Skiers shopping for new equipment face a mind-scrambling array of choices. This season, ski manufacturers will stock ski shops and sporting goods stores with some 400 different adult models. How's a skier to sort them out? Shop employees, particularly those at a good specialty ski shop, can help. And so can we. Every year, our test teams hit the snow on a broad range of new equipment. They ski, they scrutinize, they take notes, they discuss. They look for the best of the best: skis and boots that will reliably perform as intended, under the conditions for which they're intended, when used by the folks for whom they're intended. The gear that makes the cut—this year, 89 skis and 31 boots—appears in this issue, starting on page 71. The gear that doesn't make the cut—well, caveat emptor.
Which brings me to an important point, one that deserves emphasis: We do not like every ski or boot we test. Each year, we hear from a handful of readers who take the fact that the reviews in the magazine are predominantly positive as evidence of a lack of discernment on the part of our testers or, worse, as the product of pressure from gear manufacturers. Believe what you will, but let's just say that over the years, editors here have become familiar with pretty much every insult and cuss word the English, French and German languages have to offer. And that's fine. We test gear for the benefit of one audience and one audience only—our readers.
As for our testers, they're just as quick with put-downs as they are with praise. Check out a few comments from this year's test cards:
>"This is a slalom-sidecut groomer ski with a head injury."
>"Take this thing in powder and they won't find you till spring."
>"What's in the core? Sawdust and caramel?"
>"Perfect for the lazy skier who never skis crud. Or hard snow. Or any snow."
>"Its edge is purely ornamental."
>"Tip is designed to keep a snappy beat by slapping the snow."
>"You could saw off the front two feet of this ski and performance wouldn't change."
>"Made a lot of noises I don't like to hear from my ski."
>"Worked best for long turns in the fall line at 150 mph."
And my personal favorite:
>"It's like the Hatfields live in the tip and the McCoys live in the tail."
You won't find any of the skis these comments concern in this issue—and if you stick to skis we recommend, you won't find them under your feet either. The truth is, there are more great skis and boots out there than ever before. Yes, we like them. And so will you. Enjoy the issue.
Kendall Hamilton Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Fresh perspective: Tester Andrew Couperthwait at Vail, Colo.