Our 2017 Ski Test was the best time ever… Dozens of the industry’s best folks gathered at Snowbird, Utah for a week full of shredding—pow, groomers, cliffs, side hits, everything—with the end goal of determining what skis are best-fit for our 2018 Buyer’s Guide. And, now that the grand event is over and done with, we give you this: a collection of Ski Test memories, as recounted by various testers, brand reps and FREESKIER staffers. Relive the greatness with us, and get stoked to see the best darn skis of 2018 in our next batch of magazines, available here for a limited-time and stupid-low price.
(Photos by Erik Seo unless otherwise noted)
Sweet, sweet memories:
“This year, on our first morning, we were ‘interlodged,’ meaning we couldn’t leave the our house due to intense avalanche mitigation. A storm had dropped 14-plus inches on Snowbird and we awoke to the echoes of avalanche bombs all around us. When the interlodge was finally lifted, we skied deep pow all day to kick off the week.”
— Donny O’Neill, FREESKIER Senior Editor
“After having spent most of my winter couped up in a classroom and only able to sneak away for a few Colorado park laps every week or two, being greeted by a foot and a half of fresh snow at one of the raddest resorts in the western U.S. was an amazing feeling and reminded me why I love skiing so much. That, and getting to spin some laps with edit-hero Sander Hadley and feeling the bottom of my stomach drop out after getting a little too sendy… But then stomping the landing was all-time.”
— Dan Grund, Tester
“My favorite memory would have to be skiing deep ass pow laps with my childhood hero, Pep Fujas. Don’t want to get too heavy and look over the constant laughs we had all week, but that will be seared in my brain forever.”
— Adrian Bouthot, Tester
“This photo says it all…”
— Chris Garcin, Tester
“The group of testers and staff at FREEESKIER are bringing the fun and positive energy that is needed in the ski industry. At the end of each day, everyone gets together and hangs out around the Yurt—sharing stories about the day, as well as a healthy amount of beverages. The stoke level is always at an all-time high and the energy can not be beat. Stories about the best tomahawk, side hit, party lap or the prior night’s festivities are shared with everyone. Those moments, where the group came together, are collectively the best memory of the week.”
— Colin Sutherland of Liberty Skis
“My favorite memory might have come from the very beginning of the week. I met Matt Berkowitz in the basement of the maze that is the Cliff Lodge (after taking an unnamed staircase down from the 4th floor, finding myself in the laundry room, racing through an employees-only hallway, taking an elevator down another floor and a short… er… long-cut through the kid’s game room). Waiting for me was the infamous “INTER-LODGE, TRAVEL CLOSED, AVALANCHE DANGER” sign. After patiently waiting 15 minutes, we stepped outside to welcome the cold, crisp air and fresh snow. Shortly thereafter, we were pillaging the freshly-fallen powder.”
— Alex Hunt of DPS Skis
“FREESKIER Fest is one of the weeks I look forward to the most every year. It’s the whole experience that’s so memorable; meeting a ton of rad, like-minded people I now consider lifelong friends, getting to shred hard every day in a beautiful mountain environment, talking shop, aprésing and, of course, stoking people out on 4FRNT. Team FREESKIER set the bar high this year at Snowbird and it’s going to be a tough one to beat, but I’m already counting down the days until next year.”
— Jeremy Handly of 4FRNT
“I have five…
1. Any and all moments of party-shredding and hill-banging with the gang!
2. Hot tub cannonball in the Strafe Sickbird Suit.
3. Spontaneous dance parties with DJ Hot Dogg.
4. Watching Katrina DeVore passionately single-slice the life out of the piñata.
5. Over-sending a backflip to the moon and cratering in the hard pack… for the homies.
— Scotty VerMerris of Icelantic
“There are countless awesome memories from this most recent ski test. The annual human slalom certainly comes to mind, as does DJ Hot Dogg crushing tunes all day, every day, for a week straight. But, the top spot has to go to Sunday night’s storm that provided us with insane powder snow to kick off our week. I hadn’t seen a blizzard like that in as long as I can remember. When we awoke, it was my first experience with the Little Cottonwood Canyon ‘interlodge.’ So much snow and such crazy-high avalanche danger in the canyon that we were banned from leaving our condo. There were guns blasting heavy artillery for avalanche mitigation purposes all around us. The walls of the house were shaking like crazy with each thundering “Boom!” It was eerie as it was exciting. When we got the OK to head outside, the pow-slaying frenzy was all-time—the perfect conditions for the 115+ mm underfoot skis, and the perfect way to welcome our all-star team of testers and manufacturing reps.”
— Henrik Lampert, FREESKIER Editor-in-Chief
“Following Pep Fujas and Giray Dadali on a cat track, when they suddenly carved left, aired over and tail tapped the tip of 15-foot pine tree, landed 40 feet down a vertical chunder field from hell and straight-lined out as I said to myself, ‘Man I suck at skiing.'”
— Jason Levinthal of J Skis
“Aside from winning a YETI Cooler, I think the whole week was a memory worth hanging onto. But, if I had to narrow it down, I would have to say our final tram lap with all the testers was all time! Nothing like chasing a group of mystical creatures around a mountain in spring conditions and T-shirts, hootin’ ‘n’ hollerin’ with cold Bud Light waiting for you at the bottom. The magic carpet through the mountain to Mineral Basin was one hell of a party, too!”
— Matt Dussault of Prior
“My favorite memory from the test is just the whole week. The fact that I got to rip around and meet new, rad people made the whole experience great. It was an honor to be a part of such a fun ski test.
If I had to pick one single moment, though, it would be from Monday’s pow day. The traverse off the Gadzoom lift was insanely deep and everyone was extremely stoked. The feeling when you got to the bottom and everyone was hootin ‘n’ hollerin can’t be replaced by anything.”
— Jon Uda, Tester
“My favorite memory of ski test happened just minutes after they dropped the rope in Mineral Basin. Mike, Adrian, Dan (FREESKIER testers) and I dropped in like we were hot sh$t. T-Minus 12 seconds after the drop and a few milky turns, we were left with two tomahawks and three missing skis. Luckily, the soft snow prevented any major injuries. So, while Dan hiked the length of a football field to get his skis, we continued to shred, and maybe (definitely) laughed at him a bit.”
— Thomas Lampert, Tester
“One of my favorite moments from this year’s test was almost immediately after I had a good double-eject. It was the day of creatures; I was in a dinosaur suit, flanked by my two unicorn friends, Katrina and Kristin. They witnessed the carnage, each grabbed a shred stick that had flown off my feet and handed me some snow to ensure I didn’t get blood from my bloody nose on the dino suit. That’s was magical friends are for!”
— Casey Jillson, Tester
“8.1% Pow Day IPAs in Utah!? Hell yeah—I’ll test skis any day for a few full-percentage beers.”
— Anna Tedesco, Tester