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How do you demo skis? How to pick out new skis.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

     Lots of people always ask which ski is best for x or what ski should I use.  Obviously its important to read threads and look at reviews from others.  Most of all the best method to find a ski is to demo tons of skis.  That makes a ton of sense yet I have never seen a comprehensive discussion on how to demo a ski.  So I thought it would be interesting to start a thread on how to demo skis and what to look for.  Especially for those looking more toward performance oriented skiing. 

 

  Obviously if you are looking for a bump ski you should take the ski through some bumps.  When looking for a powder ski its the same thing, you should ski through some powder.  When looking for a race ski what can you do?  Its not like there is a course setup and you can run through it then see what gives you the best time (or maybe you can).  Also what do you look for in an all around ski?

 

  So that leaves the question.  What do you test?  What if there is no powder, no bumps how do you figure out what is the best ski for the conditions you want to ski.

 

  Obviously my first thought is around a check list of items that you would want to test on how the ski performs.  Beyond that is how to test for those characteristics.  So with that in mind my thought was to follow up with a drill.  So my line of thinking is something like:

 

  • Ski initialization:  Practice rail turns on a flat surface
  • Rebound: Remember the jam and jet days.  Sort of thinking of some drill along that lines.
  • Stability: Other than skiing fast not sure.
  • Grip on ice: find some ice and turn?
  • Carving: J turns

 

You get the idea but I am putting this out for the community more so to see what ideas others have.  I have also found this video http://www.skinet.com/skiing/articles/how-demo-skis 

post #2 of 13

Here's a reprint of a list I compiled back on 12/12/14 for another thread:

 

Criteria for choosing a ski store to demo with:

 

1.  Sales people who know really skis and skiing and want to take the time to "talk skis" with you.

 

2.  Store has deep and wide inventory of skis, including at least some that are on your preliminary list (of course, keep an open mind; if the store has knowledgeable sales people, they may suggest a ski that isn't on your list but which turns out to be great for you).

 

3.  Store allows you to swap through as many skis as you like each day without additional fee (sometimes you can tell after one run that a particular ski is not right for you).  

 

4.  Store credits some/all of your demo fees toward the purchase price of new skis (the place I bought my skis gave up to $200 in demo fees toward the purchase of skis from them).

 

5.  Store allows your demo credit to stay open until the end of the season -- if you decide in March you really liked ski #5 from the store you demo-ed with back in December, will the store still honor your demo credit? 

 

When demo-ing:

 

1.  If you've chosen a ski store with knowledgeable people, listen to their advice -- not slavishly, but with an open mind. 

 

2.  Try each ski in the same/similar variety of terrain: groomed, chop, bumps, etc.  Tune in to the differences, and your reaction to those differences.

 

3.  Make some notes on each ski as soon as you can after skiing it -- during your hot chocolate break, lunch, or that same day after skiing is over.

 

4.  Tune out everything you've read about various skis (including here on Epic) while demo-ing, to avoid a "Ouija Board" effect (the Bonafide is a great ski, but maybe it's not your great ski). 

 

5.  Wear goggles (including in the store) that filter out color and graphics.  :rolleyes  

 

 

post #3 of 13

I just go ski the terrain I normally would in the way I normally would ski that terrain.  I can usually figure out pretty quickly if I have to adapt myself to the ski or if the ski "just works" with my default movement patterns.

 

If it's the former -- no thanks.  If it's the latter -- sweet.  Then the question becomes one of "what does this ski make easier / harder than the ski that I'm currently on"?  But again, it's just general impressions... 

 

I can see if you're buying for a shop (i.e., a dawgcatching or a philpug) that you need to be somewhat more regimented in your testing methodology.  As Phil said (paraphrasing) "I need to figure out who the ski does work for".

 

I'm also lucky enough to regularly ski at a mountain that has a plethora of conditions and terrain to choose from almost every day., so I don't have to figure out the "does this ski work in condition XXX" when "condition XXX" is unavailable.

post #4 of 13

I have found a good deal, read a few reviews, then purchased them.

I have never demoed a pair of skis before buying them.  But since I'm getting a deal the outlay isn't too bad. 

And I've only regretted one pair.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimski View Post
 

Here's a reprint of a list I compiled back on 12/12/14 for another thread:

 

Criteria for choosing a ski store to demo with:

 

1.  Sales people who know really skis and skiing and want to take the time to "talk skis" with you.

 

2.  Store has deep and wide inventory of skis, including at least some that are on your preliminary list (of course, keep an open mind; if the store has knowledgeable sales people, they may suggest a ski that isn't on your list but which turns out to be great for you).

