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Demoing ski equipment

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Dec 8, 2010

 

Hi Bears:

 

On another thread "Attention Ski Reps", a discussion on the availability of appropriate skis for women skiers usually are not available for women skiers to try.  I began thinking about the importance of demoing ski equipment in general.  Over the years in getting my summer fix by reading Ski and Skiing, the importance of ski boots are emphasized over skis.  For example, in the Sept. 2009 Ski Magazine equipment issue, page 91 under "new boots make you thinner, smarter"smile.gif : "As we say every ski season, the right boot is significantly more important than any ski".  Oct 2010 Ski Magazine page 61: "We can't say it enough: There is nothing more important to your skiing that a boot that fits properly and suits your ability level".  In many threads on here on EPIC ski, this same sentiment is often repeated.  We also often hear, read and are told that demoing skis is as much or more about demoing the tune than the skis.  With this background, how many Bears have "Demoed Boots" prior to making a $500.00(boots)+$150(fitting) purchase of ski boot (assuming that you already have an adequate foot bed)?  In buying 7 pairs of boots over the course of my skiing career (over 30 yrs), I can't say that I've ever went out/had the opportunity to demo boots.  So my question is: How important is DEMOING (ski, boots, goggles, poles, helmets, gloves, jackets, warm underwear) in the scheme of things?  I will demo skis given the opportunity, but often the model or length is already out on the hill, so that I have to settle for a longer/shorter length or different model or try some other brand.  In addition, I rarely buy the skis which I demo, since being a creature of habit, for the first 10 years of my skiing, I skied Volkls, the second 10- years Volants, the next 7 years Atomics and now I am on Nordica, Dynastar and Stockli.  Except for Volants (which my local ski shop didn't carry), I bought by what I read and what my ski shop goto guy recommended.  What are your thoughts on Demoing?

 

Think snow,

 

CP

post #2 of 17

I buy STRICTLY based on price.  I stay tuned to what I hear from familiar folks about ski models and have a "sish list" composed of those that sound like something that I'd enjoy.  When I see something in my acceptable price range that fits a current quiver gap I pull the trigger.  If I see something in good shape for say fifty bucks  that I'm not really familiar with I might also buy that and just give it away if I hate it.  Other than that I learn to love whatever I end up committing to.  I've demoed skis a hand full of times and only once bought the model I tried, but I knew I was highly likely to get them before I tried them because the price was spectacular.

 

Boots?  If I can get my feet in them and they buckle tight enough to stay on my feet then I can "work with them" until they feel pretty good and provide a solid connection between my feet and skis.  To me, demoing boots is trying them on in a store.  Although, your idea of having boot demos would be great for my situation.   I don't mind buying season old used boots at all.  The refuse from a boot demo movement would increase my available product choices.

post #3 of 17

Demoing boots is not something that would be easy or of much real use. 98% of the boots I sell require some form of modification for the skier to be in them comfortably, in the correct size. These are modifications that a rep/shop is not going to willing/able to do, as it could make the boot un-sellable or un-skiable for the next person. We participated in Ski Press magazines boot test one year, and while it was a cool event, our testers feet were killing them after even just a few hours as the they were used to boots that were custom fit. It was really hard to zone in on a particular boot.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDoyal View Post

Demoing boots is not something that would be easy or of much real use. 98% of the boots I sell require some form of modification for the skier to be in them comfortably, in the correct size. These are modifications that a rep/shop is not going to willing/able to do, as it could make the boot un-sellable or un-skiable for the next person. We participated in Ski Press magazines boot test one year, and while it was a cool event, our testers feet were killing them after even just a few hours as the they were used to boots that were custom fit. It was really hard to zone in on a particular boot.


Dec 8, 2010

 

Hi JDoyal:

 

Thanks for your detailed response.  I agree and anticipated that Demoing boots was practically a waste of time, due to the "custom fitting" which most of us on this forum require and demand.  However, my original question, which I might not of made clear, is that with Boots being such an important piece of skiing equipment (above and beyond skis), the fact that none or few of us ever demo the boots which we purchase, what is the practical advantage (not just to satisfy our curiosity) of demoing skis, when many people here say that demoing skis is more about demoing the tuning?  Even if we had a consistent tuner for all demo skis (a flight of fancy), how important is it to demo skis when we never demo boots, the most important item of our ski equipment?  I'm asking this because some Ski Rep type person on the other thread said that ski demos was mostly a waste of time and money losing activity for the Ski Reps.  Maybe this is just another justification for not having Ski Rep ski demos and only having shop demos targeted to a select audience, however without exclusion to people who might just be at the ski area during the demo event?  I don't know and I'm against what I've just wrote since it sounds a tad exclusive for my plebeian blood.  I'm just saying.

