Originally Posted by Joe Cutts
Hi from Vermont, Steve. Very sorry I haven't responded sooner. It's a crazy time of year, with the big early-season issues to crank out, and I've been on the road (Chile ... not so rough). But I did take a spin through the Epic gear threads. Thanks for pointing them out. Some impressions (Feel free to share with the list.)
- Lots of astute observations in there, along with some that had me shaking my head. Blitz, especially, nails it with spooky accuracy (OK, the "hacks" remark was unecessary ...) CheckRacer offers a very interesting Euro perspective that jives with what I've heard about tests over there (and in Canada). Canyons, Troutman and Crocker also make informed observations.
- We're a mainstream mag, and will probably never entirely please as hardcore a group as you guys seem to be (any women? hello?). We do target ourselves toward expert consumers of the sport, if not the super-rad bro/bra AK hucker. Do we ever dumb it down? Well, by yours and my standards, yeah, sometimes we do, but only because people need it and we won't treat them like idiots.
- So everyone knows how it works: We define categories, then ask manufacturers to submit skis accordingly. Usually what they choose makes perfect sense. Only rarely do I suggest they go with something else, but in the end it's their call.
- SKI magazine employs an unbelievably astute team of testers who have honed their craft over successive tests. Because ski testing will never be an exact science (subjectivity, snow conditions, tuning, expense and difficulty of getting large numbers of test impressions on consistent snow ...) we have to be somewhat restrained in what and how much we say, out of fairness. But by and large, people should listen when our testers talk. They're good. They're objective. They're on your side. In fact, I'm still in awe of them after all these years, and amazed by the consensus of opinion that emerges in our debrief sessions. If a ski didn't medal, there's a reason. Which doesn't mean somebody out there won't still love it, of course.
- I promise you we're not in bed with the manufacturers. Start comparing ad pages to medals, if you must. (Start with Lange/Dynastar; Five years ago they bought zero ads, but rcvd 10 out of 12 medals and a cover shot. We're just not that smart.) If you still don't believe me, maybe I could forward some of the phone calls I've received in the weeks since the BG came out. (Hint: nobody ever calls to say, boy you guys are smart; we really think you nailed our skis).
- Overall, this is some of the best feedback I've gotten. Fair or unfair, it's honest, and it's good for me to know what avid skiers like the Bears think.
- If anyone out there is a Filemaker Pro for Mac genius, I'm looking for someone to update our ski-test data software and might be able to make them an offer they can't refuse.
Best to all, and see you on the slopes,
Joe (Corporate Ski Whore and Ski Mag equipment test director)