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Even if the people are being dicks about it, they are telling you the truth. Longer skis will always be more beneficial. And I don't know what you're talking about with the skis and poles, but either way, just get longer skis, you'll be happier in the long run. I'm you're height, and I'll be riding 181s. I'm surprised people are even suggesting 170s, usually when someone's 5'9", they suggest at 180s or so.