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An Idea

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I guess some time in the next 3 to 4 weeks the new ski mags will start to hit the shelves. Last year I think this community did something pretty incredible; which is that we forwarded the threads regarding hte ski reviews to the editor and got a response. Who knows may be we even influenced what we'll read this year? So I have a suggesstion, let's forego the geneneral thrashing and debate about whether the reviews are fixed (they're flawed but not fixed) and focus more on critical reviews of the reviews themselves; things like meanigless categories, obvious ommissions , like not reviewing B5-some years ago--(which I think was driven by the ski company but not the same thing as a fixed review.)

For example I wonder if they'll focus on emerging trend toward sandwhich construction, which Helluvaskier pointed out recently. If they don't they've missed a key trend and we should point it out.

So, perhaps we could actually reach a consesus and forward recommendations again. That would really represent use of the internet as a powerful community tool in my humble opinion.
post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by blitz
I guess some time in the next 3 to 4 weeks the new ski mags will start to hit the shelves. Last year I think this community did something pretty incredible; which is that we forwarded the threads regarding hte ski reviews to the editor and got a response. Who knows may be we even influenced what we'll read this year? So I have a suggesstion, let's forego the geneneral thrashing and debate about whether the reviews are fixed (they're flawed but not fixed) and focus more on critical reviews of the reviews themselves; things like meanigless categories, obvious ommissions , like not reviewing B5-some years ago--(which I think was driven by the ski company but not the same thing as a fixed review.)

For example I wonder if they'll focus on emerging trend toward sandwhich construction, which Helluvaskier pointed out recently. If they don't they've missed a key trend and we should point it out.

So, perhaps we could actually reach a consesus and forward recommendations again. That would really represent use of the internet as a powerful community tool in my humble opinion.
But, but, but...

Complaining about the uselessness of the magazine reviews is one of my most treasured forms of entertainment.

Actually, it's a very good idea, Blitz.
post #3 of 24
As someone who is an equipment editor for a ski magazine (in the UK), I have to say something in defence of the ski mags here. Often, categories are decided by manufacturers and retailers. The mags have to go along with them, because that is what the consumer will be faced with when he/she walks into a store. For example, when the "skiercross" category emerged a few years ago, we had to cover that category, but we did mention at the time that most real skiercross skiers were actually using race dept. GS skis with a "skiercross" topsheet.

I should also point out one possible problem that could occur, with equipment reviews on anonymous forums such as this one. In theory, representatives of equipment companies can post fake reviews praising their product - or trashing their competitors'.

So perhaps only equipment review posts from genuine, long-term contributors (with, say, more than 2000 posts to their name), should be given credibility. Even then, some of them may have affiliations which we don't know about...
post #4 of 24
For reference, here is a link to the thread last year. http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=28549 . This is clearly an issue close to Blitz's heart as I haven't seen him post on much else (Martin, the post count is a poor indicator of quality or reliability). Its probably worth reposting the letter ssh quoted last year in that thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
You may recall that I forwarded a pointer to this thread to Joe Cutts, SKI's equipment editor. He got back to me today, and was happy to have me post his response:
Quote:
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)
I'm talking with him some more about the ski-test data software, so if you're an East Coast FileMaker person, drop me a PM or e-mail...
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Bell
Often, categories are decided by manufacturers and retailers. The mags have to go along with them, because that is what the consumer will be faced with when he/she walks into a store.
I'm a consumer. Here is my request:

Act like the fourth-estate more and a subsidiary of the industry less. Show less respect for marketing gobbledygook and more for reality. Tell me what skis are actually good for, irrespective of arbitrarily defined marketing niches. Tell me what they're ill-suited for, similarly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Bell
For example, when the "skiercross" category emerged a few years ago, we had to cover that category, but we did mention at the time that most real skiercross skiers were actually using race dept. GS skis with a "skiercross" topsheet.
I'm glad for any magazines that are clear about such things...not all are. Cover the skis, please...not the category, unless the category is meaningful. Have the will to construct your own, meaningful categories when appropriate. If one "skiercross" ski needs to be reviewed as an aggresive, short-radius groomer ski...and another as something else, then so be it.
post #6 of 24
Hey, jstraw, I assure you that when testing skis I judge them the same way I did when I was selecting race skis to use in World Cup races for 14 years - by what they do on the snow - nothing else, definitely not marketing gobbledygook

With modern skis, you have to have categories, so that you can run a comparative test between models that have reasonably similar geometries. Otherwise, you would just spend a week testing a random assortment of models, perhaps a SL race ski one run, then a pair of Seth Vicious K2s the next.

Where a manufacturer obviously screws up, and enters, say, a 74mm-waisted freeride ski into the "big mountain" category, we try to catch that and move that model to a different category before the test gets underway. We are constantly hampered by the fact that we are never given a list of all the skis due to be tested until the actual morning that the test begins! (This is because UK distributors/importers never seem to be quite sure which test samples will be sent from their parent factories. I don't know if Joe Cutts has the same problem with the US-based tests.)

