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Help Needed: How to Approach a Personal Demo Day

CrystalRose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
After buying the wrong ski and being on 3 different rentals this season, I've decided to have my own personal demo day. It's mostly for fun and experimentation. No big deal if I don't find my perfect ski. That said, it's not going to be cheap so I want to utilize my time appropriately. So, I'm turning to you ladies that have done this before to get some perspective. I've made a list of about about 10 skis that I've whittled down to a top 5. The shop is on the mountain which helps but my questions are:

How many skis can you realistically fit in a day? I want to try some of the skis in different lengths and that cuts into the demo list…

If they don’t have the ski length you want but decide to try it anyway, how do you determine if you like the ski? If you ski a shorter version, would buying a longer one potential change what you liked about it?
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
How many you can take out depends on how fast you ski, and the length of the runs. Take notes! I like to take out several, pick a few favorites, then ski them again.

And yes, buying a different length CAN make a huge difference. If you demo a certain length and like it, then that's the length for you :becky:

Also, don't be afraid to take out skis that weren't on your list. You never know what you might end up liking that wasn't on your radar.
 

socalgal

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
If your at Mammoth demoing keep in mind that the different lodges have differernt skis available, just depends on what has beem checked out. So you can ski from one aide to another if you're feeling adventerous.

Like @contesstant said, take notes! Bring a note pad and jot down all the little things that come to mind. Also,take a picture of each ski when you get them, that way you can remember the specs easier.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
After buying the wrong ski and being on 3 different rentals this season, I've decided to have my own personal demo day. It's mostly for fun and experimentation. No big deal if I don't find my perfect ski. That said, it's not going to be cheap so I want to utilize my time appropriately. So, I'm turning to you ladies that have done this before to get some perspective. I've made a list of about about 10 skis that I've whittled down to a top 5. The shop is on the mountain which helps but my questions are:

How many skis can you realistically fit in a day? I want to try some of the skis in different lengths and that cuts into the demo list…

If they don’t have the ski length you want but decide to try it anyway, how do you determine if you like the ski? If you ski a shorter version, would buying a longer one potential change what you liked about it?
Easiest way for me to answer your question is to describe what I did several years ago at Big Sky when I was trying to figure out what all-mountain ski to get to replace my skis that were 75 underfoot. Had been using those skis for 3-4 seasons. By then I'd demo'd several times, mostly free demo days.

I mostly took the skis out on the same terrain (on Andesite). Could ski on a groomer and in a glade while staying close to the shop at the base (an independent ski shop, not the resort shop). Started with a model I thought I would like a lot. The original Black Pearl came second, which I turned out to really like. After that, I asked for recommendations from an older man who was quite helpful. Had heard of a few but wasn't that knowledgeable back then. I knew enough to describe what I was looking for and what was working and what wasn't. I took out four more models. Like two and hated two. The lengths ranged from 152 to 158. Mostly mid-80s but also took out a wide ski that was 100 underfoot. Then in the late afternoon I took out the BPs again and went to a different area to test them further. That was enough to confirm that they were at the top of the shopping list for deals during the late season or summer. Since the skis I had were still fine, I was not in a hurry to buy.

Can't remember when I made a point of testing a model in two different lengths. Haven't done it that often on the same day. But in general I'm not picky about length. Often just ask what the shortest length a rep has available because I'm petite. I learn as much or more from skis that I don't like for whatever reason. The experience on skis that are too short or too long is very useful. With one exception, if I like a ski at one length then a shorter length is okay too. Had have times when the longer length is not fun.

I demo'd the Absolut Joy @154. I opted to buy the AJ @148. By the time I bought the AJs, I knew that a slightly shorter ski is easier to turn even when the next longer length is also fun. Another factor had nothing to do with performance. Shorter skis are lighter and easier to carry from the parking lot. Since I planned to use the AJs mostly at Massanutten, often with friends with kids, less to carry was a plus. I've been quite happy.

The very first time I demo'd, I was an intermediate who had started skiing more regularly after not skiing much for a few decades. I wasn't picky at all. It was a free demo day at a small hill in the southeast with perhaps 10 tents. I went to the tents that didn't have a line. I think I took out 3-4 skis during the morning. Was with my daughter and a friend who kept her company while I demo'd so I didn't spend the entire day trying stuff.
 

CrystalRose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
If your at Mammoth demoing keep in mind that the different lodges have differernt skis available, just depends on what has beem checked out. So you can ski from one aide to another if you're feeling adventerous.

I was thinking of doing it one day at Mammoth during Diva West. I called and they said the same thing about the availability being different at certain base lodges. Hopefully there won't be a need to ski all over the mountain!

