Copper Mountain, CO, April 5, 2001--During the last few weeks in March, SKIING Magazine ski testers and editors were busy trying out 110 models of skis that you'll find in ski shops across the country next fall.
If you were on the slopes of Copper, Breckenridge, or Irwin Lodge (near Crested Butte) recently, you may have seen these ski testers in action. To see how the skis stack up, SKIING selected locales with reliable conditions and terrain that is comparable to the types of terrain for which the skis were designed.
Separate tests were staged for each of six categories of skis: Freeride Superhero, Freeride Expert, Freeride Intermediate, Carving Expert, Carving Intermediate, and Pipe and Park.
So, what's the word on next year's skis? According to Brian Metzler, an industry veteran and five-year SKIING Magazine ski tester, the most noticeable differences are that skis are becoming lighter under foot, and the lengths people are skiing have gotten shorter. "People who used to ski on 205's are now on 188's, and they're pretty content because there's still so much ski under foot," Metzler said.
When asked if being a ski tester is as fun and glamorous as the magazine makes it look, Metzler said, "People see the tester embroidery on your ski jacket and they're like, 'Oh, you're from SKIING Magazine and you're testing skis-must be a rough job.' But we're actually doing work out here. In some respects it is a lot of fun, but by the end of the day, you're just trashed, especially your legs. Yesterday and the day before we did 12 or 13 runs, top to bottom. That's 2,300 vertical feet of full-on aggressive skiing."
"You really have to focus and think about everything you're doing on every ski, but at the same time, make sure your pushing the ski to its limits," Metzler added. "When you're marking down categories on a card, you really have to determine how this ski is different and what it's really doing."
Bruce Ross, a professional skier for 24 years with a TV show on Resort Sports Network and a first-year tester for SKIING, explained, "We don't talk about the skis after we ski, so there's no bias; that way it's a fair test for everybody. Everyone has a real professional attitude and goes out with the masked skis and just rates them on their code names such as Chuck or Bob or Rob or whatever it is." Ross added, "Right now I'm doing a combination lap where I'm skiing groomed, bumps, powder, trees, crud, and back to groomed, all on the same ski. So by the time I get to the bottom, I'll have a pretty fair assessment."
Other notable hardcore skiers rounded up for the tests this year included Jason Rosener, Eric Archer, Kristen Lignell, Pam Fletcher, Chris Anthony, Kristin Ulmer, and Anda Rojs.
The data from the testers' experience will be recorded, organized, and analyzed. Then it will all go into SKIING Magazine's annual Gear Guide (due in October 2001), so you can get the lowdown on next season's skis.