This is the time of year when a lot of ski and outdoor magazines and websites come out with their reviews on the new season’s equipment. I don’t know about you, but I love reading them. It’s a great way to get psyched for the coming year. And besides, it never hurts to look.
All the same, there are oh-so-many skis. And oh-so-many reviews. It can get pretty confusing. So before you rush off and buy the ski that a review says is best, here’s something important to keep in mind:
Gear reviews are subjective. So much depends on the reviewers’ ski level, the way they ski, their own personal likes and dislikes, snow conditions, biomechanics, ski length, even mood.
So please — keep in mind that reviews are strictly the opinions of a specific skier (or a very small group of select skiers). They’re a great place to start. But the best way to tell if a ski is right for you is to:
1) Learn as much as you can about the ski you’re interested in — which includes getting opinions from a variety of sources. You might want to check out the Gear Review section of TheSkiDiva.com, where members of the site evaluate skis they’ve tried. The best thing about it is that it’s interactive, so you can actually ask questions of someone who’s tried the ski. Try doing that with a magazine.
2) Assess your abilities honestly and fairly. You don’t do yourself any favors getting a ski that’s above or below your level, so give yourself a fair assessment.
3) Keep in mind the conditions under which you want the ski to handle. If you ordinarily ski under boilerplate conditions in the east, it may not do you any good to only look at powder skis. Or if you want something for powder skiing, well, then a groomer probably won’t cut it.
4) Get out there and demo! You may find that a ski that gets awful reviews is one that suits you perfectly. Hey, they make tons of different skis for a reason. What’s great for one person may be awful for you, and vice versa. The best way to find out is to give them a try.
Bottom line: Keep in mind that reviews are only a small part of ski selection process. The rest is up to you!
Good comments, Wendy. I would only add that the skier often figures out what ‘kind’ of ski that matches her desires. For instance, I don’t like “big box skis” (meaning the standard volkl, rossi, etc.), even their more elite lines. I happen to prefer the quirkiness of independent ski makers’ skis. That is not to say that there aren’t fabulous skis in both lines, or that all independent skis are to my liking…only that the skier has to figure out also what “ski personality” they like!
Good point, Joy. Too often these skis are overlooked. There are a lot of great boutique skis out there — and they’re not usually reviewed. A great idea to consider these, too!