The 2015 edition of our annual all-mountain ski test proved to be an ultra-huge success. With more than 350 of next year’s best skis on-site, produced by a slew of skiing’s top brands, our group of incredible testers, brand ambassadors and technicians once again demonstrated why #FREESKIERtest is the most comprehensive ski test in the industry.
Our week-long rendezvous in Aspen, Colorado consisted of a mind-boggling number of in-depth ski reviews, some of the best powder days of the season, numerous bluebird groomer laps, daily après parties, rowdy family dinners, a flip cup tournament at Aspen Brew Company, a plethora of big airs, hot tubbing, BBQs and so much more. Our mission was simple: discover the best of next year’s skis; then, rank and showcase those top models in our 2016 Buyer’s Guide, to be released in the fall of 2015.
To give you a taste of just how awesome this year’s #FREESKIERtest really was, we’ve provided a step-by-step analysis of all of the blood, sweat, beers and tears that make up our test.
The testing process…
Each year, we invite skiing’s top ski manufacturers to the amazing town of Aspen. Upon arrival, we place each of the brands’ hand-picked lineups of skis onto multiple snowcats, which are then uploaded to the summit of Aspen Mountain. Standing tall at 11,212 feet, 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 badass trails and 675 acres of skiable terrain.
Once the skis have arrived to the top of the hill and our HQ is dialed, our trusty crew of ski testers (30+ in total) set to work. Thanks to adjustable bindings and professional technicians who are there to adjust our setups in a flash, we are able to swap skis nearly every run, ensuring that each of the skis are tested by multiple skiers, across varied conditions.
The skis are grouped by waist width. When the snow is deep, we bust out the fatties. On the warmer, sunny days, we take the skinnier models out. This year, we were fortunate enough to have three days of pow, followed by three days of epic blue skies, ensuring a fair test for each of the skis we had in our lineup.
The ski reviews…
Gondolas and chairlift rides are reserved for ski reviews. Each ski is graded on multiple levels within our handy dandy one-of-a-kind mobile application. Testers rate each pair of skis on versatility, playfulness, carving ability, stability, float and overall stoke, each on a scale from one (least) to ten (greatest). Additionally, testers submit comments via the app, sharing each and every aspect they did and didn’t like about each ski. Upon completing our ski test, the categories are added together and averaged to create our list of Editors’ Picks, featured in the annual Buyer’s Guide.
The ski testers…
Our testers differ in many ways; big and small, male and female, East Coasters and West Coasters, etc. However, they all share one similarity: each of ’em rips like a pro. Testers are recognized not just by the FREESKIER stickers that adorn their helmets, but also by their sheer rip-ability. From former industry professionals to local legends, our crew lights it up all day long on the steep and deep.
Thanks to the Sky Hotel, we’ve got it dialed when it comes to après parties and catered meals. After long days on the hill, the refueling process is key and our team has a pretty good grip on the whole “work hard, play hard” mentality (naturally!). As soon as we are off the hill, the party is on. You can find our crew sipping cocktails at the Sky Hotel’s slope-side hot tub as we gear up for our family-style meals, resting our legs for the next day in a long week of testing.
The final product…
While it’s true that our team has loads of fun at #FREESKIERtest year in and year out, at the end of the day, we’re really sampling these hardgoods for you guys, the FREESKIER audience. When our test is said and done, we are confident that we have created the most complete list of Editors’ Picks to be featured in our Buyer’s Guide; you can feel satisfied when selecting your next pair of boards, knowing they’ve been through the ultimate grind.
We appreciate you following along with our epic week of testing. Until next year, enjoy some epic pow turns on repeat and be sure to subscribe to FREESKIER magazine to see which skis emerged as the cream of the crop for 2016.