 

Think snow,

 

CP

post #5 of 17

In my opinion, demoing is over rated. It's only really helpful if done in a systematic manner, when the skis are tested back-to-back on the same conditions, this requires a demo event at the mountain. Taking a 'demo ski' to the hill for the weekend, then trying something else a week later is ski renting, it will only serve to confuse more than illuminate because all of the factors (ski conditions, weather, internal) will be different. A shop 'Performance Guarantee' is just as good in my opinion. The shop is going to try REALLY hard to make sure you are on a ski you will love because they don't want to take them back and sell them as used. It's better for the shop, because the customer is 'qualified'. The customer is obviously serious about making a purchase decision, they aren't kicking tires, they want to buy something, it's easier to deal with someone who is focused than someone who is 'checking stuff out'.

 

Here in Stowe, the Mountain Demo Center has decided that it doesn't want to demo skis any more, it's going to provide 'High End Rentals'... which is what it was doing before. They've simply decided to call it what it really is, a rental. I do think 'demoing' is useful, up to a point, but it needs to be focused and done with purpose. Something most people aren't very interested in 'wasting' a ski day for.

post #6 of 17
Quote:
what is the practical advantage (not just to satisfy our curiosity) of demoing skis, when many people here say that demoing skis is more about demoing the tuning?

 

If you have a pretty good idea of what kind of ski you want, and the major characteristics you like/dislike (e.g. dampness, stiffness), then demoing probably becomes less necessary and you can get by with just reading reviews.

 

It's hard to gauge how different skis are going to affect your skiing unless you've been on a bunch of different pairs.  Obviously, there are consistency issues if you're not trying multiple pairs in the same day, and tuning can be hit-or-miss, but it's better than nothing.

 

That said, most people could take any reasonably appropriate pair of skis and learn to make them work.  So demoing may be 'overrated' in the sense that a sub-optimal pair of skis usually won't make or break your enjoyment of the sport.

 

Boots are in a whole different category.  I'm just about impossible to fit (very large feet), so even a dedicated 'boot demo' program would probably be useless to me.  The general consensus around here seems to be that if you're serious about performance, boots have to be fit to you, not the other way around.  I don't know if the average person could get better results if they could try three or four high-end boots on the slopes in a day versus just being able to try them on in a shop.

post #7 of 17

I would argue that there is no other sport where the participants obsess over gear as does a skier selecting skis while at the same time placing  minor emphasis on boots once obtained.

 

I've done demo days for skis and recommended in posts to others to demo, but, demo'ing is far less than a perfect process. Imagine how much different it would be if it was "double blind" where you did not know what you were on. In golf, it almost an axiom that the clubs you love in demo turn to crap after they are bought. In the past 2 years, I've accompanied Philpug to a local mountain and he would recommend what skis were winners and it was a treat and educational. It helped that he knew the reps also and as were well taken care of. I'm on my present skis as a result of last year's trip with Phil and love them. My other skis were not demo'd but had a great track record as a carving ski and were offered by Greg Merz at a great price in an Epic gear sale.

 

My thinking is use demo day's to either learn about stuff you would not normally use, or, fine tune it and ski as close as possible to what type of ski you seek.

 

We've all bought skis that did not live up to full expectations - I can live with that as long as I learn from it. What I would not do is pay full retail price for brand new untested ski based on manufacturer marketing claims.

 

Due to size issues, can't see boot demo'ing in my future, but, you can tell a lot about fit and feel wearing them in a shop.

post #8 of 17

mainly, you have to have a wealth of experience to benefit much from demo'ing, (which I think is usually just a rental with credit toward purchase). I was once demoing darts. bought the first set I hit a bullseye with. dumb. knew nothing about darts.

