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Can magazine reviews be trusted?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Greetings all. I've recently found myself in the market for some new skis. I'm trying to find something all mountain that leans further toward powder. Something around 100 at the waist. The Volkl Goat seems like a safe choice, but there are a lot of other skis out there comparable in dimension, and possibly performance for considerably cheaper. Do you guys treat magazine reviews as good sources of impartial info, or do you think there's potential for objectivity to be compromised by advertising dollars? I just wanted to get some opinions from those more experienced than me. Thanks very much in advance.

Keith
post #2 of 19
post #3 of 19
These are some if the best reviews that money can buy!
post #4 of 19
For the most part, yes. That is because pushing a ski that sucks can damage credibility, which is far more important in the long run for a magazine. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If your skiing ability, style, etc. differs from the tester, your impressions may also differ. Also ski conditions differ. Evaluating edge hold at Vail or Whistler is simply not the same as out East, three days after the January thaw ends in sub-zero weather. That's when you need REAL edge grip and can tell how good the skis (and the testers) really are. Just remember that subjective evaluations are just that, subjective. Your probability for improved satisfaction increases by staying with a brand(s) you are familiar with and using the reviews to select a model that is appropriate for your ability and conditions. That is not to say you can't find a great ski based on someone else's opinion. Recommendation: Use multiple magazine and online reviews to get multple opinions.
post #5 of 19
Ski Press tends to be fairly accurate and realistic. I find that they have the same opinion on many skis as many here do. Ski and Skiing are wacky: look for the most prominent ad featuring a ski company in the magazine, and you will probably find that the featured company also has the "ski of the year". What is really funny is that skis that get reviewed 2 years in a row and are often unchanged will get reviewed completely differently.
post #6 of 19
I have found Ski Press and Ski Canada to be very accurate. I don't trust Ski or Skiing so much, one will rave about a particular model, the other won't even mention it and their sister publications! This forum is a better source of information than a magazine, do a search.
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post #7 of 19
I think if you discount the raves and just pay attention to the commments about strengths, weaknesses and target market you can get a good idea of what will appeal to you and what will not.
You can not expect to read a short paragraph and know if the ski will good for you. More than likely you will know which ones are not for you and from there you will know what to demo. that said I think cross refernceing the four publications will give you a good idea of how the ski will perform.
The unknown factor is how do YOU perform. If you're a light weight fines skier don't buy a burly/stiff ski etc., regardless of the graphics, brand or advertising.
post #8 of 19
It is also sometimes clear (more often with boots) that magazines are actually just using copy straight from the manufacturer. Caveat emptor with that ****...
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpetro2 View Post
Greetings all. I've recently found myself in the market for some new skis. I'm trying to find something all mountain that leans further toward powder. Something around 100 at the waist. The Volkl Goat seems like a safe choice, but there are a lot of other skis out there comparable in dimension, and possibly performance for considerably cheaper. Do you guys treat magazine reviews as good sources of impartial info, or do you think there's potential for objectivity to be compromised by advertising dollars? I just wanted to get some opinions from those more experienced than me. Thanks very much in advance.

Keith
Trust them for a basic overview with a lot of wiggling around "the dirt". Generally you won't find much, if any, real negative copy - big advertiser or not. Read that as potential advertiser in the future, or just not wanting to deal with the repercussions from a company in the industry snubbing the mag.

I'm not in the isk industry, but I’ve played the game in the medical field for more than 20 years. Used to be you could stick a company written "article" in a mag and pass it off as story. Later known as an advertorial. Finally they were required to be labeled advertisements in fine print in the margin. The editors fight like mad against propaganda, but money talks and sometimes it's hard to recruit ad dollars unless you "bend" a little. In tough times, the sales team can put a lot of pressure on the editorial team.

You've got "demo-torials" springing up here on Epic, where a manufacturer's rep is intertwined with an "unbiased" report/demo of their products without paying sponsor fees or labeling it a demo-torial. Some are even involved with management of the site. As a Marketing Director, I always had staff participating in industry forums to "spread the good word" when opportunity arose. We would have been strung up by our toe nails, however, if one of them had been a moderator of a site and doing that. Medical industry ... a little more stringent on the "ethics thing". However, I can tell you that even peer reviewed medical journals that do not (or did not at one time) take advertising dollars are not immune. Companies creatively fund the research that produces the data in the reports/papers.

What actually transpires behind the scenes? Sometimes there's conflict of interest, and sometimes only the appearance of conflicts of interest.

Review everything with a critical eye, but take from it what you can.
post #10 of 19
Does anyone really take magazine reviews seriously?! Hope not!
post #11 of 19
I take magazine reviews with a grain of salt and as only one piece of information.

Not what you asked, but . . . in my search for new skis this year I found expertskier.com's subscription service ($20) a good resource for objective reviews and catagorization of skis. Their contention is that most magazine reviews are not free from bias, and are often done by former racers, where as expertskier's reviews are done by shop personel . . . skiers likely more like the average joe than racers. Their ratings are done based on feedback from multiple testors as well, which I think is beneficial to remove the single person bias.