The experience on skis that are too short or too long is very useful. With one exception, if I like a ski at one length then a shorter length is okay too. Had have times when the longer length is not fun.

I demo'd the Absolut Joy @154. I opted to buy the AJ @148. By the time I bought the AJs, I knew that a slightly shorter ski is easier to turn even when the next longer length is also fun. Another factor had nothing to do with performance. Shorter skis are lighter and easier to carry from the parking lot. Since I planned to use the AJs mostly at Massanutten, often with friends with kids, less to carry was a plus. I've been quite happy.

That's what I was wondering about length. I was on a longer rental that felt squirrelly to me. Went back and traded it in for a shorter ski and the sensation was still there just not as bad. You've confirmed my experience! I think I'm going to try skis long-->short not short-->long like I had originally thought. This ski length thing still has me confused and conflicted.

Also thanks everyone for tips on taking pictures. It will definitely simplify things.

If anyone was curious what my list looked liked in order of must try:

1. Head Absolute Joy
2. Volkl Yumi
3. Atomic Vantage 85w
4. Armada Victa 83
5. K2 Luvit76
6. Nordica Astral 84
7. Volkl Flair 76
8. Nordica Santa Ana 93

3, 4, and 5 are tied in curiosity. Everything after 5 is gravy. So I'm looking at soft, narrow (75-85), and short (160-165).
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've done 5, and that included an hour+ wait for the one pair that was at a demo tent. I'd generally do a blue groomer, a double black off-piste/tree run and then a mogul/groomer run back to the lodge. The different levels helped me get a good gauge for the length. I'm 5-2, but some of the skis I wanted to try were only the men's version and around 174-177. Some felt surprisingly manageable, which was surprising to learn and made me re-calibrate what sizes I would shop between. The ones that were too long, I still got a good sense of how they flexed on an easy groomer, so even though they were work on the steeper runs, I could get an idea of what they would feel like in a high 160s/low 170s length. Likewise, a short ski might feel skiddish on straight-aways but really feels perfect on the steeper, tighter slopes.

I didn't take notes for my personal demo day this year or at the organized one I went to last spring, but the "right" ones were the ones I couldn't stop thinking about. I demoed the Atris Birdies around 4 weeks ago, and I have no clue why I liked them a little more than the Rustler 10s & the QST106, or why I liked them lots more than the ON3P Kartel 98 or the Backland 109s, but I was so impressed and couldn't stop thinking about them.

Same story for my Pandoras I got last spring. They stood out as the best, Santa Ana & Solly Lux were close, Armada Trace was memorably bad chemistry. There were 3-4 others that I know I skied at some point, but they weren't good or bad enough to recall.
 

CrystalRose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've done 5, and that included an hour+ wait for the one pair that was at a demo tent. I'd generally do a blue groomer, a double black off-piste/tree run and then a mogul/groomer run back to the lodge. The different levels helped me get a good gauge for the length. I'm 5-2, but some of the skis I wanted to try were only the men's version and around 174-177. Some felt surprisingly manageable, which was surprising to learn and made me re-calibrate what sizes I would shop between. The ones that were too long, I still got a good sense of how they flexed on an easy groomer, so even though they were work on the steeper runs, I could get an idea of what they would feel like in a high 160s/low 170s length. Likewise, a short ski might feel skiddish on straight-aways but really feels perfect on the steeper, tighter slopes.

Oh wow! Very impressive:hail:! We are leagues apart- I would classify myself as a low intermediate on a good day and advance beginner the rest of the time. Just now attempting to ski blue runs but wanting to improve. That's my biggest issue with trying/buying skis right now. Buying for how I ski now vs how I want to ski:tongue:.

You also touched on something I've been mentally struggling with. Why do certain skis feel like the way they do? Or even simpler, why do I like one over another? I decided to play with length and tried a squirrelly Salomon 165 cm before a lesson. The instructor told me to get forward and by the end of the day the ski wasn’t much of a problem but as soon as I relaxed that ski seemed to laugh and say “gotcha!”. Told the ski shop about my problem and the tech said, “Yeah people call that playfulness, I personally don’t like it.” Is that playfulness? I traded it in for the same ski but 160 cm, it felt the same way but didn’t punish me as much. Is it the length or the ski then? Earlier in the season I had a 160 cm K2 that I liked more. It felt more stable. Damp? Is it the shape, core, or what? But funny enough I kept the Salomon because I feel it makes me a better skier. I have to get forward or they let me know quick!
 

volklgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
There is an actual thread (in the review forum, I believe) about doing demos, including a link to the scorecard that the ski mags used to use, and my group still uses. It really helps to write grades and impressions immediately after each demo so you don’t forget.

