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Do you demo skis before buying?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Okay so we all say to demo, demo, demo before buying but I wonder if people really do this. I mean demoing gets expensive and then you can just get all confused if you demo a lot. So, did you demo the skis you bought? How many pairs did you demo?

I've only bought 2 brand new pair of skis in the last five seasons. So the first pair I demoed everything I could, probably 8 pairs. Some I got for free so it wasn't that bad. So I finally decided- I tried the Volkl P30's and said o.k. -this- is the ski! Of course I had to try them in two different sizes though. The problem was that once I decided to to get the ski they were sold out! The next years version, the p40f1 , had just come out though and I just went ahead and bought it in a 193! Never tried it before, ended up loving it.

Last year I wanted a modern slalom ski for all around use. I knew one of the testers who had tested for the big Italian magazine. He swore by the Head slaloms. Later in the season I got a good price and so just bought it- without trying them. I bought them on a good rec and just had a good feeling about them (I liked the shape,flex) so I figured I'll "try 'em on the way down!" . Well that in a 170cm worked out great too!

This year I would have bought the elan slx in a 160 if I had the money, but... Next year I need a gs ski. There I might want to try... Or perhaps I'll just buy a Stockli ! (I mean where can you even try those things?)

[ February 28, 2003, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: Tog ]
post #2 of 25
I'd never spend the jing without strapping them on first. Never have, never will. I've demo'd way too many skis that I considered to be crap even though the general public loves them.

Even when I wasn't in the market for new boards, I demo'd everything I could when the demo vans were on the mountain. When I was instructing and the on-mountain reps got new boards, I tried them.
post #3 of 25
I demo. Thats what free demo days are for. That keeps the cost down and I get to ski some different skis every year. Then when the need to buy comes around, I already have my list limited to the primary suspects. I can then spend a day or two demoing just a few skis and from that I pick my ski.

If you are having trouble remembering the skis you have skied on, you are not narrowing down you demo selection very well before you start. Figure out what kind of ski you are demoing for, then demo only skis that fit the bill. And only ski them in the terrain they are ment for (no pow skis on moguls).

post #4 of 25
I demoed my Atomic 10.20 widebodys and Volkl G30's, bent the G30's, Volkl sent me G31's. Love them, did not demo my 10EX's, but got a good deal. Didn't demo my G3's but I love them more then my G31's.
post #5 of 25
I demo a lot and still occasionally buy things I've never tried. Sometimes there's a ski you really think you want and can't find anywhere to demo it (Big Stix 106 for example), combined with a deal is just too good to pass up. (In which case I figure if I don't like them I can always resell them without taking much of a loss.)

I find demoing skis is valuable in itself sometimes to determine what type of skis work best for you in what conditions. Most often just knowing the construction, dimensions, and stiffness of a ski I have a pretty good guess as to how it will feel. If given the option, I always try before I buy.
post #6 of 25
In the last 5 years:

Demoed Several GS Skis - Liked the Salomon Equipe AXE in Power 7, demoed Power 8, but liked Pr 7 and bought that.

After breaking the Salomons, demoed Atmic 10.20 in a 180,Rossi Viper, Volkl Platinum, and ??? purchased the 10.20 (first modle year) in a 190 which I now think is too long.

Slalom Skis - Could not find slalom skis to demo 2 years ago. Ordered the Head WC SLalom Ti in a 170 cm based on reviews, but they were out and I got the 2001-02 model (the next seasons model) and loved them.

Demoed GS skis this January (the few that I could find). Liked the Dynastar Course 64 best of all in a 178. Ordered it, but I got the Course 66 (Next years model). Just got the bindings mounted last night, and I will try them this weekend. I was advised by soemone to go to a longer length. Despite his credentials as a ski rep for a different company, I stayed with the length I demoed. Interstingly, I wasn't even interested in the Dynastar initially. I took it out from the bottom of the hill just to get me up on the mountain where they had other skis to demo. I did one run on it- kept coming back to the feeling of those first few turns. Then I came back a few days later and demoed it both in and out of the course (along with a few other models to confirm my impressions).

