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Do magazines about skiing provide unbiased ski reviews?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

There are over 2000 threads about ski mags on Epic Ski, so this question has probably been raised before and I don't have the energy to look through all the threads. 

 

Every year the magazines make all sorts of claims about various skis that probably influence buying decisions.

 

I just had a conversation from someone in the ski industry.  This person’s view is that magazines for skiers rate skis based on the revenue generated for their magazine by the advertisements for the ski companies being reviewed.  So here is the question: 

 

Do magazines about skiing provide unbiased ski reviews?  Does money influence ratings or write-ups?

 

 

post #2 of 28

No....and YES.

For instance, SKI Mag. tested only 10% of the skis on the market today. How do you think they chose the 10%?

post #3 of 28

I would say that the larger brands have an advantage of getting in the door to get reviewed, but after that all bets are off.  If they were horribly inaccurate, there are a lot of good skiers out there who would call them out on it.

 

Also, to be fair to SKI magazine, they allowed different companies to submit X number of skis for each category - so of course a whole bunch of skis aren't going to be included.  Testing them all just isn't realistic.  Of course, they definitely skewed towards the big brands and ignored the indies without a doubt.  Powder seemed to have a good balance, with 4FRNT getting a lot of love.

post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianskier View Post

There are over 2000 threads about ski mags on Epic Ski, so this question has probably been raised before and I don't have the energy to look through all the threads. 

 

Every year the magazines make all sorts of claims about various skis that probably influence buying decisions.

 

I just had a conversation from someone in the ski industry.  This person’s view is that magazines for skiers rate skis based on the revenue generated for their magazine by the advertisements for the ski companies being reviewed.  So here is the question: 

 

Do magazines about skiing provide unbiased ski reviews?  Does money influence ratings or write-ups?

 

 

Depends if you are reading a review titled Editors pick or if it is a review done by a bunch of random people on the hill.   I would have to say that the Editors pick is probably biased and the Tests or reviews by a number of people on a hill, (ski racers, locals etc... ) are probably a little more accurate.  That is my opinion.  
 

 

post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post
.  Of course, they definitely skewed towards the big brands and ignored the indies without a doubt.


There is validation for this policy: they have reviewed the skis customers are primarily likely to find in shops.

post #6 of 28

I don't think ANY review is completely un subjective. Realskiers last year as an example. Kastle has skis that scored PERFECT numbers in their categories yet the Ski Logic Ullr Chariot received 'Ski of the year"? Absolutely subjective. While it could have received a "Boutique Ski of the Year" award and made sense but giving it SOTY over much more worthy product didn't make sense. Now, I am not taking anything away from Ski Logic or the Chariot, it is a fine ski and skis very well, there were a good dozen skis that were far superior. IMHO, "Ski of the Year" has to be an award for a product that reaches a broader market. 

 

I miss the olden golden days of..when I was a boy...the gear guide that came out was a COMPLETE gear guide. It had every model from every manufacture with the differences from one to the other and the mag was 200 pages thick. Now, if the magazine is 80 pages (or so it seems) and unless a ski is in it, it has little or no chance of selling... and has to be sold

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

I miss the olden golden days of..when I was a boy...the gear guide that came out was a COMPLETE gear guide. It had every model from every manufacture with the differences from one to the other and the mag was 200 pages thick. Now, if the magazine is 80 pages (or so it seems) and unless a ski is in it, it has little or no chance of selling... and has to be sold



^This.

post #8 of 28

If only there was a place, where an individual could go to obtain this knowledge and read first hand reviews of such.

 

This place would be void of any and all payola and back scratching, in which the reviewer can speak the truth and provide honest feed back of their assessment.

 

If only this place could exist  smile.gif

post #9 of 28

Because I believe that strong local skiers (that are not pros and therefore paid to ski on something or get it free) know more about their own skis anyway, I have no use whatsoever for magazine, or RealSkier reviews. I just look at who's on what, and how they're rockin'.  A friend lost a BentChettler and was quite devastated; I thought: that must be quite a ski.

