Ski flex is the foundation upon which all other factors, such as ski length, skiing experience, body type, and firmness of snow, help guide our ski selection.
For skating, a ski that is too soft will bottom-out creating a pressure zone under foot that makes the ski feel sluggish, slow, and “squirrelly” where the tip and tail pivots around the mid-section. Pick a ski that is too stiff, and you’ve got a ski riding on two pressure zones that again slows you down, and creates an unstable, poor handling ski.
For classic skiing a poorly fitted ski will ride on the kick zone if too soft, or have difficult-to-impossible grip if too stiff. The handling characteristics mentioned above are important here as well.
A well-fitted ski is important for all skiers, not just racers. Ski racers have long known the importance of flex and its relationship with body type and snow surface conditions. But many recreational and performance skiers should recognize its importance as well. Top-of-the-line skis come from the factory with half-weight and mid-flex numbers that give us a good starting point for ski selection. Most ski models, however, do not give us that information which means a reliance on the weight charts (which can range up to 30 pounds per length of ski), if you do not have a flex-tested ski.
At Nordic Ski Source, we digitally flex test every ski, so we can make an accurate ski flex recommendation to all skiers whether they have racing ambitions or not. This recommendation will become the foundation of the ski selection process. We then introduce the other ski selection factors to help fine-tune the actual ski selection decision.