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What goes into a ski test - a sneak peek

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I (along with a few other Bears) have been demo'ing skis for the upcoming season since the first week of February in the hopes of bringing new information to you about what you can look forward to for 2015.  You may have seen a few threads from Philpug, FairtoMiddlin, Drahtguy and me over the past few months with a few thumbnail descriptions of the new stuff.  Most recently I was invited to join OnTheSnow.com with their Ski Test at Snowbird as a part of their team. 

 

I've had a few people ask me how we do it and what goes into a ski test when so many skis need to get attention in such a short period of time. 

 

This is how it went: 

  • We met up before the lifts started turning and had a bit of a briefing of what we were supposed to concentrate on for the day, based on categories and snow conditions  
  • We got a list of skis and a report card to fill out for each ski, along with a pencil to do our homework on the lift ride.   Photo credibility, Cody - OnTheSnow.com

     

  • To keep track of the skis, I like to take a photo of the ski then use my voice memos to talk to myself about each one
  • I will try to pick a run that's short enough to get a lot done but long enough to have a variety of terrain, (bumps, soft snow, groomers, trees, etc) 
  • At the end of each day we have a group discussion about what we got through and what to expect to be on the next day. 

 

We tested powder skis in day 2 in .........Powder :yahoo:

 

 

Here is a link to OnTheSnow for a sneak peek at what we did. 

 

 

post #2 of 17

Cool. Does this mean that we can now consider On The Snow as reliable as Epic? :D

post #3 of 17
So.. Was there enough ice to test for the East Coast? Seems like the test for that should be somewhere other than Utah...
post #4 of 17

No white covers on the ski graphics?

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

So.. Was there enough ice to test for the East Coast? Seems like the test for that should be somewhere other than Utah...

People from Utah think that if your ski only sinks in as far as the topsheet, it's icy.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post
 

No white covers on the ski graphics?

No white covers on graphics because they are skis that have already been seen at SIA.  When we ski stuff that is 2 years out there will be a "blank" top sheet. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

So.. Was there enough ice to test for the East Coast? Seems like the test for that should be somewhere other than Utah...

Even though we don't ski real ice, we can usually find something that is scraped off enough to get a sense of how the ski will perform on icy conditions. 

 

I will say, we had a couple park skis in the test group that were clearly de-tuned, or at the very least had a park tune on them.......those were NOT fun on firm snow. 

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 

I will say, we had a couple park skis in the test group that were clearly de-tuned, or at the very least had a park tune on them.......those were NOT fun on firm snow. 

 

How to do a "Park Tune"

 

Boots in binding Drag method. Also known as the "One Stop Shopping" method.

 

First off, you want fairly new asphalt. Fine grained yet aged so it's not too soft. The stuff that feels smoooth on a skate board or roller blades. Oh yes, we're talking seldom used roads or parking lots (preferable) here.

Alternatively, you can use quality concrete. No rain grooves, pits, or high polish Home Depot floors here. Smooth, fine grained surface is what you're looking for. It's out there. Finding it is part of the Park Tuner's skill set.

 

Now....the next part requires, usually, a few youngish males. Let's say 18 - 25 or older ones maquerading as that age. Younger could work but legally it's problematic since there's driving involved and many states have restrictions on how new drivers interact with others of questionable judgement.

 

So. Driver + Car + Park Tuner + bystanders to warn driver and or Tuner. Plus another car to drive to hospital if needed. (Too many questions with 911)

 

Ok. Tow rope is needed. Maybe a cheap water ski tow. Best to have a bar to hold onto.

We'll skip the details of attachment. Part of the Tuners skill set.

 

(note: It is best not to use a high truck. No 36 - 54 inch tires here.Angle is all wrong. Some find out the hard way. Darwin...)

 

Now the tuning.

There are two styles here. The "Cross Drag" and the "Tip and Rip". Both require a fair amount of skill to execute. Which is better is an endless debate. I have no dog in either so you'll have to decide. Honestly, I think Park Tuners use whatever method they're better at performing.

