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How to Size Cross-Country Skiing Equipment for Children

By Karen Plant

Before you take your children out the door and on to a ski trail to go cross-country skiing, you will need skis, boots, bindings and poles for a basic equipment package. Properly fitting equipment is key to a happy outing, so be ready to size the kids up correctly.

How to Size Cross-Country Skiing Equipment for Children

Find the proper length skis. In years past, proper cross-country ski length was determined by having the ski shopper raise one arm. A ski of the right length would match the distance from the wrist of the raised arm to the ground. Today, however, ski manufacturers have specific sizing for their skis based on a skier's weight and skiing ability. The more the skier weighs, the longer a ski will be needed. At a specialty ski store, the technician will measure your child's height and weight and take into account how advanced a skier the child is to determine the right length ski. Generally, a beginner skier will want a ski with more flexibility and width for more stability. A more advanced skier will want a stiffer ski and narrower width for speed and maneuverability. You will most likely want a touring/recreational ski for your child. The ski should measure 10 to 30 cm longer than your child's height. However, for young skiers, you will want to buy or rent skis no longer than the child's height. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you might want to calculate out the measurements. Use this formula: (child's height in inches) x 2.54 + 20. Example: Billie stands 4 feet , 3 inches (51 inches x 2.54) + 20 = 129.54 + 20 = 149.54 cm. Billie will need a ski about 150 cm in length. If Billie is lighter than average, chose a ski one size smaller. If Billie is heavier than average, chose a ski one size larger.

Choose the boots. Sizing cross-country ski boots is the same as sizing your child for tennis shoes. Consider comfort and stability. For more ankle support, go with a mid-ankle cuff. Have your child wear the socks they will ski in when trying on ski boots. Have the child wear one pair of lightweight or medium-weight wool socks. For added warmth, the child can wear a liner sock made of synthetic materials or silk beneath the wool sock. The boot should fit snug. The child should be able to wiggle their toes, but the heel should have no slippage.

Select the proper bindings. If you are renting skis, the shop will fit your skis with the proper bindings. If you are buying from a specialty ski store, the bindings will be fit onto the ski at the time of purchase. More than one boot/binding system is available. If you are mix-matching boots/skis at garage sales, make sure the boot is compatible with the binding. Boot/binding systems are not interchangeable.

Select the poles. To find the right-sized poles, have your child lift an arm horizontal to the floor. With the pole tip on the floor, the handle should hit between the child's armpit and the middle of the shoulder.

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