January 3, 2017
Whether you’ve been skiing for years, or you are about ready to upgrade those rentals, you will undoubtedly be asking yourself, “what ski is best for me?” This question can seem almost unanswerable with all the different ski options we have today, but with some personal reflection and goal setting you can buy your next pair of skis and skip that dreaded buyer’s remorse.
As general as this may sound, the first question to ask is “what type of skier are you?” This question requires an understanding of your skill level, seasonal goals, and your location or ability to travel to the mountains.
Being honest with your own skill level can be one of the hardest things to do, but being honest will allow you to buy a pair of skis that will help you improve faster than just buying the most aggressive pair of skis you can afford. The reason the most aggressive ski might not fit in your quiver is because your skill level still requires a ski that is more forgiving when it comes to bad habits and mistakes. This will ensure you can enjoy learning and aren’t getting your butt kicked down the slopes because your skis are more responsive than you are ready for. However, if you are a seasoned veteran and need something that can handle your expert descents it is important to make sure your ski is ready to keep up.
Where it gets tricky is when you no longer call yourself an intermediate skier, but have been warned against using an “expert” ski. Some “expert” skis will actually make it quite a bit easier to progress and have fun; this is due to the better materials and technologies associated with an “expert” ski. The only advice we can give here is try to make it out to a demo day and test the ski out before making your purchase. Learn to feel when a ski is not cooperating with you because it is too aggressive for the amount of weight and speed you are able to put into it.
Setting seasonal goals will help you narrow your search even further because you may need a specific tool to help in your progress. These goals can be shaped by your location and readiness to travel for the right conditions. The following focuses should help you narrow down what type of skier you are and what ski you need to fill your quiver.
You live for deep fresh powder, and a groomed run seems like a nightmare. You’ve bookmarked all the resort town snow forecasts and made sure that your schedule is completely open when that weather turns.
RESORT and GROOMED TRAILS
You are the weekend warrior who loves freshly groomed front-side trails. You tend to avoid the storms and adversely have to deal with hard-pack and sometimes bullet proof conditions as well as slushy sunny day skiing
BACKCOUNTRY AND ALPINE TOURING
Skinning up an untouched summit and earning your turns sounds like the ultimate get-away. These conditions can be all over the place, but are hopefully powder packed. You start to think about weight and versatility when it comes to moving in the backcountry.
ALL AROUND or ALL MOUNTAIN
This category typically attracts the greatest number of skiers as it caters to the widest variety of skiing. You want to have fun on a sunny groomed day, but you also want to be ready for that occasional powder day. Maybe your friend called you up with a set of touring bindings and skins for a backcountry session. These skis are going to be the workhorses of your quiver.
This category doesn’t get much attention as the skis that fit this category can fit into a lot of other categories. But it is worth noting that a ski for the park is one that can and should be beat up a bit. It will also utilize different camber and edge designs as the park has a unique set of requirements.
AGGRESSIVE or RACE SKI (On-Piste)
Again this category can be a bit of a challenge because each focus above has it’s own range of aggressive skis, but for this article’s purposes it will be defined as narrow, stiff, need for speed type skis to be used on race day.