Seasoned ski racers and ski professionals understand the importance of finding skis that bring out the best of their individual style while mitigating some of the potentially unproductive aspects of their skiing and racing. Ski testing is necessary in order to identify which ski most enhances performance, and Mt. Hood, Oregon is a great place to figure out which race skis to purchase for next season. Below are some key considerations to ensure a productive and accurate ski test.
When is the best time to test 2012 race skis?
In a perfect world, ski testing would be done on winter snow and in winter temperatures. The reality is that next season’s race skis are not typically available to test until April or May. As a result it is difficult for the Eastern and Midwestern skiers to test on home turf. In the West you have greater opportunity to test. For example, in California there is still very good snow at Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain. For summer skiing, Mt. Hood and Whistler will be your best choices.
How do I get 2012 race skis for testing?
In the spring, some ski shops like the Start Haus has test skis available from suppliers like Atomic, Blizzard, Fischer, Head, Nordica, Rossignol, and Volkl, in stock so you can test them before the regular season ends. If you are going to Mt. Hood during the summer for training, most of the equipment suppliers have “Test Centers” where you can go and try skis of interest while training on the snow field.
What is the best way to test 2012 race skis?
The best method for testing new race skis is to control the test environment so you can figure out which skis suit your style and technique the best. I recommend that you use your existing skis as the comparison reference. For this to work well it is important to have your current skis in good shape. Make sure that your edges are clean and sharp, and use appropriate wax for the conditions. When you pick up the test skis, check the preparation before you get on the mountain. You want to be able to compare the skis, not the tunes. So be sure that the skis you are comparing are tuned to the same bevel.
How should I be skiing to test skis?
Freeskiing on the skis is one way to help decide which ski works best for you. The best results will be achieved if you further control the test. Testing in the race course is the ideal way to make the proper ski choice. Whenever possible, test when the snow is the hardest. This means making your test runs back to back with as little time in between runs as possible. That way changes in the course conditions will not be as extreme. It is also important for the test course to be challenging in terms of terrain and rhythm changes. You will need to trust your instincts in terms of the feedback you are getting from the skis on the hill. There are other elements that can be very helpful to determine which ski is working best for you. Take video of your test runs, so you can go back and review what you are seeing against what you were feeling. Video helps you to see where there may be some problems. For example the video will show if the ski you are testing is allowing you to stay on the fastest line in all parts of the turn. The other key to making a good choice is the use of timing during the test, the clock does not lie. If you compare solid runs with no mistakes, and are consistently faster on one ski versus another, that is the best feedback you can get.
Are there summer camps that are designed to provide ski testing for 2012 race skis?
There are camps like the Start Haus/Danielle Nichols/Sugar Bowl Camp at Mt. Hood that have incorporated ski testing by having 2012 race skis from all the major suppliers on-site. One of the goals of this camp is for athletes to successfully determine all of their equipment needs for next season by the time camp concludes. This camp will have timing and video everyday for the best possible ski test. In addition to the variety of skis, the condition and prep of those skis will be very tightly controlled.
Remember to bring your best attitude, motivation and effort out on the hill when ski testing. You have to “bring it” every run to find the differential in the skis you are trying.
The following tips will help you end up with the best race skis for your style and ability as a ski racer:
- Select the proper size ski for your age, size, strength, skiing skills, FIS compliance, and price. Use the resources available to make the best selection. It is helpful to discuss with your coach the correct size ski to test. Make sure that you understand the FIS rules for your age and where you will be competing.
- Use your current ski as the base-line or reference point and test the new skis against your existing ski.
- Use video whenever possible to help you make comparisons. Being able to see differences in your line and turn shape will help you to see which skis are really helping your skiing.
- Use timing whenever possible. For J3s and younger this is not as critical. For FIS level racers, it is strongly recommended that you use timing and video before you choose to switch skis.
- On salted glacier snow, new skis that are well prepared can give the impression of better performance because of the prep. Make sure that your skis, as well as the test skis, are sharp and waxed.
Good luck with your camps, ski testing and races this summer!