Dozens of manufacturers participate in the Waterville Valley Demo Day

By David & Ann Schissler – Finding the right pair of skis is no small task. The easiest way to begin your search for the skis of your dreams is to demo high performance models at your local mountain’s rental shop. There are generally a several different makes and models to try. You can expect to shell out anywhere from $20 to $40 bucks for a day of testing but you can swap out as many different skis as the mountain has to offer and if you find the perfect ski most shops will apply the demo fee to the purchase.

The more brands and models you can test the better. I was recently looking for a pair of skis for deeper/soft snow to complement my Head i.SLs, which kill it on hard pack but are particularly unforgiving in soft snow conditions. They tend to dive instead of float. Fortunately, I was recently at Waterville Valley, NH Demo Day to find my remedy for soft conditions. I tried several pair and decided on the Elan Ripstick 85s. The White Mountains had been getting serval inches of snow each day/night consistently so there was just enough untracked snow on the sides of the trails to get a feel for how the skis will react. They floated on top of the snow so well it didn’t even cover the tops of the skis. Turning was effortless and only required a slight weight change from side to side for the skis to turn.

Without doubt, the best way to determine which ski suits you is to find a manufacturer’s demo day at a mountain neat you. There are usually numerous manufactures participating with a broad range of models. There’s no charge to demo but be prepared to provide your driver’s license for security.

When evaluating skis there are a number of performance factors to consider:

  1. Is the flex soft or stiff?
  2. How deep is the sidecut?
  3. Does the ski initiate turns easily?
  4. Does it hold well on hard pack/ice?
  5. Is it quick in the fall line or better suited for GS turns?
  6. Is it stable at speed?
  7. How will it perform in broken powder?
  8. Will it float or dive in soft snow?
  9. How much rocker does it have if any?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself to help you find the skis that will enhance your technique and your enjoyment. New skis are a considerable investment. Given the cost it’s important to find the skis that will provide confidence and enable you to become a better skier.