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Importance of Demo

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

This can never be stressed highly enough.  Demo skis before you buy.  Demo different brands and then buy what you feel is right.

 

I have been following these forums for a couple of years now and have heard some repeated comments and repeated themes.  One is that not everyone can find demo skis.  The other is that people pay a lot (read as too much) attention to reviews in magazines and forums.  The only good review is your own experience when you try out a ski.

 

Skis are expensive.  They are bought with discretionary money that most people would rather not spend.  Skis are an extravagance and unlike a car can not usually be justified - especially when you have pair that is 3 or 4 years old.  Would you buy a car with out a test drive?  Then why a ski?

 

So really why demo when there are so many reviews and opinions?  Quite simply it is because what your friend likes is not what always works for you.  Doesn't mean the friend or reviewer is wrong - just that skis are a very personal choice.

 

Don't buy a ski til you try one that you have to have so badly you would think about skipping a mortgage payment.  If you try a ski and it does not feel that good then it is not the ski for you.  Try some more and you will know when you find the right one.  It gives you the beg, borrow or steal to buy it feeling.

 

Ok so then how do we find these demos?

 

1.  Look at web sites and events at local ski areas.  Many will advertise when demo days are happening.  these are great because you can test out your short list on a single day.

 

2.  Visit the shops in your area and ask.  Most shops have a few pair of demo skis on hand and will arrange for you to try them.  Typically these are the higher end skis but not always.

 

3.  If not available at the shops ask if they can get a pair to try.  The answer is quite often yes.  The shops are the customer of the ski reps so have a lot of pull in getting demos and samples if asked.

 

4.  Try multiple shops in multiple areas.  One might carry different brands then the others or deal with a  different rep.

 

 

Now for my fun talk too much part.

 

How do I know what to demo?  It depends on where and what you ski.  Determine a class or type of ski you want to try and then find the ski in various brands.  Try as many as you can.  You will be stuck with whatever you buy for quite a while so make the right choice.

 

This past season a friend who is sponsored by Head has returned to our area after a few seasons teaching at Whistler.  He is CSIA 3 CSCF 2 and a very good skier.  He loves the Supershape Speed and says it is preferred out West because it doesn't have as much "kick" as the Supershape Magnum.  On the other hand I (CSIA 3 CSCF1) loved the Magnum at first go precisely because it has that kick (I call it rebound).  This just illustrates that different people of similar abilities prefer different qualities in a ski.

 

A number of years ago when "shaped" skis were even more of a trend and rage than the fatties are now I decided to ditch my Atomic 203 SL in favour of the "new" skis.  I tried the Salomon Exendo 9 in a 190 (I think that was length) and I was converted to the new skis.  Then I tried Head cybers (26 and 28 I believe) and some Rossis.  I had read that the K2 Four was a great ski but could not find one to try.  I asked at various shops and found out who the rep was and the rep sent a pair for me to try.  I loved them and bought them.

 

Next ski was Volkl P40 RC.  Beautiful ski.  After 4 years of trying other skis I had not found any ski that made me wish to replace these.  They were getting long for the time (183) and I needed something turnier to keep up with changes in ski technique (was told at a PDP to get new skis one day).  I had tried a pair of head TI100 (the black ones) and liked them and a Head WC GS and liked that.  The following season I tried some Atomic SL and Rossi 9S and while both excelled at short turns that was all they did.  I decided that since the Volkl and the Heads I had tried were GS I must like GS skis - I tried the Rossi 9X.  Nope.  I just did not like any of these skis enough to replace my Volkls.  The next season I had a chance to try the Head iSL Chip ski and the new Head XRC.  I liked both but the Chip SL wowed me so much that I became a Head fan.  Ended up on XRC since the Chip SL was sold out but that ski converted me to Head.  From there I started working with the Rep and now I am a demo rep (whatever that means).

 

Other skis I liked or didn't like recently.

 

Atomic Race SL vs head WC iSL RD.  I like the Atomic more.  The Head is close 2nd.

Atomic Cross Ski (the green ones from 4 years ago) vs Head XRC.  Atomic skied like a 2x4 and the Head was great.

