Humans of the 2017 FREESKIER Ski Test

Humans of the 2017 FREESKIER Ski Test

For the past week or so, we’ve done a lot of talking on our website about how amazing the FREESKIER Ski Test is. And, we fully stand behind all of the statements that’ve been made because it really is the best time ever. But, the week would literally be nothing without all the great people who come to join us—both old and new—so we want to take some time to show our precious readers the many beautiful faces we just hung out at Snowbird with. Below, get to know 10 of our top testers, then keep scrolling to find nearly the rest of our motley crew that made the 2017 FREESKIER Ski Test so darn great.r


Meet 10 of our 30+ testers:

Photos by Erik Seo

Katrina DeVore

Age: 29

Height: 5′ 7″

Weight: 125 lbs

Skiing background: I was born and raised in Aspen, Colorado and have been skiing since I could walk. I grew up racing… Lived in Chamonix, France with my mom and brother when I was 11 and got into some more extreme skiing and backcountry. Snowboarded for two years upon return. Played hockey in high school and skied on the side. Went back East to St. Lawrence University to play hockey. Didn’t end up playing hockey in college because of an injury. Graduated from St. Lawrence and all I wanted to do was come back to Aspen and ski. Started competing in big-mountain competitions and now here I am… Still living in Aspen and traveling all over the world to ski but no longer competing.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Greed for speed.

Home mountain: Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: Hmm… Five? More? I don’t know… It has all kind of blended together.

Current go-to skis, and why? Faction Candide 3.0. I freaking love them and ski on them through almost all occasions. They’re fun and floaty in powder, can hold an edge and are super poppy and playful. Plus, who doesn’t want to ski like Candide? They are the jam.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: The masses deserve to know what skis they are going to have the most fun on and I feel responsible for delivering an accurate review. Not everyone is up for the job; you must be able to ski, assess, review, do spread eagles, rage on “Party Mountain,” be a unicorn and repeat. Being trusted to have the endurance and skill to perform all of this for a week straight is a major honor that I don’t take lightly.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: First, I take into consideration the conditions and terrain, and what skis we are testing. Then I try to take each ski on varied terrain so that I can see how effective it is all over. I test how it turns, how poppy and playful it is, how it manages in crud and on edge, if it’s floppy or stiff, its weight and so on.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? FREESKIER carefully hand-selects all of their testers. We, as a testing team, want to deliver the most accurate reviews and notify the public of the best skis for all occasions. FREESKIER does a good job of choosing a variety of critical testers and the skis are tested on some of the best mountains out there. We want everyone to have the proper tools to have as much fun as we do on skis—trust us. We know what we’re talking about.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? Oh, man. So many. Champagne pours, unicorns and dragons, family dinners… One epic memory from last year was when Scotty VerMerris from Icelantic Skis put a crumb in his butt crack and a bird came flying in and snatched it out. Really too many awesome memories to count, though.


Henrik Førland Lampert, FREESKIER Editor-in-Chief

Age: 29

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 180 lbs

Skiing background: I was born into a skiing family. Mom’s an Olympic medalist ski racer from Norway and Dad is an industry vet. My little brother and I were on skis at 20 months. I ski raced growing up. Then competed in park and pipe events through high school and college, including Dew Tour, U.S. Freeskiing Open, etc. Finally graduated to more all-mountain freestyle since then. Now I spend my days hot dogging and rip-roaring.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Fast, furious, playful. Always ripping with an eye for berms, bumps, transitions, etc. Finding natural hits all over the mountain is my cup of tea.

Home mountain: I tend to find myself most at home at Cloud 9 Restaurant, on Aspen Highlands, with a bottle of champagne in one hand and cheese fondue in the other.

