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The Best Type Of Ski For Intermediate Skiers In Winter 2023

Congratulations, you have learned to parallel turn are no longer a beginner skier. You’ve joined the ranks of the intermediate skier now who can go off exploring more of the mountain. You want a ski you can ski groomers with but you would also like to try going into the trees or maybe some bumps. You love skiing and want to buy your own skis now. What is the best type of ski for intermediate skiers?

The short answer for those who don’t want to read any farther. The 95mm waist width All Mountain Ski. This is the most all purpose, does everything okay, take it anywhere at any ski resort ski. It turns easy. It can carve up groomers. It floats over crud. It will make powder days fun too.

What is considered an intermediate skier?

You are an intermediate skier when you can turn, control your speed and stop. You have learned to parallel turn and your skis are parallel by the end of your turns. You are still working on improving your turns and trying to figure out how to carve on an edge. You are comfortable skiing green runs and getting comfortable on blue runs.

What is an advanced intermediate skier?

You are an advanced intermediate when you are comfortable skiing on all blue runs. You ski with your skis parallel most of the time. You are starting to carve your turns. You have started exploring easier ungroomed runs. You have started going down some groomed black diamond runs.

For more information on ability levels click here.

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What is the best type of ski for intermediate skiers

Now that you’re an intermediate skier what do you need from your skis? You need a few things. You need skis that are easy to turn. You need skis that are stiff enough they won’t vibrate like crazy when you start going faster. You need skis that will work well when you decide to start venturing off the groomed runs. You don’t want a pair of skis that will only be good for a season or so before you need to upgrade again.

When you hit the intermediate level it’s time to get some skis with decent performance. You need some versatility to them. This sounds a lot like a pair of all mountain skis will be the best type of ski for you as an intermediate skier.

skiing on intermediate run

Front Side Carving Skis

Traditional parabolic carving skis are great for digging trenches in freshly groomed corduroy. After the first couple of hours, the snow is all clumped and rutted. Your parabolic or front side skis have a tendency to dig into every clump of snow and they float over nothing. They give a pretty rough ride once the corduroy is gone.
If you get lucky and get a fresh snow day, you will find that your carving skis give you zero float. They are difficult to turn snow more than a couple inches deep.

All Mountain Skis

This brings us to the All Mountain Ski. All mountain skis are designed to work well on both groomed runs and as an off piste ski for ungroomed areas. They are not the perfect on piste ski for skiing groomers. They aren’t the perfect ski for skiing deep powder snow. They tend to do everything pretty well. They are sometimes referred to as a freeride ski. The only real difference between a ski marketed as “all mountain” or “freeride” is that sometimes freeride skis are a little stiffer.

These skis are wider under your foot. They are available with a waist width from 80mm to 120mm. I find the sweet spot to be 90 to 100mm in width. At that width, they don’t put the edge of the ski way outside of your boot and still feel good carving turns. They have enough width to float up in powder. A wider ski in the 105 to 120mm starts feeling weird on groomers and they put more force into your knee joints because the edge of your skis is farther offset from the center of your foot.

All mountain skis have a generous sidecut like parabolic skis. This makes them easier to turn. As an intermediate skier still working on your turns you need something easy to turn.

Most all mountain skis have a bottom shape called a “rocker, camber, rocker” shape. A carving ski will be a pure cambered ski. A powder ski will be a pure rocker ski. The tips and tails of your skis rise up called rocker. This helps them float over the snow. Tail rocker makes the skis turn easier. Cambered means that the middle of the ski is bent up. This gives more spring to the ski and grip on firm snow and ice.

The rocker camber rocker shape means the ski has camber underfoot and tip rocker and tail rocker. Many all mountain skis have a twin tip design as well allowing them to work as a park ski too.

Powder ski

Powder skis are designed for deep snow and not for use on groomed runs. They are wider skis with a waist width greater than 110mm. Most powder skis currently available are a rocker camber rocker design. Some are pure rockered skis with a rockered tip, tain and no camber underfoot. A pure rockered ski will not grip well on hardpack groomed terrain. These skis are best saved for new snow days of use as backcountry skis outside of ski resorts.

A subset of these skis are alpine touring skis. They are lightweight skis with bindings designed to be easy to go both up and downhill. The heels can release making them behave like cross country skis for skinning uphill.

Competition skis – Racing skis and freestyle skis

A racing ski is similar in design to front side carving skis. In the old days the GS or Giant Slalom ski was the best overall do everything ski out there. The only reason to buy dedicated racing skis these days if you actually participate in racing. These are a stiffer longer ski with turning characteristics tuned to the racing discipline they are meant for. A slalom ski will turn quickly. A downhill ski will be long and stiff with a very wide turning radius.

A freestyle ski is designed for mogul skiing or jumping. Mogul skiing is not nearly as popular as it once was before terrain parks started popping up.

The below video gives some illustrates some of the differences between ski types.

