Where can I demo a whole bunch of skis?
February 15, 2011 5:22 PM   Subscribe

I've heard tell that there are some ski mountains that are particularly well set up to, for a single price, spend the day trying a whole bunch of demo skis. I'm in the NYC area. Know of any within a 5-hour driving distance which either has this all the time or on one specific day per year?

I know almost all mountains have demo rentals available and will let you swap them out during the day, but I'd like somewhere that has a really good, varied selection so I can educate myself on exactly what I do and don't like in a ski and what the variables are. Finding this is made trickier by the fact that I am a short male -- 5'2". It seems like that means I need a 152-ish ski length.
posted by The Dutchman to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
It's 6 hours away according to gmaps, but I did exactly this at seven springs. Given where you live, I hope you can find somewhere with better conditions :)
They had an ok selection - probably 15-20 pairs, and I adore the skis I wound up with. It was like $40 for 4 demos, and credited towards a purchase there. You probably want to call around the different on-mountain pro shops to see if there's something closer (at my home mountain, the main rentals are entirely separate from the high-end demos)

Your question doesn't make your current skill level or equipment setup clear, so I apologize if some of this isn't applicable to you.

* boots both make the biggest difference and are not generally included with the high-end demos. So, you'll need to own your own before trying this. (and it would be silly to demo skis using crappy rental boots) for your first pair, just get a pair that feel about right walking around the store.
* the first thing you want to nail down is length. Of course, different skis ski longer/shorter, but you can get a rough idea. I experimented by getting a normal on-mountain ski rental, and they were friendly about letting me try all the lengths from 150-180 for no extra charge. Turns out that I like longer skis than are normally recommended for my height.
* once you have an idea what length you like, then go try different brands/models out. The key variables will be: stiffness (how hard it is to bend ... Stiffer -> more stable at high speed, carves well, but harder to turn going slow), style (twin tip vs all mountain) and width (if you plan to ski a lot of powder, you need wider.)
* don't be shy about demoing women's skis, if that's what they have in the length/stiffness you need. There's really not a difference, other than sometimes the graphics, and the fact that women's tend to be shorter/less stiff. I wound up with a mens pair, because I'm a rather heavy girl who likes to ski fast.
posted by Metasyntactic at 7:38 PM on February 15, 2011

Killington VT is almost exactly 5 hours from NYC, according to Google Maps. Go to The Basin in the ski village -- they are great about demoing and their people know their shit. I have been very happy with the stuff I've purchased and had tuned/modified/fixed there, and one of my coworkers used to work there every season and he still knows and trusts all the employees there.

The only downside is that you have to drive a half mile out to the village, swap the skis, drive back, and keep skiing if you plan to do this all within a single day. It's not that bad but it's not convenient.
posted by olinerd at 4:11 AM on February 16, 2011

Hunter Mtn (2.5hrs out of NYC) does demo days at least once a season. Unfortunately this year's was in December, so you've missed it. It's a mad house, but it's a very, very good way to try out a bunch of skiis.

Both Hunter and Windham let you demo skiis for a full or half day out of their regular ski-shops, so that may be something you want to look into. I think you can switch out skiis through out the day to get a better feel for them.

You will need to have your own boots though. Good ski boots should be purchased way in advance of skiis. You can easily keep renting skiis/poles at a discount once you have your own boots.

Seconding trying out Women's or Junior's skis if you're a shorter man. They are lighter and shorter, and if you don't like the graphics, heck that's what stickers from resorts are for! Junior's skiis have the benefit of usually being way cheaper as well.
posted by larthegreat at 7:14 AM on February 16, 2011

Thanks all! Yeah, I'm thinking of trying to get boots this year, then skis maybe next year depending on funds. On the other hand, I've just been reading about "rocker" skis and it sounds like they're going to take over the market like shape skis did years ago, so maybe it's a good idea to wait a couple years to buy skis anyway, while the new tech settles in (or goes away).
posted by The Dutchman at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2011

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