Rossi 9S vs Head Chip SL (2004) - loved the Head

 

etc....

 

In each case above these are skis in same category but one I liked clearkly better than the other.  All review well and all are good skis.  Another skier would have different thoughts than me so TRY THEM!

 

My final comment.  Peole ask me about things like Liquid Metal and the Torque whatever in the new Head skis.  I just say - who cares what it does - ski the ski and buy it if you like it!  If you would rather a Rossi after trying both then buy a Rossi.  I only care that people try my demo skis - and that they buy ones they absolutely love!

 

Mike

Head Demo Rep

 

post #2 of 24

any chance of head doing some demos in the western mass area next year. i.e., catamount, jiiminy peak or butternut? I havent seen head in a store lately let alone on a demo

post #3 of 24

I never demo.  I also never buy at full price.  YMMV.

post #4 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by axebiker View Post

 

I never demo.  I also never buy at full price.  YMMV.

 

Not to give you a hard time or anything, but let me ask a question:

 

If you never demo, how do you find that "perfect" ski that fits you like a second set of feet?  I really believe that every single skier is different and that a "perfect" ski really does exist for you, the way you ski, the places you ski, and the kind of snow you ski. 

 

If you demo, you run a considerably better chance of finding that ski.

 

Not only that, but if you demo you are then in a MUCH better position to take advantage of any ski deals that present themselves down the road.  That helps you not only never buy at full price, but also to seek out the very best price on a pair of skis that you KNOW is right for you.

 

I certainly agree with the YMMV part.

post #5 of 24

I certainly would like to demo, but I was not able to find anything in my area.

 

The main skis I was looking at to buy about a month or so ago were Volkl Mantra, Nordica Enforcer, Volkl Gotama, Fischer Watea 94, Dynastar Mythic Rider, Dynastar Legend Pro. I couldn't even find a place to buy the Fischer or the Dynastar Mythic Rider, let alone rent them. I live in canada by the way.

post #6 of 24

But for a skier who just start to learn, it will confuse him when doing demo. People who have not too many experiences hard to tell the feeling is good or not. And the truth is, many of the skis buyers are beginner.

 

 

post #7 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fareastplaza View Post

 

But for a skier who just start to learn, it will confuse him when doing demo. People who have not too many experiences hard to tell the feeling is good or not. And the truth is, many of the skis buyers are beginner.

 

 

What's to confuse? - "I like this better than that". Simple.
 

 

And I've never heard a good reason why not to demo - oh, the tune could be off. Yeah, and any decent skier should be able to tell that. When I first demo'ed Nordica Top Fuels a few years ago, one turned like a GS ski, the other like a slalom ski. Didn't matter, I knew it was the tune and I liked them anyway.

 

And I don't pay retail for anything either - new 8k's waiting for me in SLC on Friday for $293 shipped from Evogear .

post #8 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 


 

What's to confuse? - "I like this better than that". Simple.
 

 

And I've never heard a good reason why not to demo - oh, the tune could be off. Yeah, and any decent skier should be able to tell that. When I first demo'ed Nordica Top Fuels a few years ago, one turned like a GS ski, the other like a slalom ski. Didn't matter, I knew it was the tune and I liked them anyway.

 

And I don't pay retail for anything either - new 8k's waiting for me in SLC on Friday for $293 shipped from Evogear .

See, you are not a beginner. A beginner doesn't know what's difference can be made by tune. He will think about it's difference between skis.

post #9 of 24
Quote:

 

See, you are not a beginner. A beginner doesn't know what's difference can be made by tune. He will think about it's difference between skis.

 
 

Even experts don't always know if it's the tune or the ski. Regardless, if you demo several different skis on any one day, it's a good bet that most of them will be tuned properly.

 

I'll also propose the theory that although anyone will feel the difference between a poorly and well tuned ski, the lower the skill level, the less sensitive you will be to it. It's also likely that the high performance models aimed at experts will be much more sensitive to tuning than those aimed at beginners.