Demoed Head iM75 in a 170 cm while my ski was in the tuning shop at Whistler. Liked the ski a lot and it was on sale so I couldn't pass it up. Bought same length as demoed.
post #7 of 25
Purchasing skis is like purchasing a case of wine.

You may get a chance to sample the vintage, but you may not. You may have a favorite variety, vintner,vintage, or even budget.

Just buy them, buy lots of them, Get good deals. Trade worthless junk for them.
Then try them out. Enjoy them for what you like, and what they do best.
Keep several different types on hand, and get them out when the occasion suggests!.

Get them out every chance you can. Enjoy them!

Most importantly,....

Keep the corks wet!

I have demoed but one ski. Olin Mark IV ca. 1974 so what do I know?

post #8 of 25
I did this year, but that was the first time. For the past 17 years my ski buying was very easy: buy the snappiest slalom ski in 200 cm, and I was done. With one exception, when I rented some 190 cm Head Bumps & Powder and liked them so much I bought them the next day, used. Too bad they ended up with nails in the sidewall after blowing an edge within 3 hours of the buy (bad luck).

Demoing was nice in that I could demo some skis just for fun (the Atomic Daddys) in a setting where they were useful, and get some help narrowing choices down. But it can take a long time, and for instance I wish I had more time to demo the ski I bought in a different length (who knows if I would have preferred it or not?) and also do demo a slightly different class of ski (like the Intuitiv, which I was going to demo until the shop guy suggested I try the K2 Axis XP instead, and I made the mistake of accepting---not wide enough).

Overall, I think demoing is a good idea. It may just make your decision process take that much longer...

[Edit] Oh, also in France, at least when I was there, there was no such thing as demoing ski where you an try many skis. You rent for the day. On the plus side, the rental skis are real skis, not for-rent crap.

Now, where do I find those free demo days around Seattle?


[ February 28, 2003, 11:25 PM: Message edited by: Ladede ]
post #9 of 25
Take advantage of demo days at mountains whenever possible. Access to more skis in more time with (usually) more expert advice than you could ever pay for on a random day...

To be honest, there's only one ski in my current quiver that I demoed before I bought, BUT for most of them I knew very well what I was getting. For all of them, I'd skied something similar and judged from there where I wanted to go. e.g. I tried a 178 G4 and a 168 10.ex. I liked the "feel" of the G4 better, but I liked the quickness of the really short 10.ex. So I bought the 168 G4 without a demo... . It is actually more demanding than I expected, but I'm very happy with it. I also feel like it was an informed decision, NOT based on marketing crap.
post #10 of 25
I am also a big fan of demo skis. I usually pick the skis that i will demo based on reviews that are given on this site. I chose the skis that are usually the most liked by the masses and try them out, then pick my favorites. I have in fact bought skis without demoing them though, but i prefer to buy skis that i already have experience with. Liking your skis makes all the difference when you are skiing on them. Demoing is only good for first impressions though. It takes a long time to get to know a ski really well. Now that i have spent a season on 3 different Elan SLX's i know each ski very well and know how each will react to different movements and conditions. I deffinitly have found favorites for each type of conditions and racing or free skiing - out of three pairs of nearly identicle skis. (I do have an overall favorite too - the T [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] } Anyhow, for those who are looking for new skis i would suggest that you chose a few skis that you are interested in and demo those. Dont make a huge list because you will not have every ski in the same conditions, or even on the same hill possibly. Pick you most favorite ski and then go shopping, and really shop - dont just buy.
post #11 of 25
Originally posted by Tog:
Or perhaps I'll just buy a Stockli ! (I mean where can you even try those things?)
HERE at Thredbo or Jindabyne....

post #12 of 25
It's the only way to buy skis. I would recommend doing it as often as you can. You just may find a ski that you didn't know was being made. I did.
post #13 of 25
It must be "common knowledge" on this site that oboe demos eraly and often, all season long. Of course, oboe also changes his socks and his skis near equal frequency. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

The demo-ing process is fun in itself, and always revealing. It's not just a matter of finding that pair of skis you'd like to buy - it's also a matter of learning for yourself about the very different attributes of various skis, and what TYPE of ski you'll enjoy. Even if you end up buying something that you have not demoed, you've still had a lot of fun and eductation.

