Water/Slalom Ski Buyers Guide and Sizing Chart

June 15, 2017Water Ski Shows Standard

The perfect water ski can make the difference between a fun time on the water and a difficult one. Whether you’re purchasing your first water ski, kid’s ski or replacing your old skis with something new, finding the perfect water ski is important.

At Marine Products we strive to help our customers get the most out of their purchase, which is why we want to make sure our customers buy the products they need the first time around. This comprehensive guide is designed to help you select the right water ski based on your skill level and preference. Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to call and speak to a sales professional by dialing <insert number here> now.

Not everyone is a professional water skier — and that’s okay. Having an accurate idea of your ability level is important, since each type of ski is designed based on skill and ability. At Marine Products we classify skiers into five separate categories:

First-Time Skier

The first-time skier is someone who has never been on the water or only goes out a few times per year — if that. Combo skis are recommended for first-timers so that they can cruise and get a feel for the water.

Novice Skier

The novice skier is one who is just learning how to use the slalom ski. These skiers have used combo skis in the past, but are ready to upgrade and learn how to cut the water more efficiently. These skiers still move at the slower speeds, but are ready to drop the combo skis.

Intermediate Skier

Intermediate skiers can be those who are just getting back into the sport or those who are moving forward. These skiers ski for fun and don’t ski courses. Intermediate skiers can go at longer line lengths — 15 feet or more typically — and ski at slower speeds, anywhere between 28 to 30 mph. Intermediate skiers also enjoy the ride and the ease of it; they look for performance rather than tricks.

Intermediate-Advanced Skier

These skiers can ski in all conditions on the water. They typically free ride or work on open water, but have also tried out a few courses. These skiers don’t set out to course ride, however. These skiers care about performance, but are still doing the sport for fun.

Advanced Skier

Advanced skiers take the sport beyond recreation and look for ideal water conditions. They jump courses, but still free ride and enjoy the open water. They stick to short-to-moderate lines, about 22 feet or longer. They take the sport seriously and use a solid technique while riding.

Competition Skier

A competition skier takes the sport very seriously. They spend their time perfecting their technique and method and are short line skiers. These skiers ride at competition speeds of 34 to 36 mph.

Slalom water skis are designed with a specific speed in mind. The speed you ski at dictates what type of ski suits your sport. Your skier speed correlates with your ability level (for example, competition skiers go faster than novices). If you’re not sure how fast you ride, Marine Products recommends using a GPS or app that helps measure the speed so you know your true skiing speed before you purchase a ski.

36 mph – These are high level competition speeds.
34 mph and higher – Advanced and competition skiers typically run at these speeds.
31 to 33 mph – Recreational skiers.
28 to 31 mph – Intermediate skiers.
30 mph or below – This slower speed is ideal for novice and beginner skiers.

Ski Size
Your height and weight matter when picking out the right ski or slalom size. The amount of ski ranges depends on a person’s height and weight; therefore, it is not recommended you buy one ski for the entire family — especially if you have younger children and older adults. For example, a 71-inch ski is designed for skiers up to 280 pounds, while a 65-inch ski is designed for up to 160 pounds. Manufacturer specifications dictate what weight limits correspond with their lengths. Therefore, before you buy, review the height/weight so you know you’re buying the right size ski.

Ski Design
There are three designs skiers need to consider: base concave, stiffness and edge bevel.

Base Concave

The base concave is the shape you find on the bottom of the ski. There are three types of base concaves: V-Bottom, Tunnel-Concave and Full Concave. V-Bottoms offer more control, while Full Concaves allow for more flexibility.


The right amount of stiffness is key. Flex is needed if you want to turn your ski, but if a ski is too flexible it can be difficult to control. The amount of fiberglass and core material used to create the ski determines how stiff it is. A softer, more flexible ski is cheaper compared to a stiffer ski. Women’s skis are typically softer than males because they have a layer or two less of fiberglass.

Edge Bevel

The edge bevel refers to the angle of the base that hits the side rail of the ski. The bevel controls how easy the ski can roll onto the side and how finish a skier can complete a turn. Competition skiers stick to skis with the smallest bevel,

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