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Is Demoing Really Worth it? Why bother?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Is Demoing really worth it?

Let’s say I demo a particular ski. Then the next day I go skiing, I demo a different ski. If the snow conditions are not exactly the same both days, then the comparison of the skis is not going to be accurate.

I guess it’s worth it to demo a few, but I think if I know a ski is considered good for an intermediate skier, then I might just buy it if the price is right and it looks good.

Not sure If I’m even asking a question. Just running this through my mind as I contemplate buying skis. Any car I’ve ever bought I just bought. Didn’t test ride every model on the market. Didn’t test ride any as a matter of fact.

I’ll probably go skiing 10 more days this season. Do I want to throw away almost 400 dollars on demo skis or do I want to put that 400 towards a good pair of brand new skis?

I think I’m going to just buy a pair without demoing. I’ve already gone through the painstaking, arduous, exhausting task of finding the perfect boots. I’m just not into the search for the perfect ski. Just give me the attractive pair in the window, wrap them up and shut up about it.

See you on the slopes!
post #2 of 35
Jim I agree!

Get a good bargain in the type of ski you like and get on those slopes...graphics are very important too, haha

I've had my own gear for years and have never demoed. The only dissapointing pair I've ever bought were Volant Zipkarves, which turned out to be a beginner ski. I didn't know anything about Volant's range otherwise I would never have made that error...stick to what you know.

Have a good time on the slopes!
post #3 of 35
A good stategy is to determine what kind of ski you want (carver, offpiste, crud buster, powder, etc.) and then figure out what people ( and type of skier) are saying about certain models from various boards. Find a popular one that was last year's model. I've scored new Public Enemies and Beasts for $200 this way. Then spend the rest on lessons and time on the mountain.
post #4 of 35
You are right about different conditions and the cost of demo. It gets expensive for multiple days.

I usually try to make one day a demo day and try 3-4 different skis during that particular day. Most places I have demoed allow you to try as many different skis during the day as you want to. Within a few runs you can eliminate many of the skis, and then go back and try the best ones in the afternoon to find the ski you like best.

You sometimes run into problems with the size and ski you want being out, but you can always check back later. Another thing is to call the day before and reserve the ski you want to try the most. Then you guarantee it is ready in the morning when you get there.
post #5 of 35
Glad I demoed k2, rossignol and volkl before buying my first pair years ago. Volkls were light years ahead of the other 2. If I hadn't demoed I wouldn't have known about volkls stability and edge hold. I would have thought every ski felt like a rossi or k2. Demo a bunch or ski brands find the one that works for ya. Then you can look for great bargins on skis you dodn't demo and if you don't like em you can sell them and not lose too much if anything. For instance I bought volkl 724 pro almost new for 225.00 and new allstars for 650.00. I could ski both for a year and get what I paid.
post #6 of 35
I found demoing skis extremely helpful.

In Tahoe, Northstar, Rose and Squaw all had somewhat convenient on-mountain demo programs that made it possible to do multiple ski swaps throughout the day. Must have tried 3 at Rose and maybe 7 at Squaw.

Plan was to show up with a list of skis I wanted to try (including various lengths), ask the tech for their advice on what they had in their demo fleet that was comperable, modify the list, then hit the snow -- the same set of runs over and over and over.

I was surprised at the differences I felt. Very easily picked up on how certain skis shined in certain conditions but were so-so or completely sucked in others.

Being a frugal bastard, I took note of the skis I liked, with the help of the internet traced the lineage back a few years to an out-of-production model that by most accounts was a similar ski, and bought it. Where it would have been near impossible to demo the ski I ended up with, this way there were no surprises when I got it on the snow the first time.
post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 


Thanks all for the knowledge and experience! I did not know that I could demo different models the same day. Now that is definitely worth doing. I am sure after one day of demoing 3 or 4 different skis that I will be able to decide which one I want.

Awesome advice!
post #8 of 35
Demos are invaluable when you'd like to find a really effective ski for the way that you ski. There is nothing like trying them for yourself. That said, skis have advanced so much in the past few years that almost any ski on the rack that claims to be suitable for a mid-level skier is going to be light years ahead of the skis that you've been on. So, you'll be happy with any of them. In this case, ignorance is bliss. You have no idea whether there are others that would be better or not.

However, that said, as you advance, this may change. In my case, I find significant differences between skis, and, as ski=free says in a different way, some of them I like and some I don't. It's important to note that the skis I like, some folks don't, and vice-versa. If I would have bought the skis that I expected to like the most early in the 03/04 season, I would not have been happy with them. However, through the encouragement of a friend/level III instructor, I ended up with a pair of Fischer RX8s that I loved.

