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The People’s Choice

The People’s Choice

Are you a believer in the wisdom of the masses? We invited anyone who was willing to come be our ski testers for a weekend. And here’s what they told us.
posted: 12/30/2009
SKI Magazine's first People’s Ski Test at Okemo

We admit right up front that this wasn’t the most scientifically rigorous test we’ve ever conducted, but we had fun doing it. On Dec. 12 and 13, the first ever Skimag.com Super Demo and People’s Ski Test took place at Okemo Mountain Resort. Frankly, we were just happy to have snow to ski on—a week earlier Okemo’s trails were bare and brown, before a cold snap finally brought the guns to life.

Over two days, more than 300 testers took advantage of an opportunity to shake down the latest skis. A lot of them said they were narrowing their choices before buying a pair, and were glad of the chance to conduct their own personal tests. Some were content to casually demo a few pairs. Some were eager for the chance to be part of our first People’s Ski Test—and worked as hard as any testers we’ve ever paid to do the job.

To help us with the event, we recruited the New England manufacturer reps for all the major brands. With all but a couple exceptions (K2 and Fischer just couldn’t make it), we had all the major brands on hand. That’s a significant difference from most consumer demos, where the only brands present are the ones that the sponsoring local shop carries. Then, into that Super Demo we threw a few bundles of our standard test card—modified for this event—and asked those who would take the time to give us their thoughts. The response was excellent.

We wanted testers to have the freedom to try the models they wanted, so we didn’t attempt to force them to think in terms of categories, the way we do at our annual spring test. That probably made it a little harder for them to compare skis—an apples-to-oranges kind of thing—but it was more fun, and we did take note of which skis were most-tested, which told us something about popularity and reputation.

A few testers admitted they were a little bewildered by the array of skis on hand and were having trouble keeping their impressions straight after about 10 different skis. But others took to the task confidently and had strong opinions about what they did/didn’t like.

In an ideal test, every tester tests every ski. But this was never intended to be a definitive analysis; it was more about having fun on all the new toys, and maybe beginning to think more critically about what makes a ski good. There’s certainly some good information to be gleaned from the excercise, especially if you’re someone who values the opinions of a “real” skier over some elite professional. So here’s what we learned from two days of testing and hundreds of test cards. Thanks to all who took part.

* For purposes of this test, the maximum score possible is 45. Click on a brand to see comments from the testers. As with our “pro” test, we required a minimum of eight test cards to consider a score reasonably valid.

** Women's models are denoted with a "W" next to the model name.

BLIZZARD:
G-Force Supersonic

Score: 41.80
Magnum 7.6

Score: 38.33
Viva 7.6
(W)
Score: 38.25
Magnum 8.1

Score: 33.85

DYNASTAR:
Contact 4X4
Score: 37.00
Exclusive Legend Eden (W)
Score: 26.6

ELAN:
888
Score: 38.00
Black Magic (W)
Score: 37.80
Magfire 74
Score: 37.25
Speedwave 14
Score: 35.90

HEAD:

Peak 78
Score: 33.4
iSupershape Magnum
Score: 30.75

KASTLE:
MX88
Score: 29.44

NORDICA:

Olympia Victory (W)
Score: 39.33
Speedmachine Mach 3
Score: 38.00
Speedmachine Mach 4
Score: 36.33

ROSSIGNOL:
Attraxion Echo (W)
Score: 36.38
Classic 80 Ti
Score: 35.75
Attraxion 12 (W)
Score: 34.71
Avenger 82 Ti
Score: 33.83
Classic 70 Ti
Score: 32.66

SALOMON:
X-Wing Tornado Ti

Score: 30.56

VOLKL:
Fuego (W)
Score: 40.75
AC50   
Score: 37.8
Tigershark 8-Foot
Score: 36.25
AC30
Score: 32.33
Tigershark 11-Foot
Score: 31.60

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