Obviously it would be no good moving a ski model between categories after the test has been concluded, because that model would not have been given a proper comparative test on the same day and in the same conditions as the other models in the (new) category. Occasionally, if it emerges that a model has been tested in a totally unsuitable category (because the manufacturer entered it into the wrong category, and we didn't manage to spot the mistake in time), we will simply have to drop that ski completely. Or keep it in, but with many conditional subclauses.

Anyway, I think the "skiercross category" has been a little bit of a special case that is hopefully receding into history - having nevertheless produced some great skis like the SX11 which you say you use in your "public profile"! Otherwise, apart from all freeride skis gradually getting wider, things seem to settling down a little - until the next innovation comes along!
post #7 of 24
Hi, Martin.

Thanks for contributing on this topic.

One question that has bugged me for years; why don't our magazines (yours may be different) publish the weights of skis anymore?

If the answer is that "system" skis make the comparisons irrelevant, I would counter that there are still lots and lots of "flat" skis and I would love to know the weight of a pair I was considering.

This is one area of the debate where I believe that the magazines are serving the manufacturer rather than the consumer. Weight is a very simple, very objective criterion. Why not tell us what they weigh?
post #8 of 24
Another small pet peave. Post the size tested by both the men and women, not just the range that the ski is available in, because we all know that size plays a huge role in the impression of a ski.

A 184 mantra will ski far differently than a 17x mantra and I need to know waht was ridden to compare the comments.

Its amazing that sometimes you will see 185ish skis compared to 175ish skis in the same review. Surprise surprise, the 185ish ski gets comments like, stable, planky, good in long turns. The 175 will get: quick, light feel, snappy, etc. Doh.

I like the idea of posting weights as well. Doesn't much matter to me for inbounds, but would be great data when choosing a touring setup.
post #9 of 24
Good suggestion Bob, I will look into getting that info from the manufacturers. (Too late for our first issue, it goes to the printers this week.) I think only Salomon, Dynastar and Movement list weights in their regular catalogues.
I suspect we would probably end up listing weights with bindings, because even "flat" skis are usually sold as ski/binding packages. And otherwise you'd have some weights with bindings (where there's an integrated system) and some without, making comparisons more difficult.
post #10 of 24
This from a page on 05-06 high performance carvers from an otherwise decently good magazine that shall for these purposes remain nameless:

Ski #1 Was described as having an edge can hold longer than the U.N. looked for weapons of mass destruction and being as torsionally stiff as Bill Clinton.:

Ski #2 Skiers were advised to watch for flying bodies and to watch out for somersaulting skiers.:

Ski#3 Readers were advised that this ski requires a full tank of fuel.:

Ski#4 This ski has enough grit to hold in the corners. Corners?:

Ski #5 This ski can be called on often for a good time.":

Ski #6 This ski is a soup that eats like a meal and its tasty too! :

It would be more useful to employ the available space to provide information that is actually helpful or at least write copy that is actually funny. In this particular magazine's defense they do rank skis on edge grip, forgiveness, energy and so forth. Instead of meaningless narrative, the space saved might be utilized to include information on flex, construction and so forth or testers impressions that are less fanciful.
post #11 of 24
Edit: Double post.
post #12 of 24
This is a sad, sad attempt at being clever, funny, witty ..... whatever. A guy who used to do the car tests back in the early 60's was good at it "Uncle Tom McCahill" who wrote for Popular Mechanics gave us tests with terms like ....

"Corners like a weasel in a drain pipe ... "

"Corners like a rhino on a wet clay bank .. "

A bit of humor .... but at least you knew exactly what he meant.

I never even open most of the ski mags that I get for free; Ski and Skiing. I know for a fact that the last time I opened up Skiing was when they featured "Tai Chi Skier" .... I had to dig it out of the recycling pile. It was worth it; now I'm sure I wasn't missing much.
post #13 of 24
OMG, i sense a classic
post #14 of 24
Aside from the ski, I'd like to see some variety amongst the testers, mainly in the weight category, and how skis perform relative to a lighter or heavier skier. A couple of years ago I bought a pair of Dynastar Skicross 9 skis, of which SKI magazine gave the following descriptive comments:
  • No. 1 in Rebound Energy, No. 2 in Short Turns, No. 3 Overall
  • Heavyweights or high-speed hounds may find it too sensitive." Too sensitive : ...
I took these on a trip out to Wolf Creek, Co. and found them to be waaay too soft, aside from being "too sensitive" and essentially making a bad purchase. After I got back, I e-mailed Cutts on my experience and suggested something along the lines of a flex indicator relative to the size of the skier. My point to Joe was that a ski which was quick, agile and stable to a 115-lb tester would be vastly different to someone in the 220-lb range. And that SKI could be of better service to the reader through being more definitive as with the above case.

He replied back pretty quick, and agreed Ski could do a better job in mentioning ski performance relative to the size/weight of the skier.