If you don't think you'll be able to figure out whether or not you like something by skiing it, don't bother. If you don't test drive cars, why test drive skis? I test drive cars, too, and take a long time (like a month or more) to decide. YMMV.
post #9 of 35
BTW, 729Jim, be sure to read the Gear FAQ. This thread makes it clear that I need to add a "how to demo" section to it!
post #10 of 35
For many (most?) skiiers, I think there are a lot of problems with the idea of demoing skiis, at least when it involves your typical ski shop.

I have limited time on the slopes, so when I get on the slopes, I want to stay there. I don't want to go back and forth to the ski shop, waiting in line for another pair, getting the bindings set, etc. For those that have on-mountain demoing perhaps a much different matter.

There there is the conditions, not just the snow on the mountain, but the skiis themselves.

Finally the number of choices are unreal. I could only demo two or three pair in a day, and my choices are limited to whatever the ski shop has, which often does not include the skis I wanted to try in the first place.

Add the costs of demoing, and to me it made sense to just buy. I will know in two days whether I did the right thing (Volkl AC3's @177cm).
post #11 of 35
You'll probably like your Volkls.

If you are not demoing on-mountain, you're not really demoing to compare, but simply to try a ski. That's fine, but a different purpose. In the 02/03 season, I "demoed" the Volkl g3 a bunch of times. It was a fun ski, and I wasn't in a position to purchase, so it worked very well. However, in the early season of 03/04, I demoed a bunch of skis over the course of two days of on-slope demos, and discovered that there were other skis out there that I liked even more.
post #12 of 35
Originally Posted by 729Jim
Is Demoing really worth it?

I’ll probably go skiing 10 more days this season. Do I want to throw away almost 400 dollars on demo skis or do I want to put that 400 towards a good pair of brand new skis?
Two years ago at Deer Valley they had a FREE on mountain demo. They had all major brands, and you could swap as often as you wanted. All you needed was a valid credit card to make sure you returned the skis. Can't go wrong with that! Good luck.
post #13 of 35

Hunter Mtn demo weekend

In early Dec, Hunter, NY has a demo weekend which is free.
post #14 of 35
Two problems with the free demo days (like the one at Hunter):

1) Availability
The model and size you're interested in may not be at the tent when you are and there's no such thing as having it held for you (you could wait, but there's no telling when it will be back). Sometimes, however, that can be a positive; by trying whatever was there, I have on more than one occasion "discovered" skis that I would have never otherwise considered.

2) Tuning
These skis get much heavier use than a shop's demo fleet and given how tuning effects the way the new skis perform, you'd think every rep would be diligent about keeping his/her stock in good shape throughout the day. Some are and some aren't, and depending upon conditions, some of the skis you try at these events may be at less than their best.
post #15 of 35
I'm not really a good enough skier to discern small differences from ski to ski. So my strategy was to get as much peace of mind as possible. One tactic was to do about a week's worth of research on the 'net (including this forum) to find the ski that seems most appropriate for my size, ability, style (if you want to call it that), and likely growth as a skier (none). The other tactic was to buy my skis from a shop that will let me return them if I'm not happy with them for any reason. REI lets you do that. I ended up with Metron 9s. My wife got Dynastar Exclusive 9s. We're both happy with the choices, and no demoing.
post #16 of 35


I don't seenhow you can pick out a new ski from the info out there, every manufacturer says thier ski is the best. A couple 10 day a year skiers said they can't tell the difference, you are selling yourself short-you will see the difference! Spend 400 smackers on demo's NO, demo from a shop or the ski areas shop on the hill or go to a demo day where several ski manufacturers are present. You won't spend 400 and will say if you demo 4 different skis - you will have a favorite for whatever reason you choose. The last thing I'll do is beieve some hyped ski article etc. Post your ability and what you like to ski, where you ski and your goals-epic readers will give you a good list of skis to try.
post #17 of 35
I think demoing is even more important for inexperienced skiers. They can tell the difference as much or more. Last week I skied with a friend who had only been skiing about 4 times with $20 straight skis he bought at a yard sale. I convinced him to rent skis. He was impressed. Two days later we skied again and he rented higher end rentals-- salomon screams. He thought they were great and was ready to buy a pair. We stopped in the ski shop (Loveland) and because he had the high end rentals they let him demo new skis for free. (!) He tried a Volant with an 80 waist and he didn't want to give them back. More secure and stable for him than the Salomons. Ended up buying them.
post #18 of 35
I think you should demo three or four very different types of skis, for example an Atomic SX11, Salomon Equipe 10, Rossi Bandit, Fischer RX8, and then subscribe to Keelty's reviews. Compare what you think of the skis you tried to what is said about them. This will give you an understanding of the reviews, which you can then use to help you choose a ski.
post #19 of 35
For an intermediate skier, I wouldn't worry so much about demoing skis brands so much as demoing shapes/length. Pick a ski you have heard about or think you would like from the long and short radius carvers and all-mountain skis. Find a shape that you like and then either try and narrow it down within that shape or buy one you can get at a good price.

