Well, it's out. No big surprises, other than indie manufacturer Wagner getting some love. Not much new product; many well-reviewed skis from recent years still up in the rankings. One thing that did strike me, however, was how skis unchanged from previous years changed places radically in the rankings. One example is the Head Superjoy woman's ski. Now, my wife is an instructor and she loved it and bought it three years ago at the National Academy in Snowbird (she bought the demo; the first one in the country, I believe). It's a fabulous hard-snow-oriented ski (75 in the waist), light but stiff, great grip, versatile. Quote from the current magazine, "After two years at number 4, it finally nabs the top spot." Come again? An unchanged ski is suddenly better than three new skis and all unchanged skis that beat it last year? Another example, the women's Temptation 88, "was number 1 two years ago, missed the cut last year, now it's back at the top..." Excuse me? This is an unchanged ski. Now we know conditions can change and reviewers are subjective, but these are mostly the same people who have tested the same skis for the past three years. If this proves anything, it is that folks who are looking for a new ski should read as many reviews as possible (Skiiing, Ski, Ski Canada, Realskiers, etc.). Google a ski that sounds promising and read online reviews (Yellow Gentian is good) and watch video reviews (skis.com has a lot). You'll start to get a consensus. Read/listen between the lines. A ski may be great for a big guy (200 lbs. plus) but not someone smaller. If reviewers consistently talk about a ski's power and dampness, a 155-lb skier may not be a good match. If reviews praise a skis playfulness and agility, a burly guy might well overpower it. There are few bad skis out there, but you need to find the ones that are best for you. After your research, you'll probably have a list of skis that are promising. At that point, demo if possible. Lots of hills have early-season demo days. Most shops will let you pay about $50 to demo for a day and return as often as you want that day to switch skis. Find a shop that has the skis you're interested in and demo them. The cost of the demo is usually subtracted from the purchase price if you buy the skis from the demo shop. Highly recommended. Good luck!
PS: The most versatile and user-friendly ski I've tested in two years wasn't even mentioned this year: the Volkl RTM 81 (orange and black topsheet last year) . Solid feel, smooth, even flex, excellent grip on hard snow, not so stiff that it's too much work in bumps. Excellent powering through crud and enough flotation for up to nine inches of fresh. I weigh 160 and ski it in a 170 length; if you're anywhere in that weight range, I highly recommend a demo.
Edited by mike_m - 8/28/16 at 6:44pm