The Ski Guru Blog

Be a ski tester for a day

You have ogled at the glossy ski publications with their annual ski tests. How cool would that be, testing the latest skis for free?


Regular folks at Okedemo_okemo1.jpgmo Mountain Resort in Vermont had the chance to click into this year's fleet of new skis and boards, and actually tell manufacturers what they thought earlier this month.


The privilege of being a ski product tester has traditionally been exclusive to industry peeps, former racers and chosen pros. So I jumped on the chance - and about nine pairs of skis - when I heard that Ski Magazine was bringing demos to "average joes."


Technicians from Volkl, Rossi, Atomic, Head, Nordica, Elan, Dynastar, Stokli, and Burton lined up their tents on the groomed white carpet outside Okemo's Jackson Gore Inn. No charge, just a credit card imprint and the usual waivers, and you were on your way to sample a blizzard (yes, Blizzard was there too) of finely-tuned new skis.


"This is our first public ski test," said Greg Valace, events manager for Ski Magazine and Warren Miller. "We hope to make it annual. We have a special 2009 Citizens' Ski Test Card which will enable us to review the feedback from customers."


Blizzard representative Ben Drummond said, "This Citizens' Ski Test just makes senses. They are the people buying the product, so they should get to test the gear on snow and share their opinions."


My husband, ourheather_okemo_demo3.jpg 17-year-old son, and I tested about 20 skis all together.  I sampled all women's skis - which now have anatomically specific construction, not just girly graphics. We concurred that there isn't a bad ski on the market, but each manufacturer has a wide gamut of offerings from race stock to park style, carver to fat powder ski and reverse camber rocker, so it's tremendous opportunity to try before you buy. Everyone' ski style is a bit different and it turns out there's a ski for that. It' also fun filling out a report card with your impressions.


My son likes a fatter ski (with the teenage requisite twin tips and funky graphics) so the Volkl Bridge was his top pick. Greg and I lean toward more traditional carving skis.


Next time you hear about a Citizens'Ski Test, don't wait or hesitate. Go sample some skis, and play like a pro ski tester for a day.


Check out our top picks:


Heather' hot women's skis for 2009-2010:

  • Blizzard Viva IQ 7.6
  • Volkl Feugo
  • Atomic Double Deck
  • Dynastar Eden
  • Nordica Hot Rod Conquer


Greg's picks for 2009-2010 Skis:

  • Volkl Tigershark 11'
  • Volkl AC 50
  • Blizzard 7.6 and 8.1
  • Dynastar Course 4X4
  • Salomon Tornado


Ian's Teenage picks for 2009-2010 Skis:

  • Nordica Hot Rod CA
  • Volkl Bridge
  • Volkl AC 50
  • Volkl Race Tiger Slalom
  • Stokli Laser Slalom


Heather Burke is our family ski guru. Photos by Greg Burke. For more of Heather's family ski tips and stories, go to

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