Ski lengths, Mount Points, & Different Types of Skis

This past week, Stephen wrote in to ask a question that some of you might be wondering about, too:

Q: Curious if you guys ride different lengths of skis depending on whether they’re centered or traditionally mounted? I typically ride 184 cm Volkl Katanas and picked up a 14/15 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm (I wanted a very playful ski at the other end of the spectrum from the Katana). But as soon as I stepped into the bindings, the 5″ shorter nose threw me off. Even though they ride as I wanted, I can’t shake the feeling I’m going to fold the noses up on a landing and cartwheel down the hill.

Jonathan Ellsworth’s reply:

Hi, Stephen, good question. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend checking out our Skiing 101 article, How to Think about Ski Length, for some more general guidelines on length.

But to your specific question, the answer is: it depends.


Let’s stick to your two examples, because they are good ones: the 184 cm Volkl Katana vs. the 184 cm Line SFB — two very different skis that are, as you say, on opposite ends of the spectrum.

From a review point of view, we would typically not size up.

Our job is to think about who a particular ski is for, and how that ski is intended to be skied. The Katana is a stiff, metal ski with a super traditional, set back mount point. There is zero question that it is designed for directional skiers who like to drive the shovels of their skis. So the Katana is pretty straightforward. It wants to be skied in a pretty singular style, so the question is really only what length will suit a particular skier best.

(Ok, well, in the case of the Katana, this is made slightly more complicated by the fact that the 191 and 198 cm Katanas were made with a stiffer flex pattern than the shorter lengths. So that flex pattern would need to be taken into consideration, too…)

But if you aren’t talking about reviewing a ski and instead simply enjoying a ski, then that begs a different question. Namely, how willing and / or interested are you in switching your skiing style when you go from your 184 cm Katana to the SFB?

LINE Sir Francis Bacon, Blister Gear Review
Jason Hutchins on the Line Sir Francis Bacon, Alta Ski Area.

If your answer is, “Not that willing or able or interested,” – i.e., you want a “very playful ski” … but you aren’t willing to give up much of the stability of your Katana, or adopt a much more neutral, centered stance (especially on landings)… then you’d be wise to size up and go with the 190 cm Sir Francis Bacon, or possibly find a different ski altogether — a ski that still has a playful side to it (though not as much as a SFB), but has a more traditional mount point and can still be skied hard and with a more traditional stance that will allow you to land tip-heavy, like the Line Supernatural 108, 186 cm.

Final Thoughts / Recommendations

I still maintain that if you (or anyone) is not planning to trick your skis—and in particular, spin them—then there is rarely a good overall reason to mount your skis any closer than 4 cm behind true center. Yes, the more centered you are the quicker the ski will be, but the more susceptible to tip dive the ski will be in pow, and the less stable the ski will feel in crud and chop.

And for many skiers (especially if your current ski / favorite skis have all had pretty traditional mount positions) then you are probably going to be happiest around 6-8 cm behind true center. But again (and as a gross generalization here) I’d say that once you start moving forward of 6 cm behind true center, you’ll need to be operating from a more neutral stance, or else you’re just mismatching your style and the mount point / intended design of the ski, and you’d be better off looking at a different ski.


4 comments on “Ski lengths, Mount Points, & Different Types of Skis”

  1. Not to complicate matters further but…there’s another dimension to the issue…extending the tips to fine tune a skis feel for specific snow conditions. In my case, I have a pair of 185 first gen Armada JJ’s which provided much pleasure in a variety of back country snow circumstances but left something to be desired in a few specific snowpack structures. In bottomless pow, upside down snow and some crusts, the tips would dive…sometimes scary fast causing whiplashing catapults head first into the pow. Not fun. Being a skier that prefers a more traditional drive the tips style, I thought at first that a more rearward mount would help things…went back minus 2.5cms from the line and didn’t feel a dramatic improvement..subtle, but not enough. The more rearward mount also introduced some negatives…the ski felt out of its sweet spot and the quick, loose pivoty feel character that I did enjoy was missing, and, the more rear position on the skis caused them to wheely out charging pillow lines and steep chop bumps, etc… So, I changed another dimension: at the front of the ski, added 5cms of tip extension with lexan plastic. Dramatic difference. Full power to the tips ski turns were resumed in the aforementioned ski conditions and a nice enhancement of the ‘cadillac float’ feel that I used to love so much with old school long skinnies was obtained. It didn’t turn a pivoty fun ski into a fall line charger but the extenders do seem to boost the speed limit of the boards in open good snow alpine long turn terrain. Haven’t tested ’em out enough in a large enough variety of crusts to know for certain if they’ve improved the ski feel substantially in those conditions yet. For hill days, groomers and backcountry days where there’s more of a base or less ski pen, I just take ’em off. Definitely a liability on the frontside; tips flap, ski responsiveness is hindered, ski weight balance is incorrect. They’re attached via t nuts/bolts through a hole drilled in the ski tips, so, easy to remove/attach.

    Here’s a vid of the tip extenders in action in some pretty deep snow…k2 darksides and the jj’s. They were a bit overkill on the darksides, loads of inherent float on those skis.

  2. A different Stephen has a different question. I just purchased some 188 cm Rossignol Soul 7s, which I take out for soft snow – say 6″ or more. When I was researching buying them, different mount points came up, and poked around a bit. It turns out that if you lay the 188 next to the 180 next to the 172, ALL of the extra 8 cm in the 188 is in the tails (compared to the 180) and all the extra 8 cm of the 180 is in the tips (compared to the 172). (Try it yourself – it confuse me, too!)

    Do you guys have any opinions on what is going on here?

    • While all 3 of those skis may feel great on the line, on the face of it, it doesn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence that much time was spent really trying to dial in a recommended mount point. Or maybe they really loved the 180 and the 172 at those positions, and – surprise – they just happened to line up in the way you note. Dunno. Companies sometimes offer less specific recommendations / suggestions about where to mount their skis. This kind of seems like one of those times?

  3. Old thread, but thought I’d get your opinion on mount point and boot choice. Recently, I switched to Dalbello Il Moros which are pretty upright and pretty stiff boots. My previous Nordicas were upright too, but had much more forward flex.
    After the switch, I struggled to get to the same sweet spot of both my skis. Felt like I had to pressure the tongue of the boot way too much. Ended up moving the bindings on both skis forward 2cm and problem solved.

    My conclusion from this experience is that boot flex can really affect where your center of gravity ends up on a ski. If you have a pretty flexible boot and a center mounted ski, you will likely struggle with being too far over the tips. Moving the binding back will solve it, or getting a stiffer boot. With a stiff upright boot and a traditional mount, you will struggle getting your weight forward at slow to medium speeds.

    I have a new pair of Blister Pros 190, but am hesitant to mount them on the line because of my previous experience. Will likely mount them +1 to compensate for my boot stance/stiffness. Or may put marker demo bindings on them, so I can move the boot center. What are your thoughts?

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