A Fischer RX8, Atomic Metron B5, Volkl AllStar, Dynastar Legend 8000, and Head Monster 88 are all going to ski quite different for reasons other than who makes them.

More advanced and expert skiers who are looking for specific characteristics can get more milage out of demoing individual skis within a certain shape.
post #20 of 35
onyxjl, those are all too much ski for an intermediate I think... Don't you?

But certainly all very different in feel, performance, and preferred technique.
post #21 of 35
Yes, those are definitely a bit much for intermediate skiers. I was grabbing some various shapes off the top of my head and forgot the context.

For an intermediate skier, however, the long radius midfat or greater width skis are probably not a great idea so lets replace the list with the following shape and examples...

Fischer RX-6 (67mm underfoot, 13m radius, slalom carver)
Metron 10 (74mm, 13.5m radius, slalom all-mountain)
Volkl 4-Star (67mm, 15.2m radius, carver)
Head i.M 72 (72mm, 15.5m radius, all-mountain)

The difference isn't as great as more advanced skis where you start getting into 18m+ radius and 80mm+ underfoot. However, I think they still represent 4 different general shapes that almost all intermediate skis fall into, and the shape plays a bigger part in how the ski behaves than the brand at this level.
post #22 of 35
I think to some extent, if you pick a random ski, your technique will adjust to the ski. More experienced skiers want a ski that will accomodate their technique and terrain of choice.

The Axis Xs I bought 4 or 5 years ago were the first skis I had ever demo'd. And I only skied 3 K2 skis at a one-day K2 demo day.

I bought a pair of sugar daddy's last year because I found a pair cheap, had heard good things, and wanted a fat ski. I'm confident that my 'fat ski powder technique' will adjust to the ski, since it didn't exist before. In a few years, I might have more ideas about what I want in a fat ski.

I just bought a pair of Rossi Z9s after attending a multi-maker demo day put on by the local ski shop. I tried, I guess, 11 skis from a bunch of manufacturers. The Z9 was one of 2 that I really liked. But it was one day of skiing, one set of conditions, 2 or 3 runs per ski, and I didn't try EVERY ski that could have been a good fit for me. What else can you do? It's painful to think about paying demo-ski rental rates all year looking for the holy grail. I guess if I find something I like better next year, there's always EBay

ETA: between the 2 skis I liked, the Z9 has the cooler graphics. So obviously, it was an easy decision..
post #23 of 35
I think demoing is still better than just buying based on adverts and so called independant "tests" in magazines. At the same time most ski's are that good today, that you unlikely go for a bad deal (difficult to judge anyway, after you bought something you usually don't compare anymore anyway).
HOWEVER, the perfect alternative today is THIS forum. Which I consider as a very good compromise between testing yourself and just buying based on some recommendations. The high number of comments and posts on available equipment is really excellent.
post #24 of 35
I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, but here in Seattle I had no opportunity to demo the skis I was interested in at the time I was ready to buy: pre-Christmas. I'm sure demo-ing is a fine idea, but when it's not reasonable, practical or possible, it's still likely you can end up with an excellent ski by doing a bit of research.

Funny, but from my experience from being on both ski and bike forums, I constantly hear people say we (the unwashed masses) shouldn't rely on magazine testers for our information. And yet, in most cases, that's preceisely the reason people subscribe to those publications. People want to know what these guys thinks of specific skis. So if I can find three independent sources whose descriptions of a Metron 9 ski all basically agree that this is an appropriate ski for me, should I just assume the opinions are worthless because these guys happen to work for magazines? There's no ski shop around here demo-ing a Metron 9, so in the absence of first-hand, empirical data, I get my information where I can.

