How to Demo Skis, with Bob Gleason
Where to Demo: Reps VS Shops
Company demo days are a valuable, no-cost option, especially when several reps are demoing their lines. If you’ve already narrowed down your selection, this is the best place to get all the key information you need on that particular make(s) and model(s).
If you’re baffled by the vast selection of skis now available, a good, well-stocked shop will discern your likes and dislikes, wants, aspirations and needs, then use that information to recommend the make(s) and model(s) you should demo. On-hill shops can let you try several skis and fine tune your selection based on your feedback after each demo. Shops usually charge for demos, and subtract that fee should you buy their skis.
What to Bring
Great fitting boots are essential. Also, bring your poles, photo ID and something to record your experiences and impressions. Be ready to commit some time to the process then enjoy the ride. Discovering each ski’s personality is fun!
What to Say
Tell the demo provider where you like to ski: groomed runs, bumps, powder, steep or moderate terrain? Are you an aggressive or casual skier? Do you own skis or rent? Are you adding another pair to your quiver? Have you done any research? What do you think about the skis you’re interested in? What skis have you liked in the past? Remember: skis evolve and the model you loved 3 years ago may have changed.
How to Test
Be consistent: use the same terrain to test each ski. Start by finding the skis’ sweet spot on moderate, groomed terrain. Then turn on the gas and take them through the paces. Vary the turn size and shape, speed, steepness, and snow conditions. You’re looking for the one that makes you ski better across icy patches, through bumps, on groomed runs, and in fresh powder.
Modern camber and rocker variations can change a ski’s optimal length. If it feels sluggish or overbearing, try a shorter length. If it seems inconsistent, flighty, or unstable, go longer.
Sometimes, the first ski you demo is perfect. You can either thank the demo provider for finding your new bliss, or you can continue
comparing. Keep notes on what was great, different, and not so good about each ski as you fine-tune your selection.
What Should You Try?
It should be apparent what type of skis works best for you. If skis in a particular category feel wrong, redo the interview and try another category, waist width or shape. If you find several great skis, weigh their differences. Then choose.
Beware Too Many Options
Some people try so many skis, they forget what they liked and disliked. Beware too many options. Review your notes. Your choice should be perfectly clear.
How You’ll Know
If a ski makes you ski better than ever, helps you tame difficult terrain with ease, and leaves you feeling energized, it’s probably the ski for you. If you intend up your game, choose the ski that zinged when you were pushing the envelope. If two skis seemed equally great, then choose the better-looking one, but only in a dead heat.
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Boot Doctors founder, Bob Gleason has skied since the age of 3.