 

Cross Drag:

The Park Tuner is booted up, clicked into the bindings, with skis parallel to the rear bumper. Or for those sticklers driving egg shaped cars, skis at a right angle to the direction of travel. How to accomplish the next part would take pages of text, diagrams and explanations. This is why it takes a skilled Park Tuner, not just any Joey fresh off the rails.

The car slowly moves, the Tuner does short hops on corresponding edges. The slack gets taken up, the Park Tuner gets slowly dragged on the edges by the vehicle. This grinds the edges down. They must repeat with the Tuner facing the opposite way and on the other set of corresponding edges.

Yes, a massive burr is made on the side of the edge. The quality of the burr is synonymous with the quality of the tune. Again, that's a big subject that Park Tuners debate endlessly.

 

Tip and Rip:

 

One needs the same set up with car and tow line. Ok, instead of the Park Tuner being in the skis at a right angle to the direction of travel, he's facing the direction of travel and the skis are aligned with it. Just like towing a skier for a jump. Now, this time the vehicle pulls the Tuner tipping the skis on corresponding edges like he was making a turn.

Yes, the geometry and movement needed is complex. This is why Park Tuners get good at one style and stick with it.

 

Obviously this is repeated on the other set of corresponding edges.

 

Cross Draggers claim this method is uneven tip to tail. That the tips get more than the tails and even middle. The Tippers claim they can tailor it using their skills, and turn it into the equivalent of a radial tune. Thus it's better and allows more fine tuning that some Park Skiers want.

 

Questions:

"Doesn't the Cross Drag method bevel the ptex base?"

 - And?  That's part of the signature of the tuner. Can't be too much though or there's no flat spot. Takes skills.

 

"What about the burrs?"

- They're big and dangerous to the hands. Sometimes they're removed. Learning to ski Park with a honking burr is part of the skill set. Deal.

 

"These methods sound pretty crude and dangerous to do"

- Well we're not talking tuning for the Spandex clad looking to shave 1/100 of a second. This is gnar in gnar out.

 

"Which method do the top competitors use?"

- Most use skis Park Tuned with both methods. They switch types for different types of hit sequences or the conditions.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post
 

 

How to do a "Park Tune"

 

Boots in binding Drag method. Also known as the "One Stop Shopping" method.

 

First off, you want fairly new asphalt. Fine grained yet aged so it's not too soft. The stuff that feels smoooth on a skate board or roller blades. Oh yes, we're talking seldom used roads or parking lots (preferable) here.

Alternatively, you can use quality concrete. No rain grooves, pits, or high polish Home Depot floors here. Smooth, fine grained surface is what you're looking for. It's out there. Finding it is part of the Park Tuner's skill set.

 

Now....the next part requires, usually, a few youngish males. Let's say 18 - 25 or older ones maquerading as that age. Younger could work but legally it's problematic since there's driving involved and many states have restrictions on how new drivers interact with others of questionable judgement.

 

So. Driver + Car + Park Tuner + bystanders to warn driver and or Tuner. Plus another car to drive to hospital if needed. (Too many questions with 911)

 

Ok. Tow rope is needed. Maybe a cheap water ski tow. Best to have a bar to hold onto.

We'll skip the details of attachment. Part of the Tuners skill set.

 

(note: It is best not to use a high truck. No 36 - 54 inch tires here.Angle is all wrong. Some find out the hard way. Darwin...)

 

Now the tuning.

There are two styles here. The "Cross Drag" and the "Tip and Rip". Both require a fair amount of skill to execute. Which is better is an endless debate. I have no dog in either so you'll have to decide. Honestly, I think Park Tuners use whatever method they're better at performing.

 

Cross Drag:

The Park Tuner is booted up, clicked into the bindings, with skis parallel to the rear bumper. Or for those sticklers driving egg shaped cars, skis at a right angle to the direction of travel. How to accomplish the next part would take pages of text, diagrams and explanations. This is why it takes a skilled Park Tuner, not just any Joey fresh off the rails.

