Buying a pair of skis you haven’t personally tested can lead to buyer’s remorse. At Jans, we encourage our customers to try the specific model and length of ski before purchasing to ensure it matches your skill level and style of skiing.
Whether you’re new to skiing or taking the leap from renting to owning your own skis, choosing the right ski for your specific style and skill level can be a daunting proposition—even for experienced skiers. Understanding all of the different categories, constructions, and nuances of ski shapes, profiles, and materials takes a lot of time and on-snow testing. To further complicate matters, many ski manufacturers now sell direct to consumers, adding another layer to the decision-making process and resulting in a large number of inferior skis on the market.
Buying a ski you’ve never tested simply because it’s well-marketed opens the door to buyer’s remorse. If you do have total faith in a specific brand, reviewer, or shop, you may be able to buy a pair of skis sight-unseen. But in most cases, the risk of ending up with the wrong ski for your specific style or skill level far outweighs the potential savings. To eliminate that risk, we recommend working directly with a professional in a ski shop who can help take the guesswork out of the process and even let you demo the ski before you buy.
We also realize that not all skiers have convenient access to a ski shop with a test program. In that case, two key things should be kept in mind when buying skis without testing them beforehand. First, go with a brand that backs their skis with a multi-year warranty. Second, purchase a ski that has been extensively tested by trusted reviewers.
There is no substitute for on-snow testing. Until you’ve skied the exact make, model, and length of ski you’re thinking of purchasing, it’s difficult to know whether or not it’s going to have the on-snow characteristics you’re looking for. At Jans, we developed a demo program (link to: /park-city-alpine-ski-demos) that applies toward the purchase price of a new pair of skis to take the guesswork out of the ski buying process. Through the years, we’ve found there are a few major benefits to demoing skis before you buy.
Demo for Free
As mentioned above, some ski shops will comp demo fees if you end up purchasing a pair of full-price skis. Knowing you’re not throwing money away with each day of indecision goes a long way toward helping you make the right decision. It also means you can return to the same pair of skis in multiple snow conditions, energy levels, etc.
Demo Multiple Lengths
Finding the exact model of ski you want isn’t always the end of the decision. Most skiers find themselves somewhere between two possible size offerings within a specific model of ski. Demoing before you buy allows you to size up or size down so you know exactly which length best matches your skiing style.
Demo a Mounting Point
Once you’ve settled on a specific model and length, demoing also allows you to choose a binding mounting point. You’ll be surprised to find that moving forward (+) or back (-) even just a degree or two of the ski’s traditional mounting point can greatly influence how it performs in relation to your specific skiing style.
Decide what you are testing—are you trying to see how a carving ski compares to an all-mountain ski, or do you want to see how a wide ski stacks up to a powder ski? Or, are you testing three all-mountain skis against each other to find out which one you like best? The key to knowing which skis to test is to first strategize a comparison of the variables you want to test.
Head into the ski shop with an open mind. Regardless of what you may have read in this year’s magazine tests, there are a huge number of makes and models that might surprise you as a perfect match for your specific skiing style.
Know what type(s) of ski (link to: /how-to-choose-skis id=types-of-skis) you’re interested in and have an honest understanding of your skier type (link to “Skier Type” chart). Don’t worry about ski length, radius, and dimensions at this point in the process—that’s what on-snow testing is for!
Find a run that you are somewhere between completely comfortable and slightly bored to ski. Then test each ski on that same run, the same way each time.
For example, the Payday run at Park City Mountain Resort and Solid Muldoon at Deer Valley each have three pitches. On the first pitch, make short turns; on the second pitch, make medium-radius turns; on the final pitch (which leads to the run-out at the bottom so you can get away with this), make giant arcs to test the ski’s stability at speed. In between those three pitches, test whatever you like to do—ride switch, butter your turns, roll your ankles for simple carves. Just do it the same way with each ski in your test in order to get a really good comparison. Doing so will help you know exactly what you like in each different ski you test.
Join us in Park City and take advantage of our Test Ski Program or high-performance ski rentals to find the perfect ski for you!