The ultimate 10-step guide to testing next year’s park skis

The ultimate 10-step guide to testing next year’s park skis

It feels like all we do is test skis. (Not mad about it.) And for our latest testing venture, we’ve invaded Copper Mountain, where we’re currently running next year’s park-specific planks through the wringer. The cream of the crop will grace the pages of our annual Buyer’s Guide (coming September ’16), ultimately aiding you in your quest to purchase brand spankin’ new boards.

Having already tested 2017’s hottest “all-mountain” offerings, we’ve shifted our focus to jumps, jibs and all-things terrain park. Dive in, below, and get a sense for a typical day on-snow here at Copper. The ultimate 10-step guide to testing next year’s park skis is as follows…

Photos by Erik Seo

1. Consult our custom ski testing app via your smartphone. See which skis are in need of additional reviews.

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2. Once you hone in on a particular model that needs some more lovin’, go grab it from the racks.

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3. Adjust bindings as needed.

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4. Hop on Copper’s American Flyer chair, ascend, then make your way to the parks. Take your pick between Woodward Copper’s Central Park, 22′ Main Vein Superpipe, Eagle Jib Park and the Upper and Lower Playground Parks; you’ll find everything from massive table tops and ultra-technical jibs to more forgiving, “fun-sized” hits.

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5. Now, let loose. Jump, jib, bonk, press, rip switch, butter and repeat. Consider the ski’s performance in the following categories: Versatility, carving, stability, swing weight and playfulness. Keep close tabs on how the ski stacks up in each department. Soon, you’ll have to rate the ski in each category.

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6. Keep in mind, step 5 is much more enjoyable with friends.

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7. En route to the bottom, be sure to attempt a full greasing of this mega-insane rail setup.

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8. Also, don’t forget to catch max air.

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9. That ski you just ripped? Rate ‘er straight away via our custom ski testing app. It’s important to document your feelings in the moment while the strengths and nuances of a certain ski are still freshly embedded in your mind.

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10. Repeat.

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How we rank the skis…

With a few simple clicks on a mobile device, testers rate skis on a scale of 1 to 10, based on the categories of carving, stability, versatility, swing weight, playfulness and overall stoke. The ratings compound into a massive heap of testing data, directly at our fingertips. Just think: 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. Moreover, our custom ski-testing app allows testers to document their feelings in the moment, while the strengths and nuances of a certain ski are still freshly embedded in their minds. The data translates directly to our final ski rankings—presented in the annual Buyer’s Guide.

Who gets to test?

The people integral to the success of the ski assessments are our beloved testers. Regarding the all-mountain ski test, our testers come from all walks of life and locations across the United States. They’re built in various shapes and sizes and all have different ways of looking at the mountain. Honestly, they’re the wackiest bunch we know. Yet, despite comedic tendencies, you’d better believe that their skiing savvy is nothing to laugh at. Here at Copper, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest up-and-coming talent in the realm of park and pipe. Line ’em up for a game of SLVSH and there’s hardly a trick these cats can’t perform.

In both cases, our editorial team handpicks our ski testers. Both groups consist mostly of rippin’ Coloradoans who have made lives for themselves in the mountains. Some work in ski shops. A handful are former professional or aspiring athletes. Some are pure ski bums, “funemployed.” Rest assured, they’re highly qualified for the job, some even having tested with FREESKIER for the past decade.

Related: Gallery: We’re definitely not having any fun testing 2017’s park skis

More Info: We’re testing next year’s park-specific skis at Copper Mountain

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