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Demoing Skis

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am hoping for a bit of clarification/help as far as demoing skis.  I have always been a mid-level ski renter, but after the advice from you guys/gals here, I plan to buy some boots and demo skis on my trip to Colorado this month.  My first question is how demos work exactly.  Do you get to walk in and pick a specific ski out of what the shop sells, or do they have a smaller grouping of skis that are just newer/better quality versions of their standard skis, and you just hope it includes some you want to try?  I have been reading reviews and advice on these forums to try and narrow down skis that would fit my needs, but if the selection will be narrow, I wont waste my time preparing a list of exact skis.  The boot purchase/rental location will be mountain sports outlet in Silverthorne, CO if that makes a difference.


Now lets say it does work as a "pick your poison" type system...maybe a little help with some options?  I am 25, 6'0", 190ish, and a level 7-8 moderately aggressive skier.  This ski trip will be spent at Keystone and Copper.  The best example of my preferred ski terrain is what the backside of Keystone has to offer.  I ski blues and blacks, about 50-50 groomed-ungroomed, ducking in and out of the trees a bit, and a few outback bowl runs per trip.  I will ski some moguls, but not often or very well.  I am demoing to find a ski to purchase.  I am looking for a ski that will be a OSQ that will see repeated use in Colorado as well as future trips to the SLC area and Jackson Hole, and probably others.  From reading advice from other threads on here, I am thinking I should be looking for around a 90mm waist for a rocky mountain all mountain ski.  Any advice on specific skis I should have a look at would be greatly helpful.  

post #2 of 14
I think generally people are going to tell you to get a wider ski.

On demos, there are a bunch of skis set aside for demoing. First come, first served. Usually you get to swap out and try others all day long, so logistics are key for that. I'd call around and ask if the skis that interest you are part of their stable.
post #3 of 14
Originally Posted by gmoney View Post

The boot purchase/rental location will be mountain sports outlet in Silverthorne, CO if that makes a difference.

Unless this place has a knowledgeable boot fitter, which I highly doubt given the name, contact Jeff Bergeron in Breckenridge, .  In fact, I would recommend you go there first.  Also, check with both Keystone and Copper Mountain about demos there.  Do you really want to drive back from Copper or Keystone to Silverthorne because you want to swap out a demo ski that you don't like?

post #4 of 14

90 is as wide as I'd suggest.   The black runs you are talking about are pretty much all bumps, and a ski wider than 90 gets cumbersome in bumps.   The good news is there are a bunch of fantastic 90ish skis. 


A few to consider are the Kendo, Steadfast, E88, Brahma, Bushwacker, REV90 and numerous others.   It's really just picking the flavor that works best for you.  A little research and some demos should do the trick.   Search on those names.  @SierraJim and @dawgcatching both have written up nice comparisons of skis in this class.  


I know you can find a good selection of them to demo in the various shops at the base of Copper.  Demo at the base so you can switch out multiple times during the day.  


Edit:  I agree w/mtcyclist MSO in Silverthorne is probably not the best place to buy boots.  I've been in there a number of times, and I'm pretty sure it's just another Vail owned big ski/bike shop.   If there is or was a good bootfitter there, you'll get them by chance and they probably won't be around too long.   I've also heard great things about Jeff in Breck, but never seen him myself.  There is a Surefoot at Copper that I've had some work done at and they know their stuff, but they have a fairly limited selection of boots.


Edit 2: Give the shops at the base of Copper and Keystone a call and see what they demo (call mid-day during the week when they are bored).  Nobody carries everything and each shop has a little different selection, so you might want to demo from more than one shop on different days.

Edited by tball - 1/2/14 at 11:02pm
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was planning on MSO for the boots because it was the only place brought up in my other thread about a month ago, and they are owned by Vail so my understanding is you can swap demos at their resort locations after your initial rental. But I am always open to better suggestions! Travel isn't a big deal for me as I will have a car and am staying in two different hotels, one in Frisco and one in Silverthorne(using free nights from my travel points) on this trip.
post #6 of 14
But travel will be a big deal if you can't try a ski for two runs, decide you hate it, and are stuck with it all day. If it's right there at the base, you go in and swap it.

You don't have to buy boots the same place you buy skis.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Very good point. I can't tell from the website, does boot fixation sell boots or just fit ones you got somewhere else?
post #8 of 14
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

But travel will be a big deal if you can't try a ski for two runs, decide you hate it, and are stuck with it all day. If it's right there at the base, you go in and swap it.

You don't have to buy boots the same place you buy skis.


Absolutely.  There are very few shops that are great at both skis and boot fitting, and even fewer of those are at the base of a ski area where it's best to demo skis.


Here are some general thoughts on how to approach buying skis and boots at the same time:

  • Be prepared to spend good money on boots, insoles and boot fitting.
  • Be cheap buying skis so you can spend more on your boots and boot fitting expertise.
  • Demo skis at the area and try as many different skis as possible.
  • Don't buy skis at the area, or even in a mountain town unless you find a great deal.
  • Shop online and on craigslist for used and old model skis once you get home.
  • Many of the models I suggested above have been identical  for several years except for the the graphics.  You can find leftovers cheap or used, or wait until spring/summer.


Taking this to an extreme, I'd be ready to pay up to say $700 for boots and fitting.  At the same time there are lots of used skis I see on craigslist for $100-200 w/bindings I'd be happy skiing on.   Boots are far more important and last a very long time, while skis are pretty disposable.   


One trick: for the next couple years after spending good money on boots, keep your eyes out for cheap discontinued models of the exact same boot in the exact same size.  You can double the lifetime of your boot investment very cheaply that way.


