Consensus can be mericless. And when the results are in, we often have some tough phone calls to make. But for every brand that tanks in the test, there’s a brand that shines, and we want readers to know which factories are on their game. What we shouldn’t have to say is that objectivity rules our test, but we know what goes on at other tests. So we’ll say it: There’s no “pay-to-play” fee for entry. No medals are exchanged for ad dollars. No palms are greased.
Who are our testers? Sure, they all rip. But more important, the team includes some of the most experienced testers in the business, and that’s what counts—because testing 15 or 20 different skis in a day is a bewildering experience to anyone who lacks experience. The team includes a mix of natural gear evaluators: instructors, shop owners, former racers and freeride competitors and industry product developers—this year it was a team of 11 men and nine women.
We educate our testers about leaving any preconceptions behind: about brands, about previous models, about construction of skis, etc. We set testers loose on Snowbird on the test skis (about 150 models total) sorted by waist width and divided equally among the number of test days. Testers ski each model and evaluate and articulate its character, strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use and user. They also rate each model numerically according to nine different performance criteria. We crunch their numbers, consider those along with tester votes and opinions gathered during daily end-of-day debriefing sessions, come up with the top skis, and review them here and in Skiing's annual Gear Guide in the fall.
We even show you the data, controversy be damned, because it’s highly illuminating. We know testing is somewhat imperfect, and we know you know that, but we still think you want to see it. Use it wisely. And have a great season.