"Rate the ski graphics"? !!!
Does anybody really care about this?! Ok then.
Well, as to being unbiased - I'm going to repost an excellent piece by Seth Masia from a Professional skiers forum I belong to, where he recently talked about this:
Some years back I was responsible for creating and running the Ski Magazine
test program -- I did this for about 20 years. Then, as product manager at
K2, I supplied test skis to the test programs. And now, as a consumer, I
read them. Here is my informed opinion on magazine ski testing:
1. It's done in good faith. Ski test managers generally have a commission to
do the same kind of straightforward product reporting you'd read in, say,
Road & Track or Bicycling magazines.
2. It meets no tests for statistical validity. Magazines use a maximum of
ten or twelve testers per ski.
3. Range of conditions is limited. Tests are normally done over a six to ten
day period on whatever snow happens to be lying around at the test site. In
an attempt to get skis onto a broader range of snow conditions, Skiing has
from time to time conducted separate tests in New England and Colorado.
4. Despite conducting "blind" tests -- masking the identity of the ski from
the tester -- testers do bring specific prejudices to the process. With
today's emphasis on ski-top appliances it's tough not to know when you're on
an Atomic Beta or Salomon X-scream or K2 Mod or Rossi Bandit or -- you get
5. Tester often have commercial ties to specific brands. In theory a
competitor or ski school director with a ski contract should recuse himself
or herself from reviewing that brand, but in practice there's a suspicion
that when an "gold" award is at stake, a skier with close ties to a major
brand might feel some subtle pressure to award better score to boutique
brands than to the competiting ski from another major factory.
6. Advertising pressure is much less important than it used to be. Ski
companies now buy less than 10% of a magazine's advertising (at one time it
might have been over 30%). On the other hand, there are personal
relationships between ski test managers and ski company managers. And in a
few cases they may have swapped jobs. Peter Keelty, who manages testing for
Inside Tracks, was once product manager for Salomon; Jackson Hogen, who
managed the Snow Country tests, started at Salomon and now is marketing
director for Head. I did my own little revolving door dance. There's
*always* the possibility that a ski tester might be offered a better paying
job at a ski company -- if he's regarded as a nice guy, of course.
7. There aren't many awful skis around nowadays. Hell, there aren't many
factories around. So you're not going to see many negative reviews. Read the
reviews to find out what skis work best in the kind of snow you like.
8. Ski tuning is still a big issue. 80% of a ski's performance feel lies in
the base and edges. Does the magazine test the ski right out of the box? Or
do they give all skis in the test an identical tune? If you want to test
ski shape and construction and not tune, it makes sense to run all the skis
over a grinder. But that's not fair to the factories that take factory
tuning seriously. And when a ski arrives at the test concave or wavy, does
the factory rep have a chance to fix it for the second day of testing?
These policies vary from site to site and year to year.
Bottom line: Ski testing is not a science, but the ski mags probably do as
good a job of product reporting as do most specialty publications. Think of
ski testing as wine tasting, and you'll be happier with the read.
There you go - from the mouth of one of the big guys in ski writing & testing.