How do you choose skis?

Selecting the right skis can be a difficult task. Any experienced ski shop owner can certainly help you compare skis, but this would be strictly based on either his knowledge of the construction, his own impression when skiing them, or a colleague's comments. The truth is that he cannot detect or guess how you will feel on any given pair of skis. It's definitely a tricky task to give advice on what to buy, especially for $1000 equipment you might be using for several years! It's not like suggesting a bottle of wine to share with friends on a single night. There are several steps to take to identify what skis may suit you best. The problem  with these steps is that they limit the options. You cannot spend all your time testing equipment. Ultimately, skis have properties. They have a certain geometry (radius, length...), profile (camber & rocker) and a pattern of bending stiffness and torsional stiffness distribution. The bending and torsional stiffness are intimately related to the feeling you will have on the snow. In addition, they may have variations in damping properties that may also affect your experience. What we suggest at Sooth Ski is a system that measures, analyses and compares ski properties. This is the only possible way to compare skis independently and objectively, so you can benefit from the right options specific to your experience on the snow. Let's review what you can do to better identify which skis are good for you.

How do you choose skis - Photo from Unsplashed

Try before you buy

Of course, it is recommended to try before you buy. This is easy to say, difficult to organize. To try out skis, you need a shop that carries a large selection of demo skis, ideally located on the mountain, that will allow you to do more than one run. You can also chase after some demo days, but it will be difficult to compare from one company to another on similar conditions. In addition, you need to keep in mind that snow conditions change from one run to another, and your own physical awareness/endurance is variable. 

Filter advice you receive

An alternative to trying out a large amount of skis is to seek some valuable advice. This is not easy because you need to determine what really matters to you and what doesn't. If advice starts with "What kind of skier are you?"... this will probably result in bad advice. Here's why:

  • Your ability level does not match the feelings you like on skis. As a matter of fact, we believe that skis should not be classified by skier ability levels. It's discriminating and often results in advanced skiers with the wrong skis that are often too stiff either in the flex profile or the torsion profile. A great skier does not necessarily like stiff skis. 
  • What you say about yourself may offset the person who's giving you advice. You may think you slalom like Alberto Tomba or love ripping it like Candide Thovex, but the truth is far from that. In addition, you have no idea what these guys ski with, so you don't know if you like the same stuff.

When asking for advice, seek  someone who's had the opportunity to try out many skis, is knowledgeable in materials and methods of construction and knows about the composition of skis. At least you'll have a better chance at truly comparing some options.

Lastly, good advice will always start with: "Tell me about what skis you have liked in the past and why you enjoyed them". This is the good initial question I always ask. 

All skis are different

Even within a given model and length, all skis are different. Of course, if production methods are stable and quality control is present (which unfortunately is deficient in many cases), these differences are limited. We believe the only way to compare skis is if you measure them. Even great testers will miss  some things after a dozen  runs. It's normal, for they are human too. With hundreds of new skis on store racks each year, no one is able (or takes the time) to test them all... in similar conditions. 

Do you read reviews? Do you trust them?

Let's say you find the right reviewer for you, which in my mind is very difficult... do you really spend endless hours reading reviews for dozens of skis? The truth is that there are many options out there, so if you read 2-3 reviews, that's not enough! Do you trust what you read? Reviewers all claim to be independent, and this is great, but  some leave room for doubt. The bottom line is that the only valuable information out there is when skis are compared to one another. I may find a ski too stiff, while you will consider it perfect, so good comparisons are hard to come by. Good luck in finding those! Sorry for the hours you'll have spent searching for them. ​We have a better option which involves measuring skis

How do we measure skis?

Measuring skis is complex. Many sites such as BlisterGearReview and SkiTest offer a paid access to measurements they have taken and a few comparisons they have made. This is great, but very limited. Bending stiffness profile (flex) is evaluated by hand, while geometry is measured with a ruler. No one talks about torsion profile because they don't measure it, even if torsion is the property that influences  your feeling on skis the most. 

Sooth has by far the most advanced technology to measure skis. Our co-founder, a professor who hates mentioning  he,s a PhD graduate from Stanford University with a post-doctoral degree from Harvard University, has developed a patent-pending technology to execute the task. In a matter of a minute, we get the complete profile of a ski, including geometry, camber (with rockers), bending stiffness distribution and torsional stiffness distribution. 

The word "distribution" is key in this last paragraph. Many ski manufacturers will measure basic values such as 5-point testing which gives a certain idea, but is far from a complete distribution. The profile of a ski is important because, as you can imagine, a ski can be very stiff in the tail while soft in front, which will provide a completely different feel. 

How do we use measurements

From the measurements, we develop indicators. These are the properties that define the feeling you'll have with a given ski. When indicators are measured the same way on a variety of skis, they truly illustrate the different feeling a skier can get. This is the only method that is not impacted by the testers and the variability of conditions. 

How to choose skis? Use objective, measurable, and independent data!

In short, our method is objective, measurable, and completely independent. By "completely independent", we obviously mean not influenced by sponsors, but we are also independent from variable snow conditions and the variation of the tester(s). We are the only company out there that can make this statement. Of course, a lot of people won't like us saying this, but at the end, this benefits the consumer who will have a better chance to find the right skis!

So try some skis, identify the ones you like, describe why and let us know. We can then provide you with a list of options based on measured data! 

Please drop us a line below, and tell us what you think. We love reading comments!

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About the Author

Co-founder of Sooth Selector inc. (owner of SoothSki.com), Marius is a professional skier (CSIA level 3 & snow park course conductor) and an electrical engineer. As a lover of sports and innovative technologies, this lifelong adventurer, now husband and father, looks towards all aspects of life with serious passion. Among other adventures he's had, Marius and his wife travelled on a backcountry skiing road trip across the Americas, skiing in remote backcountry locations from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Marius is now dedicated to helping you find, select, choose... the right skis for you, based on technology!

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