The car slowly moves, the Tuner does short hops on corresponding edges. The slack gets taken up, the Park Tuner gets slowly dragged on the edges by the vehicle. This grinds the edges down. They must repeat with the Tuner facing the opposite way and on the other set of corresponding edges.

Yes, a massive burr is made on the side of the edge. The quality of the burr is synonymous with the quality of the tune. Again, that's a big subject that Park Tuners debate endlessly.

 

Tip and Rip:

 

One needs the same set up with car and tow line. Ok, instead of the Park Tuner being in the skis at a right angle to the direction of travel, he's facing the direction of travel and the skis are aligned with it. Just like towing a skier for a jump. Now, this time the vehicle pulls the Tuner tipping the skis on corresponding edges like he was making a turn.

Yes, the geometry and movement needed is complex. This is why Park Tuners get good at one style and stick with it.

 

Obviously this is repeated on the other set of corresponding edges.

 

Cross Draggers claim this method is uneven tip to tail. That the tips get more than the tails and even middle. The Tippers claim they can tailor it using their skills, and turn it into the equivalent of a radial tune. Thus it's better and allows more fine tuning that some Park Skiers want.

 

Questions:

"Doesn't the Cross Drag method bevel the ptex base?"

 - And?  That's part of the signature of the tuner. Can't be too much though or there's no flat spot. Takes skills.

 

"What about the burrs?"

- They're big and dangerous to the hands. Sometimes they're removed. Learning to ski Park with a honking burr is part of the skill set. Deal.

 

"These methods sound pretty crude and dangerous to do"

- Well we're not talking tuning for the Spandex clad looking to shave 1/100 of a second. This is gnar in gnar out.

 

"Which method do the top competitors use?"

- Most use skis Park Tuned with both methods. They switch types for different types of hit sequences or the conditions.

Tog, where do you come up with this stuff!!? 

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 

No white covers on graphics because they are skis that have already been seen at SIA.  When we ski stuff that is 2 years out there will be a "blank" top sheet. 

 

Even though we don't ski real ice, we can usually find something that is scraped off enough to get a sense of how the ski will perform on icy conditions. 

 

I will say, we had a couple park skis in the test group that were clearly de-tuned, or at the very least had a park tune on them.......those were NOT fun on firm snow. 


I would imagine these brands also paid or bought advertising for the honor of showing up.

post #10 of 17

Tog, have you ever considered Friday night open mike as the road to a real job? 

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecimmortal View Post


I would imagine these brands also paid or bought advertising for the honor of showing up.
I'm not sure about other outlets but OnTheSnow does not work that way. Mfgrs are given a list of categories and a maximum amt of skis they can bring per gender.

For instance, brand X can bring 3 skis total for women and 4 skis total for men.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post


I'm not sure about other outlets but OnTheSnow does not work that way. Mfgrs are given a list of categories and a maximum amt of skis they can bring per gender.

For instance, brand X can bring 3 skis total for women and 4 skis total for men.


So you're saying it's an open test to any manufacturer?

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
For the most part, although I was not a part of the planning and can't confirm. I will say there were at least 3 or 4 small (indie) brands represented including Ramp, DPS, Moment, Faction...

There are always some who aren't represented but there is also a limit on time and testers available
post #14 of 17

I used to buy into that advertising idea, but one time decided to put it to the test, count ads, check against skis and ratings. Not OnTheSnow, but Ski, Skiing, and Freeskier. For coupla years. No correlation with ratings, and several brands that weren't represented in the tests advertised nonetheless. I did notice that one brand that did not do well in the ratings did not submit skis the following year, which could indicate punishment or perhaps just corporate decisions to put their effort where the ratings helped marketing. And a coupla other brands just don't seem to bother consistently. Will check various 2013-2014 mags tonight when home, report back.

 

But my hunch is that visual ads are actually not a driving force for ski sales anymore. I mean, does anyone here actually read ads? My sense is that Joe and Sally Public walk into a big box store, fondle skis, talk to the college kid about what's hot this year, maybe Joe refers to his memory of the Gold Metal Gear from Ski or what his pal Fred recommended. Most stores leave mags lying around anyway for Joe to read while he waits. 

