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SKI mag's 2013-14 Ski Test at Snowbird: May the Best Skis Win

SKI mag's 2013-14 Ski Test at Snowbird: May the Best Skis Win

SKI testers start pounding the snow today as part of the week-long evaluation of next year's skis in the industry's toughest test. And eight inches of fresh doesn't hurt a bit...
By Joe Cutts
posted: 03/01/2013

Today is the first day of SKI testers cranking out big vert as the industry's most comprehensive week of gear tests starts at Snowbird, Utah. That means hundreds of test cards, lots of sore quads and, well, passionate shop talk deep into the night. And there's even eight inches of fresh at the 'Bird. Here's the final list of skis we’ll test.

It’s a long list (see below)—about 150 skis, the most we can effectively handle in five days of testing. They’re divided into categories according to intended uses—this is how we make sure we’re testing “apples to apples” on any given day. We group the skis by the snow type they’re best designed for, which comes down to waist widths:

- Hard Snow, up to 85 mm, for speedy frontside cruising on groomers.

- Mixed Snow East, 85-98 mm, for everyday use in typical Eastern conditions.

- Mixed Snow West, 95-110 mm, for everyday use in typical Western conditions. (This category, as well as Mixed East, includes wider skis this year, as manufacturers push the envelope of what constitutes an “everyday” width.)

- Deep Snow, 110-127 mm and up, for powder days.

The remaining category is Value, where manufacturers may enter a ski of any waist width provided it costs not more than $699 (Minimum Advertised Price, which is typically about $200 less than the MSRP).

We’ll test one category each day, waiting till the last possible moment to announce the category in case there is (or isn’t) snowfall in the forecast, so that we can match the conditions to the category as best as possible.

Some companies get more skis than others. It’s a controversial approach among the manufacturers who get fewer entries, but we do it for the reader. The number of skis allowed each brand is based on two factors: market share and performance in last year’s test. By factoring in market share, we reflect what’s actually out there in the shops. By factoring in past-year’s performance, we reward companies, however small their sales are, for doing well in the test—because we want to focus on the good skis and spend less time on the dogs. In the end, doing well in the test is the quickest way for a brand to get more skis in next year’s test, which should in turn help them to sell more skis and gain market share.

You know the rest: Every tester tests every ski. Debriefs/discussions are held daily at the end of testing. Test-card data is entered in our customized Filemaker Pro program, adjusted for standard deviation among testers (because some are generally stingy, some generous), and sorted according Average Overall Score (scale of 0-5). Then we publish the data, so that readers can see exactly how every winning ski ranked in relation to the field according to our team of seasoned testers. (No other publication does this, but we think it’s worth the heat we take from manufacturers in order to give you the straight scoop.) And it should go without saying, but manufacturers are not charged money to participate in the test, and any quick comparison between advertising pages and test results will show no correlation.

So here’s the list. Remember, we don’t write about skis that don’t medal in our Buyer’s Guide, so this will be the last you hear from us about roughly half these skis. And bear in mind that these are the skis each company thinks have the best chance of medaling in our test; even if they don’t medal, they’re probably still better than the average ski.

Now we’ll go back to watching the Snowbird weather report and looking forward to five days of testing the latest stuff on the awesome GadZoom terrain. Watch this space for daily test-week updates.