 

As a beginner, your primary test for a ski is how in control you feel. Is it easy or difficult to turn, etc. Regardless of ski magazine reviews or shop sales pitches, the only way to know for sure is to find out yourself.

 

If you're ready to buy equipment, you're ready to demo.

 

post #10 of 24

Do most places charge to demo?  If so, why?  I know the obvious reason: to make money.  But I wonder if ski stores would make more money if they didn't charge for demo-ing.  No charge = more people demo-ing = more sales of skis.

post #11 of 24

OTOH, it can be argued that a beginner (or anybody who is unsure of technique) should not demo, for fear of choosing skis based on the "wrong" criterias, and ultimately stunting his/her progression into a better skier.

 

For example, if I took a rank newbie out to test a whole bunch of skis, chances are that he/she would feel the most comfortable on the shortest, softest, and straightest skis of the bunch.  This would be because those would be the easiest to do power wedges on, and also the easiest to drag from the parking lot to the beginner's slope.  He/she would also gravitate toward the loosest, cushiest boots.  All these equipment choices certainly might be seemingly great in the short-term, but they won't help when the beginner tries to work on his her parallel turn, much less carving.

 

It's like asking a 6-year-old to choose between ice cream or a well-balanced meal for dinner.  He/she won't have the sophistication to know better and to judge with solid criterias.

 

If the assumption is that all skiers stay the same, or progress in their abilities at glacial rates, then sure, let the beginner choose what he/she wants.

 

This example can be extended further.  Let's say a young park rat (who is an intermediate on the rest of the mountain) decides to extend his/her quiver and range with some all-mountain Twips.  Let's say he/she demos, but only knows to skid his/her turns in the backseat (which is common if you're coming from forward-mounted park Twips).  Chances are that he/she will be the most appreciative of all-mountain skis that are the most forgiving of back-seat skiing.  Is this the best choice for him/her?  Absolutely not.  This person is more-than-likely strong and physically coordinated enough to break out of his/her prior limits/habits and become an advanced or even expert skier in short time.  But his/her choice of skis (if the choice was completely based on demos) might reinforce bad technique, or at least make it more comfortable to stay there.

 

So let's say these forementioned individuals don't demo.  Let's say that instead of personal choice, their next pair of skis are expert-guided choices.  Chances are that the beginner might still be recommended short-ish and soft-ish skis (but not nearly as extreme as what he/she would otherwise choose on his/her own), but this time with more shape.  Not as easy to wedge, but certainly more rewarding of letting them run on their edges.  Same with the park rat.  Instead of fat noodles, the expert-guided choice might be mid-fat Twips with more oomph.  Not as forgiving of backseat skiing... in fact, possibly punishing.  He/she might hate the skis for a while, but might stumble upon a forward stance and find out that they can turn and ski that much more effectively.

 

I think the more insightful expert skiers have the overview of skills progression that beginners and intermediates don't have.  As such, they are much better equipped to make recommendations on what the beginners and intermedates should choose to facilitate skills progression, as opposed to reinforcing bad habits/stagnation.  As such, I think beginners and intermediates might be better off taking the word of reputable sources, as they wouldn't know that broccoli and fish might be better choices than cotton candy.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

Many places that do charge for demo take the demo charge off the price of the ski if you buy.

 

One problem with demo is that some skiers think of it as high performance rentals - or worse - free rentals.

 

The charge often limits to potential buyers but many shops will waive a demo charge if you are seriously looking to buy.  We never charge

 

 

in Calgary the Abominable Ski Shop is listed on Fischer web site as a dealer

Dynastar web site shows no dealers in Calgary - of course neither does Halifax but Aerobis Forst is a dealer there.  Ask at your shop.

 

Most stores only carry up to three brands.

 

Mike

post #13 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

 

 

 

Not to give you a hard time or anything, but let me ask a question:

 

If you never demo, how do you find that "perfect" ski that fits you like a second set of feet?  I really believe that every single skier is different and that a "perfect" ski really does exist for you, the way you ski, the places you ski, and the kind of snow you ski. 

 

If you demo, you run a considerably better chance of finding that ski.

