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Going to Demo... What do I need to know?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
All,

I'm going to be getting some new skis (this spring if I can find what I want in the '07 gear remaining, or next year). I want to demo, but honestly don't know what to pay attention to. I've been reading all sorts of stuff on here for a while now, and reading reviews of skis, and don't honestly know what some of this stuff means.

I'm 31 years old, 6'0", 195 lbs., I'd say a level 8 skier. I ski exclusively in the West, mostly in OR, with some trips to UT, BC, etc... I don't go into the backcountry at all, but try to mainly stick to ungroomed black diamonds. I like steep, I like deep, and I'd rather ski crud than groomed snow. I like bumps, but can't ski them all day like I used to, so that's not a top priority, but a consideration. I'm not really interested in a front side carver, but I don't want something completely worthless on groomers since I do spend time there when conditions dictate. I don't go in the park, and don't really see that changing.

So, I've been reading a lot of reviews on the all-mountain mid-fat skis... things that have caught my eye have been stuff like the Head iM82, Elan 777, Dynastar Legend (8000 or 8800, not sure), Salomon Fury... not sure what else... To get to the point (finally), those skis have been described very, very differently from each other: some heavier, some lighter, softer, stiffer, beefier, damper, livelier, etc... I don't have the foggiest idea what to pay attention to when I demo. I've been skiing on Rossy Bandit X's (191's) for 8 years, and don't remember what it's like to ski on anything else.

Soo... for someone going in to demo for the first time in years, and who never really knew how to pay attention to the differences in skis... any tips on how to evaluate the ski, to figure out what i like?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for any help you can provide!
post #2 of 15
This was my first year demoing skis. I had no intention of buying skis, just wanted to test what's out there. My criteria for testing was waist width. I kinda knew I liked skis in the mid-fat category, so I demoed whatever skis were there in the 74-88mm width. Also, it helped to tell the demo guys what other skis I liked. For instance, on hearing that I liked the Volkl AC4, the Nordica guy put me on the Afterburners (which I ended up buying!).

In terms of what you should pay attention to? I was at a loss about this as well. What I did was ski my first run on my regular skis. Then when I skied the demos, I had something to compare to. I skied the same two runs on each ski, so that I had the same basis for comparison. Also, it helped to re-demo the skis in the afternoon in reverse order -- it's amazing how certain features of the skis came out after changing the order. The AC4 felt very good everywhere -- but when I tried it again in the afternoon after I'd been on the Afterburner, they felt a bit lacking in some areas. I also had a hard time articulating or feeling if a ski was beefy, stiff, damp, etc. I just skied a bunch of skis and figured I liked certain ones. Speaking with the demo guys and other skiers (in my case, other Bears who were demoing with me) about the skis I liked made me understand what sensation or features of those skis I probably liked (e.g. rebound, dampness, etc.).

Just my experience. YMMV.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Cool. That's very helpful. I guess the most important thing for me to do at this point is to get out on some skis, and see what differences I notice, and what I like. I think I'm getting too hung up on reading the reviews before I've even skied any of these skis.

Oh, and your signature? Best ski movie ever.
post #4 of 15
I totally agree that you can get too hung up on the opinions of others. That's why I advocate trying them out yourself if you can. Each person is different and skis, while similar in many respects, can respond differently to the skier. Besides, it's fun - kind of like being a kid in a candy store!
post #5 of 15
Since it sounds like you're looking at the mid-fat category, you should definitely try the Nordica Afterburner.
post #6 of 15
try and find a shop at a resort that will let you take out several pairs during the day for one price.

Northstar in Tahoe offers this and it's great since you can try as many pairs of skis as you can in a day for between $40 and $50 (I did it last season).

I will say this (and this comes after 2 years of fairly serious demoing) make sure you try different lengths in the same ski/model. I was so excited about demoing that I totally neglected to try a larger and smaller version of the Karma and Mantra, two skis I purchased but now wish I'd gotten longer versions. If you're gonna demo, cover all the angles.

As for coming up with what to try? I just went off SKI and Powder magazine's gear guides, Realskiers.com, and suggestions from various shops. Ask around, tell 'em what you've been riding, what you like to do, what type of terrain you mostly gravitate towards, etc.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
I was at a loss about this as well. What I did was ski my first run on my regular skis. Then when I skied the demos, I had something to compare to. I skied the same two runs on each ski, so that I had the same basis for comparison. Also, it helped to re-demo the skis in the afternoon in reverse order -- it's amazing how certain features of the skis came out after changing the order. The AC4 felt very good everywhere -- but when I tried it again in the afternoon after I'd been on the Afterburner, they felt a bit lacking in some areas. I also had a hard time articulating or feeling if a ski was beefy, stiff, damp, etc. I just skied a bunch of skis and figured I liked certain ones. Speaking with the demo guys and other skiers (in my case, other Bears who were demoing with me) about the skis I liked made me understand what sensation or features of those skis I probably liked (e.g. rebound, dampness, etc.).