At one time in my ski-buying carrier, I just read the magazines and bought what I thought would work. Ever since I've bought skis on which I had on-snow experience, my life on skis has become happier.

Another great thing about trying lots of skis is this: Unless you really have the psycho wherewithall to block this thought, you learn: There is no pair of skis as valuable as ski technique. Given the choice between having any skis I want or any technique I want, I'll take the technique, thank you. The 2003 EpicSki Academy tuition was far less expensive than most skis, and far more valuable that the cumulative retail costs of all the skis I ever have owned - and I can keep and benefit from that experience forever.

[ March 02, 2003, 03:43 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #14 of 25
I've purchased 2 skis based on a demo, but my last pair of skis were bought on faith and that worked out well, too.

Salomon 9000EXPs were rented at a shop in Stowe, VT. I purchased them as soon as I got home. I demoed a pair of Volant Z bump skis (I forget the full name) from a local shop which deducted the cost of the demo from the purchase price.

Atomic BetaCarve 9.18s received such consistently glowing reviews in the 2 years I'd read up on them, and their description seemed to fit my level and style of skiing that I bought them back in '98-99 without having the opportunity to demo. Good choice.

I did demo a pair of Fischer Revolution Ice skis, which also received good reviews. Thank goodness I did, because I hated them.

Fischer Sceneo 400 & Head Monster i.M 70 are my next demo targets, but I'm not having much luck finding them.
post #15 of 25
TonyD, I found the Sceneo and demoed them for a full day, heluva ski. I'm used to a bit less under the boot, I ski a 66 waist, they were about an 84. But overall I enjoyed them, especially in the crud.
Just head over to Flims, Switzerland and pick them up at the Sport Beat rental shop. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #16 of 25
Originally posted by oboe: The 2003 EpicSki Academy tuition was far less expensive than most skis, and far more valuable that the cumulative retail costs of all the skis I ever have owned - and I can keep and benefit from that experience forever.
Oboe is absolutely correct - FEED YOUR BRAIN!

I'm sure it's true with all brands of skis, but because of my brand loyalty I pay more attention to Volkls and who's on them.

You may recall a recent thread about novices on experts slopes. I won't comment as to where people should, or should not, ski; I'm also NOT trying to take choices away from the ski buying public. But, I do believe, irrespective of true ability, that it seems like many skiers have to buy the hottest new ski on the rack. I am a Volkl loyalist and over the years I've seen many skiers on Volkl's racing skis - from Welt Cups to P50's - that just do not ski that well. Is a racing ski their best choice? This year it's the T50 5 Star Supersport; next year it will be the 6 Star. Would these skiers be better off with a lesser performance ski, a ski that would be more forgiving of their mistakes? Probably.

I've already decided to start a new topic about this issue, but Pierre made a comment in a thread (vail snowpro's "What is an EXPERT Skier?") about learning to ski like an expert on the green slopes rather than the blacks. Why, then, is a expert level ski the weapon of choice for someone that doesn't ski like an expert? To demo or not to demo? By all means, yes, demo, but wouldn't it make sense to demo skis that better match one's ability. Sure, it also makes sense to buy a ski that will allow you room for growth as skier, but there are a lot of really great skis on the market that get overlooked because they're not getting all the press hype. Or the forum chatter, for that matter.

The fact that a skier can make it down the mountain on a high performance ski does not mean that the latest rocket their riding is the best ski for them. Some time ago, in another post, I made a comment about the forgiving aspects of the Volkl G3; someone else responded by stating that "forgiving" isn't a word they would associate with the G3. I would say that person was on too much ski.

