Behind the Scenes of the 2019 Ski Test

Just because it was fun doesn't mean it was easy

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Photo: Lee Cohen

After ten seasons in Utah, the annual Outside and Mountain magazine ski test ascended to Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado in February. Epic snow conditions and lots of high-speed lifts helped us put a few hundred planks for winter 2019–20 through their paces over three days.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Few consumers ever get their skis waxed and tuned. We know better and have reps from the ski manufacturers on the ground to tweak edge angles and get the wax just right so that skis perform like they were intended. Here, K2’s Todd Rash gives the love to next season’s Mindbender.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Outside art director Petra Zeiler finds her next test ride. We had more women testers and called in more women’s skis than we ever have before. Overall, our 18-person team tested 264 pairs in three days. That worked out to roughly 35,000 vertical feet per skier per day.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Aspen groves aren’t individual trees but rather massive organisms (some of the biggest on earth) connected at the root. Steamboat is famous for its glades. Here, test director Marc Peruzzi shows us the way down.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Peruzzi (right) and Gabe Glosband fill out their test cards from the previous run before taking a fresh pair for a spin. Only the best skis in each of three categories—all-mountain powder, all-mountain, and all-mountain frontside—get our thumbs-up.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Outside has a solid history of sending strong women skiers to the test. Here, Zeiler sees if you can tail-gun an all-mountain ski.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Testing this many skis over three days is no small task—sometimes our quads need a breather. Brady Newton (left) and Thomas Forcier relax near Steamboat’s new pub, Timber and Torch.

Photo: Lee Cohen

To get the best feel for all-mountain powder skis, we need, well, powder. Steamboat obliged, delivering about six inches of new snow before the final test day. It wasn’t the resort’s trademark champagne powder, though a storm the following weekend brought that.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Twenty-four runs a day can make it tough to grab lunch. For the first time in ski-test history, the host resort had sandwiches delivered. Here, women’s test director Heather Schultz decides not to grade on a scale.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Synchronized skiing isn’t part of the test, but groomers are. Testers Courtney Harkins (left) and Nick Loomans get all Euro on us.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Newton tends to like skis as stiff as bludgeons. These seem to be flexing all right, though.

Photo: Lee Cohen

Stephanie Kasun prepares for another lap as the snow starts to pick up.

Photo: Lee Cohen

A little known fact: all ski-town hot tubs are time machines—they make old dudes look like really old dudes. This portal is at the Steamboat Grand.

Photo: Lee Cohen

The deck at Steamboat’s Timber and Torch. The guy on the left isn’t a tester, but he brought the Sierra Nevada beer, so he’s allowed in.