MEN'S DEEP SNOW
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada JJ 185 118
Atomic Automatic 186 117
Blizzard Gunsmoke 193 114
Dynstar Cham 127 189 127
Elan Bommerand TBT 183/190 120
Fischer Bigstic 122 192 122
Goode Rahu 189 116
Head Cyclic 115 181/191 115
K2 Annex 118 181 118
Kastle BMX 118 183 118
Line Sick Day 125 186 125
Nordica Helldorado 185/193 113
Rossignol Super 7 188 115
Rossignol Squad 7 190 120
Salomon Rocker 2 122 192 122
Scott Scrapper 180/190 124
Stockli Stormrider 107 183, 174 110
Volkl One 186 116
Volkl Shiro  186 118
MEN'S HARD SNOW
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada Triumph 178 79
Atomic Blackeye Ti 181 73
Blizzard Magnum 8.0 Ti 179 80
Dynastar Chrome 74 177 78
Elan Amphibio 82 XTI 176 82
Fisher RC4 Superior Pro 180 72
Goode Beyond 177 82
Head Titan 177 82
K2 Rictor 82 184 85
Kastle MX 83 173, 183 83
Line Prophet 85 186 85
Nordica Firearrow 84 EDT 176/184 84
Rossignol Pursuit HP 177 81
Salomon Enduro XT-800 175 79
Scott Reverse 176 87
Stockli Laser AR 174 78
Volkl V-Werks RTM 181 84
MEN'S MIXED SNOW EAST
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada ARVti 178 98
Atomic Crimson TI 185 86
Blizzard Brahma 187 88
Dynastar Cham 97 178/184 97
Elan Amphibio 88 Xti 178/186 88
Fischer Motive 86 182 86
Goode Impact 177 88
Head Rev 85 177/184 88
K2 Rictor 90 177 90
Kastle MX 88 188, 178 88
Line Prophet 85 186 85
Nordica Steadfast 178/186 98
Rossignol Experience 88 178/186 88
Salomon Quest Q 90 177 90
Scott The Ski 185 93
Stockli Stormrider 95 183 95
Volkl Kendo 184 89
MEN'S MIXED SNOW WEST
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada TST 183 102
Atomic Ritual 190 103
Blizzard Bonafide 187 108
Blizzard Cochise 185 108
Dynastar Cham 107 184/190 107
Dynastar Cham 107 HM 184/190 107
Elan Spectrum 105 ALU 180/187 105
Fischer Watea 96 186 96
Goode Fire 177 98
Head Collective 181/191 105
K2 Shreditor 102 179 102
K2 Annex 98 177/184 98
Kastle FX 104 184, 174 104
Line Sick Day 95 186 95
Line Sick Day 110 186 110
Nordica El Capo 185 107
Nordica Hell & Back 185 98
Rossignol Experience 98 180 98
Rossignol Soul 7 188 106
Salomon Quest Q 105 181/188 105
Scott Pure 188 104
Stockli Stormrider 100 174/183 100
Volkl Mantra 177/184 98
MEN'S VALUE
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Atomic Theory 178 95
Blizzard Peacemaker 180 104
Fischer Motive 80 182 80
Head Rev 80 Pro 177/184 74
K2 AMP 80 x 177 80
Line Prophet Flite 179 85
Nordica Burner 178 84
Rossignol Sin 7 186 98
Salomon Quest Q 98 180/188 98
Volkl Bridge 179 95
WOMEN'S DEEP SNOW
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada VJJ 165 115
Atomic Millenium 177 110
Blizzard Dakota 177 108
Fischer KOA 110 176 110
Head Mya 10 171/181 104
K2 Remedy 169 117
Line Pandora 172 110
Nordica La Nina 17 113
Rossignol Star 7 178/188 116
Salomon Rockette  176 115
Volkl Kiku 178 115
WOMEN'S HARD SNOW
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Blizzard
8.0 Viva 165 80
Dynastar
Elite Light 165 72
Elan
Insomnia 166 74
Fisher
KOA 80 161 80
Goode
Opus 170 82
K2
Superglide 80 160 80
Kastle
FX 84 168 84
Nordica
Wild Belle 162/170 84
Rossignol
Unique 10 166 75
Volkl Yumi 161 83
WOMEN'S MIXED SNOW EAST
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada ARVw 168 97
Atomic Affinity Storm 167 84
Blizzard 173 173 88
Dynastar Cham W 87 166/172 87
Elan Interra 168 88
Fischer KOA 88 168 88
Goode Nirvana 169 88
Head Mya 8 170 84
K2 Superbright 90 167 90
Line Soul Mate 90 165 90
Nordica Hells Bells 162/170 90
Rossignol Temptation 88 170 88
Salomon Lux 167 88
Scott Luna 166 85
Stockli Stormrider 95 174 95
Volkl Kenja 170 87
WOMEN'S MIXED SNOW WEST
BRAND MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
Armada TSTw 165 100
Atomic Elysian 168 95
Blizzard Samba 173 98
Dynastar Cham W 97 166/172 97
Elan Bliss 175  105
Head Mya 9 170 78
K2 Remedy 102 169 102
Kaste FX 94 176 94
Line Soul Mate 98 172 98
Nordica Wildfire 169/177 107
Rossignol Savory 7 178 106
Salomon Stella 173 103
Volkl Aura 170 96
WOMEN'S VALUE
BRAND  MODEL LENGTH WIDTH
 Atomic Pure
 176  79
 Blizzard  Viva 7.7 Ti
 163  77
 Dynastar  Cham W 107
 175  107
 K2  Superfree  160  76
 Line  Tease  158  86
 Rossignol  Saffron 7
 178  98
 Salomon  Lumen  169  96
 Scott  Roas  168  86
 Volkl Viola  171  74
reviews of SKI mag's 2013-14 Ski Test at Snowbird: May the Best Skis Win Write a comment
Can you tell us what boards the skiers were on in the three pics above? Thanks. [Assuming they were from your test, I'd guess the skis in the bottom pic (guy with red pants at high edge angles on groomed) are the Stockli Laser ARs.]
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