 

edit bad contraction, reading too much around here


Edited by davluri - 9/14/11 at 11:42am
post #10 of 28

The ski manufacturer industry's goal is to make money. The ski magazine industry's goal is to make money.  Why would you think that reviews of new skis in ski magazines are based on giving the consumers unbiased information, rather than enhancing the both industries' ability to make money at our expense?

post #11 of 28


BWPA feels it could be here if  people wouldn't talk about skis they do not own and ski on a lot. prob' true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PukeSno View Post

If only there was a place, where an individual could go to obtain this knowledge and read first hand reviews of such.

 

This place would be void of any and all payola and back scratching, in which the reviewer can speak the truth and provide honest feed back of their assessment.

 

If only this place could exist  smile.gif



 

post #12 of 28

Ski mags test the skis submitted by participating manufacturers, all are not "invited" and they are allowed to submit so many skis. Rossi for instance may not submit the S3 this season (and didn't) but rather submits other new skis they are promoting.  It doesn't mean some designs from 1 or 2 years have fallen from grace.....

 

Objective: hmm, well,,,,  how can it be?  You have all kind of sponsored riders and shop owners out testing. do you think they aren't going to praise brands they are paid to promote or shop owners who aren't going to support brands they sell.  I don't think any of them would tout a bad product just be a little kinder to some.... And of course, can you really tell everything about a ski on 1 or 2 runs. (unless its the DPS112  :)

 

They are all realative guides IMHO and I still say short of demoing yourself, find a person who you know & how/where they ski and have similar likes and dislikes.

 

post #13 of 28

Let's assume $$$ can play a role, and a ski manufacturer might throw a few bones to a magazine for a favorable rating on a new ski.  Would it make sense to do that, if the ski wasn't any good?  First, the magazine would lose credibility, bad for the magazine.  Second, hundreds of people would rush out to get this new wonder-ski and hate it, bad for the ski manufacture.

 

So, assuming ski manufacturers could influence the ratings, my guess is they would only do it when they know they have a kick-ass product.  And assuming the magazines would take bribes for ratings, my guess is that they would only agree if they already know it's a kick-ass product.  So, maybe what you could find is that if a ski is in the "Top 5" skis of the year, the biggest advertiser get's picked for #1.  But that really isn't bad anyway, because the #1 ski for me might not be the #1 ski for you.  The point is, it's probably skill an awesome ski...

 

 

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

Of course all ski reviews are subjective. One large difference between (some) Epic Ski reviews and that of ski mags is that the ES reviews are typically detailed with a brief stats about the reviewers age, weight and skill. Ski mags publish some of this stuff, but reduce information essentially down to sound bites that are easily digestible but insufficient for much of anything. Freeskier mag’s take on the Bonafide is that if you want to ski "on the side of the run" “look elsewhere”. Ski mag says about the same ski, "Stable enough to plow through slop; light enough to manoeuvre in tight spots." Insufficient information on both counts to convey what the experience of the ski was, and it sounds on the surface that these folks were on a different ski.

 

ES also has the advantage of a public history for the reviewers. For example, I kind of have an idea of what Dogcatching and Philpug have liked and can compare my experience on a ski that they reviewed before that I have also used. Can't do that with the sort of anonymous reviews of the ski mags.

 

The big disadvantage to ES it that I don't know if some of the reviews or comments about skis are posted by people who have little skill or expereince on the ski.  For popular skis, is the praise due to the ski being really good or is it a band wagon effect.

 

In the end, I have to make decisions based on my experience and trust of retailers who I have known for years for skis that demo-ing isn't possible.  Repeated similar reviews by mags, ES, friends, and retailers are helpful.

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by canadianskier - 9/14/11 at 12:38pm
post #15 of 28

Try this,  start your own ski magazine and then see how much free gear you get.  :) 

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 

I think that anyone who posts a review on ES should be sent a free pair of skis. 