 

Not only that, but if you demo you are then in a MUCH better position to take advantage of any ski deals that present themselves down the road.  That helps you not only never buy at full price, but also to seek out the very best price on a pair of skis that you KNOW is right for you.

 

I certainly agree with the YMMV part.


 

Short answer to a complex question:  I live in the Midwest.  There aren't many decent skis to demo, and since I patrol on weekends, I can't make it out to many demo events.  Most skis are limited in manufacturers that come out, and even more limited in sizes.  I also don't particularly care for the hassle and the wait.  When I go out to SKI, I intend to do exactly that - standing around in lines is not on my list of things I want to do on a ski day.

 

With that said, I have a pretty good idea in 20 years of skiing what works for me (been an instructor, tech, patroller, and gear-whore during that time), and more often than not, I'm pleasantly surprised at what I choose, believe it or not.  I also like to use lots of gear, and don't sit on any for much longer than a year, so if I'm not fond of it, I can usually get close to my money back when all is said and done.  <<<And along with that, when I do sell gear, I give people GREAT deals, and they have ALWAYS been happy with the gear I sell them - particularly the condition and the tune I put on them.  It's a win-win. 

post #14 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 

And I've never heard a good reason why not to demo - oh, the tune could be off. Yeah, and any decent skier should be able to tell that.  


 

Seems like a good enough reason to be turned off by a ski to me...  If I'm skiing 10 skis, and one performs bad because of the tune, I'm probably not going to remember that one at the end of the day - at least not in a positive way... 

 

Congrats on the 8K's BTW - a ski I'd love to get on some time.

post #15 of 24

Mike,

 

I wonder if you're in the minority in allowing free demos.  I asked at a couple places this season and both wanted to charge me $50 for the day.  Granted, a whole day is like a rental, but why not let me take a couple runs for free?  If I have 5 skis on my list to test, at $50 a pop that becomes real money.

 

When I was looking for a new mountain bike a few years back, every place I went to let me take a bike out to test it (had to leave my drivers license).  Sometimes I'd go for a half hour ride.  Why should skis be any different?

post #16 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimski View Post

 

Mike,

 

I wonder if you're in the minority in allowing free demos.  I asked at a couple places this season and both wanted to charge me $50 for the day.  Granted, a whole day is like a rental, but why not let me take a couple runs for free?  If I have 5 skis on my list to test, at $50 a pop that becomes real money.

 

When I was looking for a new mountain bike a few years back, every place I went to let me take a bike out to test it (had to leave my drivers license).  Sometimes I'd go for a half hour ride.  Why should skis be any different?


 

It's easier to wreck skis, IMHO...

post #17 of 24

You've never seen me on a mountain bike.

 

More seriously, I'd be happy to sign some kind of damages agreement when checking out the skis, or leave a deposit, etc.

post #18 of 24

Well, I hope someday to have sufficient capital to demo skis at $50 a pop -- but frankly Charlotte, these days it'd blow my budget, which I'd rather use for skiing.  Yes, they'll take the demo charge off the price of the ski, but I'm not going to pop $800 or $1000 on this year's model, anyway.  I'm going to spend a couple hundred for a two-year-old pair of "new" skis.  Until ski shops act like car dealerships or bike dealerships (or until I win the lottery, I suppose), I'm going to have to cross my fingers.  

post #19 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lakespapa View Post

 

 but I'm not going to pop $800 or $1000 on this year's model, anyway.  


 

That's just another reason they charge - they're in the business of selling skis, not demoing them.

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

Our stored will let them out free if you are serious buyer or I thin $20 for whatever demo period is.  The good thing about smaller hills is you can do three runs in an hour and get a feel for the ski.  I usually tell people on demo days to take three runs and then come back to try something else.  On a normal day I let them out for a morning or afternoon if I have some on hand.

 

Our area rep is really good about this.  He gets his money back when he sells them the next year and likes to generate enthusiasm by gettingthe demos used.  I also try to keep them tuned because a well tuned ski usually sells itself where a poorly tuned ski sells nothing.