I could go on and on about this, but I will close by encouraging you to demo - and buy - the ski that matches your ability, not your ego.


Edited to correct VSP's name

[ March 02, 2003, 11:07 PM: Message edited by: Inspector Gadget ]
post #17 of 25
I've demoed a lot of skis, but the last 2 pairs of new ones I bought without a demo. In one case the price was just too good to pass up, and in the other case demos were hard to find in my length. Turns out I love both pairs.

I used to swear by demos, but I've since been on quite a few that obviously had such a goofy tune that the demos told me absolutely nothing about the skis. Other variables can be lifter height and binding position. The skis and bindings you buy may not feel the same as the ones you demoed.

post #18 of 25
I guess I don't know how to "demo" ski's. I've never figured out how I can make 5 runs on the same snow conditions and extrapolate that feel to other snow conditions.

At any rate I too Demo ski's, but it just ends up giving me a head ache. SX-11's vs T50 5 Stars, SX-11 had more snap but you have to get Atomic bindings, the T50s weren't as much fun but I'm a Volkl fan, so what will the T60's be like.

Decisions, decisions. And I'll have all summer to ponder.
post #19 of 25
>...I guess I don't know how to "demo" ski's. I've never figured out how I can make 5 runs on the same snow conditions...

I couldn't agree more. I own a bunch of fairly modern skis, so I can switch back and forth as much as I want. I find that due to differences in snow conditions, my physical condition, my mental state, who I'm with, the weather, how much sleep I had, etc. I will think one ski is a dog for several uses and that another (of the same type) is better, and then switch back and forth several times before I settle down and understand exactly what factors entered into my final conclusion. Personally, I often need several days of on-snow time to distinguish between skis of roughly the same type, length, wt, and stiffness (eg, a group of 180 cm high-perf carvers, a group of 90-100 mm wide powder boards, etc.).

Tom / PM

PS (in edit) - The last thing most recreational skiers want is a very specialized ski. Thus, a very important, but even more difficult task (at least for me) is determining the performance envelopes for various skis. For example is the new stiffened Atomic 20ex better on packed snow than the newly lightened Volkl G5 (ie, not its primary intended use of either ski). Which of the two skis is better in deep (over 18") pow and bumps (ie, two more conditions away from their presumed "design points".).

One of the problems in making such determinations is simply that it takes a huge ammt of time to adequately test a decent spectrum of the "non-design point" conditions for each ski. In addition, some conditions (eg, deep untracked pow) occur infrequently, and unless you are being paid, or are truly obsessive, you might want to actually enjoy the day instead of demoing true pow skis (at their design point) or demoing 75-85 mm skis to see how they do away from their design points.

I guess my bottom line is that I really can't fault those people who read a bunch of independent, credible reviews and then take the plunge without demo'ing. Their choice will at least be fairly close to what they expected, and to get significantly more info would require a lot of demo time on each model (unless you simply wanted a pair for commonly occuring snow conditions and well defined skiing - eg, an stemming intermediate always skiing NE "packed powdr" green & blue groomers.)

PPS - Relax. Don't run out to demo the 20ex or G5. I just made up these names.

[ March 03, 2003, 07:43 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #20 of 25
In order to get the rewards offered by demos, you have to know how to ski properly.

I've always thought myself a good enough skier, decent or passable, take your pick... but 3 years ago I had a revelation and realized that I knew how to get down the mountain but didn't do it with a great deal of efficiency, power, or control.

Now that I've learned how to talk to my skis and listen to their feedback, I find demos very valuable. But at the same time, I also find that I can adapt to just about any ski, since I pay attention to what it tells me after I give it certain inputs.

I agree with Altagirl - I like to demo first, but word of mouth (from reliable sources) and dimensions tell me almost enough. I'm now selecting a pair of fatties that will get some AT binders, and am narrowed down to 4 or 5 skis -- Atomic 10:EX, Salomon Pocket Rocket, Volkl G4, Fischer Big Stix 84. Knowing that I'll be using them for skinning up and across terrain, I don't want to pick the same heavyweight that I would use for purely lift-served skiing. Also, I love skiing trees and I don't want a ski with a sidecut that rejects small radius turns.