We do the same 2-3 runs over and over with each ski to give them all a fair and equal test.

Here’s a link to one of the threads - scroll all the way down for the scorecard link.
https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/dumb-question-how-to-demo-skis.10805/
 
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NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
When you take out a new/different ski, I'd recommend first taking it on a run that is fairly close to the demo location (and a run you know well/know you are comfortable on). That way if you absolutely hate the ski, you don't have to get all the way down from the top on it.
This is especially true if you are lower intermediate/advanced beginner I think. When I first started skiing I recall demoing a ski at Stowe that I could hardly turn--probably too advanced for my technique at that time. So it was good that I had first taken it up a lower level run so that I wasn't stuck struggling with it all the way down.
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Canyon supposedly has the most skis. You can take chair 17 and do an some "easier" greens. I demo'd w DD earlier this year. Her patience only allowed for 5 pair .....

Then I took out 2 more ;)

@Analisa interesting you didn't like the armada trace / er. When I demoed on a snowy day the 172 (98) was like crack. I just kept bombing thru everything...so addicting to go so fast....
I own camox birdie 98 version of the atris and have demoed the atris. Yes different feel for sure but the armada was an increadibe crud buster. I have not liked past armada skis. The 108 would make a great powder chowder ski .
DD now owns the 98 as her powder ski in a 164.
 
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Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My number one pet peeve with the ski industry is the term "playful" or "fun" for a ski. Some people think about it like the guy at your ski shop where it's something you either prefer or don't, while some of the ski awards rate it on a 1-10 as a ubiquitous good thing. Some people have a meaning for it, but it's lost on me. Hard charging through open bowls is fun, popping through trees is fun, getting air is fun (I mean, if/when I land on my feet), laid back groomer cruising with my intermediate friends & parents is fun. Unless the ski's unmanageable for me, I'd probably say it's fun and playful. I personally feel like the opposite of damp is a ski that has a lot of feedback, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I work as an apparel product manager and really try to dissect all the components of a ski and how they work together and which ones pair well with which types of skiers, but there are so many factors between how both the ski & the skier are "made," that it's really best to make a solid list of options well received in the industry and get them on your feet.

You can still get some hard trail/easy trail variation in at your level between the bunny slopes, greens, and the blues. In terms of skiing now vs. room to grow, it depends on how often you get to the slopes. If it's less than 10 days a year, I'd steer towards something that feels solid now. If you get a lot of days, I'd probably do the same ski in a size up (as long as a size up isn't above your nose/eyebrows). You'll know you can flex the ski, but it might take a day or two to keep your tips off each other. That extra length will pay you back in stability if you're progressing quickly. How tall are you and what length are you considering? Also - don't give me too much credit - two seasons ago I moved to the PNW as a max blue skier. The right skis were super helpful for progressing. The skis I owned before the Pandoras were a little short & a little stiff, which wasn't a great combination and never made me feel confident on them and I figured I could ski hard terrain, but was just cautious & slow, which really changed when I got on the right setup. The Pandoras were the first ski I picked out through demoing and the ski I've improved the most on. I think the two are very related.

Keep us posted with what you're loving!

@WaterGirl - I know, I'm very alone in that camp. I'm curious if it was the tune or something.
 

skibum4ever

Angel Diva
@CrystalRose maybe you could work on getting comfortable on the slopes on the first day, then do some demos on the second day.

Hint: In the past, Mammoth has discounted demo skis by 50% or more at the end of the season. Of course, given the weirdness of this season and the Alterra takeover, who knows what the end of this season will bring???
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
My number one pet peeve with the ski industry is the term "playful" or "fun" for a ski. Some people think about it like the guy at your ski shop where it's something you either prefer or don't, while some of the ski awards rate it on a 1-10 as a ubiquitous good thing. Some people have a meaning for it, but it's lost on me. Hard charging through open bowls is fun, popping through trees is fun, getting air is fun (I mean, if/when I land on my feet), laid back groomer cruising with my intermediate friends & parents is fun. Unless the ski's unmanageable for me, I'd probably say it's fun and playful. I personally feel like the opposite of damp is a ski that has a lot of feedback, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I always thought the term "playful" referred to whether or not a ski had a lot of rebound, or pop; in other words, if you felt like it propelled you into the next turn. A damper ski doesn't necessarily do this.
 

CrystalRose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
How tall are you? At this point in your ski career, your skis should be close to your chin in length. Going too long will only slow down your progression.

