2014 Ski Test Wrap-Up - Ski Mag

2014 Ski Test Wrap-Up

We’re done with our annual big-brand ski test. Here’s how it went.
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Skiing is like farming. When the weather cooperates and snow is abundant, skiers and the businesses that comprise the industry are happier. They feel taller, smarter, and better looking. Such was the case at our annual ski test, which took place last week in Snowbird, Utah. We’ve been testing ski gear for almost five decades, but we’ve never had the weather and conditions match the types of skis as perfectly as they did last week.

Weather and Conditions: Monday provided consistently firm, grippy snow from the top of our Gad Valley test run to the bottom, ideal for the narrow-waisted carving skis. Though temps were in the 40s, a storm blew in fast and furious that evening, draping Snowbird with a thick duvet of powder, perfect for the wide-waisted powder skis scheduled for Tuesday.

Snowbird reported eight inches early Tuesday morning, but the snow, a fast-skiing mix of graupel and powder, drifted much higher than that in Gad’s nooks and crannies. And it just kept nuking all day long.

On Wednesday, as the testers unloaded from Snowbird’s Gadzoom Express quad chair with wider all-mountain skis on their feet, they were greeted with soft, fuzzy, day-after-storm powder—“cool whip,” as tester Dan Withey called it. We continued testing this large and popular category on Thursday.

Friday brought firmer, chalky snow, which fit the narrower all-mountain skis just perfectly. 

Tech: Every year, as brands learn from one another and ski designs improve, testing becomes more and more a matter of recognizing subtle nuances within a host of well-engineered skis.

This year’s crop featured a few noteworthy trends: even more refined blends of rocker and camber; a move away from mega-fat (wider than 130 mm in the waist) powder boards; a re-embrace of svelte-waisted, carve-optimized all-mountain boards; and clearer segmentation between directional (flat-tailed) and bi-directional (twin-tip) all- and big-mountain skis. There are probably a few more, too, but we need to spend a few months poring over tester evaluation forms to tease them out.

Finally, while we may have skied out all the powder from Tuesday’s storm, Snowbird’s base is still plenty thick and we can count on some big spring dumps in the coming weeks. To visit and ski the terrain we test on, go to snowbird.com. For ski reviews, check back in on SkiingMag.com in late summer and subscribe now to receive Skiing’s 2015 Gear Guide and other jaw-dropping issues this fall.


Skiing Ski Test 2014

Ski Test Time

We're at our annual ski test at Snowbird, Utah, evaluating 2015's new models. Here's how it works.

Ski Test 2014 in Snowbird

Inside the 2014 Ski Test

It's a hard job testing next year's skis, but someone has to do it.

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How We Test

Last spring our testers logged about 5 million vertical feet in Snowbird's Gad Valley to evaluate 2014-2015’s new skis, which is why ours is the most trusted, legit test in the world. Here's how we do it.

Ski Test 2013: Day 1

Get behind the scenes of the Skiing Mag ski test in Snowbird, UT.

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What Happens at Ski Test...

...stays at ski test, but we can let you in on some stuff.

Ski Test 2013: Day 2

The test continues, but this time...it's personal.

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Ski Test 2013: Day 3

Day three arrives not with a whimper, but with a bang.

Last week Skiing Mag descended on Snowbird, Utah, for an intense week of ski testing. We brought in a squad of testers from around the country that consisted of ski patrollers, ski shop managers, PSIA instructors, and pro skiers and set up shop in Snowbird’s venerable Cliff Lodge for a rigorous routine of ski, eat, après, and repeat. This year, manufactures brought 149 different skis (96 unisex and 53 women’s) for our testers to put through the paces. By weeks end, the test team logged a collective 2,437,560 vertical feet—the horizontal equivalent of skiing from Salt Lake City to Vegas—and recorded all the on-the-snow data that will be used for the ski reviews in next season’s Gear Guide. Their work will find you the best skis to buy next season. Here’s some photographic evidence of how it all went down.

Ski Test in Pictures

All the skiing and debauchery of Ski Test 2012 at Snowbird, Utah, captured for posterity.