Words by Renee McCurdy
So you’ve arrived in Banff for your winter SkiBig3 vacation, but you aren’t sure what gear will best suit your needs. Don’t worry! The SkiBig3 Adventure Hub has you and your feet covered. SkiBig3 gear specialists know how to get you sized up properly for a day on the slopes, and also help streamline the rental process. If you come in to the Adventure Hub on Banff Avenue to get fitted for gear one hour or more before closing, they’ll conveniently drop off your gear right at your hotel in Banff. At the end of the trip, leave your gear at the hotel concierge (or at Lake Louise Ski Resort, if ending your trip there) and they’ll pick it up again for you.
Adventure Hub specialists will ask all the right questions to make sure you’re fitted with the proper set up for your ability and needs. But just in case you want to learn a bit more about our fleet before getting here, this guide is for you.
Finding the right ski or snowboard is no easy task, but a couple easy questions will have you headed in the right direction
- What is your ski or snowboard level? This question also ties in to the type of terrain you intend to be exploring.
- What will the conditions be during your stay?
Determining Your Skier/Boarder Level
Beginner: You may be totally new to skiing, starting out on the bunny hill. Or you may be starting to link your turns. If green runs are where you are at then you will want to ski something narrow and go for a ski that comes up to around your chin. This shorter length will be easy to turn and stop at slower speeds. If this is your style of riding then softer flex boards such as a freestyle board will be more forgiving – aim for slightly below chin height.
Intermediate: You are able to ski or ride blue runs on and off piste. This type of skier is still suited to the narrower waist skis and skis that reach around nose level. This will still be easy to maneuver, but offer stability with increased speed. For snowboarders, the board should come up to chin height or slightly below. Intermediate riders can start to experiment with all mountain boards, which can be more demanding of a rider to confidently link turns in order to avoid catching an edge.
Advanced: This type of skier/rider loves black diamond runs on and off piste. An advanced skier or rider likely gets out more than a couple times a year. An experienced skier will enjoy a narrow carving ski on groomed terrain that has some stiffness to it, making the ski responsive to precise weight transfers in each turn. But if you ski primarily off piste, stick to the narrow-medium waist skis that reach eye to forehead height. If you like to venture off piste, a medium waist ski is well suited to you, or a wider ski on a powder day. For this skier level, it is important to consider what type of terrain you enjoy, what type of ski you might be used to, and what the conditions will be like during your trip. More experienced snowboarders are able to ride a stiffer, more responsive board without catching an edge that will perform well in all-mountain terrain. Advanced snowboarders will aim for a board around chin height for all-mountain. Powder boards can be sized longer, and freestyle boards can be sized shorter.
Check out the Recent Conditions and Forecast
Hardpack: We pray to the snow gods as much as we can, however, you might be here on a week with lower snowfall than usual. Have no fear! There is a still lot of fun to be had on the groomers and chalky off-piste terrain. These conditions are more suited to narrower waist skis.
Variable: If you’ve been here before, you know that weather can change quickly. We can get one big dump in a week of bluebird skies. Maybe it’s Spring and the morning is frozen but the afternoon is slush. If you’re preparing for a bit of everything, then a medium waisted ski might be for you.
Powder: This is our pride and joy. Snow in the Rockies is light and fluffy. This is when a fat ski comes to life. That said, fat skis are not a great choice for beginners or intermediates. They require more energy to turn and place more torque on the knee. Proper technique and strong legs are recommended for a wider waist and longer ski!
SkiBig3 Adventure Hub Rental Fleet
Now that you have an idea of what type of ski or board you might be looking for, check out our rental fleet available from the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub. If you spot a snowboard of pair of skis you want for your trip, you can book online ahead of time to ensure they’re available, and save up to 15% on your rentals while you’re at it.
Test out this seasons hottest new gear. Our demo fleet consists of top-of-the-line Rossignol, Blizzard and Elan equipment selected for improved performance in Canadian Rockies conditions. Carve up groomers one day and ski powder the next.