Years testing with FREESKIER: 11

Current go-to skis, and why? Nordica Enforcer 100, in length 185 cm. It’s so insanely smooth and stable, from the groomed stuff to the crud and everywhere in between. The carve-ability is outstanding. Full camber. Rockered tip and tail. Two sheets of metal over the edges to complement a beech and poplar core. Power transmission is on point. Torsional stability is on point. It’s the perfect mix of play and power, I’d say. The ideal ski for everyday driving. That 185 cm length is right in my sweet spot, as well.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: Testing skis through all of the years has been an absolute pleasure. Obviously, for any avid skier, getting a chance to rip on hundreds of planks is a blast. Feeling the subtleties between each ski and getting hands-on experience with so many amazing products is only comparable to a kid entering the largest, most awe-inspiring candy store that the imagination could possibly dream up. Where the “honor” comes into play is knowing that very few people on Earth have such an experience, and skiers everywhere count on us to provide them with information that will ultimately help them purchase new skis… tools for piecing together their “best days ever,” all season long. When we share videos and photos from the test and hear instant feedback from skiers in all corners of the globe, that’s when it really hits home: We have an incredible opportunity to provide skiers out there with credible, much-sought-after information.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: Well, that’s easy. Essentially, the goal is to have the “best run ever,” and go balls to the wall, over, and over and over again, and see how the ski stands up to the abuse. That’s more or less the basic formula. But, the other key factor is getting some beta from the manufacturing reps on site… finding out what’s new about a product, what sorts of ingredients comprise the ski… who is it built for, things like that. Then, when you’re ripping, you really have to ask yourself, “OK, who is this ski built for?” Then, of course, you have to try and mimic that individual’s style a bit on the hill. If a ski is designed to crush groomers primarily, I’m not going to give it crappy marks because it didn’t perform well off-piste. For most of the skis out there, though, they’re designed to do a bit of everything, so I go back to what I said originally. Enjoy a bit of all types of terrain in your run, and push those skis as hard as they’ll go.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? As I mentioned earlier, having the manufacturing reps on-site to work hand-in-hand with the testers is hugely important. This ensures not only that the skis are tuned to perfection, but that testers are 100-percent aware of the subtleties of the skis. Skiing on a ski is one thing, but being informed elevates the entire experience to another level. Moreover, many of our testers have been with us for many years now, and they’re so well-versed in the ski tech and the expectations of what to do each day at the test that it just makes it all totally seamless for us. Not to mention, the guys and gals that we recruit are, bar-none, some of the best skiers you’ll find anywhere. You can trust their judgement through and through.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? Oh, man. So many. This question is completely impossible to answer. This is my 11th year of testing skis with FREESKIER and each go-round brings with it an element of surprise and fun and incredible people, and also incredible products. It’s a bit of a cop-out answer, but truly, what I love most is skiing and après-ing so hard each day for a week straight that you can hardly walk nor talk by the time it’s over. It’s an all-out assault. Maximum energy output. And the moment the test concludes, I’m literally counting down the days to the next one, 365 days away. It’s just that good.


Kristin Bersani

Age: 28

Height: 5′ 4″

Weight: 140 lbs

Skiing background: Started on Stratton, Vermont’s bulletproof mogul courses and sliding snake turns underneath the Snow Bowl lift, then to gates on Toggenburg Mountain with Syracuse Ski Team in upstate New York. Now, I find myself in Aspen, Colorado. I’ve been there for the last 8 years charging powdery “Face to 6 to Zaugg” laps on Ajax mountain.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Freestyle and big-mountain with a touch of speed and always finished off with a spread eagle.

Home mountain: Ajax, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: 3

Current go-to skis, and why? Nordica Santa Ana 100. Honestly, it’s a magical ski. They are like glass slippers; the moment you step foot in them your world is changed. Lightweight, playful and poppy in moguls but still holds a sturdy GS turn on groomers. The best all-mountain, everyday ski a girl could ask for.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: The opportunity to help everyone around the world find their perfect ski and to share the love we all have for this fantastic sport is the greatest honor when it comes to being a ski tester. Oh and, of course, being able to ski with the best and test the best.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski. First and for most, can the ski hold a stable and strong edge? After that question is answered, I move onto how playful it is in moguls and the air, and whether or not I can picture myself on this ski in the future. If all things feel like they are aligning, I’d say we have ourselves a winner.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? From ex-professional skiers to coaches to shop techs to everyday skiers, FREESKIER magazine picks out a handful of testers to hit every style and level a person could relate to. Testers are provided with access to every detail about each ski they are testing and to the reps that know them best. Every ski is great and every person likes a different style, that’s why these rankings are reliable—the ability to capture everyone’s wants, needs and desires.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? Bopping around in my unicorn onesie with my ripping skier chick friends who just so happen to be a fire-breathing dragon and another magical unicorn.


Donny O’Neill, FREESKIER Senior Editor

Age: 27

Height: 5′ 11″

Weight: 175 lbs

Skiing background: Been a two-planker since age three.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: A lover of hop turns, tight trees, steep chutes and deep snow.

Home mountain: Winter Park, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: Four

Current go-to skis, and why? G3 SENDr… not yet on the market. I’ve been testing these babies out both in and out of the resort. They’re ultra-lightweight without sacrificing any stability or carving prowess.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: Contributing to the biggest gear guide in skiing is an act I don’t take lightly. Our efforts during the ski test will help inform our readers about the best new skis when they pick up our Buyer’s Guide in the fall.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: I try to take each ski on a variety of terrain during my run. Throw in some tree skiing, some bumps, some steeps and some groomers whenever possible. In order to thoroughly test the ski you need to keep in mind each category that it’s being tested on… carving, stability, versatility, float and playfulness… and then try and utilize the ski in some way to reveal its prowess in each category.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? Our test is incredibly thorough. Each tester can review each ski in real time, while their thoughts on the ski are fresh in their minds. Our ski testers are much like our readers: they are highly skilled and passionate about the sport. Therefore, the commonality of interests and skills, along with the wide ranging preferences of what makes a great ski, directly benefit our readers when those reviews and comments determine which skis make it into our massive Buyer’s Guide.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? This year, on our first morning, we were “interlodged,” meaning we couldn’t leave the building due to intense avalanche mitigation. A storm had dropped 14-plus inches on Snowbird and we awoke to the echoes of avalanche bombs all around us. When the interlodge was finally lifted, we skied deep pow all day to kick off the week.