Edit: I think Jeff is based out of one of the shops in Breck that sells boots.  Give them a call to confirm.

post #9 of 14

Jeff ( is based out of the old Norway Haus on South Main Street in Breck which is now Breck Sports (A VR business). He is not affiliated with the store per se. He has a couple of rooms at the back of the store. He shows and sells boots from the store he is working out of but will not limit himself to that.


A Racers Edge ( on Lincoln Avenue (next door to the Salt Creek) has Chuck Ginsburg, 'The Boot Doctor'. I work at ARE so my opinion is what it is. Chuck, Justin and Zach are all expert boot fitters at ARE. We carry Lange and Fischer including the VACUUM Fit. We also have demo skis from Kastle, Rossi and Fischer. You can change your demos out whenever you please as well as bring them back in for tunes. I understand that being in Breck, it won't be convenient for you skiing at Keystone and Copper. Just putting it out there.


I've had work done by both Jeff and Chuck. They are the cream of the crop.

post #10 of 14

One tip, if you are spending for boots, keep in mind all boots have some adjustment period of at least a day or not more (even for custom fit, vacuum, heat molded ones)  


So keep that in mind and don't overspend for demo fees that first day in your new boots knowing that you maybe spending time adjusting to the boots.  

Of course, if your demo fees can be applicable towards purchase, then just go for the best ski you want.


"demo" rentals differ from shop to shop.  

At lower end shops, they just use the label "demo" to represent their best/newest skis.


At higher end shops, you get true demos can be thought of just like a try before you buy program.   They are still like an expensive rental program to keep out the riff/raff and cover costs, but for the serious person they will let you apply those rental fees towards purchase the same ski new from them.  (If you want you can buy the actual "demo" floor model too, but don't expect a discount).


Because you can apply your fees, you may end up buying the ski from them, versus trying to find a "discount" on the internet or somewhere else.   Because demo skis are usually this years skis, authorized dealer will all be at just about the same minimum price as discounts aren't allowed yet.  

post #11 of 14

I think I'm the guy that recommended MSO in another post.


I've bought boots from MSO and Colorado Ski and Golf.  While I have zero doubts that a specialty bootfitter will be superior, not everybody needs to spend the $$$ for that, and if a skier buying their first set of boots has a relatively normal foot, an experienced bootfitter should be able to get them squared away.


I have bought two pairs of boots from MSO and Colorado ski and Golf, which are both owned by Vail and essentially the same operation. I have a fairly nasty foot shape- giant big toe with the other toes much smaller (tough toebox fit) and very, very, very wide feet. In both cases, I bought a boot from them that served me for hundreds of ski days. The last boot they sold me, a set of Nordica Speedmachine 110's, have around 250 ski days and counting. New liners this year, and I will keep skiing them until some of the beat-on buckles finally break. It has always been a solid, supportive, responsive, ski all day in any condition with no boot pain type of fit.


MSO does free punches. They guarantee their fit. They carry most boot manufacturers full lines in more size options than most professional fitters have on stock. Their prices are competitive, and they agreed to price match a competitor (REI) that both does not have the same rep IMO for fitting prowess and also did not have my size in stock.  One day that I was in for a punch at the Colorado Springs ski and golf, they were helping several members of the US Air Force Academy ski team fit, boot cant, and punch their Doberman plug boots they bought at a ski swap (USAF apparently doesn't really fund their ski team). They did so for free.


The fit is guaranteed lifetime- I brought one boot in two years after purchase with a painful spot that never quite went away and they punched it no questions asked- didn't even ask me to document that I bought the boot from them.


Both times I purchased, I tried on 10-20 different boots over several hours. Each was shell fit, and based on those results we would move up or down a shell size and see how well the boot fit. That is the hallmark of a quality fit job in my eyes. And the proof is in the pudding for me.


So, yes, it is a chain store. Yes, it is not a specialty bootfitter. But not everybody needs to spend top dollar for that on an intermediate level boot, they just need a boot that fits them properly and allows them to develop, and I think MSO is a reasonable option for people to get a good boot at a good price with a proper fit.


The caveat is to make sure the people at these stores versed in boots (and they do try to find and retain these people) are actually the ones fitting you. Good signs are somebody doing a shell fit, telling you the results of that fit, and somebody able to identify where your foot is wider or slimmer than a normal foot shape and knowing boots that complement that shape. If you ever do not feel comfortable with the experience of your fitter, ask if the pro is around, or just walk.

post #12 of 14

Op, as for your question on ski demos, best bet is to call and ask the specific store. I've never demoed from MSO. I would assume they have demo options for a good amount of the skis they sell, as they also sell used expert consumer level ski gear.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

I did some reading in various places and I think I have a pretty good list of options I would like to take a ride on- Volkl Kendo, Nordica Steadfast, Blizzard Brahma, Rossi E88, Nordica Hell & Back, Blizzard Bonafide, and Line Sick Day 95.  I think 8 skis in 3-4 days may be a bit ambitious, but I'm guessing after the first couple I will be able to narrow down on what I want better and trim a couple off that list.  I'm guessing the guys at the shop will be able to put me on a suggestion or two along the way also.  I will be calling the shops at Keystone and Copper and hope I can get all of the above or at least most of them with the chance to swap easily.  

post #14 of 14

check the policy on the shop of how many days of demo fees you can apply towards purchase.  If it's 2 days, maybe by the end of 2nd day you will be ready to just buy your skis rather then keep paying to rent when you can be on skis you own by day3.

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