What will I demo? Probably none of them. The only true unknown is the Fischer, since I've never skied any Fischer boards. But I've spent time on Atomic, Salomon and Volkl skis and have a fair guess at what they will feel/perform like.
post #21 of 25
It took me almost 2 full seasons to get used to my skis (Nordica Next 7.0) that I bought without demoing (the price was unbelievable).

It was like taming a wild mustang.

Took me a couple of days of skiing juszt to realize that I would eventually be happy that I bought them. Now I can get the best ride out of them in any conditions without them getting the most out of me

I can't imagine how I would "know" that these were the right skis just by doing several runs on a demo day. :

On the other hand, now I can't anymore imagine myself riding any other skis (the euphoria of a lion trainer who got his head out of the animal's mouth still attached to his neck [img]tongue.gif[/img] ).

That said, I did read all reviews I could find for these skis before I bought them, and one of the reviews said that they felt like the Salomon Equipe 10 3V, which I had demoed before and liked very much.

I try not to miss a free demo day, but I would go broke if I demoed all possible skis I think I might like.
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
It must be "common knowledge" on this site that oboe demos early and often, all season long -Oboe
Well, I guess I'm using the wrong vintage of grapes because my common knowledge has you demoing everything and always buying something that says "Bandit XX". (Of course next year it will just say "B2" - is -that- why you're switching?)

Fischer Sceneo 400 & Head Monster i.M 70 are my next demo targets, but I'm not having much luck finding them -TonyD
Tony, I think in Ludlow,VT they have those at Sports Odyssey. You'd be very close to Okemo, 40 minutes from Killington, 25 minutes from Magic, and about 45minutes from Stratton.

[ March 05, 2003, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Tog ]
post #23 of 25

I fall in the "demo a lot" category. I've bought skis that I hadn't tried before - and been quite happy with them - but I feel a lot more comfortable demoing.

Personally, I like to pick a day and a shop where I can try as many as half a dozen pairs in one day (which cuts down on the cost). I almost always do my demoing at either Jackson Hole or at Snowbird, which gives me a chance to try the skis in a variety of conditions in a single run. I can almost always find groomers, steeps, bumps, and junk all in one trip. Normally, I either love a ski, hate it, or feel indifferent about it in the first ten minutes.

The downside of the way I demo is that I *might* get a poorly-tuned pair and decide the ski sucks when it's not really the ski at all. I'm still convinced that's why I didn't like the Dynastar Big when everybody else I know thought it was phenomenal.

Anyway, I usually do paid demos once or twice a season and I take advantage of every demo van I find along the way. I keep a mental list of which skis I liked. Then if I see them on sale during the summer or at fall swaps, I'll swoop down on them.

It's always worked for me.

post #24 of 25
I rarely demo. Usually, I buy Volkl, and I always like what I get. I've demoed a few skis this year, but just to try, not to buy. On the way home today, I stopped in the shop, and came out with apair of new Sugar Daddys. I realized that not only have I never skied the Sugar Daddy, I've never skied an Atomic! I hope I like them...
post #25 of 25
Originally posted by epic:
I rarely demo. Usually, I buy Volkl, and I always like what I get. I've demoed a few skis this year, but just to try, not to buy. On the way home today, I stopped in the shop, and came out with apair of new Sugar Daddys. I realized that not only have I never skied the Sugar Daddy, I've never skied an Atomic! I hope I like them...
You'll love them, great skis. I liked the G4 and the Sugar Daddy a lot when skiing them next to one another along with other skis I didn't like. They both go through crud, crust and powder well, but the Daddy floats so nicely in the powder. There is a Daddy in my future (or something similar, and I'd be tempted to go for the Big Daddy). Forget real bumps though [img]smile.gif[/img]

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