Choose from a wide selection of our most popular Nordica and Salomon skis and perfect for the intermediate to advanced skier. If you’re looking to experience new terrain and improve your skills this is the category for you.
Choose from a wide selection of Salomon boards perfect for the intermediate to advanced rider. If you’re looking to experience new terrain and improve your skills this is the category for you.
Bringing It All Together: Skis
Women’s skis are shorter and often built slightly lighter, but there is no rule stating men can’t ski on a women’s ski or women can’t ski on a men’s ski. Size by height where necessary not by gender.
|Skier Level||Width (mm)||Suitable Terrain||Men/Unisex||Women|
|Beginner||<80||Groomers||Salomon XDR||Salomon Aira|
|Intermediate||<90||Groomers||Same as above
Nordica Navigator 80
Salomon QST 85
|Same as above
Nordica Santa Ana 88
Salomon Myriad 85
|90-100||All Mountain||Salomon QST 92
Nordica Enforcer 93
|Rossignol Sassy 7
Salomon QST Lux 92
Nordica Santa Ana 93
|Advanced||80-90||Groomers||Salomon QST 85
Nordica GT Ti
Nordica Navigator 85
Elan Wingman 82 or 86
Rossignol Experience 88 Ti
|Rossignol Sassy 7
Salomon Myriad 85
Nordica Santa Ana 88
Elan Ripstick 86
Blizzard Black Pearl
|95-100||All Mountain||Nordica Enforcer 100
Salomon QST 99
Rossignol Sky 7
|Nordica Santa Ana 100
Salomon Stella 99
Elan Ripstick 94
|100+||Powder||Rossignol Soul 7
Elan Ripstick 106
|Elan Ripstick 104|
|~90||Park||Nordica Soul Rider 87|
Bringing it All Together: Snowboards
Regular or Goofy?
No, we aren’t asking you if you’re an oddball or not! This refers to what foot you want to lead with. If you’re new to snowboarding, there are a couple easy exercises you can do to figure this out. Close your eyes and lean forward until you are off balance. Whichever foot you catch yourself with is your lead foot. Similarly, someone could give you a gentle push and the foot you catch yourself with would be your lead foot. If this is the left foot, you are regular. If this is the right foot, you are goofy.
How to Set Up Binding Angles
For beginners, if you are confident whether you are regular or goofy, then it is suggested to have your front binding at 15 degrees and back binding at 0. This will help to figure out weight distribution when you’re starting out. If you don’t know which foot you will lead with, you can try 15 degrees on both – this is called a mirrored duck stance. The mirrored duck stance is also a preference amongst freestylers, who want to ride switch seamlessly. Intermediates and advanced riders can start to experiment with the angles based on how and what they ride.
|Snowboard Level||Suitable Terrain||Men/Unisex||Women|
|Beginner||Groomers||Salomon Wild Card
|Intermediate||Groomers / Park||Same as above
|Same as above|
|All Mountain||Salomon Assassin
Salomon Huck Knife
|Salomon Rumble Fish|
|Advanced||All Mountain||Salomon Assassin
Salomon Ultimate Ride
|Salomon Rumble Fish|
|Powder||Salomon Sickstick||Salomon Pillowtalk|
|Park / Freestyle||Salomon Villain
Salmon Huck Knife
What About Kids?
As a general rule when sizing up kids skis, aim for the chin height. That said, there are several reasons you might want to go longer or shorter.
If they are a beginner and/or ski very cautiously, if they like to make very small turns, or if they are lighter weight for their height, aim for chest height.
If they ski very fast and aggressively, or if they area heavy for their height, you may want to go a bit longer, closer to their nose.
Rarely do you size up on kids, chest to chin height is common for kids who are learning to ski. Most kids skis are narrow waisted, making them easy to turn in all terrain. The SkiBig3 Adventure Hub has offerings for both frontside and all mountain kids skis, so you’ll be sure to find a good fit!