Testing skis is nothing like clothes shopping. Aside from the obvious - men actually like to shop for skis, finding a ski you like is not black and white. You don't love it or hate it like you might a pair of jeans. You don't shout your opinion from the rooftop and the person in the dressing room next to you knows that just because you don't like something on you doesn't mean they won't like it.
Skis are just as personal as a pair of jeans, but for some reason if you don't like a pair, everyone else thinks they won't like it either. Hate to burst your bubble, but it's not that simple. Yes, we do form opinions after a few runs on a ski but it goes something like, "Loved X on the hard stuff but, oooh, crud, not so much," "Really? I loved that ski in the crud." So it went today, the first day of the Western Winter Sports Representatives Association On-Snow Demo at Snowbasin, Utah where we are performing ski tests for OnTheSnow.com's 2010 Gear Guide. While the place was buzzing about Rossignol and Atomic by the end of our first day, others got mixed reviews. One person dissed the Fisher Koa 84, another absolutely loved it by the second run.
We're at it again. A group of seven PSIA instructors recruited for the auspicious task of demo-ing (that's techspeak for ‘trying out') next year's cache of skis for you. We gathered today under partly cloudy, chilly Utah skies to ski soft packed powder and a little soft crud, and tell you what we think. We'll ski as many skis as possible in three days.
The WWSRA Demo is set up for retailers from the Intermountain and even the Pacific Northwest regions. They try out and later purchase the skis they'll carry in their shops next fall. On Day 1 and 2, they'll head for the awnings featuring names like K2, Nordica and Head, ski everything they can and then use the third day to test the lesser-known brands.
Let's see- there are about 22 companies (not including boots, snowboards and accessories) with at least five different models of high performance carving, freeride, all-mountain and ladies skis and seven of us. You do the math. Let's just say that's a lot of skis to ski.
By the way, i had a chance to interview George Couperthwaite about his new binding system. Someone tries to reinvent ski design almost every year, but its been ages since anyone did anything with binding designs. His company, Knee Binding, tackled that subject. Check it out: here.