It's taken me years of bike riding to get to the point where I can sort of tell what's going on with different frame materials and geometries. I couldn't begin to do that with skis. So why not rely on a number of so-called experts -- especially when the store you purchase from will alow you to return or exchange the skis if they don't work out.
post #25 of 35
I know what you mean about knowing what you like and just going for it when it comes to cars. But still, even if you (& me) don't test drive other cars, we still try the one car we have in mind, right?

My local shop credits up to 3 demos toward purchase. I tried one and liked it at least as well, if not better, than I expected. So yeah, research pays, and maybe all the equivalent skis are just that - equivalent. And maybe it's not the perfect ski for me, but at least I know it's not dead wrong - and since I plan to purchase, it didn't cost me anything. And yes, it was a minor hassle, but I get peace of mind in return.

(Actually, they probably won't credit the sales tax and the damage waiver, so it cost me about 7 bucks to demo!)
post #26 of 35
It's possible no shops were demoing the Metron 9 because none of them liked the ski enough to actually buy it (despite what the magazines said.) Most of the shops around me don't carry the 9 because they feel the 10 is a better ski for anyone who would be looking to buy the 9.
post #27 of 35
Originally Posted by onyxjl
It's possible no shops were demoing the Metron 9 because none of them liked the ski enough to actually buy it (despite what the magazines said.) Most of the shops around me don't carry the 9 because they feel the 10 is a better ski for anyone who would be looking to buy the 9.
Nice theory. But dead wrong. Plenty of shops carry the Metron 9, and (like the reviewers) they think it's an excellent ski. But it wasn't available for demo. All the other skis I wanted to try were also unavailable for demo. My point was that shops simply weren't demo-ing anything at this time of year, yet this is when I wanted to buy. So, knowing I couldn't demo -- and aware of the fact that I probably wouldn't be able to discern subtle differences between several excellent skis even if I could demo -- I chose the research route.
post #28 of 35
The Ski Center in DC, does not carry the M:9 either as they think the M:10 would be better if you were considering the M:9.
post #29 of 35
Originally Posted by DennisG
My point was that shops simply weren't demo-ing anything at this time of year, yet this is when I wanted to buy.
Thats not true at all. I was visiting my father in Seattle and we went skiing at Crystal Mountain on December 1st. We didn't bring skis so we rented a pair of Head Monster i.M 88s and Volkl Mantras from Rainer Rides.

However, I do concede the point that it can be difficult to find intermediate skis to demo. Finding a Fischer RX8 to demo is going to be much easier than finding the RX6 for example. So, it is quite possible that none of the places you were looking to demo from had the skis on your list. On the other hand, I think it is worthwhile for a skier serious about improvement to take a look at the higher performance skis that are just off the top. For instance, I think a skier might not be able to demo a Volkl 4-Star, but could probably demo and like the 5-Star instead, where as the AllStar would probably be too much. I have never seen a K2 Omni 5.5 to demo, but the Crossfire is often available and is probably just as applicable. Especially if a skier is skiing 10+ days a year and taking lessons, I think they too often sell their ability short.

I'm not disagreeing with you that researching skis is a good idea and that you can still make an educated purchase without a demo. I own a pair of Atomic SL:9s that I love even though I had never set foot on that ski before I bought them. I'm not saying the Metron 9 is a bad ski either, I am saying in my experience most shops carry the 10 and 11 or B5 (sometimes both) because the 10 offers more room for growth and versatility and is just as suitable for an intermediate or beginning skier as the 9.

What I am saying though is that I don't find the magazine reviews or even the opinion of many Ski shop salespeople to be very useful. I do find researching on www.realskiers.com and particulary this forum to be useful though. For an intermediate skier I don't think demoing is as helpful to pick a particular ski out of a bunch of identical skis. I think the value of demoing to an intermediate skier is to find a general shape that appeals to them. A certain reviewer or salesperson might love the Metron, but if you don't like the slalom turn radius, its not going to be the ski for you.
post #30 of 35
We are violently agreeing. My point was that none of the skis on my list was available for demo. I wasn't saying that NO skis were available. I'm all for demos whenever it's possible to test a ski you're considering. But that just isn't always possible. And, in my case, I would glean very little information from a demo.

I'm resigned to the fact that I'm an intermediate skier who's not going to get much better. I don't need a ski with room for growth. I want one that's right for me today. Hence the M:9's. But I was trying to talk about purchase process and not get into a debate about whether or not M:9's are a good ski. I don't think people are coming to this thread to read our opinions on the M:9.
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