Damian Quigley, FREESKIER Publisher

Age: 32

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 177.3 lbs

Skiing background: East Coast park rat turned lover of big-mountain pow.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Aggressively playful. I enjoy going slightly faster than one would assume is safe, while jumping off of everything in sight.

Home mountain: Loveland, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: 5

Current go-to skis, and why? Blizzard Gunsmokes. The blend of stability and playful pop that they provide suits my skiing style well.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: It’s always an honor to hop on the best, and worst, skis of the next year, to both give feedback to manufacturers and also help our readers make educated buying decisions in the fall.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: The first step is to understand who and what the ski is meant for so I can evaluate it accordingly. I don’t expect a 115mm+ ski to carve as well as an 85mm ski. Once I know what the ski is designed for, I put it to the test on terrain that should be in it’s wheelhouse, see how it performs at high and low speeds, and then take it out of its wheelhouse to see what else it can handle. That allows me to see how versatile the ski is, what it’s capable of and how well it’s built.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? FREESKIER’s test remains the most objective and accurate ski test in the biz. We take great pride in our ski testers and their ability to fairly evaluate each pair of skis based on merit, not the current ski conditions or brand loyalty. While other tests and reviews rely on outdated methods, we designed and built our own ski testing app for testers to input data while we carefully monitor the status and results in real time. Once a model has hit the right amount of ratings, it’s pulled from the rack so that testers can focus on other skis. There is no test that provides more accurate results than FREESKIER’s.


Casey Jillson

Age: 25

Height: 5′ 5″

Weight: 135 lbs

Skiing background: Jackson Hole packrat

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Both hands in the cookie jar, flying squirrel.

Home mountain: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming

Years testing with FREESKIER: 2

Current go-to skis, and why? Black Crows Atris Birdie. A perfect width for slush or pow, camber underfoot is reactive and poppy and there’s enough sidecut to rip some serious turns and a turned up tails allows for a a more slarvy smeary turn.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: I get to play around on the future of skiing, for many brands. It’s nice to peek into what each company has coming up and compare everything.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: When and where I might be using that ski, in what conditions and how big I was smiling during that test 🙂

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? There’s a wide range of skier types out there, and so many different conditions. Our crew seems to do very well at establishing unbiased opinions for all the different options.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test?
The most amazing “dude stew” I have ever seen and Scotty getting pitted in the hot tub.


Adrian Bouthot

Age: 27

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 175 lbs

Skiing background: Mogul skier turned slopestyle skier turned all-mountain charger

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Super G turns with as many slashes and tranny-finders mixed in as possible.

Home mountain: Sunday River, Maine

Years testing with FREESKIER: 2

Current go-to skis, and why? K2 Shreditor 102 because it’s poppy and surfy.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: It’s an honor to be a ski tester for FREESKIER because the crew is rad and skiing is just so damn fun.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: I like to do as many styles of turns as possible to really feel a ski: GS carves, slashes, bash some bumps and then launch a cat track. Terrain choice is important.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? The many rating categories, the wide variety of skiers, and the fun atmosphere makes for the most honest and reliable reviews.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? Watching Hank Lambo go full yard sale after a failed flatspin 360, a couple of years ago in Aspen.


Mike Filander

Age: 32

Height: 5′ 7″

Weight: 175 lbs

Skiing background: Midwest racing turned mountain freeride.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Solid turns and jumps integrated with scorpions and tomahawks.

Home mountain: Steamboat, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: 2

Current go-to skis, and why? K2 Pinnacle 105—awesome all-mountain ripper for any condition, on and off the resort.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: It’s an incredible experience to help dive into what the next year has to offer from our favorite brands.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: Responsiveness, stability, edge control, flex and amount of smiles said ski produces.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? The amount of time each tester gets on each pair of skis. Plain ‘n’ simple.


Jenny Ryden Harris

Age: 33

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 125 lbs

Skiing background: Born and raised by the Aspen ski gang, The Dogs of Bell. Currently coach for Aspen Valley Ski Club’s big-mountain team.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Following the path of least resistance with ease and grace.