 

3.  Store allows you to swap through as many skis as you like each day without additional fee (sometimes you can tell after one run that a particular ski is not right for you).  

 

4.  Store credits some/all of your demo fees toward the purchase price of new skis (the place I bought my skis gave up to $200 in demo fees toward the purchase of skis from them).

 

5.  Store allows your demo credit to stay open until the end of the season -- if you decide in March you really liked ski #5 from the store you demo-ed with back in December, will the store still honor your demo credit? 

 

When demo-ing:

 

1.  If you've chosen a ski store with knowledgeable people, listen to their advice -- not slavishly, but with an open mind. 

 

2.  Try each ski in the same/similar variety of terrain: groomed, chop, bumps, etc.  Tune in to the differences, and your reaction to those differences.

 

3.  Make some notes on each ski as soon as you can after skiing it -- during your hot chocolate break, lunch, or that same day after skiing is over.

 

4.  Tune out everything you've read about various skis (including here on Epic) while demo-ing, to avoid a "Ouija Board" effect (the Bonafide is a great ski, but maybe it's not your great ski). 

 

5.  Wear goggles (including in the store) that filter out color and graphics.  :rolleyes  

 

 

 

Just thought I would add to this.  People in general have their own ideas and biases toward a certain ski.  I would rather ask a person about the characteristics rather than their ideal.  The characteristics of a ski they like might be a reason you would hate it. 

 

One example of that is rebound.  Some might like a ski with lots of rebound (energy) and others would hate it. Sort of why I was trying to get more of a checklist going and how to test.  What you stated are all good ideas when looking at what to try. 

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

I just go ski the terrain I normally would in the way I normally would ski that terrain.  I can usually figure out pretty quickly if I have to adapt myself to the ski or if the ski "just works" with my default movement patterns.

 

If it's the former -- no thanks.  If it's the latter -- sweet.  Then the question becomes one of "what does this ski make easier / harder than the ski that I'm currently on"?  But again, it's just general impressions... 

 

What about a ski that makes you up your game or points out a problem? 

 

Case in point:  I recently bought a pair of Dynastar Speed Cross (from @mogsie).

 

I really like them.  But they did expose some problems with my "default movement patterns," in particular the fact that I had been letting myself get too far back when doing slow turns on flat slopes.  On a softer, tip-rockered ski, I could get away with that.  But the Dynastars made it very clear that they weren't going to be doing any bending, thanks, until I actually put a little pressure on the tips, or at least closer to the front of the ski.

 

There may be people who have no problems to fix or ways to improve, but I don't expect ever to be one of them.  So skis that require technique adjustments (improvements, hopefully) are likely to be an ongoing thing.

post #7 of 13
If I demo (which I believe in firmly, but have been breaking the rule repeatedly lately) I choose a route that covers a wide variety of conditions, speeds, etc. and cover that route with each ski. Ice, bumps, powder, trees, flats, etc. That is one reason I have problems with our demo day. It's inevitably early season and on a weekend. So, I've found that doing it the day I have the conditions I want, the space I want, etc. is worth the $50 I might spend over the free demo day. That being said, I've come to believe after the last two non-demoed purchases, that the ski you will pick will play to your comfort zone. Which may or may not be the best ski for you. The last two skis made me reexamine my technique and figure out HOW to make them work as I'm not one of these people that sells a tool willy nilly because we didn't click right off. I've found that the new skis have actually been good for me, making me think about what I am doing more closely. It's also caused me to be more aware of the impact of the tune. So, although I still believe in demoing, I realize it has its minuses in terms of rewarding your current technique more so than changing it.
post #8 of 13

All three skis I'm using now, which I'm very happy with, were bought without demoing--one because I was looking for a groomer ski and that was what was available at a Labor Day sale and two based on reviews. In the past I've demo'd by reading reviews and picking one or two skis to demo and that has worked. However, it's easy to get burned demoing--one pair of skis i demo'd late on a powder day when I was very tired. I loved them compared to what I was on at the time, but of course they turned out to be way too soft for most days (this was back when skis only came in one width.) Another pair I demo'd on a windbuff day, to replace the pair in the previous sentence, and of course they turned out to be tough to ski in more challenging conditions. So at this point I'd say that for an experienced skier looking for something particular, reading the reviews and maybe demoing one or two skis or maybe not demoing will work, and for the inexperienced skier probably the best way to pick a ski is to be lucky.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post
 

 

What about a ski that makes you up your game or points out a problem? 

