What makes an indy ski an indy ski? Just about the same attitude that makes an indy test an indy test. Like a small-batch bourbon production run, the numbers are small at the test, with an emphasis on overall performance. Quite simply: do they deliver the goods?
On day one at Crested Butte, we woke to three inches of fresh snow, and our team of 12 men and women testers—some veteran and some new, with ability levels from weekend warrior to magazine cover boy—got straight to work. We ran laps linking the Silver Queen Quad and the High Lift T-bar, which gave testers 2,500 feet of varied terrain and conditions per run. Each pair got two to three runs per tester. From tight turns on Crested Butte’s legit steeps to g-out carving sessions on buffed corduroy rippers, we put ’em through the paces.
We skied hard for three days, and organized the racks to compare similar skis directly to one another whenever possible—an apples-to-apples approach. Brand reps were present to answer questions and turn screws (and they did a fine job of putting out the vibe all week, too). It was a relaxed spring-skiing atmosphere, with testers skiing in small posses, swapping skis every couple of runs, and ripping bell to bell. Day two brought another inch of snow, but sunshine and spring conditions prevailed throughout the test.
Testers recorded their results with a spiffy app on their phones, which noted numerical scores, but also transcribed verbal comments, so testers could describe in detail what worked and what didn’t. Ultimately, we had 11 brands with 55 models in attendance and competition was fierce—only 22 skis made the cut.
Where better than Crested Butte Mountain Resort to test indy skis? The resort’s famous steeps and funky charm dovetail perfectly with the bootstrap appeal of small-batch ski makers, and it didn’t hurt that the mountain enjoyed a record-breaking snow harvest, which laid down a deep base and perfect test conditions for our early April test period.
Big thanks to Crested Butte Mountain Resort for providing an unparalleled test venue, and a helluva fun place to rip to shreds. Ditto to our hard-working testers who came from far and wide to be a part of it, all of the indy brands who are making killer products, and the awesome reps who kept our skis ready to roll. Thanks to Julbo and Phunkshun as well, whose goggles and neck tubes kept testers comfy and looking good.
Check out highlights from our other 2018 Ski Test here.