2015 Ski Test: FREESKIER invades Aspen to find the best skis of the year

2015 Ski Test: FREESKIER invades Aspen to find the best skis of the year

[juicebox gallery_id=”133″]


In each of the past four years, FREESKIER has converged upon the storied town of Aspen, CO, to celebrate #FreeskierFest. The event consists of seven straight days of the most comprehensive ski testing in the industry, and it’s a damn fun time to boot. #FreeskierFest is a tremendous undertaking. Hundreds of skis from dozens of brands are put to the test, allowing us to highlight the absolute crème de la crème in our Buyer’s Guide.

Ski testing takes place on Aspen Mountain, which rises up directly above town, topping out at 11,212 feet. Call it Aspen, call it Ajax, call it Party MountainTM—the venue is ideal for testing skis across a wide variety of terrain and snow conditions. From the top of the Silver Queen gondola, where we set up camp for the week, testers have access to a whopping 3,267 vertical feet, 76 trails (none of which is labeled with that charming green circle) and 675 acres (which seem like 1,000 plus) of skiable terrain. Picture this: Massive 14,000-foot peaks line the horizon, fresh snow covers the pines and aspens, and a light breeze gently blows. Then, a deafening explosion breaks the calm—that would be our posse bombing down the hill.

Our group of testers is as eclectic as the mountain itself, donning loud apparel and even louder personalities. They all share the same unbridled passion for the sport of skiing, though, and they’re insanely good at it. From shop owners and aspiring pros to ski bums and resort employees, our testers are consistently the best skiers on the mountain (G.N.A.R. points!).

Each morning, following a Jour de Fête burrito and tall coffee (or three) to counteract the effects of the previous night’s antics, our testers are locked, loaded and ready to go. A 14-minute gondola cruise over pristine pow stashes and glittering valleys of corduroy deposits them at our testing corral. After grabbing a pair of skis and getting the bindings adjusted, folks head down the mountain, eager to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the product. This process repeats from bell to bell.

Ajax’s unique zones are excellent for putting skis through the wringer. The steep fall line terrain and wind-loaded goodness of Walsh’s and Kristi’s are great for testing the powder planks on a deep day and/or big-mountain sticks a few days post-storm.

Skiers can hit the FIS lift and shred The Dumps for a collection of steeps situated between perfectly spaced aspen trees. The multitude of runs on Bell Mountain, located down the gut of Ajax, also offer moguls, glades and rock outcroppings to play on.

Then there’s Dipsy—where the Hollywood line awaits—a high octane run with three big hits directly below Ajax Express. It’s a great route to test out each ski’s competence in the air and stability on landings, and it’s also an ideal locale to display your mad trix in the process.

No matter their route from top to bottom, testers utilize our custom mobile app to rate each ski that they step into, based on float, versatility, playfulness, carving and stability, providing a wealth of information that we draw upon when writing ski reviews.

While we try our hardest to plan out our test in advance, Mother Nature dictates which skis will be tested each day. She’s usually quite considerate, and this year, like clockwork, a couple of big storms belted the Elk Mountains with over a foot of fresh snow, allowing us to break out the fatties and put them to the test in prime conditions.

In the following days, as the snow became choppy and chewed up, we distributed the big-mountain skis, and our guys and gals charged steep, exposed terrain, noting characteristics like stability, float and carving.

When the flakes weren’t falling in Aspen, the sun was shining, softening up the snow and allowing us to test drive the all-mountain sticks. We took these do-everything skis and ripped top to bottom laps, carved up a storm in the Copper Bowl, swiftly maneuvered through Corkscrew Gully and hammered slush bumps down Niagra. By week’s end, all of our bases were covered.

In our online gear guide, we highlight the best skis of 2015, based upon extensive tester ratings and comments. Of the 350+ skis that were tested, a mere 113 have been selected as editors’ picks. Browse through, find your weapon(s) of choice, then get out there and conquer.

We’ll see you on the mountain.

Upgrade Your Inbox

Don't waste time seeking out the best skiing content; we'll send it all right to you.

One thought on “2015 Ski Test: FREESKIER invades Aspen to find the best skis of the year

Comments are closed.