Manufacturers send 120 models in two sizes (men's and women's) to our staging area in Beaver Creek, Colo. In most cases, the skis have already been tuned, mounted and snow-tested by manufacturer representatives.
Skis are masked and put in a test corral at Beaver Creek resort each morning, arranged by Skier Type.
Testers take a pair of masked skis into the binding corral, where a binding technician adjusts the bindings to fit the testers' boots.
Each tester takes one or two runs on a ski, which among 40 testers amounts to about 30,000 vertical feet of powder, bumps, corduroy, crud and ice for each pair tested.
Testers fill out test cards, with both quantitative and qualitative feedback sections.
Testers meet in the afternoon (after a full category is completed) to debrief and to discuss the merits of individual skis.
More than 1,750 test cards are completed and brought back to the Eastern SKI offices in Burlington, Vt., where Senior Editor Joe Cutts makes sure the information is meticulously entered into a customized FileMaker Pro spreadsheet. The software allows us to apply standard deviation to scores and isolate variables (such as hard-snow edge-grip) that we consider important.
Medals are awarded to the skis we love. This year, just 71 skis received medals. It's an exclusive group. Check out SKI Magazine's Buyer's Guide 2000 (September 1999 issue) for reviews of skis, boots, and binding that you can trust. Check out last years ski test results in the 1999 GearFinder.