After many years at the same test location, we switched things up for this year’s SKI Test and headed to Taos Ski Valley, N.M. We couldn’t have timed the move better. In good snow years—and boy, was it a good snow year—Taos is a skier’s playground, its sustained vertical, wide groomers, challenging expert terrain, and gorgeous views rival what’s available at the biggest ski resorts in the country. Beyond awesome snow and terrain that made our testers giggle (yes, giggle), the independently owned and operated Taos Ski Valley won the hearts of our testers for its unique down-home charm.  

Similarly, little indy resort Monarch Mountain in Colorado delivered in a big way when it came to testing this year's lineup of deep snow skis. Those who have been lucky enough to ski Monarch's Mirkwood Basin on a powder day know that it's hard to find another area so well suited to testing pow planks. You can find the results for deep snow skis in this year's December 2019 issue.

How We Test

Like every year, we called on best ski testers in the biz—ski instructors, ski shop owners, bootfitters, ex-racers, and freeride competitors—to test nearly 200 skis over the course of one week in March, 2019. We group the skis by categories according to waist width and intended application, so that on any given test day we’re comparing apples to apples. For the 2020 SKI Test, ski brands were encouraged to submit their best skis in the following categories: performance carving; frontside; all-mountain; all-mountain wide; and deep snow. Testers are then tasked with evaluating skis based on specific skills in each ski category:

  • Stability at speed
  • Quickness
  • Hard snow integrity
  • Crud performance
  • Flotation
  • Forgiveness
  • Playfulness
  • Versatility
  • Overall impression

Want to see the full score breakdown of 2020 skis? Join Inside Edge to get exclusive content like extended ski reviews, gear discounts and giveaways, and more. 

To accurately evaluate each ski, testers put them through the wringer—they take each ski for multiple runs; play with them on groomers and force them into the chop, trees, bumps, and powder; they ski them hard and they ski them like an intermediate. When testers have made up their minds about the ski's personality and traits, they tell us via scorecards, then we tell you. If a ski doesn’t make the grade, we leave it out, because if we have nothing nice to say, we say nothing at all.

Read more: 2020 Best in Test Skis

While getting the chance to ski all day for a week on different skis may sound like fun, make no mistake—it's ... yeah, it's pretty fun. We couldn't show you these behind-the-scenes photos and make the argument that the week was all work and no play. 

A huge shout-out to our amazing ski testers, Taos Ski Valley, and the ski brand representatives who helped make SKI Test 2020 such a success. Lastly, we couldn’t pull off SKI Test without the help of our sponsors.

Behind the Scenes of SKI Test 2020

Related

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Skiing Magazine's 2008-09 Backcountry Gear Guide

Last March, our two dozen testers hammered laps on Crested Butte’s bony steeps for two days, filling out evaluation cards after each run. The results are listed here. “AT” means the gear was reviewed by alpine-touring skiers. “Tele” means tested by telemark skiers. Some skis were tested by both groups. Our goal: to help you find your perfect backcountry setup.