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianskier View Post

I think that anyone who posts a review on ES should be sent a free pair of skis. 



How about: "Supporters can earn free skis by posting 20/40/50/300 reviews"?

post #18 of 28

While they won't outright lie, most ski magazines make it very hard to choose between the skis they review; the differences in performance between the top contenders are not well elaborated.  They don't want to come out and say ski X is better at such and such than ski Y, because then ski company Y would be upset, and it doesn't pay ski mags to upset ski companies.  Some reviews do let you read between the lines, though, if you know what to look for.

post #19 of 28

Very true Ghost.  

 

There is RARELY (ever?) a truly bad comment or review posted in any sort of publication anywhere, and certainly never in relation to a competing product.

 

If you read reviews, even the lowest rated ones get comments like "lots of energy", "can still handle the crud", etc, etc.  I can't think of a review where I've read, "This ski is poor, it can't handle bumps and is only suited to beginner/intermediates who don't know anything".

 

Seriously, where has anyone called out a "poor" ski?  There's usually 1 or 2 that are epic, and the rest are somewhere around "great".  If everything is great, then why should anyone bother asking what skis to buy?  Just pick a size, spin the wheel, and buy whatever comes up.

 

Sigh......

post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianskier View Post
 I don't have the energy to look through all the threads. 

But we have the energy to reply? wink.gif



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

While they won't outright lie, most ski magazines make it very hard to choose between the skis they review; the differences in performance between the top contenders are not well elaborated.  They don't want to come out and say ski X is better at such and such than ski Y, because then ski company Y would be upset, and it doesn't pay ski mags to upset ski companies.  Some reviews do let you read between the lines, though, if you know what to look for.


^^^^^ Nice point. I've talked with several reviewers over the years, no one's got benjamins stuffed in their parka from manufacturer X to say nice things. But editorially, you don't want to trash any company (who knows who might want to advertise in the future?), so you leave the ski out and include a compendium of funny quips about unnamed bad skis. Or you get vague/cutesy about what the reviewed ski's bad at. Only y'know what? We do that at Epic, too. Just like mags only include the top skis, and mostly say nice things, many of reviews are of purchased skis we've already demoed or screened or otherwise know we will like, and even our retailers are unlikely to give a bad review of a ski they sell because (guess what?) they already weeded out the losers before ordering next season' stock. Then there's reducing cognitive dissonance, or our tendency to like the grass better on our side of the fence. Skis we've vested in/already purchased. So while I like Epic's reviews better than any mags, or definitely than Real Skiers, it's more because of the long threads that follow. That's where the nuggets are...

 

Incidentally, Ski Canada has some of the best reviews in the business, CS. Including personal picks of the testers, and their sponsors noted. 

 

post #21 of 28

I was very fortunate to have skied on Powder's Test Team last February.  I was humbled by the experience.

 

I got to ski on Ski Logic, Fischer, DPS, Blizzard.  Blizzard and their flip core technology was really the best.  I didn't really understand the technology until I got on the ski.  The Cochise (135-108-123) and the Bonfire (135-98-118) were my favorites.   Due to the fact it was pre-production, I think only the 180ish lengths were available- not the (knee jerk reaction) going for the big ones.

 

What I'm getting at: The reviews seem strangely familiar. I get what they are saying.  At least for the skis I was on.  Sure... go ahead and trust them.  I thought I wrote my clever/pithy reviews, but they weren't used.  Still I "get" attributes

 

Everybody should subscribe to Powder- I had a great time that week.  Definitely a highlight in my career.

post #22 of 28
I agree....but let me provide some background. I was a ski-tester for a ski-mag. I won't say which one, as don't want to bite the hand that feeds you...but in general here is stuff to consider.

Size does matter (where have I heard that before: ), but things where so disorganized, becuase not only did you have the testers, but you also had all the ski shop reps there too, trying skiis so as to know what they wanted to purchase to sell in their shop. However I can say almost without exception the skis where 170cm (some abit more, some less, but generally they were 170s).