Just my experience. YMMV.
I think this is all great advice - I especially like the idea of demoing a second time in reverse order.

I'd add a few points, from the last time I bought new skis: Like faisasy says, test them all on the same runs, so you can compare the skis against each other. You know what conditions you like to ski (steeps, deep, crud, bumps), so try to find runs that give you a good variety of that if possible. Similarly, be sure you try whatever styles (wide/tight turns, fast, cruising, etc.) you'll want the skis for - with each pair of demos.

Finally, I'd recommend that you bring paper and a pencil with you. On the lift rides up, make quick notes on the skis you tried. This could just be a thumbs up/thumbs down, or maybe comments about what the skis seemed better and worse at compared to the others you've been on. This will help at the end of the day, or a week from now, when everything starts blurring together in your memory.

And be sure to have fun - researching new skis shouldn't be a chore!
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
Since it sounds like you're looking at the mid-fat category, you should definitely try the Nordica Afterburner.
Will do. I've been reading a lot of good things about that ski, too. Thanks!
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Great tips all, thanks very much.

I just found out that this Sunday is one of the Demo Days at Mt. Hood Meadows run by a local ski shop. I talked to the shop, and they'll have K2, Atomic, Volkl, Rossi, Head & Nordica, definitely... he wasn't sure about what else they'd have.

The only problem is the weather took a nasty turn this week, and as of right now, it might be raining on Sunday. :

Wish me luck!
post #10 of 15
Jumping around the forum today and reading this post reminds me of another one very similar and therefore I will also suggest that if you are in a process of evaluating ski’s you may also consider a re-evaluation of your ski boots and perhaps budget for upgrade. I would suggest examining the flex and fit of your current boot model with consideration of the liner age/use to date. An updated flex/fit model could really focus your demo comparisons and subsequently leverage those new skis and your ever advancing skills. Good Skiing!
post #11 of 15
^excellent advice!

i spent a year demoing on a pair of loaner Salomon boots that were easily 2 sizes too big for me (was wearing two pairs of socks and sinching them tight).

last season I bought new, fitted boots at the outset and then began the demo process all over again.

boots are the building block, so you might want to start there first.
post #12 of 15
Tactically, I would echo the advice to go to a place where you can demo multiple skis in the same day (ie on or very near the mountain), because there are some that you just know immediately you don't like, others you might want to try for longer etc.

Ideally you'd like to try the skis in different conditions, but that's hardly practical most times (and gets more expensive each time).

One other thing I find not worth that much is the old "well you can use demo credit towards purchase". You can save a lot more by shopping around IMO. The other thing is you may want to develop a relationship with a shop you like so buying from them you'll get better service over the long run.
post #13 of 15
I know that one of the shops at the base village in Beaver Creek has a multi-pair demo deal. I forget which, since it was two seasons ago, but it was basically ski in/ski out, repeat the process when you wanted to try something else.
post #14 of 15
First be realistic about what conditions and terrain you ski most of the time. If you are from the East with groomed runs and icy most of the time and only pwder/bumps when travelling that is different than if you live at a big resort with lots of off piste. Demo where you live is a good rule of thumb. In the case above why not two pair?

Second. Remember that skis go in cycles. In the mid 90s everything was carve carve carve and shorter and shorter. Currently the trend is to wider waists but a lot of carving skis are trying to maintain their radius .. Who knows what will be next. Buy skis designed for what you do and remember you can ski moguls on just about any ski - crud is a different story ..

Try several skis on same day. If at a smaller hill give each ski three runs to get to know it. Remember that the dimensions of tip/tail/waist do not change as you change length of a model so the radius is affected. Also remember that softer skis seem firmer in shorter lengths as there is less ski to flex ...

The number one rule. If you find the right ski you will absolutely have to have it right now and will not want to give it back. If you do not get that feeling then don't buy.

Have fun!

Mike Hoyt
post #15 of 15
Remember that there are really two different types of skis with wider waists nowadays- the groomer-oriented midfat and the offpiste-oriented midfat. The groomer-oriented ones are going to be skis like the Volkl AC4, Nordica Hot Rods, Elan Magfires, etc.- skis that have wider waists but are really just carving skis underneath it all. They will excel on groomed trails and spring conditions but don't due so well in true offpiste conditions like crud and pow due to their radical shapes. The offpiste oriented skis, like Legend 8800s, Head Monsters, and most ofthe twintips will have less shape and will be flat mounted so they excel in variable conditions. Try 2 of each so that you know which type you're looking for and then stick to that category.
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