So if we're to submit some feedback to the mags ... that's my 2 cents worth.

Aside from Ski mag's testing, I have to say I have enjoyed the reviews from forum members here as much as any others -

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=38451&highlight=Demo+day
post #15 of 24
The Japanese ski magazines tend to have a lot more technical information than the North American magazines. With respect to skis, adding information on flex patterns for example, might be helpful along with information on the performance implications of varying flex patterns.
post #16 of 24
If the pictures of the skis are bigger than the text of the reviews you can pretty much stop reading right there.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
One question that has bugged me for years; why don't our magazines (yours may be different) publish the weights of skis anymore?

If the answer is that "system" skis make the comparisons irrelevant, I would counter that there are still lots and lots of "flat" skis and I would love to know the weight of a pair I was considering.

Weight is a very simple, very objective criterion. Why not tell us what they weigh?
Bob, I don't completely disagree, but I have a couple of comments.

1) It's true that systems are a factor. If you include weight for one ski in a category, you would need to include it for all of them, regardless if they are available as systems, flat or either way. This makes the comparison apples vs. oranges, and I think you are assuming a lot of the average reader to distinguish the difference, which is a problem when you consider #2...

2) Weight is a very poor parameter upon which to judge performance. Most people simply assume that a light ski is good and a heavy ski is bad, and this simply isn't true. Many light skis are sub-par, and some of the best skis available are on the heavy side.
post #18 of 24
I would be happy with 6 categories: Soft snow and hard snow each divided into 3 groups based on turn radius: 13m and under,14 to 19 m, and 20+.

Give me hard data on the skis performance characteristics. If you say you rate them on edgehold, flex, stability, etcetera, then please give me the comparative rating for edgehold, flex, stability, etcetera instead of the clever prose Lostboy quoted.
post #19 of 24
On a related subject, many bookmakers are now publishing flex numbers. However, they are only relative to other models in a specific manufacturer's line and may or may not be particularly accurate even then. The ski magazines did a great job in the past measuring boot flex under different loads, forward lean and so forth. Maybe, it would be a good time to revisit that approach.

A recent news magazine article on the surfboard industry explained that with the demise of Clark Foam which had a virtual lock on surfboard blanks, a lot of new technology with new possibilities is being introduced to surfboard design and manufacturing, some of it coming from the skiing industry like carbon fiber and densolite/wood laminate constructions, etc.

What about using some copy space to explaining the newer the ski construction materials currently do and how they work and how they affect "feel" and performance. Compare and contrast with traditional materials. There are a lot of different constructions being used in ski manufacturing today. It might make for interesting reading.

Finally, while there usually is an explanation of sintered v. extruded bases in gear review editions- there are sintered bases and there are sintered bases and there are sintered bases. On performance models it might be interesting to know what base material is actually being used on what skis because there are performance factors as well as trade-offs involved.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by troutman
2) Weight is a very poor parameter upon which to judge performance. Most people simply assume that a light ski is good and a heavy ski is bad, and this simply isn't true. Many light skis are sub-par, and some of the best skis available are on the heavy side.
True, but some of us actually carry our skis on our back. I realize most people will never do that and I'm willing to look this info up when I need it. Although, it's getting harder and harder to look it up.
post #21 of 24
I would also love to have more information when it comes to ski weights. They could simply include binding weights seperately as well, and allow people to do the simple addition if looking at a system set up. Of course weight doesn't shed too much light on the performance of the skis, but it's extremely valuable information to have for determining how well the ski will work for what you're looking for.

Does anyone know of good sources/websites to find more comprehensive ski/binding weight listings?
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Singel
I would also love to have more information when it comes to ski weights. They could simply include binding weights seperately as well, and allow people to do the simple addition if looking at a system set up. Of course weight doesn't shed too much light on the performance of the skis, but it's extremely valuable information to have for determining how well the ski will work for what you're looking for.

Does anyone know of good sources/websites to find more comprehensive ski/binding weight listings?
This site has weights listed for some of the 07 skis. IMHO, more inportant than just the weight of the ski is where the weight of the ski is...is it at the extremities or under the boot. Basicly, the swing weight.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
This site has weights listed for some of the 07 skis. IMHO, more inportant than just the weight of the ski is where the weight of the ski is...is it at the extremities or under the boot. Basicly, the swing weight.
For those that don't speak French frenchhttp://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=http://www.skipass.com/guide-matos/ski/2007/rossignol/Bandit-B-Squad.html&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=7&ct=result&pr ev=/search%3Fq%3DRossignol%2BB-squad%2B184%2Bconstruction%26hl%3Den%26hs%3DUV4%26 lr%3D%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-USfficial_s%26sa%3DG
post #24 of 24
Nice opportunity to utilize my french, looks like a sweet site, most comprehensive on the new skis I've seen so far. I'm guessing lots of the skis will have European specific topsheets though?

The weight can also help indicate how well some skis will stand up to abuse. Of course not to say that all heavy skis will last forever, or that light skis are never durable.
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