(Here's OnTheSnow.com Associate Editor Jill Adler's blog from the second day of the three-day OnSnow demo of the new ski products for 2009-10. Here's her always fun to read blog from Snowbasin, Utah where she and six other professional ski instructors on the OnTheSnow.com testing team and working hard to bring you their impressions).
My shoulder's feeling a bit better today. My right shoulder was - to say the least - sore after yesterday's near collision and subsequent backdive off the edge of a cattrack, Tragedy at Snowbasin's OnSnow Demo, the headline might have read. Fortunately, all's fine. Actually, with the amount of scrambling, dodging, and high-speed arcing that's taken place over the past two days, it's a wonder no one's gotten hurt badly.
The snowboard gang has the first batch of tents as you enter the corridor of demo gear and they've erected a couple of rails and a sliding box smack in the middle, making the stretch even more of a "pay attention to survive" space than it should be. Excluding those tents, there are about 25 ski companies presenting at the demo days this week, with about 20 models of skis each. That's 500 skis! Gulp.
I had issues after my underwhelming day the first day. 1) We're never going to get on everything we need to test to make our OnTheSnow project sing; 2) We have no powder, how can we test all of these new fat and rockered skis; 3) Maybe I don't know a good ski. Finding the right ski for me is easy - I know what I like to feel under my feet, I know the conditions I plan to ski it in a regular season and I know how aggressively I ski. Finding the right ski for ‘you' is immensely different.
Forcing myself to keep this in the forefront of my mind is a tough call. You swing into the tent, toss the rep a checkout card and say you want to ski the top of the line women's ski. "For what they ask?", meaning you could have the top intermediate carver, the top mid-fat, all mountain, the top twin tip, or more. Uhhhhh. I guess I was on my way to skiing all three. To determine an "everyman" ski, I place myself in your legs. Do I ski hard and fast, or slow and deliberate? Do I like to make the same turn all the way down or do I mix it up between short and long, carved and skidded? Do I stay on trail at all times, off at all times or ski a little of both?
I was feeling better about assessing a ski that a person the ski was meant for would like by the end of Day 2. For example, I popped onto the FreeSpice by Elan and, not only did the 168 length feel short to me, but the minute I went off-piste I got bounced all over the place. If I pressured the ski with all my energy and force, it would perform the way I would like but otherwise, yikes!
Why was I working so hard to stay solid? Because the ski has no metal in it; perfect for a lighter woman who only wants to ski front side and uses more skid than edge. It's a pretty ski with cool graphics but without the metal, it's super flexible, light, and unstable. You can definitely force it to bend and rip but would most women want to work like that? Probably not at the intermediate level. So the theorizing goes.
The conditions today were not ideal for anything other than an all mountain ski. Groomed runs, off-piste packed powder with coral reef in areas depending on the aspect (anything south facing). You hop off trail with a ski 76 under foot and you're getting tossed. The majority of the skis of choice seem to hover in the 80-84 under waist category this week, but I did ski a 105 that did wonders on groomed (Elan DeepSpice).
Our OTS team split up to tackle as many skis as possible today. When you stay in a posse, you get sidetracked with energetic banter. We met up at the start for some photos, then said, "See ya!" By skiing laps on the Needles Gondola or the John Paul chair, that would happen in at least two runs. We're hard to miss- our little gang of "Internet people". That's who the OnTheSnow test team has been dubbed. We pop over to a tent to pick out a pair of skis, we hear, "Are you those Internet people?" Yes, we are! We were able to pull in close to 100 survey cards today. I feel a bit better about denting the fleet for next season.
With one more day to go, some brands and models are buzzing to the top of the food chain - K2, especially their ladies line; Salomon with the Fury, Tornado, and Shogun; Volkl, Nordica's Helldiver, and Rossignol's CX80. Day Three will be all about name dropping as more people start to ski and compare. Stay tuned.