Each morning, after downing a cup of Joe and hearty breakfast burrito (or two), stretching sore muscles, tightening boot buckles and putting on game faces, our elite team of ski testers goes to work.From our ski testing headquarters at the base of Snowbird’s Gad Valley, the group ascends the mountain and proceeds to ski non-stop—albeit with a quick break for lunch—until the lifts stop spinning, putting as many skis through the wringer as time allows.
Using our custom ski testing app, testers rate skis on a scale of 1 to 10, based on the categories of carving, stability, versatility, float, playfulness and overall stoke. The ratings compound into a massive heap of testing data, directly at our fingertips.
If a certain ski has received enough reviews to satisfy our needs, we’ll pull it from the racks right then and there, allowing our testers to migrate towards models that need further analysis. This process ensures a thorough and proper evaluation of each ski in the test. To shed further light on how exactly the testers rank each ski, here’s an account of the step-by-step process.
1. To begin, bust out your smartphone and fire up our custom testing app. Log in to your account. Your unique profile stores all of your previously ranked skis, shows you which planks are in need of additional reviews and also gives you an in-depth description of each and every ski. Informed ratings are the best ratings, after all. Singling out a ski that needs some lovin’ (i.e. a ski that doesn’t already have 10 or more reviews to its name) should be step number one as you gear up to make another run down the hallowed grounds of Snowbird.
2. With a particular ski on your radar, strut over to the racks that are assembled in rows inside of the ski testing corral and seek ’er out. With your desired boards in hand, consult the app and familiarize yourself with the ski’s tech specs and its manufacturer’s notes on intended use.
3. Now that you know a bit about the ski you’re about to rip on, scan the testing corral and locate that ski’s respective on-site representative (each participating brand has product designers and/or tech reps on-site to provide testers with the fine details of their beloved products). For example, you’re ready to rock on the Fischer Ranger 98 Ti? Find Fischer’s own Matt Berkowitz and strike up a conversation regarding the ski. See what else you might uncover about the ski’s construction, beyond what you’ve already read via the app. Heck, invite “Berko” to take a lap with you while you’re testing the ski—he’ll be sure to provide additional, invaluable in-sights to the ski’s construction.
4. Next, be sure to have Berko—or any of the other on-site technicians—adjust your demo bindings properly. We like to party, but we also like keeping everybody’s knees intact.
5. OK, get the hell out of the tester corral already and go ski. That’s what we’re paying you for. Take your pick of Snowbird’s 169 trails, spread across 2,500 acres and 2,900 vertical feet. Have fun out there and make good choices.
6. As you romp around the hill, consider the ski’s performance in the following categories: versatility, carving, stability, float and playfulness. Seek out bumps, jumps, chutes, groomers, trees, chunder, powder and chalk to get a true feel for the ski—the more terrain you can experience on each and every ski, the better.
7. Be sure to give it all you’ve got on the descent—remember, we’re mimicking the skiing of the average FREESKIER reader, here, and those readers are talented AF on a pair of skis. Rack up some bonus points by sending a cliff into the Cirque under Snowbird’s famed aerial tram. Because if you’re getting rad and no one is around to see it, are you really getting rad?
8. When you arrive back at the testing corral, legs burning and with a wide smile on your face, grab that phone of yours again because you’ll need to record observations about the ski you just tested while the experience is still fresh in your mind. Rate the ski on a scale of 1 to 10 for the five categories listed previously. You’ll also need to include your own in-depth commentary about the ski.
9. Once you’ve saved your scores and comments for that particular ski, rejoice as you watch your total ski count bump up a tally. Rub it in your fellow testers’ faces that you’ve tested more skis than them.
10. Have you caught your breath yet? Good. Consult the app again and single out a ski that needs some extra lovin’. Repeat steps 1 through 10.