GearSnow Sports

Behind the Scenes of the Alpine Ski Test

How and where we tested the skis to determine our favorites.

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.

Alpine Skiing

Ski tester Kevin Brower


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 for showtimes. Special thanks to our test sponsors: Dakine, Flylow, Hestra, SmartWool, Smith, Snowbird and Sole.