 

Remember that stores and reps buy demos cheaper than they buy the skis on the rack for sale.  However sizes are a bit limited because they are early rins of next years stock.

 

Mike

post #21 of 24

Good reason!  Can't blame the stores.  It's not their problem demo-ing's out of my budget.  But I do suspect that a lot of people don't demo because of this.  Us poor folks gotta settle for luck.  Not that I'm complaining; I like my skis!  

post #22 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikehoyt View Post

 

Ok so then how do we find these demos?

 

1.  Look at web sites and events at local ski areas.  Many will advertise when demo days are happening.  these are great because you can test out your short list on a single day.

 

2.  Visit the shops in your area and ask.  Most shops have a few pair of demo skis on hand and will arrange for you to try them.  Typically these are the higher end skis but not always.

 

3.  If not available at the shops ask if they can get a pair to try.  The answer is quite often yes.  The shops are the customer of the ski reps so have a lot of pull in getting demos and samples if asked.

 

4.  Try multiple shops in multiple areas.  One might carry different brands then the others or deal with a  different rep.

 

I fully agree that demo'ing is very important (when I don't the ski usually is not what I expected and almost as often, something I don't really like).  However, as other posters have stated, it's usually easier said than done.  In particular:

  1. I usually want to demo a variety of skis on the same day in similar conditions.  Finding all (or even most) skis that I want to try is usually impossible (at least from one demo event or ski shop).  Recently I even tried to get more choices by paying demo fees to two shops ($100 total) but by the time I got to the 2nd shop to try what I wanted the skis were gone for the day.
  2. I recently wanted to demo the Czar and obSethed vs. my Goats.  I did web searches (to look for ski area demos) and called two dozen shops (both in Denver and up in the mountains).  I only found one shop that had the obSethed's.  Nobody had a Czar for demo (hard to believe) and nobody was willing to mount a Czar for me to try (I didn't ask and they didn't offer).  I even went to a shop where they know me well, I had the Czar's in my hand and asked how I could demo these - they said fahget about it, just buy it and we'll back it up with our performance guarantee (i.e., if I don't like it then they'll swap 'em for something else, but then I still gotta do a $50 demo to compare 'em with the 'Sethed's and not to mention that I'd end up with a pair of skis I don't need if prefer my Gotama's over both....).
  3. The ski area demo days in CO are generally in November.  Heck of a time of year for demo'ing a ski in powder and/or in moguls (great for seeing how they do on rocks and stumps). I keep reading other posts about recent demos in WA and CA, so maybe shops/reps in those locations have a different philosophy.  I even started a thread about why this might be the case, but haven't seen any posts to help explain it.

 

I will continue to demo since its the best of all of the crappy choices.  But, hell, I live in ski mecca and I even can't find a reasonble way to demo two skis made by K2 and Salomon (not talking about some exotics here).    

 

So demo'ing doesn't seem as easy as it looks on paper.

 


Edited by ski-ra - 4/3/2009 at 08:26 pm
post #23 of 24

Well I believe in demoing a ski but admit I only have a couple of times.  One time it kept me from buying a ski I was sure was great based on the manufacturer, history and reviews (I won't say which ski that was).  However, after the above mentioned almost disaster, I switched to Volkl's and have been skiing them ever since.  Since my original pair of 7-24's, which I did demo, I own a pair of AC4 and this year became the proud owner of Mantra's, both purchased without a demo.  . 

 

Short answer, if you can demo, do it....  If you can't try to make the best informed decision you can and be sure the ski shop will swap them if it turns out you hate them. 

post #24 of 24

What is it with Canada and demoing!  I have been trying to demo some mid fats and twin tips (and don't mind paying), but I can't find a shop in Northern Alberta (Calgary north) that will demo.  It's frustrating!

 

I'm left with information overload! And more confusion with every thread I read! 

 

So, we "Canucks" appreciate all of your opinions and assistance in ski selection!


Edited by KrazyKanuck - 4/3/2009 at 07:19 pm


Edited by KrazyKanuck - 4/3/2009 at 07:20 pm
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