Plus for the $20 you can toss around your selection with Peter Keelty via e-mails or possibly on the phone . . . he's the one that puts together the website and is involved firsthand with the testing/data collection process in getting feedback from their testors.
post #12 of 19
It's really hard to get much from a magazine review; all the skis are equally great according to the mags, yet you and I know that some are greater than others. You also have to be careful about the length of the reviewed ski; shorter skis will generally get fewer points in stability and long turns. You can glean some information if you read between the lines, but it's hard to get specifics and know where they draw the line.


I agree with jerry above that the Keelty's reviews on realskiers.com are pretty good, and well worth the subscription fee.
post #13 of 19
Don't forget that those sweet new big mtn. freeride powder skis are usually being "tested" by middle aged ex-ski racers/ex ski schoolers on early season hardpack groomers!!!
post #14 of 19
I treat them as one step in the process and don't take them too seriously. I agree with what was said previously that the testers don't represent me and since I ski most of the time in the northeast their hardpack and my idea of hardpack are 2 different things.

I trust the reviews even less for boots.
post #15 of 19
Ski Canada has probably the best technical test program. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed Skiing Mag's annual review, esp. where they rate the skis for turning, carving and pow skiing. They try to give you some idea of ski flex. Amazing that ski flex can't seem to be expressed in engineering type numerical terms.

Please note that there are many variables in selecting the correct ski, including where you ski and what kind of skier you are.

I was sitting on a six pack lift yesterday.... lot's of time to think. I realized that of six skiers on the chair, that five of us had skis that I selected for them or recommended over the last three years. And all were very happy to have the right ski for the deep pow we currently have. So... I guess word of mouth and demo is worth a lot. Getting a recommendation from someone who has watched you ski is worth something.

One of my friends said something like, "I can't believe that I have spent all these years on the wrong skis! ". My answer to that is that the last five years have seen some great improvements, esp. for pow skis. There are so many good skis to choose from... Sad that demo programs have been on the downslide in my area... to expensive to run I guess. But try to work the demo's anyway.
post #16 of 19
I don't know..... I often find the mag reviews to be off base. I guess I use really positive mag reviews as a way of identifying a good ski candidate to try. If a ski is panned in a mag or gets an average review, I pretty much discard that from my thinking - at least from a performance perspective. I've owned several pairs of skis that weren't at the top of the "best" list in several mags and have found them to be far superior to what was at the top of the "best" list. It is so subjective. I don't think mag reviewers push particular skis out of a pecuniary interest - usually it is just a bias and I most often see it as a bias against small or independent companies.

All that being said, mag reviews are great for judging a skis craftsmanship, quality and durability.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckwild View Post
I have found Ski Press and Ski Canada to be very accurate. I don't trust Ski or Skiing so much, one will rave about a particular model, the other won't even mention it and their sister publications! This forum is a better source of information than a magazine, do a search.
:
I tend to agree although SKI and Skiing have very nice equipment photos.
post #18 of 19
Regardles of ski your always better of demoing the ski before you buy! A good powder ski these day can aslo have lots of side cut for on pisti also. Atomics have some great skis also. A ski with a 100mm waist isnt nessesarily going to be better in the powder than a ski with a 88mm waist and more side cut from tip to tail for 99% of us. The Elan 888 is a good example of a great ski in most all conditions. Fatter skis are nice for stomping big huks as they absorb a lot of shock compared to narrower skis for that. My best advise would be narrow it down to 5 that you like the review,the shape,the looks of and spend a weekend trying them all out. Thats the only way your going to get the ski thats realy for you. I just went threw all this my self. I bought 5 pair of new skis in the last 2 months! I spent countless hours on the net and in the ski shops and so far im pleased with everything how it turned out. I demoed and rented to try 3 of the sets out before hand. the other two were just good deals and they worked out also.
post #19 of 19
Between Ski Press, Ski Canada, Ski and Skiing, one can derive some sense of merit. No publication, on it's own, is worthy of full surrender. Taken together, general trends emerge.

I work in a business where reviews also play role. Although the notion of "advertising = great reviews" appeals to the cynic in all of us, ads are no slam-dunk.

Consider a brand such as Fisher. This year they won kudos in many categories, yet their advertising presence is almost non-existent.

Solomon, a heavy advertiser, didn't garner huge accolades.

In addition, the testing process, if undertaken as described in the mags (tabulated score cards, taped surfaces, multiple tests), doesn't allow for much gerrymandering. Still, ski lengths provided don't suite each tester, and conditions play a role.

Ultimately, I find the user reviews here in Epic to have as much, or more, merit than anything. Generally, people here know skis. One caveat: owners of new skis will rarely slam their beauties (kinda like saying your new baby is dumb and ugly).

As the wise man said, demo first.
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