Ski Gear

This page is intended to help you as you search for properly fitting cross-country ski boots, skis, and poles.  The links/charts can help answer your basic questions about sizing.

It is also very helpful to visit Winnipeg’s local ski shops (Olympia, MEC, etc.) to get a clear idea of what your ski gear should look and feel like – even if you plan to purchase used equipment.

Please read through the following information, including all of Coach Ihor’s recommendations as well as the links at the very bottom of this page.

If you need further assistance in finding proper ski gear, please contact the APJ coaches.  

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An Important Note on Ski Gear from Coach Ihor…

What’s in your closet? It is highly probable that your young skier has grown. Mine most certainly has as I have now lost my own boots and poles to him.

Ski Boots:

Boots are the MOST IMPORTANT piece of equipment. I have never heard any skier say that their feet hurt or were frozen or made them cry because the skis were the wrong colour. Boots are number one. Current boots are actually pretty warm compared to the frozen chunks of leather and rubber with which I started skiing. Please, please, please use either Salomon SNS/Profil or NNN boot-binding formats. The binding manufacturers (hinge gizmo that locks the boot to the ski) build the soles and sell them to the boot makers. The soles are very rarely junk and these smart and dedicated people make sure that the rest of the boot is a good product. Older style, 3-pin systems never had that kind of quality control or warmth. Locate current technology for happy feet and good ski control (another issue).

If your skier is getting to be very active with skate-skiing and is also approaching adult size, look into getting the Salomon Pro Combi.  It can be pricey, but is very warm and has a high resale value.

Bindings that will work with your boot: Manual closure bindings usually work more reliably than auto because they tend to not ice up.

The Ski:

For the lighter junior skier, up to 35 kg (77 lbs) in weight, my all-time coach’s favourite to lean on is the Fischer Sprint. It may not be the stiffest in the wax pocket or the flattest in the tip (count on it being a bit edge-high here) but the tip and tail are softened up for this weight of skier. This means that the lighter skier will be able to follow the terrain much better than on a stiffer-tipped ski. In other words, the ski has a forgiving suspension. (I can explain this better in person and hands-on.) If your skier is 9 years old or older please get them into wax-able skis so that they can also do skate-skiing. Waxless or fish-scale bases are very, very, very, slow when put on edge and are not good skaters.

How long should the ski be?   No more than 10 cm taller than your young skier is. Bigger skiers can go by how stiff the ski is. (If you are unsure, ask a coach.)

Ski poles:

Children who are 7 years old and younger won’t be spending much time skiing with poles. Poles take away from balance training and when you watch your younger skiers playing on skis they will actually throw the poles away. They just get in the way.  At 8 years old, however, they will probably want to start skate-skiing because it is fast and zippy. This is when poles become useful. Skate poles will be longer/taller than classic ski poles (from ground to chin/nose height). The extra length allows the arms to apply force in time with the force applied to the skis (F=ma situation).

Ski Clothing (or environmental systems management):

Dress in layers, and very little, or none, made from cotton. If you can obtain merino wool clothing (or if you have unfortunately thrown yours in the dryer at the wrong time and it is now kiddy size)… great stuff! Other than that wear clothes made of “plastic” fibres. For example, get clothing made of polyester (brand names such as Lifa/Helly Hansen, Craft-gold standard, or Under Armour). Make sure that you dress for insulation. If you get the type of clothing that is Under Armour for arena-weather-hockey you will freeze because it is made to cool you down, not keep you warm. Under Armour makes a stretchy insulation layer and it is very good (~$40/piece). You can wear it for every outdoor activity. I’ve tried it and it is very good. Craft is great, too. It is very stretchy so you can get two size ranges out of it. I have some Craft pieces that are 15 years old and still used (disgusting… or am I that old?).

Mitts/Gloves & Hats/Toques:

Mitts & Gloves: Stay away from fuzzy mitts and gloves. They are snow magnets and will get wet very quickly. Also, do not wear anything too heavily insulted because overly warm mitts will be removed. The Track-Attack sized skier can wear gloves or lighter mitts.

Hats & Toques: If you are standing around and not generating much heat then a big lid is fine, but once you get moving a light-lined, stretchy toque will be enough.

All of the clothing described is machine washable and will dry very quickly under low heat.

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This link seems to be the most helpful in finding recommended length of skis and poles for adults, juniors, and children.  It also has charts for adult and junior ski boots.

This link has an extensive boot sizing chart for the whole family (starting with size 8, preschooler).

This link is an excellent source of information for parents.  It emphasizes that providing properly-fitted ski gear is essential to success for all ages.

Note:  When looking at ski boot size conversion charts,”Children” and “Junior” both refer to kids.  When “Children” are mentioned in a size chart it refers to the littlest skiers in our bunch – generally, the preschool & Kindergarten children.  “Junior” generally refers to kids who fit a US junior shoe size 3 or larger.