 

if you're not a gear guru, just get an appropriate ski based on gathering information from all the solid human sources you can. you will get used to what you buy within a day. don't over stress about it, there are many correct choices for every skier.

post #9 of 17



This is exactly what it should be. If you are serious about really finding the right ski (and can even find a shop that offers all the skis you want to demo) there is no substitute for skiing it for at a while to really see if you like it. you need to go to various points on the mountain and see if it holds up. Then go do the same with another. Some won't get as far as others but one run on a blue run won't give you enough feedback to really know.  just my .02 and frankly, due to this, I usually don't demo or rent, i just buy based on peoples reports that I know and can relate to. Last weekend, we took the S3 out for an "extended run" you might say. I think I had it for about a 1/2 hour. That wasn't even enough to really evaluate the ski.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

In my opinion, demoing is over rated. It's only really helpful if done in a systematic manner, when the skis are tested back-to-back on the same conditions, this requires a demo event at the mountain. Taking a 'demo ski' to the hill for the weekend, then trying something else a week later is ski renting, it will only serve to confuse more than illuminate because all of the factors (ski conditions, weather, internal) will be different. A shop 'Performance Guarantee' is just as good in my opinion. The shop is going to try REALLY hard to make sure you are on a ski you will love because they don't want to take them back and sell them as used. It's better for the shop, because the customer is 'qualified'. The customer is obviously serious about making a purchase decision, they aren't kicking tires, they want to buy something, it's easier to deal with someone who is focused than someone who is 'checking stuff out'.

 

Here in Stowe, the Mountain Demo Center has decided that it doesn't want to demo skis any more, it's going to provide 'High End Rentals'... which is what it was doing before. They've simply decided to call it what it really is, a rental. I do think 'demoing' is useful, up to a point, but it needs to be focused and done with purpose. Something most people aren't very interested in 'wasting' a ski day for.

post #10 of 17

I only demo to see if I HATE that ski!

 

I'm not terribly sensitive to the particular characteristic of skis, as long as they're about the right length and flex. It would affect how I ski it. But not that I can't ski certain run/terrain with a different ski. So unless I really dislike a pair of ski, I can work with any. It just ski differently.

 

I'm not good enough to push the limit of any equipment. So with variation of how they behave, all of them are good enough for me.

post #11 of 17

I try to attend demo days and then have a route that all skis are subjected to.  Some I may hate so much they don't get the second run.  Others may "pass" only to be downgraded after trying another pair.  I never just take a "demo" ski to the mountain and spend the whole day on it.  If I don't have a demo day event, then I'll do the demos that are offered by the mountain. 

 

A ski might make my list to demo if others are nuts about it and it sounds like something I should try, but skis are too expensive to buy (even last year's models) without demoing IMO.  So far I've had really bad luck with ski shops suggesting things to try.  Someone who skis where I do, was my same age, weight, ability, gender, etc., I might try something they've suggested, but that's as far as it goes. 

post #12 of 17

Boots:  Demo as much as you can.  That usually means how they fit when unmodified (they don't), how they flex in the warm store ( softer than on the cold hill), and wearing them in the store for 1/2 an hour.  It would be nice if the store was willing to spend the hours and days it took to get a boot dialed in for me to demo, but that's not realistic.

 

Skis:

Yes boots, are more important, but I've already got boots, so let's move on to the skis.  My advise is to demo enough skis so that you begin to build a knowledge base, which you can use to compare to reviews and reviewers.  By looking at half a dozen examples of what your impression  is from demoing a particular ski and what and why the reviewers said what they said about the same ski, you can better use the reviews of other skis to fill in the gaps.

 

I think I can tell a lot from renting a ski for a day one weekend and and another ski for a day the next weekend, even if conditions are not identical. 

 

My first pair of skis that I actually bought new from a shop were bought based on general description and price; they were the cheapest brand new GS skis I could get my hands on, and at what turned out to be a non-too-stable length, but what's a beginner to do, except take advice from those who are supposed to know?

 

The next step was deciding from reviews what skis would meet my goals and trying to demo them, and then demo the model I liked best in three different lengths.

 

The last time I was actually shopping for skis I demoed half a dozen or so, read a bunch of reviews, and bought a model I hadn't demoed based on reviews and extrapolating my experience using the reviews.

 

Since then I have gotten two skis based on reviews, but they were bargains, and I've faired pretty well; the skis performed pretty much like I thought they would.