I"m 6'0" 160 lbs (for now), so ~183 cm. I'm looking at skis from 160-165 cm. 160 being chin height and 165 closer to my mouth. There are some skis on my list, like the Armada Victa, that have a large jump between sizes: 159 to 167. I'm leaning towards the 159 but 167 doesn't fall too far outside my range. I'm not sure if I want to waste time trying both lengths:noidea:. Most websites put me on much longer skis even as a beginner which is why I was asking the question on the Yumi ski length thread does height matter most?

@CrystalRose maybe you could work on getting comfortable on the slopes on the first day, then do some demos on the second day.

Hint: In the past, Mammoth has discounted demo skis by 50% or more at the end of the season. Of course, given the weirdness of this season and the Alterra takeover, who knows what the end of this season will bring???

I was going to take probably 2 days to explore the mountain before I demo to see what trails I'm most comfortable on. It also depends on the weather, snow conditions, etc. When I called Mammoth they said they would apply one day of demoing to the price of a ski bought there. I don't know when that expires. Meaning, could I come back in May and buy a ski with my March demo discount? I didn't think to ask...
 

skibum4ever

Angel Diva
Taking 2 days is probably a good idea. I didn't know how anxious you were to demo.

If there's a blizzard it may change a lot of paradigms.

You and I will resemble the odd couple when we ski - 5'1" vs. 6'. It will be fun.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@CrystalRose - oh! You're the one with the Cheyennes right? I'm extra excited for you to demo. It's such an encouraging experience after a frustrating ski. I had a really similar experience with a pair of Faction Agents that were recommended to me by an ex-boyfriend, where I struggled on easy blues and started getting knee pain for a month. There were so many days where I was like, I'm going to hang in the lodge before I cry on the run. He dumped me on New Years Eve, and I dumped his skis. Booked a trip to Tahoe for that night and skied my first double diamond on a pair of K2 demos.

The Cheyennes aren't as universally despised as much as those Agents were, but I feel like they're kind of polarizing. I've read glowing reviews and some not so great ones, and reviews that say they're beginner friendly cruisers or more advanced or from grown men saying they're good mogul skis. A few of the Ski Canada reviews mentioned having difficulty turning them - coming from strong skiers. So you'll probably hear some advice from some experts on how they're too long/stiff/bouncy/advanced, it's not a good starting point since they are experts for a reason, but no amount of knowledge & experience can make up for the fact that they can't feel what it's like to be in your ski boots and sometimes people & skis just have bad chemistry. I'm really glad you're considering some just-as-advanced skis alongside some easier ones, and hope you play with length too.

I really over-compensated after the Factions. Evo rated them as advanced-expert and I really took it to heart that I wasn't good enough of a skier to ride skis with that rating. I overcompensated with my next pair of Dynastar Chams and went 8mm shorter, with a lot of rocker and a super short turn radius. They were light years better, but they were unstable at speed. I kept thinking that I was just a slow and cautious skier since I didn't feel confident taking long swooping turns, but I mainly couldn't trust the skis and it took me a while to realize I needed to size up. Even when I demoed the Pandoras, there were so many skis that I didn't consider because they were considered expert. So here again, I just upgraded to a longer and more advanced ski for a daily driver. Oh - and those K2s I tried in Tahoe? A pair of K2 MissBehaved rated advanced to expert. I could've been skiing that level ski all along.

Fingers crossed one of the skis on your list really clicks with you and makes you feel fast & fearless!
 

CrystalRose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Taking 2 days is probably a good idea. I didn't know how anxious you were to demo.

If there's a blizzard it may change a lot of paradigms.

You and I will resemble the odd couple when we ski - 5'1" vs. 6'. It will be fun.

In my mind I was aiming for Tuesday, I don't won't to be too tired from skiing back to back days making the Demo pointless. Been debating skiing on the Saturday I get in because I'm so eager to get out there!:bounce:Realistically, I know I should use that day to acclimate and just explore the town and different base areas:frown:.

I've been looking at the weather and for now it's supposed to snow/rain? everyday during Divawest. But that may change as we get closer to the time. Which makes me concerned because the snow is going to be much softer than the conditions I really ski- man-made hardpack. How they perform at Mammoth vs Big Bear may be very different. Oh well, I'm on vacation and it's something fun to do!

As for being the odd couple... yea you're right! I always forget how tall I am until I leave my house:tongue:.

You are light enough for your height that you can stay with a shorter ski. @Olesya Chornoguz can probably give some advice in this area.

Yes I remember @Olesya Chornoguz from the big ski length thread! She was 6'1" and around 180 lbs. She said her first ski was 166 cm. I remember all that because I felt she might make a good benchmark at 1" taller and about 20 lbs heavier. It helped me settle on my 160-165 cm range. But more than happy if she has any tips to add:smile:.
 

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