 

It's not the ads, it's the ratings and buzz and friends' advice filtered though the college kid. And I suspect marketing departments, knowing this, are more worried about gold metals and buzz and those college kids than about big glossy pics. I've read that the Gear Review issue for each print magazine sells more copies than the entire remaining year's issues. Advertisers know this too, do they care to put their $ into issues about Spring skiing than only hard core subscribers bother to read? Which is why paper magazines are rapidly going extinct, and most magazine websites are limping along trying to figure out a business model. 

 

Or Sally visits Ski Diva, and then here, gets our unbiased, unvarnished Truth about skis, and why she and Fred (she's left Joe because he's a loser who reads print sources) should buy from a reputable ski shop, and then goes to the big box online warehouse....College kid at big box store loses his job, meets Joe, they forge a friendship over Sally's role in their pain, decide to forget their woes by going on an adventure, mistranslate a common phrase going through customs, and end up prisoners of a potentate ruling an obscure Pacific Basin island. :eek 

 

Don't let this happen to you! Get Direct, uh, OnTheSnow reviews!!  :D 


Edited by beyond - 3/26/14 at 2:31pm
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

I used to buy into that advertising idea, but one time decided to put it to the test, count ads, check against skis and ratings. Not OnTheSnow, but Ski, Skiing, and Freeskier. For coupla years. No correlation with ratings, and several brands that weren't represented in the tests advertised nonetheless. I did notice that one brand that did not do well in the ratings did not submit skis the following year, which could indicate punishment or perhaps just corporate decisions to put their effort where the ratings helped marketing. And a coupla other brands just don't seem to bother consistently. Will check various 2013-2014 mags tonight when home, report back.

 

But my hunch is that visual ads are actually not a driving force for ski sales anymore. I mean, does anyone here actually read ads? My sense is that Joe and Sally Public walk into a big box store, fondle skis, talk to the college kid about what's hot this year, maybe Joe refers to his memory of the Gold Metal Gear from Ski or what his pal Fred recommended. Most stores leave mags lying around anyway for Joe to read while he waits. 

 

It's not the ads, it's the ratings and buzz and friends' advice filtered though the college kid. And I suspect marketing departments, knowing this, are more worried about gold metals and buzz and those college kids than about big glossy pics. I've read that the Gear Review issue for each print magazine sells more copies than the entire remaining year's issues. Advertisers know this too, do they care to put their $ into issues about Spring skiing than only hard core subscribers bother to read? Which is why paper magazines are rapidly going extinct, and most magazine websites are limping along trying to figure out a business model. 

 

Or Sally visits Ski Diva, and then here, gets our unbiased, unvarnished Truth about skis, and why she and Fred (she's left Joe because he's a loser who reads print sources) should buy from a reputable ski shop, and then goes to the big box online warehouse....College kid at big box store loses his job, meets Joe, they forge a friendship over Sally's role in their pain, decide to forget their woes by going on an adventure, mistranslate a common phrase going through customs, and end up prisoners of a potentate ruling an obscure Pacific Basin island. :eek 

 

Don't let this happen to you! Get Direct, uh, OnTheSnow reviews!!  :D 


But it still costs money to show up to a ski test, and in some cases it costs to make sure your ski's get on the feet of testers. This is just a fact. It also costs just to have your product listed, even if no one rode them.

 

I was just curious how OnTheSnow did it.

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
I think I was pretty clear (but maybe I wasn't ) that we had lists if skis required to test each day because our team leader wanted to assure that all skis were given a fair shake.
Everything was skied in this test!!

You are correct that it costs money to be there in the regard that each mfgr is likely to have a representative on site throughout the test time and it costs something to get the product in place, whether is shipping or physically bringing them to the site

Some of the more conscientious reps were on hand to deburr, file, or wax as the day went on
post #17 of 17
Man, oh man, I miss you, Tog!
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