave with confidence in their equipment and knowledge on how to make it perform at its best.
We use our own flex tester based on a design that Zach Caldwell built in 2002 and our testing protocol is largely unchanged over that 15 years so there is a lot of experience and institutional knowledge backing up the results. The ski rests on an aluminum bar that is flattened at a machine shop. A pneumatic digital force gauge calibrated to a tenth of a kilogram applies pressure at a specific point on the ski and a digital depth gauge measures the height from the aluminum bar to the ski in one-hundredths of a millimeter. Stainless steel feeler gauges in five one-hundredth millimeter increments are used to measure the pocket and mark kick zones.
It is a two-step process to mark the front and back of the kick zone using different percentages of the skier’s weight applied at different points of the ski based on the balance point. The feeler gauges show the shape of the wax pocket and approximate the thickness of the kick wax application. This allows us to mark klister and hard wax pockets for various temperature and track conditions. We know our system works with a high degree of confidence because we can use it to match up with known kick zones on racers’ skis. Of course, nothing beats putting skis on snow and we always suggest with new skis to wax beyond your kick zone and observe where the wax wears away to really dial it in.
By starting with the best hand-selected skis and combining our years of experience and gut-level decision making with the unbiased data that our flex tester gives us, you are guaranteed to get a great pair of skis that fits you and your needs perfectly