Now that more women are skiing, ski manufacturers have been quick to capitalise on women’s lines of ski equipment. They advertise women’s equipment as specifically designed for a woman’s body shape and weight distribution – but some claim that women’s skis are just another example of the “shrink it and pink it” strategy. So, what’s the truth? Is it worth it for women to buy female-specific ski equipment, or should we do away with the whole gender division?
Women’s skis have traditionally been made lighter and with more flex, to compensate for the lower muscle mass. The bindings are also set a little forward, since women’s weight is typically distributed further back than men’s when in the skiing stance. But this has women with an athletic build up in arms, since it often doesn’t apply to them.
Despite the real physical differences between men and women, not all companies spend the time and money for proper research and development of women-specific skis. Their female lines end up reflecting smaller, prettier skis instead of skis that were specifically designed to fit women. Of course, marketing this kind of skis to women is damaging on other levels, since it reinforces the notion that girls aren’t as tough as guys. A common criticism of women-specific ski lines is that they are made for less aggressive skiers, which is a stereotype that heaps of female skiers are breaking nowadays. With smaller skis marketed to women and larger, heavier skis marketed towards men, individuals of both genders may be missing out on options that may suit their skiing style.
Gals can shred just as good as guys! Photo: © Head
Some ski companies have been moving away from female-specific lines, which they see as patronising to women. More companies are starting to produce skis that are a good fit for both men and women. The ski industry is also striving to rename the principal line of skis as the “main” line instead of the “men’s” line, to eliminate the perception that women’s skis are just secondary. Along with this, the graphics have been moving away from girly pinks to more neutral tones.
The ideal solution when creating women-specific ski lines is probably to factor in women’s body shapes without succumbing to stereotypes about skiing style. In the meantime, when you’re choosing your skis, just remember that everybody is cut differently. Ultimately, you should choose skis that feel right for you, regardless of whether they’ve been marketed as male or female. Female skiers may opt to choose women’s powder skis and men’s all-mountain skis, and as many professional skiers say, the important thing is to have the option. In an interesting twist, some men are choosing women’s skis – just more proof that we’re all different!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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