The Test: This past February, in conjunction with Mountain Sports + Living magazine, we held our annual ski test at Utah's Snowbird resort. For four days, 12 testers of varying abilities and styles, from laid-back advanced skiers to former World Cup racers, worked their way through an initial field of 80-plus skis.
The Venue: All of our testing was done off the Gadzoom chairlift. Covering 1,800 vertical feet in just six minutes, it gets you access to steep glades, wide-open groomers, short sections of bumps, and chopped-up faces—all in the same run. Each tester averaged 18–20 laps a day.
The Categories: Manufacturers were allowed to submit one ski in each of the following categories. Frontside skis were ranked on a scale of one to five in these four areas: responsiveness, stability, edge hold, and carving pleasure. All Mountain and Women's were judged on responsiveness, stability, float, and carving. Big Mountain and Powder were scored on responsiveness, stability, float, and hard-snow pleasure.
Go Deeper: Watch quick one-minute Web videos about some of our favorite skis this year at outsideonline/video. Or tune in to Outside Television's Outside Today to learn even more, meet the testers, and see the actual test in action. Visit outsidetv.com for showtimes. Special thanks to our test sponsors: Dakine, Flylow, Hestra, SmartWool, Smith, Snowbird and Sole.