Other things too, was the test was done late last spring...it was actually my last day skiing for the year...so hard in the morning, slush by 11am. Hence some guys got to test the GS boards at 8am, some tested them at 2pm....that will give a huge difference too. Also the testers were never told what the ski was...and you were skiing (as you do) in a group, hence it is also possible you took a SL ski on a bump run, then being spring, and since you sometimes only get one run (sometimes more), you may have never really got the chance to see what the ski can do...plus as I mentioned, if you didn't get on them early, it was all slush anyway.

Other points...some skis where well tuned, others weren't. That makes a noticiable difference for sure, especially earlier in the day...plus, I have to admit, but 2pm, and you have been on your 17th pair of skis...it is getting pretty hard to tell the difference somtimes...I mean..."geez are these skis better at short turns then that 3rd pair I tried?"...you always tend to compare what is on your feet now...to what was on them just before.

Another point, some skis you really liked and gave them top marks, then your next pair was BETTER!...but you already gave away your top marks, hence you can't differentiate, even thou you wish you could now downgrade those other pair....

Having said that, my advice is, use the mags to cut your choice down to 2 or 3 skis...the good stuff does tend to stand out regardless...ie the "gold star" or the "editor's picks" or whatever...then make you final choice on gut, or better yet, your own test.  
post #23 of 28

how about an international institute of ski, where research and testing on skis and bindings, boots and poles is done. a ski manufacturer would have to pay a fee to have their new model tested. the institute publishes a quarterly.

 

Professional ski testers (rich, flashy, sex symbol super skiers) ski on each model in appropriate conditions.

 

yes, there are problems getting the 20 million dollar facility built at the base of a world class resort where laboratory and on snow testing would be done. but aside from that...in a perfect world...

 

skidude, when you were a pro tester, did they make you shave?      biggrin.gif 


Edited by davluri - 9/15/11 at 10:17am
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiing-in-Jackson View Post

I was very fortunate to have skied on Powder's Test Team last February.  I was humbled by the experience.

 

I got to ski on Ski Logic, Fischer, DPS, Blizzard.  Blizzard and their flip core technology was really the best.  I didn't really understand the technology until I got on the ski.  The Cochise (135-108-123) and the Bonfire (135-98-118) were my favorites.   Due to the fact it was pre-production, I think only the 180ish lengths were available- not the (knee jerk reaction) going for the big ones.


 

 

Hi Stephen,

 

You are the Man! Well deserved and many would love to read your actual reviews both for the insights and for your clever use of language.B

 

The big question is "What will you ski this winter"?

 

Were the tests done in real, 3D JH Pow or was it a mix?

 

Damn, we could spend some fine nights at the Brewpub picking your brain about the experience.

 

post #25 of 28

Is anyone here familiar with the medical profession?  I'm not a doctor, but know a few.  Anyway, I see some parallels...

 

It's not like a pharmaceutical salesperson walks into a doctor's office and says "I'll give you $100 if you prescribe Lipitor for that patient over there."  But that's not to say that there's no influence.  The drug reps try hard to build a positive association toward their company, their products and themselves.  This takes the form of everything from free pens and Post-It pads to fancy dinners to generous speakers' fees to support of academic research.  It involves being very friendly, of course.  At meetings, it usually translates into food and drinks.  There's a big budget for this stuff.  In the end, it's no surprise if the doctor has a warm, fuzzy feeling toward Pfizer.

 

Looking at ski reviews, it's not exactly the same, but similar.  I doubt there's anyone out there handing out big envelopes full of cash.  The thing is, the editors and testers are a small, elite group.  They must be in the marketers' crosshairs.  There must be lots of opportunities for, say, the K2 rep to be extra nice to these folks.  I'd assume the writers and editors get the biggest piece of the pie.  I'd be surprised if there isn't a big flow of swag, product, food and drink from manufacturers to influencers.  And, of course, who isn't going to have a positive view of the company that just bought a two-page spread, all other things being equal?

