Mining for Gold at Copper: FREESKIER Digs into 2015’s Best Park Skis

Mining for Gold at Copper: FREESKIER Digs into 2015’s Best Park Skis

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Copper Mountain: an early-season Mecca for top- level park and pipe skiers who flock to the hill to take advantage of the 500-foot-long, 62-foot-wide, 22-foot- tall Main Vein superpipe—among the first halfpipes to open in North America, annually. Furthermore, a proving ground for up-and-coming talent and home to prestigious skiing contests such as the US Grand Prix, the North Face Park and Pipe Open and the USASA Nationals. The resort is also home to Woodward at Copper and its famed Barn, where athletes and the greater public alike enjoy five Olympic trampolines and one Super Tramp, along with foam pits, jumps, skate ramps, bowls and pump tracks. And this spring, host of FREESKIER magazine’s 2015 park ski test, where we put hundreds of park-specific skis through the wringer.

But by saying, “park-specific skis,” I’m already in trouble. The reason being, an increasing number of ski manufacturers are seeking to avoid pigeon- holing products by labeling models “park-specific” and instead tout products that thrive in the park and ll over the rest of the mountain, too. In the fight for your dollar, it’s only natural that these brands would produce and plug an ultra-versatile ski—a tool for your everyday use, from the bumps and jumps to groomers to variable snow and beyond. Of course, many brands continue to press certain models that are particular to hardcore jibbers. There’ll always be folks out there who ski exclusively in the terrain park, day in and day out, regardless of the conditions. Ten inches of fresh sure sounds like a great time to practice that dub cork 10—pow landing, bro!

So, our elite group of ski testers takes to the hill each day with an open mind. Whilst shredding up a storm in the Woodward at Copper terrain park, the Eagle Jib Park, the aforementioned beast of a halfpipe or elsewhere on the frontside, our guys and gals want
to determine which skis are best suited to the various skiing styles that are prevalent today. The end objective for FREESKIER is translating the testers’ findings—recorded via scores and comments—to aid you, the consumer, in your quest to find the ski that best meets your needs.

This season’s test brought a mixed bag of conditions, ranging from full-on blizzard to warm, bluebird days, but our crew busted their butts, hot lapping the day away with the goal of testing as many skis as possible. It’s a job, on the one hand, but as first-time tester and rising slopestyle star Noah Wallace tells us, it’s a damn exciting time, too.

“This was the first time I was able to try out that many brands of skis,” he says. “Each run was a different pair, and along with it, a different experience. It’s pretty amazing how quickly you’re able to determine, ‘OK, this is a great ski,’ or ‘This is not a good ski.’ A worthy ski to me is one that allows me to do everything I want on the hill, from being playful on the cat-track to having good pop on jumps and rails, light enough for me to spin easily and solid enough to stomp out those big landings.”

Once a tester has a feel for a ski, it’s time to relay those findings to our staff. For the second straight year, our testers utilized personal accounts on FREESKIER’s custom web app to streamline the scoring process. Screw paper test forms! After riding a ski, testers are able to rate that product on a scale of 1 to 5 in categories including versatility, carving, playfulness, stability, swing weight and overall stoke. Additionally, they provide comments on each ski.

As the testers submit their forms, we’re able to monitor which skis are being tested often and which may need some extra lovin’. This allows us to ensure each ski receives an adequate amount of reviews, thereby providing an accurate test result. By the end of the week, we’ve amassed thousands of scores and reviews. That data serves as the basis for our ski reviews and the selection of our editors’ picks.

To close, we’d like to emphasize one important point: of the 350+ skis that were tested last spring, we selected a mere 113 to highlight as editors’ picks. Rest assured you’re reading reviews of the best damn skis out there. On you go, now…

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