 

Case in point:  I recently bought a pair of Dynastar Speed Cross (from @mogsie).

 

I really like them.  But they did expose some problems with my "default movement patterns," in particular the fact that I had been letting myself get too far back when doing slow turns on flat slopes.  On a softer, tip-rockered ski, I could get away with that.  But the Dynastars made it very clear that they weren't going to be doing any bending, thanks, until I actually put a little pressure on the tips, or at least closer to the front of the ski.

 

There may be people who have no problems to fix or ways to improve, but I don't expect ever to be one of them.  So skis that require technique adjustments (improvements, hopefully) are likely to be an ongoing thing.

 

Oh, I certainly have a long list of things in my skiing that could be improved upon.  I've tried demoing various highly reviewed skis and I just couldn't figure out how to turn them.

 

My initial wording was poor.  Some skis require a higher level of commitment, speed, etc. There are the speeds and turn shapes I feel most comfortable with, and if I feel like the ski is balking at the "lines" I prefer to ski, then it's a no-go.  i.e., my personality and the skis personality need to mesh.

 

I have my fleet of skis and they all probably require subtle technique adjustments.  I don't ski my race skis the way I ski my all mountain skis, or at least I don't expect them to behave in the same fashion.  But they all fit my "personality", so I like skiing all of them.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

 

Oh, I certainly have a long list of things in my skiing that could be improved upon.  I've tried demoing various highly reviewed skis and I just couldn't figure out how to turn them.

 

My initial wording was poor.  Some skis require a higher level of commitment, speed, etc. There are the speeds and turn shapes I feel most comfortable with, and if I feel like the ski is balking at the "lines" I prefer to ski, then it's a no-go.  i.e., my personality and the skis personality need to mesh.

 

I have my fleet of skis and they all probably require subtle technique adjustments.  I don't ski my race skis the way I ski my all mountain skis, or at least I don't expect them to behave in the same fashion.  But they all fit my "personality", so I like skiing all of them.

 

  Everyone has something that they could improve on.  If you only stick with what you feel comfortable with then you will never grow.  The problem is that it is very difficult in my mind how you pick the next ski.  I think you should always pick a ski above your level so that you grow into them.  The ski should push you enough to build your ability to a new level.  I would probably pick the wrong ski out based on comfort more than something to push me to the next level.  Yet the last ski I bought has pushed me a lot and really I would think it has grown my ability by quite a bit... ironic

post #11 of 13

I generally just ski around the mountain but there are two steps I have done with the skis I've tried this year.  1) Find some difficult conditions and give them a whirl there.  2) There is a certain groomed run that not much of anybody skis.  Even at the end of the day there is quite a bit of corduroy left.  It starts quite mellow and then slowly pitches down.  I find this consistent run to be a great comparison tool.

Since I'm mainly worried how skis will behave in manky conditions and on groomers, I focus on the above.  I'm not worried about powder performance since anything in the 90-100mm class should provide enough surface to do the job well.  That, and there hasn't been much pow to ski this year.  :(

post #12 of 13

Bump for summer comments . . .

 

 

For a discussion of why a demo may not be required before a purchase, look here:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/142146/the-argument-against-demoing-skis

post #13 of 13
  1. Show up at the crack of 11, and complain about the parking situation
  2. Head straight to the bar for a bloody
  3. Ask for the shop's "best" demo. Be sure to remind the shop critter that you're an infinity level expert
  4. Smoke a blunt of the first lift, preferably in front of someone's kid
  5. Head straight for the GNAR; pay no attention to those thin cover signs
  6. Kill it
  7. Schnapps on lift 2, then straight to the terrain park
  8. Destroy whatever's left of your edges and dignity on rail while trying to impress the honies
  9. Bring demos back to shop and demand a refund. When the shop critter notices the blown out edges and core shots, tell them they were like that when you got them, and they're lucky you're not suing
  10. Head back to the bar and spend the next 3 hours regaling the honies with tales from the day (preferably still in full gear, including beacon; still on, because you never know)
  11. Post impressions on your favorite skier's site

 

I'm bored; can you tell?

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