What is the best ski for an intermediate skier

The best ski type to get is a 95mm all mountain ski. These are the best all purpose ski out there good for any snow condition from soft snow to hard pack groomed trails to powder. Which skis are good in this category for intermediates? As an intermediate skier, you can ski almost any ski made now. All skies these days have a decent amount of sidecut and are easy to turn.

Gone are the days of the straight ski that made you do all the work yourself. Except for maybe downhill racing skis there really is no advanced ski that is narrow with low sidecut, super stiff, and challenging to turn

These skis will suit you into the advanced levels so there is no worry that you will outgrow them. When my ski friends ask me what ski they should get I recommend this ski type to them if they are any level past beginner.

There are a ton of options out there now for all mountain skis. My best recommendation is demoing skis to see what feels good. If you demo skis, try to ski on as much terrain variety as you can. Ski them after the grooming has gotten messed up in the afternoon.

Go to a few ski shops and talk to them a bit and get their opinions. Different ski shops have different opinions and it’s good to hear what they all think.

Below are a few popular and highly rated all mountain skis that would be suitable for intermediate skiers. Have a look and also go visit some ski shops and demo if you can.

Best Men’s Ski For Intermediate Skiers

Best Women’s Ski For Intermediate Skiers

Intermediate Ski FAQ

Q: Should I get beginner or intermediate skis?

The only reason to buy a beginner ski is to save money over renting. That only works if you want to ski a lot during your beginner stage. For a beginner that can’t parallel turn yet, you need a short, soft set of skis with a lot of sidecut. As soon as you can parallel turn and start picking up speed you will outgrow them. What made them really good for learning to parallel will now work against you. They will shake and vibrate and won’t feel stable with any kind of speed.

If you can find beginner level skis cheap they can save you money. There isn’t much advantage to buying verse renting except that. See our article on buying vs renting skis to learn more.

Once you can parallel turn, without question you should look at better skis. Ski’s aren’t cheap so you want something to grow with, not grow out of right away.

Q: Are longer or shorter skis better?

Shorter skis are easier to turn but are less stable at high speeds. Longer skis are more stable at speed but harder to turn. There is a happy medium that is your correct ski length. An advanced skier that goes fast everywhere on steep terrain will want to go a little longer. An intermediate skier who doesn’t ski that fast yet and is still working on turns will want to be at the shorter end. The chart below shows a suggested ski size for your height.

ski size chart

Q: Can skis be too short?

As your skis get too short they will get uncomfortable to ski at a higher speed. If you watch Olympic skiers, the downhill racers use much longer skis than the slalom racers. The people skiing freestyle doing tricks are on much shorter skis. There isn’t really a too short ski. There are skis that are too short for how fast you want to ski.

Q: Ski length for older skiers?

The correct ski length doesn’t have anything to do with age. It has more to do with your ability and the terrain you want to ski. As you get older if you slow down a bit and get less aggressive you might enjoy a shorter ski more. If your still going strong then, by all means, stick with a long aggressive ski.

Q: What are the best ski brands?

You could easily start a war at any Apres ski bar by trying to suggest one brand of ski was better than all others. Blizzard, Rossignol, Salomon, Volk, Fisher, Elan, and Head have all been around a long time and all produce good skis. Most skiers could be happy skiing skis from any of them. There are many smaller boutique ski makers as well that also make really good skis. I personally use skis from Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis because I like supporting local small businesses.

See our full review of the Shaggy’s Ahmeek 95 here.

Shaggy’s Ahmeek 95

Shaggy's Ahmeek 95

Q: What is a level 3 skier?

There are a few systems out there that rate skiers by levels. They vary depending on where you are. A common scale in the US goes from levels 1 to 9. The most common Canadian scale goes from level 1 to 6. On most scales, level 3 is an intermediate level skier that has at least started to parallel turn.

Q: What is a Type 3 skier?

This is where the confusion comes in. When you sign up for rental equipment or go get a set of bindings mounted at a ski shop they will ask your skier type. There are only 3 types of skiers. Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. On this scale a Type 3 skier is an advanced expert skier that aggressively skies fast on steep terrain.

A Type 1 skier is a slower beginner skier that sticks to beginner terrain. They do not ski aggressively or fast. A Type 2 skier is anything that falls between a Type 1 and Type 3. Intermediate skiers would fall into Type 2. To learn more about skier type click here.

skier at the bottom of intermediate ski run

Final Words

Now that you’ve become an intermediate skier, you are ready to upgrade your equipment. It’s time to explorer the mountain, ski faster, and get better turning. All mountain skis are the best type of ski for intermediate skiers who want to improve and see more of the mountain. I hope this helps you find the perfect ski for you and you have a great time on the slopes this winter.

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About the author

My name is Doug Ryan. I am an outdoors enthusiast always looking forward to my next adventure. I spend as much time skiing, biking, and paddleboarding as I can. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for all things outdoor adventures and to help other people have as much fun as me.

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