Home mountain: Aspen Mountain, Colorado

Years testing with FREESKIER: 7

Current go-to skis, and why? Folsom Skis Custom Primary. 107 underfoot is ideal for a variety of conditions, I helped physically build these skis in Denver and, though they have over 250 days on them, they still absolutely charge.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: Skiing is my passion and it’s an honor to test with the influential FREESKIER Magazine for this one special week. I feel lucky to have my opinion and knowledge on skis be utilized to help create the Buyer’s Guide.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: I begin with asking the reps questions about the build, shape and technology of the ski. Once clicked in, I will do some quick carving turns to get a feel for the turning radius of the ski. Then I will take them into the moguls, crud or trees to feel the stiffness and playfulness and how they react to terrain. I will also hit a steep groomer to get the ski up to maximum speed to feel for stability.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? Having many skilled testers with different backgrounds testing on great mountains creates a solid comprehensive judgement on next year’s raddest skis.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test? So many to choose from. There was the time that three guys on mono skis backflipped in unison… Switch NASTAR races were also highly entertaining… Really, skiing with all the wonderful friends that I’ve met at the Ski Tests is my favorite part.


Chris Garcin (drunk alter-ego, Bob Garcia)

Age: 30-something

Height: An impressive 5′ 6″

Weight: 10 Stone

Skiing background: I was raised on Poor Boyz movies, namely 13 and The Game, while doing my best to hurt myself in the Freeway Terrain Park at Breckenridge. Seven years ago, I dropped I-70 like a bad habit and moved to the promise land, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Your skiing style in 30 words or less: Hot doggin’ like a New York City meat cart.

Home mountain: Alta, Utah

Years testing with FREESKIER: Four now. Jesus.

Current go-to skis, and why?
Folsom Custom Skis Trigger II—it’s silly how much fun this ski is. The slight rocker makes it quick and playful but, once you’ve initiated a turn, it locks in and you have more control than you would have ever expected.

A brief summation of why you believe being a ski tester is an honor: I mean, between getting knighted by the Queen of England or being deemed an Official Ski Tester by the FREESKIER Overlords, I know which one I would choose… Ah, knighting. For sure.

Describe some of the steps you take, or your thought processes, in order to determine overall likeness for a ski: First I give the ski an ocular pat-down. This is to establish it’s overall “appeal.” Then, a stress test. Like any good skier that thinks they know what they are talking about, I flex the ski in my hands and say, “Hmmm… pretty stiff” or “Hmmm… pretty soft” and then I hope that someone doesn’t reply with, “That’s what she said.” Once I’m on the ski, I like to put it through the wringer. I’ll take ’em to the groomer and put ’em on edge. I’ll take ’em to the bumps and slide the tails around. I’ll take ’em off a jump and see what tricks they like to do. I’ll take ’em out for a nice piece of fish and see how they handles themselves in public. I’ll spray some people…. Consistency is key, so I do this with every single pair.

Based on your own experiences, why do the FREESKIER rankings provide the most reliable source of info for people looking for accurate ski reviews? First, it’s worth saying that we rank the ski right then and there. Immediately on the app right after our run—no room for forgetting. The quantity and quality of ski testers ensures a wide variety of responses that will get you as close as possible to a statistically significant average in each category and therefore gives you an extremely accurate representation of the overall perception of a ski. I like numbers.

What is one truly awesome memory you have from a FREESKIER ski test?

This…


Photo courtesy of an Aspen, CO-based bald eagle

More fine folks from the 2017 FREESKIER Ski Test:

Gunter Jones, FREESKIER Art Director (a.k.a. DJ Hot Dogg)

Sarah Sherman, FREESKIER Social Media Coordinator

Connor W. Davis, FREESKIER Online Editor

Nat Houston, FREESKIER Account Executive

Zach Berman, FREESKIER Director of Strategic Partnerships

Madeline Ceclia, Tester

Jeremy Walker, Tester

Sarina Scott, Tester

Jon Uda, Tester

Anna Tedesco, Tester

Thomas Lampert, Tester

Dan Grund, Tester

Hannah Barkey, Tester

Spencer Harkins, Tester

Katie Hitchcock, Tester

Willie Nelson (yes, that’s his real name), Tester

Lexi Dowdall, Tester

Maggie Goertzen, Tester

Jeremy Handly of 4FRNT

Dave Bottomley of Faction

Matt Berkowitz of Fischer

Sam Blethen of HEAD

Will Eginton of LINE

Matt Furney of Sego

Ryan Simons of Völkl

Evan Williams of Nordica

Matt Dussault of Prior

Alex Hunt of DPS

Colin Sutherland (left) and Tim Dyer (right) of Liberty

Jason Levinthal of J Skis

Scotty VerMerris of Icelantic

Jaš Korsič of Elan

Sam Coffey of Salomon

Pearson Neal of Blizzard

Mikey Hovey of Black Crows

Pep Fujas, Local Pro and K2 Athlete

Giray Dadali, Local Pro and J Skis Athlete

Sander Hadley, Local Pro and Scott Athlete


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