 

The point is, I would not have been able to interpret the reviews as well without my experience, which was increased by doing the demoes.

post #13 of 17

Demoing boots is ridiculous.
 

As for skis,

i generally won't buy at near retail unless I know that its the right ski. That means either I demoed it myself, or one for two or three people on here give it the thumbs up.

 

If I find a deal like less than $400 I will buy based on reviews. With the understanding that I can sale them with out losing too much if I don't like them.

post #14 of 17

The biggest advantage to "demoing" skis is that it really helps you learn to appreciate the differences between skis.  As a college student/ski shop employee many years ago,  it was really eye-opening to demo the whole line of skis and boots to be able to really appreciate the differences.  Now that I'm old,  have kids and responsibilities,  I don't have the time/opportunity to demo,  but I would if I could.  I've even stuck with the same brand of skis for the past 24 yrs.  simply because they've always served me well and I don't have time to try anything else.  That said,  my two oldest boys and I can swap skis with very slight binding adjustments.  We'll all be on different skis next week,  so I'll make a point of swapping around just to give each of us a chance to decipher the subtle differences between the skis.  I think it really helps you solidify the characteristics you like in a ski.  When you know basically what you're looking for,  you don't have to demo to choose a reasonably acceptable ski.  Besides,  a good skier can make just about anything work.  I'm just working on trying to become that "good skier" smile.gif

 

AM.

post #15 of 17

As mentioned, for ski demoing to be a truly reliable indicator of relative ski performance you really need a demo event where the skis can be tested back-to-back on the same exact runs and conditions.  I've found that I must even "loop back around" within the same day because as we all know the snow conditions change through the course of the day.

 

Ski demoing has taught me that it's really hard to "peg" a ski purely from data on paper.  You really don't/won't know until you ski it.  I've been very surprised by some skis that have come up either very short of what I expected or completely surpassed my expectations.  I think the most important thing for me is that demoing allows me to learn which brands' constructions I prefer the feel of.  From there it's more of an evaluation of the design and its purpose and how well it meshes with my own ski technique.  That's why I put very little stock in reviews from people whose skiing is completely unknown to me.  I've skied with dawgcatching, know his style, and can almost completely trust his assessments because I know we're similar in style and skill.

 

As far as demoing boots this has been available at some of the CO demo days, but I've never felt the need to take part.  I do know that there is a bit of boot demoing that goes on at the SIA show when retailers are determining what boot lines they will carry for the next season.  I must admit I find it difficult to comprehend attempting boot demos given what is normally required to properly fit a boot from both a shell sizing standpoint and alignment.  Maybe we'll get more insight on this from someone who has actually done a bunch of boot demos.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post



This is exactly what it should be. If you are serious about really finding the right ski (and can even find a shop that offers all the skis you want to demo) there is no substitute for skiing it for at a while to really see if you like it. you need to go to various points on the mountain and see if it holds up. Then go do the same with another. Some won't get as far as others but one run on a blue run won't give you enough feedback to really know.  just my .02 and frankly, due to this, I usually don't demo or rent, i just buy based on peoples reports that I know and can relate to. Last weekend, we took the S3 out for an "extended run" you might say. I think I had it for about a 1/2 hour. That wasn't even enough to really evaluate the ski.

 

Finn,

Many would argue that all your skis are demo's. You just extend the demo period via buying and selling.wink.gif

 

Whoever buys gets an almost new ski and a full review. Great value.

post #17 of 17

Demoing the Legend Pro Rider at a demo day with 5 or 6 top brands, large and small, was a revelation and I bought a pair as soon as I found a good price.

 

Other skis I demoed to eventually eliminate, by the feel. I think the feel of the ski is difficult to analyze, but you know when you like it. I don't agree that you have to demo in a controlled manner. I think a skis feel shows up on the first turn. Granted if you're demoing for a powder ski, you need powder.

 

Bought the Sixth Sense Huge based on my enjoying the legend pro and knowing I liked a moderately stiff powder ski in the 115 mm range with traditional (minimal) camber and sidecut. Bought the Stockly XL based on my trust in that kind of company and the popularity of the Stockli models (mostly the Scott Schmidt) at my mountain.

 

I can truly say that I like every one of these skis very much. It's a successful quiver, the result of successful thinking and purchasing.

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