Choosing a Cross Country Ski

Where do you want to ski? How do you want to ski? If you aren't sure, but you want to start right away, get a compact touring ski about 60 or 65 millimeters at its widest. Practice with that ski until you have a better idea if you want to change. You may remain happy with that general-purpose ski.

If you want to ski on hiking trails, woods roads and other ungroomed snow, select a wider, softer ski, possibly with a metal edge.

For classic skiing on groomed terrain, a narrower, longer ski will give you the best glide. You do need more skill to control it. Decide how much you want to work on your technique and choose a ski with a width and stiffness to match. Groomed-snow skis range from 55 down to 44 millimeters in width. Sizing for higher performance should be traditional or modified traditional.

Skating skis are shorter than high-performance classical skis, but not too short. Get as light a ski as you can afford. You have to support the weight of the ski much more than in classical, so a heavy ski will tire you more quickly. Try to get the upper middle of the price range to get a good balance of lightness and durability. The highest-priced skis feel great, but may not hold up as well to the daily abuse. They're built to be fast, not to last.

Whatever type of ski you choose, be sure to match it with appropriate boots and bindings so you have the best control.