 

So, I think it's a case of preemptive investment in goodwill.  Kind of like pre-bribery with less of the quid-pro-quo.

post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiing-in-Jackson View Post

I was very fortunate to have skied on Powder's Test Team last February.  I was humbled by the experience.

 

I got to ski on Ski Logic, Fischer, DPS, Blizzard.  Blizzard and their flip core technology was really the best.  I didn't really understand the technology until I got on the ski.  The Cochise (135-108-123) and the Bonfire (135-98-118) were my favorites.   Due to the fact it was pre-production, I think only the 180ish lengths were available- not the (knee jerk reaction) going for the big ones.

 

What I'm getting at: The reviews seem strangely familiar. I get what they are saying.  At least for the skis I was on.  Sure... go ahead and trust them.  I thought I wrote my clever/pithy reviews, but they weren't used.  Still I "get" attributes

 

Everybody should subscribe to Powder- I had a great time that week.  Definitely a highlight in my career.


SIJ and SD72


Thanks for the insight into the process.  SIJ - From what you are saying, there seems to be an editor between your process and what came out in the magazine. Its also interesting that, at least on the basis of what you said, that Powder mag didn't select either the Bonafide or Cochise as top picks in the All Mountain selection (Bodacious was selected for a top pow ski).  There are only 15 Top picks per category available in the format chosen by Powder and the range of skis in the all mountain category is big (98 to 120).

 

SD72's comments also point out an important difference between ES reviews and that of at least one ski mag - that is time spent on the skis.  Many of the ES reviews are done only after several days on the ski, whereas the ski mag reviewer had the skis for a very short period of time and had all sorts of variables that could have effected the reviewers impressions (poor tuning, fatigue factor, ski length, conditions, etc)  

 

 

 


Edited by canadianskier - 9/15/11 at 2:14pm
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

Is anyone here familiar with the medical profession?  I'm not a doctor, but know a few.  Anyway, I see some parallels...

 

It's not like a pharmaceutical salesperson walks into a doctor's office and says "I'll give you $100 if you prescribe Lipitor for that patient over there."  But that's not to say that there's no influence.  The drug reps try hard to build a positive association toward their company, their products and themselves.  This takes the form of everything from free pens and Post-It pads to fancy dinners to generous speakers' fees to support of academic research.  It involves being very friendly, of course.  At meetings, it usually translates into food and drinks.  There's a big budget for this stuff.  In the end, it's no surprise if the doctor has a warm, fuzzy feeling toward Pfizer.

 

Looking at ski reviews, it's not exactly the same, but similar.  I doubt there's anyone out there handing out big envelopes full of cash.  The thing is, the editors and testers are a small, elite group.  They must be in the marketers' crosshairs.  There must be lots of opportunities for, say, the K2 rep to be extra nice to these folks.  I'd assume the writers and editors get the biggest piece of the pie.  I'd be surprised if there isn't a big flow of swag, product, food and drink from manufacturers to influencers.  And, of course, who isn't going to have a positive view of the company that just bought a two-page spread, all other things being equal?

 

So, I think it's a case of preemptive investment in goodwill.  Kind of like pre-bribery with less of the quid-pro-quo.


More than EXTRA nice, they do get free gear and I mean everything, jackets, pants, ski's boots, skis, back packs etc.. 

 

post #28 of 28

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Incidentally, Ski Canada has some of the best reviews in the business, CS. Including personal picks of the testers, and their sponsors noted. 

 



Got to agree with this.  Yes, there's a lot of subjective impressions in any review, based on a very limited time on the slope without the variation in conditions over a season (or even over a day).  That said, I found Ski Canada Mag to have comprehensive reviews, more detail about conditions, and multiple evaluations from the ski testers with averages of the rater's scores for each ski tested. 

 

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