Pulling Back the Curtain on Magazine Tests
- Because you aren’t skiing all day, your feet don’t get cold
FALSE. Ski tests are all about hurry up and wait. You hurry to the test, get set up, and then you wait. You stand in cold boots for a good portion of the day, only to feel that wonderful tingling, burning sensation once it’s time to get moving again and the blood starts to recirculate. But you do it with a smile on your face. After all, you’re normally at the base of one of the greatest mountains in the country.
- Skis magically appear on the hill, ready to go
FALSE. Though our National Sales Manager, Tim Dyer, would love a magic carpet to deliver all the skis down to whichever test we are attending, this simply isn’t how it works. The team spends countless hours making sure the sizes are perfectly dialed for the types of attendees, that all the skis are as perfectly tuned to Liberty standards, and that the countless product spreadsheets back and forth from the magazines are actually what appear in the test corral. It’s no easy feat.
- Ski testers only ski pow all day
Again, FALSE. Though powder days are always in a skier’s dreams, not every day can be a dream and ripping groomers can be just as fun-packed as any powder day. All snow must be created equal. These testers try their best to emulate actual ski conditions that consumers face. They will slow a ski down and see how it skids, as well as huck themselves off a cliff for testing the ski in extreme variables (not to mention it makes for pretty cool social media content, too).
- The Liberty staff love it
This one is TRUE. Though your feet are cold, you’ve worked countless long nights making sure not to get too much wax on hotel room floors, and you anxiously wait for the results going into the pre-season, at the end of the day, it’s another day spent on snow doing the sport we all work to live for.
- All the ski tests are right in our backyard because we live in Vail, Colorado
FALSE. The timing is tight with magazine tests, one may be in Big Sky, Montana, and the next day we could be on the mountain at Snowbird, Utah. That doesn’t leave much time for updating a tune, so many times a parking lot is about as good as it gets for final adjustments for the varying conditions. Traveling is part of the commitment, it’s how consumers get inside information on how the products perform all over the country, making the results relatable to skiers everywhere. But that doesn’t stop us from always testing our own products right here in our backyard.
- Everyone who shows up to a ski test gets an award
FALSE. If you haven’t been convinced already, ski tests require a lot of hard work and preparation. But just because the people are working hard, at the end, it’s up to the skis to seal the deal. Nobody gets a gold star, nor does every ski get an award. Good thing Liberty Skis rip.
- Brands co-mingle and share the stoke of the sport
TRUE. Not everyone is a winner, but everyone is a skier. As much as we are competition with other brands, we all work together. These events not only help promote and reward brands for their exceptional products, they are a networking heaven. The best part is that instead of being in an office building, you’re outside… skiing! What an industry to be a part of!
Tim Dyer says, “There are many days I’ve forgotten a screwdriver, needed a diamond stone, or just needed a lift back to the hotel; the other product managers are always happy to lend a helping hand.”
- Ski tests are actually a lot more complicated than just skiing
TRUE. The magazine test usually starts with a meeting at the SIA (Snowsport Industries America) Snow Show in Denver, Colorado. The magazines will describe what categories they will be testing, and we feed them the test models and sizes that we will enter into each category. From there, it is our job to make sure we produce these products in a timely manner so they can undergo proper tuning (see how we keep coming back to the tune?) We usually attend SKI, Backcountry, Powder, Freeskier, Mountain, Blister Gear, and Outside Magazines’ tests, and in general they’re one right after the other. We’ve learned it’s best to tune a separate fleet for every magazine because we are bound to have a tester come back to the corral with major rock damage. That ski can no longer be tested; thank goodness we’re prepared. Normally this means we’re traveling around with 60-75 pairs of skis in our demo truck. Tuned edges, wax galore, packed truck, and the fun begins.
Once the tests are in motion, we are instructed from the magazines to not sway the tester and let the ski speak for itself. This is Tim’s opportunity to get out there, shred some amazing terrain with the other product managers and the infamous Colin Sutherland (Liberty’s Athlete Manager and Content Manager), and test our tunes, one last time.
- Being a magazine tester is actually a difficult job
TRUE. At most ski tests, you’re testing close to 20 skis per day, and by day 4 you can imagine how your legs might feel. Secondly, to come up with a different description of how every ski feels becomes pretty hard after your 30th test card. Oh by the way, you’ve had your glove off for every lift ride, it’s dumping snow, and your pencil just ran out of lead. Still jealous? A tester is expected to take a ski to its limits, yet slow it down and imagine how your parents or grandparents might feel on that ski. Not only that, some magazines, such as Blister Gear Review, might test your skis for the whole season to come to an evaluation. Ski testing isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for every skier. You’ve got to be committed to testing the product but also giving the most accurate rating, whether it takes you 5 minutes or 5 months. Probably one of the toughest parts of being a ski tester is that you are expected to be on the first chair, and you were at the Tram Club (at Snowbird) until the wee hours of the morning. Nothing like cold air to knock the cobwebs away. All hail Gatorade.
- Liberty came through with another strong year at the tests
We don’t mean to brag, but it’s TRUE, our skis show up to impress. You will see the Genesis96, Origin96, Origin106, and Origin116, our most popular and versatile models, wearing their medals on retail floors across the country. The Origin96 had ski testers from Powder, Freeskier, SKI, and Backcountry praising its playful nature but incredible carvability. Since 2015, we have won over 40 awards from various magazines; we think that’s pretty good.