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Ski Turn Radius For Beginners Explained

  • Filip 

Why Is It Important To Consider The Turn Radius and What Is Turn Radius? The answer is simple and straightforward, it helps you in determining the feel of your skis.

The turn radius is an important thing to consider while buying the right pair of skis and without proper knowledge, it can be a total headache. What is the turn radius? What turn radius to go for? Should I consider having a short turn radius or a long turn radius? And many other questions can be answered by having a look at the sidecut of the skis. In this article, we will all your doubts regarding the selection of turn radius, so keep reading till the end!

Before discussing what a turn radius is, first it is important to learn about the Ski sidecut. So, what exactly is a ski sidecut and what is its significance.

The skis that were used traditionally are the straight one with no sidecut. However, they aren’t the ones that we use today. The most common skis we use today come with a sidecut which is basically a curve that is formed between the widest point of the tail of the ski to its tip. When you look at the specifications of a ski, you’ll find the dimensions of wide points on the tip, tail and the width. But the deal is, these measurements are different for different skis, usually the tail and tip are broader than the waist and tip is broader than the tail. So, there is a natural and fixed curve, the “sidecut”.

Turn Radius For Beginners

If you’re a beginner, then you should go for short or medium turn radius numbers and the side cut numbers. This will offer you a great control over your speed and will allow you to take smoother turns.

Experienced riders can choose the turn radius according to their techniques and type of riding. For riding moguls, a short turn radius would be perfect and for mountain skiing, a longer turn radius will be ideal.

Turn Radius And Sidecut

Sidecut and turn radius are closely related concepts. To have a better understanding of one, it’s important to understand the other. So, what is a turn radius? It is basically the shape of the ski which is determined by its waist, tip and the tail width. It is always expressed in meters.

Relation Between a Sidecut and a Turn Radius

The narrower is the waist of a ski with respect to its tail and tip, the deeper is the sidecut and the shorter is the turn radius. A ski that has a short turn radius makes quick turns. On the other hand, a ski with a longer turn radius takes slow turns and is preferred for the stability it provides at high speed.

If you imagine a huge circle at the edge of a ski and then measure the radius of that circle and then you’ll get the turn radius of your ski. Further, you can calculate the sidecut depth of a ski by standing on its edge and measuring the area between its waist and the floor. A majority of skis have turn radius and side cut listed in their specs, sidecut depth is not, so you have to calculate it yourself.

How Turn Radius Affects Your Skiing

The turn radius figure you’ve imagined a while ago is enough to give an idea of what your skiing experience is going to be. While there are many other factors like camber, flex, overall width, waist width and other materials, turn radius is the most important factor to look for while buying a good pair of skis.

Here is how it can affect your skiing :

  • Lower the turn radius, more turntable a sky will be. In simple words, you can have shorter and Sharper turns using a ski with a lower turn radius number.
  • Higher the turn radius number, more linear a ski will be. In simple words, the ski will have a straight line which is great for skiing down the mountains with quicker and longer turns.

Let’s understand the concept of turn radius with the help of an example :

Suppose there is a ski of length 178cm. It has a waist of 90mm, a tail width of 110 mm and a tip width of 121mm. And not to forget, it has a turning radius of 18 m.

Turn radius number 18 is considered as a medium radius – so this particular ski will be ideal for having shorter, sharper but quicker turns.

This is obviously a generalized scenario where you can control your turns with respect to their length and speed by your skiing techniques. Also, there are other factors as well that will affect the skiing process.

Long Vs Short Turn Radius

If you want to determine the feel of your skis and how it’s going to turn, you’ll obviously look at its specifications. But how do you know what turn radius number is ideal for you?

Here is some general idea of what short, medium and long turn radius means :

  • A turn radius is considered to be shorter if it’s between 10 to 15m.
  • turn radius is considered to be medium if it’s between 15 to 20m
  • turn radius is considered to be shorter if it’s above 20m.

Moreover, a thing to note is that the turn radii differ according to the length of different skis. So, whether they should be considered short, medium or long depends on the lengths of skis. What turn radius might be considered short for a 165m ski, might be long for a 185m ski.

Selection Of Skis Turn Radius

1] A short turn radius is ideal for carving skis.

2] A medium turn radius is best for mountain and park & pipe skiing.

3] A long turn radius is an ideal choice for high mountain skiing and powder skiing.


So, this is all about the turn radius of a ski. As we already discussed, a turning radius can affect your skiing experience, hence it is very important to choose it wisely. We have discussed all the points that will help you in selecting the right turn radius number for yourself.